BookFilter: George Saunders Tops Himself, London In The Blitz, A Memoir About Abortion And More

02/15/2017 02:56 am ET Updated Feb 16, 2017

Hey Book Lovers!  Welcome to our latest Top Picks Of The Week!  It's Valentine's Day. Flowers wilt, candy gets eaten...but a book is forever, especially when it's one that shows you "get" them. (Our pick for one of the most romantic and adult lines in pop music history? The Blue Nile's song "Stay," in which they promise, "I will understand you.") Whether you want to find a title you know your parent or child or husband or wife will love or just a romance to savor, BookFilter has your back. Whether you're about to go to your favorite bookstore, library or online retailer, head first to BookFilter and you'll discover all the best new releases in every genre.

What we're reading:

It's only February but this will undoubtedly be considered one of the best books of 2017. It's the most formally daring novel I can think of since David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas." And here the obvious intellect of writer George Saunders is married to warmth and beauty and an all-encompassing vision of this life and the next. History tells us that President Abraham Lincoln returned again and again to the cemetery on the day of his son's burial, unable to say goodbye. From that poignant fact, Saunders has spun out a remarkable tale.... Read More.

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What happened to the heartland of America? For the answer, journalist Brian Alexander looks at his home town of Lancaster, Ohio, a place once dubbed by Forbes magazine as the Norman Rockwell ideal of small town life. It's anchored quite literally by the Anchor Hocking factory that makes glass baking trays, measuring cups and the like. For generations, it was pretty good for those that lived there. Business leaders and factory workers might belong to the same social club and drink in the same bars. Everyone knew everyone else and the town proudly and wisely invested in itself by raising taxes to build a good hospital and hotel and schools and the such. Then Alexander shows how that all fell apart. It's almost comical how every ill of past years is visited on this town like a Biblical plague, from Carl Icahn greenmailing the "glass house" factory into forking over tons of money to corporate raiders and private equity firms that don't even have the decency to split it up and sell it off. They just show up, take over, pay themselves to consult and walk away with tons of cash while leaving a decent business over-burdened with debt. Then someone else comes in, demands more worker concessions and does the same thing. Alexander's righteous anger is searing and his reportage is vivid and detailed....Read More.

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UNLUCKY 13 (OF FEBRUARY) FOR FANS OF "PEANUTS" On February 13, 2000, the comic strip "Peanuts" said goodbye when creator Charles M. Schulz published the final original installment of his acclaimed masterpiece celebrating the foibles of human nature. Peopled by Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang, it progressed from an oddity to an amusing staple to a penetrating and philosophical examination of life, all in four panel strips that managed to be funny for decades on end. (Check out this terrific collection from the late 1950s, when the strip was just entering greatness.) As far as Schulz was concerned, the strip lived forever: he died in his sleep one day earlier, on February 12. And he was right. Reruns of "Peanuts" are still published daily all over the world.  

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THEIR FINEST by Lissa Evans What a treat! This story is set in London during WW II, with a young woman leaping from a boring job at the Ministry of Information to an unexpected opportunity to work on a feature film about Dunkirk. (The government wants more females in movies to boost morale, so the film focuses on two young women who took part in that famed naval rescue. Our heroine Catrin Cole is expected to deliver the mushy, feminine dialogue that the male screenwriters can't be bothered with.) Vain actors, cynical writers, dodgy bureaucrats and bombs falling all around? Wonderful. No wonder it's been made into a film starring Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy, due out in April. Even if it's good, you'll undoubtedly be saying, "The book was better." Trust us..... Read More.

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GOLF'S IRON HORSE by John Sabino Author John Sabino is one of the few amateur golfers in history to play a round at every single of the top 100 ranked courses in the world. But don't be jealous of him. This biography tells the little known story of a real golf fanatic: Ralph Kennedy became obsessed with exploring new courses and he swatted a ball around more than 3000 golf courses in every state in the continental US, nine Canadian provinces and a dozen other countries. (What, he couldn't be bothered to go to Hawaii and Alaska?) This feat of a lifetime earned him the nickname of "the Lou Gehrig of golf".... Read More.

