1. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Crosley’s best-selling essay collections (I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number) made her a sort of literary Lena Dunham. Her debut novel, which is being released this week, is a comedy of errors inspired by Guy de Maupassant’s classic short story “The Necklace” -- and a winsome mash-up of Jane Austen, P. G. Wodehouse, and Mary McCarthy.
2. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle (Penguin Press)
Extending the critique of human relationships in the digital age made in her previous book Alone Together, MIT professor Turkle – whose skepticism is starting to verge on alarm – calls on parents to limit the temptation of technology. This new work got a big boost from a New York Times review by the great skeptic himself, Jonathan Franzen – who called Turkle “a kind of conscience for the tech world.”
3. Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government by David Brock (Twelve)
With the zeal of a new convert, the once-conservative Brock takes aim at the “vast right-wing conspiracy” to smear Hillary Clinton. Among the names he names are Rush Limbaugh, the Koch Brothers, Fox News, and The New York Times. The book is selling briskly in this political year – and for grateful Democrats, his 1993 bestseller, the character-assassinating The Real Anita Hill, is by now a distant memory.
4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead)
After Eat, Pray, Love spent a year as a best-seller, and then reemerged as a film starring Julia Roberts, Gilbert repeatedly heard: “‘How are you ever going to top that?’” Several memoirs and one beautiful novel (Signature of All Things) later, she responds to that creativity-killer of a question and encourages readers to let go of perfectionism and embrace being good enough.
5. M Train by Patti Smith (Knopf)
Following her National Book Award winning Just Kids, Smith leaves the Chelsea Hotel and Robert Mapplethorpe behind and delivers a more expansive memoir – one that zags from her Michigan childhood to her bungalow in the Rockaways, with segues to Frida Kahlo’s Mexico and Arthur Rimbaud’s graveside. Smith has called this wonderfully engaging romp “a roadmap to my life.”