The Elizas by Sara Shepard (the author of Pretty Little Liars) is the her first adult novel. It’s an Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival. When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness. Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it? You can read an excerpt here.
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds by Lauren Slater. Although one in five Americans now takes at least one psychotropic drug, the fact remains that nearly seventy years after doctors first began prescribing them, not even their creators understand exactly how or why these drugs work–or don’t work–on what ails our brains. Blue Dreams offers the explosive story of the discovery and development of psychiatric medications, as well as the science and the people behind their invention, told by a riveting writer and psychologist who shares her own experience with the highs and lows of psychiatric drugs. Lauren Slater’s revelatory account charts psychiatry’s journey from its earliest drugs, Thorazine and lithium, up through Prozac and other major antidepressants of the present. In her thorough analysis of each treatment, Slater asks three fundamental questions: how was the drug born, how does it work (or fail to work), and what does it reveal about the ailments it is meant to treat? You can read reviews here and here. You might also find this NPR interview interesting.
The House of Broken Angels: A Novel by Luis Alberto Urrea. In his final days, beloved and ailing patriarch Miguel Angel de La Cruz, affectionately called Big Angel, has summoned his entire clan for one last legendary birthday party. But as the party approaches, his mother, nearly one hundred, dies herself, leading to a farewell doubleheader in a single weekend. Among the guests is Big Angel’s half brother, known as Little Angel, who must reckon with the truth that although he shares a father with his siblings, he has not, as a half gringo, shared a life. The story of the de La Cruzes is the quintessential American story. This indelible portrait of a complex family reminds us of what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. You can read reviews here and here. You might also like to read about the inspiration for the novel.
The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-breaking Power of Strength and Resilience by Jennifer Pharr Davis, National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year in 2012 and a a record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail. She reveals the secrets and habits behind endurance as she chronicles her incredible accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and trail running. With a storyteller’s ear for fascinating detail and description, Davis takes readers along as she trains and sets her record, analyzing and trail-testing the theories and methodologies espoused by her star-studded roster of mentors. She distills complex rituals and histories into easy-to-understand tips and action items that will help you take perseverance to the next level. You can read an excerpt here.
Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story by Chris Nashawaty. Caddyshack is one of the most beloved comedies of all time, a classic snobs vs. slobs story of working class kids and the white collar buffoons that make them haul their golf bags in the hot summer sun. It has sex, drugs and one very memorable candy bar, but the movie we all know and love didn’t start out that way, and everyone who made it certainly didn’t have the word “classic” in mind as the cameras were rolling. Chris Nashawaty, film critic for Entertainment Weekly, goes behind the scenes of the iconic film, chronicling the rise of comedy’s greatest deranged minds as they form The National Lampoon, turn the entertainment industry on its head, and ultimately blow up both a golf course and popular culture as we know it. It is at once an eye-opening narrative about one of the most interesting, surreal, and dramatic film productions there’s ever been, and a rich portrait of the biggest, and most revolutionary names in Hollywood. So, it’s got that going for it…which is nice.