Joy, Flexibility and Bravery Land on the Best-Seller List
By Elisabeth Egan
BITE-SIZE The tween attention span has been a subject of much concern, especially since the pandemic made “screen time” as quaint as rotary phones. Here’s a tip for adolescents transfixed by Roblox: Try anthologies. They’re the YouTube of books, perfect for easily distracted types, and there’s a new one at No. 1 on the middle grade hardcover list: “Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood,” edited by Kwame Mbalia, author of the Tristan Strong trilogy. His collection includes contributions from Jerry Craft, Tochi Onyebuchi and Jason Reynolds, and explores sexual identity, intergalactic warfare, skateboarding and loss. With irresistibly named tales like “There’s Going to Be a Fight in the Cafeteria on Friday and You Better Not Bring Batman,” the vibe is playful with a side of gravity; as Mbalia writes, “Grab your string cheese. Prepare to laugh, cry and maybe even dance, but most of all, prepare to feel joyful.” At the moment, “Black Boy Joy” is the only anthology on the middle grade list — but readers may also be interested in Joanna Farrow’s “The Official Harry Potter Baking Book,” currently at No. 3, which teaches kids how to whip up Wand Breadsticks, Quidditch Pitch Focaccia and Whomping Willow Cheese Straws.
ON POINT With “The Turnout,” now at No. 13 on the hardcover fiction list, Megan Abbott continues her streak of writing suspense novels about sports for people who can touch their toes without straining a hamstring. In “Dare Me,” the subject was cheerleading; in “You Will Know Me,” it was gymnastics; and now the author our reviewer described (admiringly) as “a mood” takes us into the grueling world of dance. “The Turnout” is the August pick for the “Today” show’s Read With Jenna book club.
WHISTLE-BLOWERS There are two new titles on this week’s hardcover nonfiction list, both concerning people who saw something and said something. Alexander Vindman is the Army lieutenant colonel who testified at Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial about the president’s phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky; his memoir, “Here, Right Matters,” is now at No. 2. And at No. 14, we have “All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days,” Rebecca Donner’s biography of Mildred Harnack, her great-great-aunt who was executed in 1943 for being a member of the German resistance to the Nazis. The moral of both stories: The courageous rise to the top.
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