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5 books not to miss: Richard Powers' ‘Bewilderment,’ Anderson Cooper’s ‘Vanderbilt’

·2 min read

In search of something good to read? USA TODAY's Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases. All books are on sale Tuesday.

1. “Bewilderment,” by Richard Powers (Fiction, Norton)

What it’s about: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Overstory” comes a heartrending story about astrobiologist Theo Byrne, who searches for life in the cosmos while raising his unusual, brilliant, kind but also troubled 9-year-old son, Robin, after the death of his wife.

The buzz: “A touching novel that offers a vital message with uncommon sympathy and intelligence,” says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. Plus, the novel has already been nominated for the National Book Award and Booker Prize.

“Bewilderment,” by Richard Powers.
“Bewilderment,” by Richard Powers.

2. “Vanderbilt,” by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe (Harper, nonfiction)

What it’s about: CNN anchor Cooper teams with historian Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty, the Vanderbilts – his mother’s family, which built its enormous wealth in shipping and railroad empires in the 19th century.

The buzz: “A sturdy family history that also serves as a pointed lesson in how to lose a fortune,” Kirkus Reviews says.

3. “The Book of Form and Emptiness,” by Ruth Ozeki (Viking, fiction)

What it’s about: A year after the death of his father, 13-year-old Benny Oh hears voices, often troubled, from inanimate objects – but then he finds peace in the voices of books.

The buzz: “This novel’s meditative pacing perfectly suits its open-hearted contemplation,” says a ★★★★ (out of four) review for USA TODAY.

More: Colson Whitehead’s latest novel, 'Harlem Shuffle,' among 2021 Kirkus Prize nominees

4. “When Ghosts Come Home,” by Wiley Cash (William Morrow, fiction)

What it’s about: Sheriff Winston Barnes begins a murder investigation into a crash-landed plane with no pilot or cargo and a man shot dead nearby. Everyone is suspect, even the dead man, and the investigation will change the course of Barnes’ life.

The buzz: “A gripping mystery with characters that will linger in readers’ minds long after they turn the last page,” Kirkus Reviews says.

More: Wilmington writer Wiley Cash's new novel reckons with family and race in 1980s Oak Island

5. “Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark,” by Cassandra Peterson (Hachette, nonfiction)

What it’s about: The raven-haired bombshell of horror, aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, shares her full story, starting with a Midwest childhood and an accident that left much of her body in third-degree burns, through a storied career that crowned her the Queen of Halloween.

The buzz: “A wicked page turner filled with hilarity and heartbreak – a life full of crazy stories and insane revelations,” says musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie.

More: A rebel nun transfixes in Lauren Groff's medieval masterpiece 'Matrix'

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Richard Powers' ‘Bewilderment,’ Anderson Cooper: 5 books not to miss

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