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Winter sees a flurry of new book releases as people snuggle in for the season. The Book Team recommends these new fiction and nonfiction titles.

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows — Ai Weiwei

Controversial and world-renowned Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, has written a haunting and beautiful memoir about his exceptional life and that of his father, Ai Qing, who was a famous poet.

Not long after Ai Weiwei was born, Ai Qing was exiled by the Chinese government into an area known as “Little Siberia,” for almost 20 years. Removed from most contact with the outside world, only art and family remained. “1000 Years of Joy and Sorrows” is the story of two artists, the relationship between a father and son, and the perseverance of art in adversity.

Termination Shock — Neal Stephenson

Best-selling author Neal Stephenson delves into a tale that combines science fiction and the real-world problem of climate change in his most recent novel, “Termination Shock.”

In an age of ever-increasing extreme weather conditions impacting the world, billionaire T.R. Schmidt, Ph.D., has a plan. While others see his plan as far-fetched and unrealistic, Schmidt feels like he can change the course of the future by reversing climate change.

Combining elements of real life with science fiction, Stephenson explores the repercussions such an action would make. Will Schmidt’s plan work? What are the consequences of creating and implementing this man-made solution in such a short time period?

The Lincoln Highway — Amor Towles

A patron came over full of zeal to the reference desk to say that this was the best book he’d read in ages, which made it easy to recommend author Amor Towles.

It’s 1954 and 18-year-old Emmett Watson has been released early on compassionate leave from a Kansas juvenile reform farm. Emmett had accidently killed another boy, who had mocked Emmett’s sick father. Now his father is dead, the farm has been lost and his younger brother, Billy, is his responsibility. What neither the warden driving him home to Nebraska nor Emmett know is that two others, Duchess and Woolly, have stowed away in the vehicle as they left the reform farm.

Emmett’s plan had been to take his precocious brother and drive the Studebaker on the cross-country journey to the west coast in search of his mother on “The Lincoln Highway.” Plans change when the manipulative Duchess and mild mannered Woolly suggest driving to New York to search for money supposedly left by Woolly’s family. As readers can imagine the trip does not go smoothly. Towles populates his tale with the vivid characters that have made him a favorite with readers.

Call Us What We Carry — Amanda Gorman

“For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

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If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

-The Hill We Climb

Amanda Gorman’s poetry came to public attention at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration last January, but she has been working on her craft for quite some time. “Call Us What We Carry” explores themes of hope and healing in an age of the pandemic and civil division. The collection includes “The Hill We Climb” as well as many new poems. A powerful exploration by a rising star of poetry.

Silverview — John le Carre

Spy novelist John le Carre died at the end of 2020, but not without completing “Silverview.” His son Nick Cornwell says the book needed little preparation for release.

Julian Lawndsley has left his prestigious big city job to open a small bookstore the seaside town of Silverview. Edward Avon, a Polish émigré living in a big house on the edge of town, takes an interest in the bookstore and Julian. Avon pulls Julian into his life. So does Proctor, a spymaster in search of a leak.

The novel is an interesting reflection on morals — at what cost does the secret services accomplished their goals, and have they actually achieved them. It is a summing up of a lifetime of writing about intelligence by a man who was once a member of the intelligence family himself. A clever puzzle for le Carre fans.

Fight Night — Miriam Toews

Canadian author Miriam Toews is known for writing about women and the intricacies of their struggles. Her newest book, “Fight Night” is an exploration into the complexity of familial female relationships, centering on a multigenerational family led by Elvira, an overly optimistic mother and grandmother. Elvira is accompanied in her adventures by Mooshie, who feels way too old to be pregnant, and Swiv, Mooshie’s feisty 9-year-old daughter.

The women find themselves surrounded by unhealthy male role models and a history of family mental illness and instability, however there is an element of resolve in being happy despite the circumstances.

I Love You, but I’ve Chosen Darkness — Claire Vaye Watkins

In a work of auto-fiction Claire Vaye Watkins returns home to Reno for a book signing, taking a break from her infant daughter and husband. Suffering from post-partum depression, her short trip becomes a longer escape as she grapples with her life. She is, at best, ambivalent about the role of mother and as she stays out west she explores her complicated parents’ lives. Her father Paul was involved with Charles Manson and her mother was an addict.

Throw in a love, who died young, an affair, and more. Watkins lays it all out in this emotional roller coaster. Is “I Love You, but I’ve Chosen Darkness” a memoir, a novel, or a turbulent mix of both.

For more information on these books or others, contact the main branch of the Kanawha County Public Library at 304-343-4646 or visit

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