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December 12, 2018

They’re So Easy to Giftwrap, Too: A Holiday Sampler of Books from the New School Community

Urban Matters offers its annual, idiosyncratic selection of some of the books published by The New School community during 2018 that caught our eye and piqued our interest.



Optimism at All Costs: Black Attitudes, Activism, and Advancement in Obama's America (University of Massachusetts Press)

by Lessie B. Branch, PhD Public and Urban Policy '15.

Dr. Branch confronts the tension between Black Americans’ economic realities and the hope many felt for the future during the Obama years.

Stay or Go: Dr. Ruth's Rules for Real Relationships (Amazon Publishing)

by Dr. Ruth Westheimer, MA Sociology '59.

Yes, she’s back! Covering topics from financial stresses to parenting pressures, America’s best-known sex and relationship therapist offers characteristically straight-up advice to couples on when to stick it out or, alternatively, cut your losses and move on.

Detox Your Home: A Guide to Removing Toxins from Your Life and Bringing Health into Your Home (Rowman & Littlefield)

by Christine Dimmick, BFA Communication Design '91.

Health and wellness speaker, advocate, and Good Home Company founder Christine Dimmick examines the toxins found in our homes and discusses how you can limit your exposure.

#Against Trump: Notes from Year One

by Jeffrey C. Isaac, contributing editor to Public Seminar, a New School online publishing project.

Isaac, a political scientist at Indiana University, believes the threat posed by Trump and his authoritarian counterparts in France, Hungary, Poland, and Turkey warrants a strong democratic response. He articulates a politics that bridges the gap between liberalism and leftism, pointing the way toward more productive disagreements and more meaningful, effective alliances.

For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors (University of Iowa Press)

by Laura Esther Wolfson, MFA Creative Writing '07.

Winner of the Iowa Prize in Literary Nonfiction, Wolfson’s debut work, spangled with pathos and dusted with humor, transports readers to Paris, the Republic of Georgia, upstate New York, the Upper West Side, and the corridors of the United Nations, telling stories that skewer, transform, and inspire.

Upstate Girls (Simon & Schuster)

by Brenda Ann Kenneally, Eugene Lang Journalism + Design faculty.

What began as a brief photojournalism assignment for The New York Times Magazine turned into a years-long investigation of Troy, NY. Once an economic dynamo, Troy now is a city where the factories have closed, the middle class has disappeared, and the downtown has fallen into disrepair. A powerful and intimate portrait of love and struggle in post-industrial America.


The Friend (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House)

by Sigrid Nunez, faculty in Creative Writing.

In this winner of the prestigious National Book Award, Nunez tells a moving story that explores profound loss and celebrates the connection between canines and humans. The plot revolves around a writer whose best friend commits suicide and leaves her an unwanted, and very large, Great Dane.

Burro Hills (Diversion Books)

by Julia Lynn Rubin, MFA Creative Writing '17.

Jack Burns is a resident—though often he feels like an inmate—of the tiny California desert town of Burro Hills. Growing up surrounded by the broken dreams of his parents, Jack wonders if he will ever just get out.

The Optimistic Decade (Algonquin Books)

by Heather Abel, MFA Creative Writing '04.

An entertaining and assured debut novel about a utopian summer camp and its charismatic leader that asks smart questions about good intentions gone terribly wrong.

Trenton Makes (Random House)

by Tadzio Koelb, BFA Fine Arts '93.

In 1946, in hardscrabble industrial Trenton, NJ, a woman kills her Army veteran husband in a domestic brawl—and then assumes his identity. A vivid, razor-sharp debut novel about a woman who carves out her share of the American Dream by living as a man.


A Generous Latitude (ECW Press)

by Lenea Grace, MFA Creative Writing '12.

Taking humor in the human condition, A Generous Latitude juxtaposes the serious with the silly, the irreverent with more somber realities. It supplants the expected with rich imagery that lights the mundane. You don’t have to be Canadian to enjoy Grace’s work, but it might be a plus.

Children and Young Adults

Hurricane Child (Scholastic)

by Kheryn Callender, MFA Creative Writing '14.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around.

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble (Harper Collins)

by Anna Meriano, MFA Creative Writing '16.

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: They’re brujas — witches of Mexican ancestry — who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything they bake.

The Belles (Freeform)

by Dhonielle Clayton, MFA Creative Writing '12.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.

The Midnights (Harper Collins)

by Sarah Nicole Smetana, MFA Creative Writing '13.

Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord patterns than college essays, but when her father dies unexpectedly, her dreams — and her reality — shatter. 

Compiled and edited by Kimberly Roberts and Bruce Cory.

PHOTO: Getty