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4 Early-Year Book Recommendations – The New York Times


The early part of a year can mean new books to read, or it can mean catching up on older ones we haven’t gotten to yet. This week, Gilbert Cruz chats with the Book Review’s Sarah Lyall and Sadie Stein about titles from both categories that have held their interest lately, including a 2022 biography of John Donne, a book about female artists who nurtured an interest in the supernatural, and the history of a Jim Crow-era mental asylum, along with a gripping new novel by Janice Hallett.

“It’s just so deft,” Stein says of Hallett’s new thriller, “The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels.” “It’s so funny. It seems like she’s having a lot of fun. One thing I would say, and I don’t think this is spoiling it, is, if there comes a moment when you think you might want to stop, keep going and trust her. I think it’s rare to be able to say that with that level of confidence.”

Here are the books discussed in this week’s episode:

  • “Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne,” by Katherine Rundell

  • “The Other Side: A Story of Women in Art and the Spirit World,” by Jennifer Higgie

  • “The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels,” by Janice Hallett

  • “Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum,” by Antonia Hylton

  • (Briefly mentioned: “You Dreamed of Empires,” by Álvaro Enrigue, “Beautyland,” by Marie-Helene Bertino, and “Martyr!,” by Kaveh Akbar.)

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to books@nytimes.com.



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