Barbara’s Picks, Jun. 2014, Pt. 2: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Alan Furst, Sue Miller, & More

Betts, Dwayne. The Circumference of a Prison: Youth, Race, and the Failures of the American Justice System. Avery. Jun. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781583334751. $27. LAWbetts
A distinguished poet, Yale law student, and NAACP Image award winner, Betts received a Soros Justice Fellowship to support the writing of this book, which addresses the inequities of a juvenile justice system that annually treats nearly 200,000 juveniles as adults. That makes them a third more likely to reoffend. Betts understands the issue, having spent eight years in prison after being arrested at age 16 for carjacking.

Birmingham, Kevin. The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2104. 432p. ISBN 9781594203367. $29.95. BIOGRAPHY
Harvard literary historian Birmingham’s study is billed as biography, but it’s really the biography of a book, tracing the evolution of James Joyce’s Ulysses from Joyce’s first glint of inspiration in 1904 to the 1933 federal obscenity trial that finally allowed for its publication in the United States.

Clinton, Hillary Rodham. Untitled Memoir. S. & S. Jun. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476751443. $40. MEMOIR
Billed as a memoir, this book might be something more. Clinton uses key events during her tenure as secretary of state—e.g., the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Arab Spring, and tensions with Iran and North Korea—to comment on U.S. foreign policy and the importance of U.S. world leadership. An early campaign book?

Eade, Philip. Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters: An Eccentric Englishwoman and Her Lost Kingdom. Picador. Jun. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781250045898. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781250045904. BIOGRAPHY
The wife of Sir Vyner Brooke, the last White Rajah, who ruled the jungle kingdom of Sarawak on Borneo, Sylvia Brooke was one of those wildly over-the-top British socialites who make such good reading. Eade’s first book has been called “amazing” (Daily Express), “biting” (the London Times), and (love this) “rather giddying” (London Sunday Times).

Furst, Alan. Untitled Novel. Random. Jun. 2014. 2729. ISBN 9781400069491. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780679604235. THRILLER
In 1938 Paris, Spanish Bourbon descendant Gregorio D’Alba runs guns and gathers intelligence for the Spanish Republic, then goes big time when he agrees to infiltrate the Nationalist government (with a little support from the British and Americans). Sales for master-of-espionage Furst keep going up.

King, Lily. Euphoria. Atlantic Monthly. Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780802122551. $25. euphoriaLITERARY FICTION
In the Territory of New Guinea, between the world wars, English anthropologist Andrew Banson is rescued from despair by notorious colleague Nell Stone and her Australian husband. Banson’s discovery of a female-centered tribe sets off personal and professional firestorms among the three. From a Barnes and Noble Discover Award winner who’s been building an impressive career.

Koryta, Michael. Those Who Wish Me Dead. Little, Brown. Jun. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780316122559. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316279963. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
After 13-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a murder, the police sneak him into a wilderness skills program for troubled teens to protect him as they seek out the killers. But are the Montana mountains and the woman in the fire lookout tower enough to protect him? From the New York Times best-selling author.

Miller, Sue. The Arsonist. Knopf. Jun. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780307594792. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351706. CD/downloadable: Random Penguin Audio. LITERARY FICTION
Retiring with her increasingly erratic professor husband to the New Hampshire town where she has summered for decades doesn’t turn out as planned for Sylvia Rowley. Social tensions surface, starting with the renovation Sylvia’s son is doing on the property, and then local homes start falling to an arsonist. From the multi-million-copy best-selling Miller.

Morris, Sylvia Jukes. Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce. Random. Jun. 2014. 720p. ISBN 9780679457114. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780804179690. BIOGRAPHY
We’ve been waiting since 1997 to read a follow-up to Morris’s highly regarded Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce, and here it is: a big tome that opens as the celebrated playwright and wife of Henry Luce enters the political arena, first as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, then as the first American woman given a major ambassadorship.

Valentine, Genevieve. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. Atria. Jun. 2014. 272p. 9781476739083. $24. FANTASYvalentine
A Nebula nominee for her full-length fiction and a World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson award nominee for her short fiction, Valentine crafts a story about Jo Hamilton, who nightly leads her 11 sisters from their father’s constraining townhouse so that they can dance at Manhattan’s speakeasies. Yes, a Jazz-Age retelling of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses” fairytale, which is why I made it a pick.

Waters, John. Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America. Farrar. Jun. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780374298630. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374709303. CD: Macmillan Audio. TRAVEL
When edgy filmmaker Waters decides to hitchhike from Baltimore to San Francisco, bearing a sign that says, “I’m Not Psycho,” he thought he might encounter an angry, armed drunk or a rich drug dealer happy to finance his films. Instead, there’s a sweet octogenarian, an indie band on tour, and (his favorite) a blond Republican in a Corvette.

Wilkinson, Toby. The Nile: A Journey Downriver Through Egypt’s Past and Present. Knopf. Jun. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780385351553. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385351560. HISTORY
As he takes us down the Nile, from the Blue Nile–White Nile sources in Ethiopia and Lake Victoria, respectively, through the Valley of Kings and on to exploding Cairo, celebrated Egyptologist Wilkinson also gives us a tour of ancient Egypt (emphasizing its gods and rulers) and the archaeologists who uncover its secrets.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.