Frontlist | 10 New Books We Recommend This WeekFrontlist | 10 New Books We Recommend This Week
on Feb 05, 2021
It’s rare for a self-help book to crack our list of recommended titles. But Ron Lieber’s guide to the financial side of higher education, “The Price You Pay for College,” made the cut for a couple of reasons. First, on the face of it, it’s an impressively thorough and genuinely useful manual for people staring up the sheer cliff of college tuition payments. (I am one.) Second, and more relevant for an audience of general readers, it also contains an implicit analysis and critique of higher education as a system, by acknowledging the inequities that exist at every level from recruitment to admissions to financial aid. It’s a how-to book that will also make you think, “But why?”
Other books on the to-read pile this week: A biography of the renowned director Mike Nichols, a history of the ties between religion and economics, a look at culture’s role in mental illness and a writer’s celebration of learning new skills as an unabashed amateur. In fiction we suggest a gender-fluid story of love and parenthood, along with one novel from England, another from Spain, one set in Senegal and a story collection by the Irish writer Kevin Barry (whose novel “Night Boat to Tangier” was one of our 10 Best Books in 2019).
MIKE NICHOLS: A Life, by Mark Harris. (Penguin Press, $35.) The writer and director Mike Nichols first became famous for his improvisational comedy routines with Elaine May. His first two films were “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Graduate” — the first furious, daring and adult, the second zeitgeist-defining. He directed four consecutive hit plays at nearly the same moment. He became friends with people like Jacqueline Kennedy, Leonard Bernstein and Richard Avedon. Harris, the author of two previous books and also a longtime entertainment reporter with a gift for scene-setting, is “at his best” in this biography, our critic Dwight Garner writes, “when he takes you inside a production. His chapters on the making of three films in particular — ‘The Graduate,’ ‘Silkwood’ and ‘Angels in America’ — are miraculous: shrewd, tight, intimate and funny. You sense he could turn each one into a book.”
TRIO, by William Boyd. (Knopf, $27.95.) An alcoholic novelist, a closeted film producer and a movie star with a terrorist ex-husband converge in this madcap novel set in 1960s England. It’s a satisfying and entertainingly retro production, chock-full of subplots and buoyed by dotty humor. “It would be hard to think of a living novelist whose books encompass more history, more settings, more professions, more varieties of individual fate, than William Boyd — at least with anything like his assurance,” James Lasdun writes in his review. “His new book, ‘Trio,’ delivers much of the same set of literary goods, with perhaps a lighter touch than usual.”
THE PRICE YOU PAY FOR COLLEGE: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make, by Ron Lieber. (Harper/HarperCollins, $27.99.) A comprehensive guide to the trying process of paying for higher education, Lieber’s book explains in detail how to save money, apply for aid and bargain with colleges, all while carefully acknowledging the sometimes conflicting perspectives of the parties involved. “Understood as a self-help book, ‘The Price You Pay for College’ represents an extraordinary achievement,” Daniel Markovits writes in his review. “It is comprehensive and detailed without being tedious, practical without being banal, impeccably well judged and unusually rigorous. But the main title hints at a sensibility deeper than friendly advice.”