If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go

It is the summer of 1972, and Katie has just turned eighteen. She was “finished with school and ready for real life. It was summer, and anything was possible.” When not hanging out with her friends Nanny and Liz, Katie tries to catch the eye of Luke, recently back from Vietnam, whom she has loved from afar for years. Katie and her town, Elephant Beach – a fictionalized version of Long Island’s Long Beach – are both on the verge: Katie of adulthood, and Elephant Beach of gentrification. But not yet: Elephant Beach is still gritty, working-class, close-knit; and Katie spends her time smoking and drinking with her friends, dreaming about a boy who barely sees her.


Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA

Morten Storm was an unlikely jihadi. A six-foot-one red-haired Dane, Storm spent his teens throwing punches with a biker gang and getting thrown in jail. A book about the Prophet Mohammed prompted his conversion to Islam, and Storm sought purpose in a community of believers. He attended a militant madrasah in Yemen, named his son Osama, and became close friends with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born terrorist cleric. But after a decade of jihadi life, he not only repudiated extremism but, in a quest for atonement, became a double agent for the CIA and British and Danish intelligence. Agent Storm takes readers inside the jihadist world like never before, showing the daily life of zealous men set on mass murder, from dodging drones with al Qaeda leaders in the Arabian Desert to training in extremist gyms in Britain to carrying out supply drops in Kenya. The book also provides a tantalizing look at his dangerous life undercover, as Storm traveled the world for missions targeting its most dangerous terrorists and into the world’s most powerful spy agencies: their tradecraft, rivalries, and late-night carousing, as well as their ruthless use of a beautiful blonde in an ambitious honey trap. Agent Storm is a captivating, utterly unique, real-life espionage tale.


Zero to One

Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel’s innovative new theory and formula for how to build the companies of the future: the only way to create lasting value and profits is to create and monopolize a new market instead of trying to compete in an existing one. For readers of The Lean Startup, Good to Great, and Black Swan.

Refining and expanding on the lecture notes from his start-ups course at Stanford (which received over a million views online), Thiel says that progress comes in two forms: vertical and horizontal. Horizontal progress means copying or iterating on products, ideas, and solutions that already exist; vertical progress is building new ones from the ground up. Yet horizontal progress yields only incremental improvements and short-term profits that are quickly competed away. To create lasting value, we must strive for vertical progress: going from 0 to 1. Thiel urges innovators in all fields not to compete on well-trodden paths but rather to find a new frontier, plant their flag, monopolize, then scale up as quickly as possible. The next great company won’t be another Microsoft or Apple—those have been done. Instead it will be something completely new that we have yet to dream up.


Fire Shut Up in My Bones

A gorgeous, moving memoir of how one of America’s most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past.

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow mines the compelling poetry of the out-of-time African-American Louisiana town where he grew up—a place where slavery’s legacy felt astonishingly close, reverberating in the elders’ stories and in the near-constant wash of violence.

Blow’s attachment to his mother—a fiercely driven women with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, a job plucking poultry at a nearby factory, a soon-to-be-ex husband, and a love of newspapers and learning—cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of an older cousin. It’s damage that triggers years of anger and searing self-questioning.

Finally, Blow escapes to a nearby state university, where he joins a black fraternity after a passage of brutal hazing, and then enters a world of racial and sexual privilege that feels like everything he’s ever needed and wanted, until he’s called upon, himself, to become the one perpetuating the shocking abuse.

A powerfully redemptive memoir that both fits the tradition of African-American storytelling from the South, and gives it an indelible new slant.

A Deadly Wandering

In this ambitious, compelling, and beautifully written book, Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, examines the impact of technology on our lives through the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. Richtel follows Reggie through the tragedy, the police investigation, his prosecution, and ultimately, his redemption. In the wake of his experience, Reggie has become a leading advocate against “distracted driving.” Richtel interweaves Reggie’s story with cutting-edge scientific findings regarding human attention and the impact of technology on our brains, proposing solid, practical, and actionable solutions to help manage this crisis individually and as a society.


Eat, Drink and Remarry

MR. RIGHT #1: A financier who “did deals”
MR. RIGHT #2: A fourth-generation German-Jewish funeral director
MR. RIGHT #3: A handsome, Ivy League–educated, award-winning actor
MR. RIGHT #4: Dr. Perfect, a cardiothoracic surgeon (and the official keeper)

Being an advice columnist means you’ve heard it all. What it does not mean is that you get everything right in your own life. Margo Howard, better known as “Dear Prudence,” then “Dear Margo,” can testify to that.

Eat, Drink and Remarry is the charming and candid memoir of a woman who goes from blushing bride to rice-scarred veteran. With wit, humor and 20/20 hindsight she reveals lessons learned from the men in her life. This no-holds-barred account is confirmation that understanding love, and of course people, comes only when we’re ready, and that sometimes it really is possible to start over and get things just right.


Not My Father’s Son

Acclaimed actor of stage and screen, Alan Cumming, shares the story of his road to fame, and how the complicated relationship with his father, as well as deeply hidden family secrets, made him who he is today.

Dancing With Myself

An early architect of punk rock’s sound, style, and fury, whose lip-curling sneer and fist-pumping personae vaulted him into pop mainstream as one of MTV’s first stars, Billy Idol remains an iconic music legend. Now, in his long-awaited autobiography, Dancing With Myself, he delivers an electric, searingly honest account of his journey to fame—including intimate and unapologetic details about his life’s high highs and low lows—all rendered with the in-your-face attitude and fire his fans have embraced for decades. Beyond adding his uniquely qualified perspective to the evolution of rock, Idol is a brash, lively chronicler of his own career. A survivor’s story, an equally enchanting, chilling, and always riveting account of one man’s creative drive joining forces with unbridled human desire, this much-anticipated memoir is unmistakably literary in its character and brave in its sheer willingness to tell. Billy Idol is destined to emerge as one of the great writers among his musical peers.

War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love

In War Dogs, Rebecca Frankel offers a riveting mix of on-the-ground reporting, her own hands-on experiences in the military working dog world, and a look at the science of dogs’ special abilities—from their amazing noses and powerful jaws to their enormous sensitivity to the emotions of their human companions. The history of dogs in the US military is long and rich, from the spirit-lifting mascots of the Civil War to the dogs still leading patrols hunting for IEDs today. Frankel not only interviewed handlers who deployed with dogs in wars from Vietnam to Iraq, but top military commanders, K-9 program managers, combat-trained therapists who brought dogs into war zones as part of a preemptive measure to stave off PTSD, and veterinary technicians stationed in Bagram. She makes a passionate case for maintaining a robust war-dog force. In a post-9/11 world rife with terrorist threats, nothing is more effective than a bomb-sniffing dog and his handler. With a compelling cast of humans and animals, this moving book is a must read for all dog lovers—military and otherwise.


Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Neil Patrick Harris, star of How I Met Your Mother and Doogie Howser, M.D., takes readers on an entertaining and original adventure through his life and career.

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened? Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose-Your-Own-Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader (or e-reader, because we’re thinking this one might sell really well on Kindle), live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat onboard Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a guest stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose-Your-Own-Autobiography!