L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Mysterious Death of the “Female Byron,” by Lucasta Miller. (Anchor, 432 pp., $20.) ”Is the ingénue a good writer, or is she just a good character?” Claire Jarvis asked in her review of this biography of a prolific 19th-century Romantic, Letitia Elizabeth Landon (pen name L.E.L.). In Landon’s case, the latter more than suffices. While painting herself as a chaste, sentimental poet, she secretly bore three illegitimate children, then died in “ignominious circumstances,” newly married to a British governor in West Africa.
NINTH HOUSE, by Leigh Bardugo. (Flatiron, 480 pp., $17.99.) Set on the Yale campus in New Haven — “that creepy old witchland,” as Choire Sicha, our reviewer, put it — Bardugo’s first adult fantasy novel concerns a powerful, extra–secret society that’s watching over the university’s own secret societies.
BIRTH OF A DREAM WEAVER: A Writer’s Awakening, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. (New Press, 256 pp., $16.99.) This third memoir by Kenya’s most celebrated novelist, about his college years in early 1960s Uganda, is “an angry book,” Michela Wrong, our reviewer, noted, but it marks the start of Ngugi’s lifelong “quest for African dignity and self-realization” and his push “for Africans to tell their own story in their own Indigenous languages.”
NO STOPPING US NOW: The Adventures of Older Women in American History, by Gail Collins. (Little, Brown, 432 pp., $18.99.) Written with the Times Op-Ed columnist’s “signature droll sensibility,” this chronicle of the “herky-jerky” nature of “non-young” women’s progress in the United States — according to our reviewer, Lesley Stahl — is “eye-opening” and “fun.”
THE LOST ART OF SCRIPTURE: Rescuing the Sacred Texts, by Karen Armstrong. (Anchor, 624 pp., $17.) “A dazzling accomplishment,” a reflection of both “an encyclopedic knowledge of comparative religion” and “wisdom about spirituality in the human species,” is how Nicholas Kristof, our reviewer, described this “magisterial” book by the British writer and former nun. “What shines through” is that Scriptures “in so many traditions were an art form, like an opera or poetry reading, meant to elevate us,” not to give us “ammunition to support preconceived views.”
PLEASE SEE US, by Caitlin Mullen. (Gallery Books, 352 pp., $16.99.) Our Crime columnist, Marilyn Stasio, called this debut novel told in the voices of seven Jane Does murdered in Atlantic City — all victims of a killer who targets prostitutes — “spellbinding.”