books

It's hard to make time for history books when there is so much history crashing down on us every single day — and especially when that history is divisive, aggressive and seemingly never-ending.

The selections were winnowed down from 1,637 books.

On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation announced the 25 books that remain in the running for the National Book Awards, now in its 69th year.

The writers come from such places as Pittsburgh, Norway, Iran and Poland, and many of them have delved into some of the most pressing conversations of our time: racism, masculinity, addiction, the destruction of indigenous culture, class divides and corporations.

And for the first time since the 1980s, the judges will also honor a work in translation.

Alejandra Martinez

Author Patricia Engel first had the idea for her latest novel while driving in Miami with her mom more than 10 years ago.

When they drove over a bridge, Engel's mother told her a story about a man who threw a baby off a bridge. But she didn’t know any more details about the tragedy. That left Engel wondering.

This conversation led to what's now "The Veins of the Ocean," published in 2016, which tells a similar story. It's Sundial Book Club’s October pick.

Jennine Capó Crucet / Courtesy

Cuban-American author Jennine Capó Crucet has taken her “very Miami” teaching style and pineapple tights to Nebraska.

Her book, “Make Your Home Among Strangers,” is the first title of the Sundial Book Club. It follows a young Cuban-American woman, Lizet Ramirez, as she goes from her life in Hialeah to an elite private school in the Northeast. Ramirez is then pulled between life at college and home, finding herself in the middle of a national immigration debate in Miami. 

Every year the National Book Foundation features a few fresh faces or unfamiliar names among the nominees for its annual literary prize. This time around, though, there's a twist. One of the actual National Book Award categories is something readers have not seen for quite some time: a prize for a work in translation.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

White House staff concerned about President Trump's leadership have hidden documents from him to prevent him from signing off on certain actions, according to reports about an explosive new book from renowned Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

Woodward's latest book, Fear, is focused on the Trump White House and is set to be officially released on Sept. 11.

The first time you see 'sand piracy,' it might sound surreal — a misguided Pixar villain whose lackeys race down the beach with empty buckets and sinister intent, doomed to fail in the face of a resource that spans the whole ocean.

Then you find out about someone stealing 1,300 feet of sand from a beach in Jamaica, or the many sand miners whose dredgers suck sand from the ocean floor by the ton and, suddenly, it doesn't sound as funny — or as impossible — as it did before.

Sometimes all it takes for love to blossom is a chance encounter — or a murder and a mystery. This month, I've picked three books that prove love finds a way, no matter the circumstances of a first meeting or the reasons couples are stuck together. When sparks are flying and hearts and minds are open, there's no stopping these happily ever afters.

July Fourth is a day when America celebrates its independence.

But this July Fourth, I am reflecting on another part of the American experience — the enslavement of my fellow Africans. That's because I have just finished reading Barracoon, the book in which Zora Neale Hurston presents the story of Cudjo Lewis, who was on the last ship that brought slaves across the Atlantic. It took 60 years for her book to be published. Now it is a best-seller.

Donald Hall, a former poet laureate of the United States whose writing explored everything from nature to mortality to the toss of a baseball, has died at the age of 89.

Hall died on Saturday at his family farm, known as Eagle Pond, in the small town of Wilmot, N.H. His death was announced by his literary agent, Wendy Strothman.

Hall was a prolific author who began writing when he was just 12 years old. Over the course of a career that spanned more than seven decades, he wrote over 40 books, about half of which were works of poetry.

Andrew Pollack is a school safety activist, a founder of Americans for Children’s Lives and School Safety and father of Meadow Pollack, one of the 17 victims from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Dr. Sandra Calvert is the Director of the Children’s Digital Media Center and a child psychologist at Georgetown University. She was part of the American Psychological Association in 2015 where she explored the impact of violent video games on children’s brains.

When my brother, sister, and I were growing up, our dinner conversation would inevitably turn scatological at some point, the grosser the better: A kid puked on the teacher's desk, another tracked in dog poop. "Must we talk about this at dinner?" our mother would protest. To which we would answer, "When else are we supposed to talk about it?"

Updated at 12:50 a.m. ET

Philip Roth, whose novel American Pastoral won a Pulitzer in 1998 but who was best-known for the controversial and explicit 1969 Portnoy's Complaint, has died at age 85.

Roth's biographer Blake Bailey, who confirmed his death to NPR, says the author was surrounded by friends and family.

"I want to know who you are and how you came to be a slave." That was one of the first questions that Zora Neale Hurston asked 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis when she traveled from New York to Mobile, Ala., to interview him in the summer of 1927.

Atlas Obscura

Zora Neale Hurston, one of the best known writers of the Harlem Renaissance — and the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God — has a new book. Well, that's not quite right; it's actually an old book that is only now being published. It's called Barracoon, and it's based on a series of conversations Hurston had with Cudjo Lewis, who was brought to this country aboard the last ship that carried slaves across the Atlantic. 

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