With the commemoration of Memorial Day and the heading toward Independence Day, this week’s selections include an examination of one American’s family from her roots in China’s Pearl River Delta, across an ocean to work on the transcontinental railroad and eventually settlement in New York City. Other offerings prepare the audience for Father’s Day with two books depicting celebrity fatherhood: one describing the lives of sons of baseball’s greats, and the other a single celebrity dad of two. Then there’s a look at the Manhattan Project, the top-secret program that helped end World II and ushered in the atomic age. For fiction, we recommend a departure from the usual suspense-thriller fare with a more humorous bent.
“The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up,” by Andy Cohen (Henry Holt and Co.)
Fatherhood is that moment when young men trade in the fun and games of bar-hopping, late-night parties, and watching Monday Night Football with the guys, for a new kind of fun and games: those defined by the responsibilities, joys, and growing pains of parenthood. Andy Cohen, late night host of Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live,” describes his own growing pains as the single parent of two children: Benjamin Allen, 4, and Lucy Eve, 1. Once fatherhood happens, the superficial fades and what is important and lasting come into focus — often in hilarious and unexpected ways. “Cohen is here to share his experiences and make you feel seen while doing it — and he does it well,” writes Kirkus Reviews. “Universal truths combine with kindness and optimism in a memoir from a single working parent who just happens to be a star.” (Nonfiction)
“Mott Street: A Chinese American Family's Story of Exclusion and Homecoming,” by Ava Chin (Penguin Press)
“Mott Street” refers to the heart of New York City’s Chinatown, and the author focuses in on a single building there that housed multiple generations from both sides of her family. The book is the result of years of research into her family history dating back to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act — a federal law barring Chinese immigrants from citizenship for six decades. “Deeply researched and superbly told, this sweeping saga is sure to become required reading for those seeking to understand America’s past and present,” wrote Frances Cody, reviewing for Publishers Weekly. “Readers will be rapt.” (Nonfiction)
“Nobel Laureates of Los Alamos: The Manhattan Project Era,” by Los Alamos National Laboratory (Texas A&M University Press)
Northern New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, which oversaw the Manhattan Project, ushered the world into the nuclear age with the development of its first atomic bomb. While it ended the war with Japan, it also sparked a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. U.S. Army General Leslie Groves was appointed to lead the Manhattan Project in September 1942, and he recruited some of the world’s most brilliant scientists, overseen by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. This is the fascinating story of the secret project that began with a contract between the University of California and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed 80 years ago. (Nonfiction)
“Sons of Baseball: Growing Up with a Major League Dad,” by Mark Braff (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)
Books written by the professional stars on the mound or in front of the plate abound, but this one looks at the sport from a unique perspective — from the eyes of the sons and grandsons of the heroes of the diamond. Eighteen men shared their stories of being raised while immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of America’s pastime — in the locker rooms, the dugouts and in the stands — as it’s played at its very highest level. “There have been a multitude of books on baseball players, but this excellent book by Mr. Braff focuses on the relationships of sons and their MLB fathers,” said reviewer Steve Kaplan. “Some very interesting stories on how it is to grow up as a son of a major leaguer.” (Nonfiction)
“Swamp Story: A Novel,” by Dave Barry (Simon & Schuster)
Any time Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry comes out with a new book, run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore before they run out of copies. “Swamp Story” is no exception, where Florida’s humorist laureate and the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times bestselling author Barry finds chaos and comedy deep in the heart of the Florida Everglades. And, of course, no novel centered on Florida is complete without a slightly off-kilter character known as “Florida Man.” This one has a whole slew of swamp-dwelling Florida men who hatch up a scheme to make oodles of money on reality TV by filming mystery sightings of a swamp creature called Melon Monster. He’s, in fact, a local alcoholic wearing a “Dora the Explorer” mask. “There are good guys and bad guys but mostly borderline idiots whose inane conversations are hilarious,” said author Theresa Alan
, reviewing for GoodReads. “This novel is a lot of fun.”
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