The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz
The cliche is true: More is less. Turns out our happiness is at risk when we have too many options available to us. Social scientist Schwartz illuminates why having to choose between, say, relaxed-fit and easy-fit jeans creates stress and unhappiness where there should be control and liberation. "Wonderfully readable," says The Washington Post. "Simplify, simplify," says Thoreau.
The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
"On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world."
Merton's autobiography is one of the most extraordinary accounts of faith ever written. Its quality and its influence places it in a class with Saint Augustine's Confessions. Merton, who in his twenties converted to Catholicism and became a Trappist monk, was a philospher, writer, and activist. He wrote many books, but this spiritual memoir may be his very best.
Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
Before Christmas in 1776 the British had all but won the American Revolution. By New Year's Day, their confidence was so shattered that the price of government bonds in England fell. What happened in those two weeks that changed everything? Washington crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey. His actions upon arrival paved the way to American victory and helped define everything that the new country stood for.
Fischer's brilliant, complex investigation earned him the Pulitzer Prize for history.
Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro
An ugly duckling in the form of a Pittsburgh matron living in London becomes a swan with the aid of a self-help manual called Elegance that she finds in a secondhand bookshop. Tessaro's first novel is a breezy, bright, feel-good read that stands out on shelves sagging with mediocre chick lit offerings. The Boston Globe trumpets it as "hilarious," and Marian Keyes (Sushi for Beginners) calls it "fantastic."
Instances of the Number 3 by Salley Vickers
Is three a crowd or is it just right? Salley Vickers ponders this question in a smart, literate novel that offers fresh new thoughts on love, forgiveness, and getting on with life after a crisis. The novel starts conventionally enough, with a love triangle. But the rest is utterly original, brilliantly combining a ghost story with a gentle comedy of manners. Vickers's voice is irresistable, and her story would make for a lively reading group discussion.
to watch for . . .
Saundra Mitchell's debut LAST SUMMER'S IRIS, in which a 14 year old conjures the ghost of a boy who has been missing for decades and decides to solve his disappearance, not realizing that in a town as small as hers every secret is a family secret, to Wendy Loggia at Delacorte, by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger (NA).