New & Noteworthy, From Finding Joy to Offbeat Sports Stories

Recent titles of interest:

BLACK BOX: The Memoir That Sparked Japan’s #MeToo Movement, by Shiori Ito. (Feminist Press, paper, $17.95.) In 2015, Ito was raped by a reporter she had met for drinks. Her account of the assault and its aftermath led Japan to a cultural and legal reckoning.

SIDECOUNTRY: Tales of Death and Life From the Back Roads of Sports, by John Branch. (Norton, $27.95.) Branch, a Times reporter who frequently writes about sports from offbeat angles, here collects 20 of his favorite pieces, including the Pulitzer-winning “Snow Fall,” about skiers caught in an avalanche.

STOLEN: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Gilpin. (Grand Central, $28.) At 15, the author was an excellent student and a star athlete — but she was also depressed and angry, so her parents, heeding the advice of a consultant, enrolled her in a “therapeutic” boarding program. This memoir details the abuses she faced there.

PHOSPHORESCENCE: A Memoir of Finding Joy When Your World Goes Dark, by Julia Baird. (Random House, $27.) Facing heartbreak and cancer, Baird (whose previous book was a biography of Queen Victoria) methodically sought moments of joy in nature and friendships.

THE SEA WE SWIM IN: How Stories Work in a Data-Driven World, by Frank Rose. (Norton, $25.95.) Rose draws on psychology and neuroscience to show how narrative tools — character, anecdote, voice — help us understand the world.

What we’re reading:

I’m not sure who in my book club — really a text chat — chose Fredrik Backman’s ANXIOUS PEOPLE, but it produced polar reactions. “Piercing,” said one. “Impossible to beat Ove,” said another.

Which was it? The truth is, the truth is complicated. The story (seemingly) begins with a heist orchestrated by a bank robber who accidentally takes hostages at an apartment showing overseen by a real estate agent who — wait, where is the real estate agent?

And so the capers ensue. Here’s a man in underpants, socks and a rabbit head! Here’s a cop who confuses Christmas lights for a bomb! Here’s a pistol that everyone knows is a fake until — is it actually real? Tragedy-comedy. Comedy-tragedy. Is this book funny? Or not? The truth is, the book is loaded with tragedy. But maybe, in the thick of the awfulness a pair of hands lifts up a person because it’s the right thing to do. By the final page, your feeling of despair — and hope — is complete.

—Francesca Donner, editor, Gender and Women

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