5 Hot Books

Books people are talking about -- or should be

1. The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools? by Dale Russakoff (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg announced a $100 million gift to turn around Newark’s schools.  In a book that Alex Kotlowitz lauded in the New York Times Book Review as “a brilliantly reported behind-the-scenes account,” Washington Post veteran Russakoff explores in detail everything that went wrong.

2. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman, with an introduction by Oliver Sacks (Avery)

This myth-busting history of autism, by veteran science journalist Silberman, has won a well-deserved place on the bestseller lists.  It mixes fresh theoretical insights – including an argument that autism is a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference – with real compassion for people with autism.

3. Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson (Pantheon)

Jefferson, who won a Pulitzer for her New York Times book criticism, trains her sharp eye on her own upbringing, in a privileged swath of upper-class black society she has dubbed “Negroland.”  Her story is equal parts autobiography, history, sociology, and ambivalent reminiscence about a lost, problematic world.

4. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (Gallery/Scout Press)

A literary agent known for his memoirs of crack and alcohol abuse, Clegg has written his first novel – and it packs the same wallop as his autobiographical writings.  This tale of a woman trying to survive in the aftermath of heartbreaking disaster got a boost before its publication date when it was named to the Man Booker longlist.

5. Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, M.D. (Picador)

Dr. Tweedy, a Duke assistant professor of psychiatry, says bluntly: “being black can be bad for your health.”  As one of the roughly 5 percent of medical doctors in the U.S. who are black, Dr. Tweedy is in a prime position to explain why – which he does with considerable insight and telling detail.