It’s time once again for us to catch up with Miami’s most famous bookseller, Mitchell Kaplan, and to seek his counsel on the best books to help us get through an unprecedented fall season. Here are four eclectic selections, all available at Books & Books locations or the chain’s website.
Rumaan Alam’s third novel became a sensation even before it was published. This past summer, it was announced that Netflix had picked up Leave the World Behind for a film adaptation starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. Now readers have a chance to discover what the buzz is about. The synopsis certainly reads like a well-crafted play or movie, in the vein of “Us.” A couple and their two teenage children leave the hurly-burly of New York City for a sojourn in a Long Island vacation rental, only to be confronted by a late-night knock on the door: It’s an elderly couple, the home’s owners, panicking over a blackout that has swept New York City. Privilege and otherness collide under unforeseen circumstances, and without the trappings of a first-world life to keep them distracted, these strangers are forced into trusting one another. But should they?
You may think you know the story of Malcolm X if you’ve seen Spike Lee’s excellent biopic. But until now, no biographer yet has approached the project with the time and resources of Les Payne, who embarked on the interviews for this book 30 years ago. Over the past three decades, Payne, a former editor at Newsday, recorded more than 100 hours of interviews with people who knew Malcolm personally, from friends and classmates to cellmates, FBI informants and political leaders. The result is said to rewrite “much of the known narrative” about this polarizing activist, and is filled with page-turning revelations.
The humor leaping off the pages of Solutions and Other Problems is, in our perpetually grim news cycle, just what the doctor—or in this case bookseller—ordered. Influential blogger and comic artist Allie Brosh’s follow-up to her influential 2013 collection Hyperbole and a Half consists of 526 pages of incisive and creative musings, on subjects such as her own character flaws, the misadventures of the bad animals in her life and the absurdity of the times in which we live. It’s supplemented by 1,600 of Brosh’s own illustrations.
Prolific South Florida author Brad Meltzer’s “Ordinary People Can Change the World” series, which combines clear-eyed biographical history and kid-friendly illustrations, has proven to be a gangbusters success. The series is now 22 books strong, and its latest entry, I Am Anne Frank, is, according to Mitch Kaplan, the “biggest-selling book we have.” In chronicling such a somber and heartbreaking story, Meltzer acknowledges Anne Frank’s sacrifice and makes vivid the inhumanity of the Holocaust, while illustrator Eliopoulos, a Marvel Comics alum, draws the title character as if were a friend to the reader, a relatable figure gone much too soon.