1. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss and Marlon Bundo, E G. Keller (Illustrator) (Chronicle Books)
In the Amazon battle of the bunnies, HBO host John Oliver’s latest book hits #1, thumping Vice-Presidential daughter Charlotte Pence and her A Day in the Life of the Vice President, illustrated in water color by her mother, second lady Karen Pence, about “Bunny of the United States of America, “or “botus.” Oliver’s charming and clever book. which hopped out of the publishing gate a day before the Pence family book, stars two love bunnies who overcome a tyrannical “stinkbug” opposed to same-sex bunny marriage. The Oliver book is dedicated to bunnies who have felt different, and its proceeds will benefit The Trevor Project (a suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth) and AIDS United, causes that Vice-President Pence has vehemently opposed.
2. The List: A Week-by-Week Reckoning of Trump’s First Year by Amy Siskind (Bloomsbury)
“Week 1: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember,” explained Siskind, in her first on-linepost, just after Donald Trump had been elected President. Her idea was to construct a “trail map for us to follow back to normalcy and democracy.” By Week 9: “The List” had gone viral and bloomed into the site: “The Weekly List: This is How Democracy Ends.” By recording an inventory of evidence, presented in staccato-style with extensive footnotes from reliable sources, Siskind’s compulsively readable book is the real first draft of history.
3. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, with an Introduction by Gillian Flynn and an Afterward by Patton Oswalt (Harper)
True-crime journalist McNamara was on the cold case of the “Golden State Killer,” but she died in 2016 before her work could see the light of day. Thanks to the efforts of her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, pulling it together for publication, McNamara’s book has hit the best-seller list. With an authentic, unfinished quality, it reads like a tutorial in investigative reporting. McNamara’s personal notes and marginalia threaded throughout the story reveal the project’s toll on her, but in the mix of transcripts, notes and evidence, McNamara emerges from these pages as a tenacious force for justice, with a real commitment to solving heinous crimes.
4. In a Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America's Most Vulnerable Workers by Bernice Yeung (The New Press)
Before #MeToo and #TimesUp, Yeung was investigating the sexual harassment and abuse of vulnerable women, many undocumented, working precarious low-wage jobs. A reporter at The Center for Investigative Reporting, Yeung located female workers in Iowa meatpacking plants, California lettuce fields and Washington state’s apple orchards, who had been sexually abused and harassed. She also zeroed in on hidden, isolated women – night-shift cleaners, domestic workers in private homes – and by focusing on women on the margins of society, has delivered a knockout of a book that stands with Barbara Ehrenreich’s classic Nickel and Dimed: On Getting By in America.
5. Tangerine by Christine Mangan (Ecco)
In Mangan’s spellbinding debut novel, a mysterious wedge had come between two young women who were once best friends and roommates at their Vermont college and later find themselves together in exotic Tangier. In alternating chapters narrated unreliably by delicate, patrician Alice and past scholarship-student and free-spirit Lucy, the long arm of their New England past reaches into the mystery of events unfolding in Morocco. Mangan captures the enigmatic quality of the place and deftly ratchets up the tension between these women in a work of fiction that echoes the haunting work of Shirley Jackson.