BookFilter: The New Emmett Till? An Inside Scoop On Life In Russia, Animated Women & More

02/03/2017 01:10 am ET

Hey Book Lovers!  Welcome to our latest Top Picks Of The Week!  We're down south to visit family and celebrate somebody's birthday. But my mom doesn't want us to keep bringing it up so I better not say anything. (Oops. Happy Birthday, Mom!) You can be sure I'm giving her a novel as one of my gifts. Is there anything better than a book you've personally selected as a way of showing you understand and appreciate someone? So whether you're treating yourself or looking for the perfect present or 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:

Retirement isn't easy for some people. (Me, I've been practicing since I was 22 years old, so I'll be fine.) And it's certainly not easy for Inspector Rebus, the hero of Ian Rankin's long-running mystery series. When a bored Rebus begins poking at a cold case, he stirs up some flames and before you know it another body has appeared. Thankfully, Rankin shows no sign of hanging it up rather than delivering his Edinburgh-set puzzlers -- this is #21 in the Rebus series. Of course, if he did put away the typewriter and start puttering in garden, he'd probably turn up a body there, too.... Read More.

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BEARS IN THE STREETS by Lisa Dickey Have you ever heard of the British documentary series "7 Up?" They filmed children from all walks of life in the UK at seven years old, asking them about their hopes and dreams. Then they returned to those same people at 14 and 21 and 28, each time producing a new film and a profound look at fate and happenstance and how the seeds of personality are there from the start. (The next one is 63 Up and due out in 2019.) Writer Lisa Dickey has chosen a similar approach to capturing the lives of Russians. She traveled there in 1995 and spent time with a wide range of people in eleven different cities. Then she returned in 2005 and again in 2015. The result is this engaging, up-close look at real life in one of the most influential countries in the world.... Read More.

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THANKS FOR THE LIBRARY, THOMAS JEFFERSON! I'm British so let me start by apologizing -- in the War of 1812, we burned down DC, including the Library of Congress. Sorry! Happily, Thomas Jefferson stepped into the breach and donated his 6,500+ personal library to help start it back up again. According to the American Library Association, we need to step into the breach again. More than 8000 public schools in this country have NO library. More than 17,000 public schools have no full or even part-time state-certified librarian. Support your local library! Make sure every school has a well-stocked library run by a professional. Learn more here!

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4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster What if you could live your life over again? What if you'd taken off for a year before going to college? What if you'd said "yes" instead of "no" that fateful day? This idea of the same person might have lived a very different life is endlessly tantalizing, explored on stage (the musical "If/Then"), film (Gwyneth Paltrow's "Sliding Doors") and countless books, like Kate Atkinson's recent bestseller "Life After Life." Now legendary novelist Paul Auster is at it, exploring the lives of Archibald Ferguson down four different paths, from his birth in New Jersey to the fateful romance/friendship/heartbreak of Amy Schneiderman, who looms in his path like a boulder to skirt around or a mountain to climb, no matter which way he turns.... Read More.

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ON SECOND THOUGHT by Kristan Higgins Best-selling author Kristan Higgins follows up her blockbuster hit "If You Only Knew" with another look at sibling rivalry turned into unlikely friendship. Ainsley expects her boyfriend to propose and instead he dumps her...online...and it goes viral. Kate's husband dies unexpectedly. As if that isn't hard enough, she learns things about him she never imagined. The two are half-sisters but they're going to depend on each other wholly after the lives they expected to lead are shattered into pieces..... Read More.

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SCORES by Michael D. Blutrich Maybe it's because I'm a New Yorker and the "men's club" Scores has a tacky/trashy name recognition for me. But how can you resist this book title? "Scores: How I Opened The Hottest Strip Club In New York City, Was Extorted Out Of Millions by the Gambino Family and Became One Of the Most Successful Mafia Informants In FBI History." A rags to riches business success story! True crime! The Mob! Toss in some great blurbs including one from CNN's Anderson Cooper (and what does HE know about Scores??!!) and I'm hooked.... Read More.

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THE ANIMATORS by Kayla Rae Whitaker It's hard to even think of a reason why the world of animation should be dominated by men, but it is. This debut novel focuses on two women who change that. They become best friends in college and team up to turn the raw material of their lives into a feature length film. No princesses and tiaras for these two. But while they are a rock solid team during the tough early years when no one believed in them, the pressure of success on the horizon proves a lot more dangerous for their friendship. Think "Beaches" if it were drawn by Pixar.... Read More.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBARA W. TUCHMAN Two weeks in a row I'm celebrating the newly reissued work of historian Barbara W. Tuchman, who was born on January 30, 1912. She won the Pulitzer Prize twice, first for her masterpiece "The Guns Of August" (1962) and again in 1972 for "Stilwell And The American Experience In China." I vividly remember the first time I saw the cover of her 1978 blockbuster "A Distant Mirror," which featured a medieval tapestry. Just a kid, I thought it was a fantasy novel or maybe a tale of Arthur and his knights. But instead I was plunged into the world of the 14th century with writing that was as vivid and memorable as the best of fiction. Every popular historian who came in her wake -- think David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose and the like -- owes her a debt of thanks and admiration for how high she raised the bar.

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REST IN POWER by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin Tragedy can strike anyone but not just anyone can turn that painful event into something meaningful. The parents of Trayvon Martin had to bury their son after a senseless murder while the entire world debated and watched their every move. Five years later, they share their story in alternating chapters. They celebrate the son they lost too soon. They share the anguish of those terrible days. And they detail the work that has become the focus of their lives, a movement for social justice that works to ensure other parents won't face the same misery as they did.... Read More.

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Gerard Reve is one of the Big Three of Dutch literature, or so Wikipedia tells me. "The Evenings" was his debut in 1947 and only now has it been translated into English. Often ranked as one of the greatest if not the greatest Dutch novel in modern times, it's drily amusing, suffused with angst and post-war malaise and -- at first blush -- very impressive. Frits is a 23 year old office worker, living with his mother and father and spending his evenings in an endless attempt to stave off boredom or perhaps despair. More self-contained, he certainly is a cousin of sorts to Holden Caulfield.... 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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