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HEARTBREAK HOTEL by Jonathan Kellerman Psychologist and police consultant Alex Delaware has been involved in countless cases and more than 30 best-selling books. Usually, he specializes in children, but a woman nearing 100 years of age proves very persistent in demanding Delaware take her on. (Women are proving very persistent these days.) Reluctantly, he agrees, heads to the hotel where she lives...and discovers the lady is stone cold dead. Of course that means the mystery is just heating up in what looks to be another satisfying blockbuster for psychologist turned author Jonathan Kellerman.... Read More.

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MAY CAUSE LOVE by Kassi Underwood Subtitled "An Unexpected Journey Of Enlightenment After Abortion," this memoir proves life won't fit neatly into categories. Writer Kassi Underwood describes being a teenager who was broke, unmarried, struggling with alcohol abuse, pregnant and a thousand miles from home. She got an abortion. That led to what she calls her "feminist awakening" and eventually she sobered up. But when her ex-boyfriend had a baby with someone else three years later, Underwood sank into depression. Being a journalist, she battled back by seeking out information and knowledge. She turned to healers on all sides of the debate, from a Catholic retreat to a Buddhist "water baby" ritual to a "wild woman" rave-up led by a nutty rabbi, all part of a spiritual quest for self-understanding.... Read More.

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THE NEWSLETTER IS JUST THE START If you've read this far, you undoubtedly enjoy our informative, fun and useful round-ups of the best new books of the week. Why not share it with a friend? Forward this newsletter or send them this link so they can sign up themselves.

But our newsletter is just the start. It's like a portal to the BookFilter website. Thousands of new books and reissues of classics come out every single week in North America. That adds up to literally hundreds of thousands a year and more than a million if you count self-published. But our crack team at BookFilter pores over them all. Every week, we sort through all the best titles in every category and choose only the best to share with you. That's why you'll find eleven new releases in our cookbook section. We found eleven that we think you might like. Not ten or twelve or five or twenty, but eleven carefully chosen books. Naturally, you won't want every single one. (Well, our friend Linda might. She has a LOT of cookbooks.) But we're betting if you love cookbooks and titles about food and wine, you'll find one that's gonna catch your eye. And we make those choices every single week in every single category, from faith & philosophy to gardening to romance to travel. So think of our newsletter as a stepping stone to our site, where you'll always find a display of great new titles in the categories you love. Let us know what you discover by emailing us at newsletter@bookfilter.com. We love finding great new books and we love it even more when you find them too.

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PIECING ME TOGETHER by Renée Watson We love young adult novels. Unlike a lot of "literary" fiction, they've got strong plots, vivid characters, real world drama and they're often...um...tightly focused. (i.e. short! There's nothing wrong with a great read under 300 pages.) In this story, our teenage heroine Jade is given a great opportunity -- the chance to attend a predominantly white private school on scholarship. But opportunity can be a double-edged sword, with Jade not fitting in much of anywhere anymore and even her well-intentioned black female mentor being a little clueless as to the life Jade must live in every day. A string of rave reviews from the trades (the industry outlets that offer their takes on books for store owners and librarians) has this one high on our list of "what to read next".... Read More.

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BEAMS is the still-hip Japanese brand that began in a tiny little story in Tokyo back in 1976 and now straddles the globe. They're so cool that we've never even heard of them. Well, that's not so hard since we're clueless on fashion. So let's point out they're still so cool that director Sofia Coppola wrote the introduction. This is a display-worthy tome celebrating BEAMS' style and its influential approach to collaborating with young designers.... Read More.

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Thanks for reading our latest BookFilter newsletter! Tell us what you think -- drop a line at newsletter@bookfilter.com. Do you want more picks? Fewer? Did you click on any of the links like "More Fiction!" to find even more great new picks? Will you share it with a friend? Will we keep asking questions? If you love it, share it with your friends -- forward them the newsletter or just send them this link so they can sign up for themselves.

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Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder of BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. Looking for the next great book to read? Head to BookFilter! Subscribe to their free weekly newsletter! Need a smart and easy gift? Head to BookFilter! Wondering what new titles just hit the store in your favorite categories, like cookbooks and mystery and more? Head to BookFilter! It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free advance and final copies of books with the understanding that he would be considering them for review. Generally, he does not guarantee to review and he receives far more titles than he can cover.

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