Pick up these hot new books to warm your cold hands this winter. Cosmopolitan's John Searles, author of “Strange But True” and “Boy Still Missing,” recommends these ten books:
“The Double Bind” by Chris BohjalianWhen college sophomore Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bike in Vermont, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography and begins to work at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobby Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photos he won't let anyone see. When Bobby dies suddenly, Laurel discovers he was telling the truth: before he became homeless he had been a successful photographer. Laurel's fascination with Bobby's life begins to merge into an obsession and she becomes convinced that some of his photographs reveal a deeply hidden, dark family secret. Her search for the truth begins to lead her further and further from her old life — and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her.
“Him Her Him Again The End of Him” by Patricia Marx Patricia Marx's unabashedly neurotic heroine falls for philosopher Eugene Obello, while she is in graduate school in Cambridge, England. When he marries someone else and becomes a father, her attraction is hardly deterred. Her friends can't stand him and she soon realizes she should give up on him, as well as her thesis. She leaves England behind for a writing job on a comedy sketch show in New York City. Coincidentally, Eugene also shows up in the Big Apple to teach a seminar. An affair ensues, until a spectacular event changes everything.
“Skylight Confessions” by Alice HoffmanJohn Moody, a tall, serious architectural student at Yale, walks into Arlyn Singer's life on the night her father has died, when she believes that fate will bring her one true love. Their instant attraction masks the fact that they are not at all suited for each other, but Arlyn refuses to let go. They marry young and move into the glass house that John's father built. They have a son, Sam, who is oddly brilliant, adored by his mother, and completely rejected by his father. Soon after her second child, Blanca, is born, Arlyn succumbs to breast cancer, leaving the two children bereft. However, Arlyn's hold on her family continues even after her death, and her ghost brings to the house a college student who signs on as a nanny and tries to save Sam from his downward spiral into drugs and homelessness.
“Ask Again Later” by Jill DavisWhen her mother is diagnosed with cancer, New Yorker Emily Rhode ditches her too-perfect boyfriend and far from perfect legal career to become her mother's primary caregiver. At the same time, she reconciles with her estranged father, who left when she was five. When he offers her a job as a receptionist at his law firm, complete with Friday martini lunch dates and father-daughter cab rides to work, Emily agrees, and jokey family bonding follows as mom skates through treatment and dad proves to be more of a teddy bear than an iceman.
“Because She Can” by Bridie ClarkClaire Truman works for a top-tier New York publisher, but is about to lose her beloved mentor to retirement. About the same time, she runs into her old college crush, wealthy Randall Cox, who begins squiring her to all the trendiest restaurants in town and lands her a job interview with Vivian Grant, a highly successful publisher known for churning out best-sellers on porn, pulp and politics. Things start promisingly, especially when Claire is given the go-ahead to sign up talented first novelist Luke Mayville, but Claire soon starts receiving midnight phone calls full of impossible demands from her imperious new boss. Faced with a soul-crushing workload and a marriage proposal from her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend, an overwhelmed Claire must suddenly make some life-altering decisions.
“Sacred Games” by Vikram ChandraSet in present-day Mumbai, “Sacred Games” tells the story of a notorious Hindu gangster and a police inspector whose lives unfold and eventually intersect with cataclysmic consequences. Reaching back in time to Partition and bringing to vivid life a profusion of characters and milieus, Chandra's extraordinary work depicts India with an unsurpassed richness of detail: its complexity and violence, the worlds of the poor and the wealthy, the heroes of Bollywood movies and the striving of human beings from every walk of life. As the story unfolds with surprising twists at every turn, the great game takes shape, confounding everyone's expectations. Winning is an illusion, and characters powerful and humble find themselves mere pawns, struggling to regain control of their destinies.
“Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” by Elizabeth Gilbert Elizabeth Gilbert was a 30-year-old successful journalist with a perfect life (husband, fancy New York City apartment, fabulous weekend home) when she realized she was miserable. After surviving an acrimonious divorce, Gilbert sold her remaining possessions to spend a year abroad — four months each in three countries with nothing in common except starting with the letter “I.” This book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place.
“Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi PicoultPicoult takes on another contemporary hot-button issue in her new thriller, about a high school shooting. Peter Houghton, an alienated teen who has been bullied for years by the popular crowd, brings weapons to his high school in Sterling, N.H., one day and opens fire, killing 10 people. Flashbacks reveal how bullying caused Peter to retreat into a world of violent computer games. Alex Cormier, the judge assigned to Peter's case, tries to maintain her objectivity as she struggles to understand her daughter, Josie, one of the surviving witnesses of the shooting. Available March 6
“Whitethorn Woods” by Maeve BinchyA proposed highway near the Irish town of Rossmore will mean the destruction of St. Ann's Well, a shrine in Whitethorn Woods thought to deliver healing, husbands and other miracles. The shrine resides in the parish of Fr. Brian Flynn, curate of St. Augustine's. As a fracas erupts between shrine skeptics who want the highway and shrine believers who want the shrine preserved, Flynn, unsure of where he stands on the issue and questioning his place in an increasingly secular Ireland, goes to the shrine and prays that he might “hear the voices that have come to you and know who these people are.” These are the voices Binchy brings to life in the novel: men and women from all walks of life trying to decide between the traditions of the past and the promises of the future. Available March 6