7 Best-Reviewed Books in September 2019

  • October 2, 2019

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony this past month.

7 Best-Reviewed Books in September 2019

Tell Me Who We Were: Stories by Kate McQuade (William Morrow). Reviewed by Janet A. Martin. “This book prompts me to define it by what it is not. It is not a story to rush. It’s not chick lit. It’s not a beach read. Not a whodunit. Not necessarily a book that’s easy to understand the first time through. This is a slim volume to ponder, full of writing to savor, to glean meaning from. It is the evocation of universal memory, imagination, and emotion — prose that is at once lyrical and deep, telling stories in a language and style that is uniquely McQuade’s.”

Silver, Sword & Stone: Three Crucibles of the Latin American Story by Marie Arana (Simon & Schuster). Reviewed by Bárbara Mujica. “Silver, Sword & Stone is a must-read for anyone struggling to understand Latin America’s tumultuous past and our fraught relationship with our southern neighbors. Arana has done us a service with her clear, even-handed treatment of the subject.”

Hollow Kingdom: A Novel by Kira Jane Buxton (Grand Central Publishing). Reviewed by Josh Denslow. “And that is the final trick of the novel and why it is so successful: It is real. It doesn't matter that the plot is populated with crows and dogs and cats. We can see ourselves in them. Despite its grim apocalyptic proclamations, Hollow Kingdom remains joyously hopeful. S.T.’s quest to find himself is a statement on loyalty and resilience: or, as we Hollows would call it, being human.”

The Testaments: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese). Reviewed by Robert Allen Papinchak. “Separately, the novels are exemplary cautionary tales of a brilliantly imagined world that is all too real. Each stands alone, but reading The Handmaid’s Tale first informs The Testaments. Together, they are a remarkable diptych of disaster, a monumental achievement by a revered writer. They are a blaring warning for what might happen here.”

The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius by Bob Batchelor (Diversion Books). Reviewed by Larry Matthews. “Forget Al Capone. Forget Bonnie and Clyde and Baby Face Nelson. Let us turn our attention, instead, to one George Remus, the Bourbon King of prohibition. Remus was not only a murderous scoundrel; he was a very intelligent murderous scoundrel who put together a massive booze empire and made a fortune. And he got away with it until his own hubris brought him down.”

The Force: The Legendary Special Ops Unit and WWII’s Mission Impossible by Saul David (Hachette Books). Reviewed by Paul Dickson. “While the book focuses on this event, the Force continued to operate with distinction during the Allied advance on Rome, the landing at Anzio, and action in the South of France before being disbanded on December 5, 1944. It became the model for and precursor of future American and Canadian elite units, including today’s U.S. Army Special Forces. David, who teaches military history at the University of Buckingham in England, has written an important, highly engaging work that is, as novelist Raymond Chandler once wrote of a book he was reviewing, unputdownable.”

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch (Riverhead Books). Reviewed by Jennifer Golbeck. “If you love a statistical take on which syllables have to be emphasized for something to be funny, or when your typography crosses the line from enthusiasm to sarcasm, Because Internet is for you. Ever wonder why it feels okay to send three eggplant emojis but not to combine one with, say, a corncob and cucumber emoji? McCulloch has you covered.”

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