Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24) by Melanne Verveer and Kim K. Azzarelli looks at the lives of 70 women around the world who have achieved power in their respective fields while staying true to the purpose of their work. Verveer, the first ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department—appointed by President Obama—and Azzarelli, a top executive at Avon, together have experience in politics, diplomacy, business, advocacy, and philanthropy and are both celebrated champions of women’s rights. Their book explores how women can leverage their growing economic power not only to succeed in their own fields but also to lead purposeful lives and change the world. Those profiled include famous women like Geena Davis and Diane von Furstenberg, as well as equally compelling if lesser known leaders like Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, and Dr. Hawa Abdi, who has provided 100,000 people refuge from violence in Somalia.
The 2008 financial collapse had a profound impact on the thinking and writing of John Lanchester. First, in I.O.U., he provided a very shrewd and literate analysis of the crisis. Then, in the social novel Capital, he depicted how the easy-money era had affected not just greedy speculators but played out in the lives of residents of a representative London neighborhood. Now he’s gone back to basics and written a sort of glossary for economic and financial jargon. His aim, as he says at the start of How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say—and What It Really Means (W.W. Norton, $26.95), was to enable people to read the business pages or watch televised economic programs and understand what they’re seeing and hearing. With his journalist’s knack for writing lucidly and making the abstract concrete, Lanchester is particularly well-suited to help us navigate through the obscure terms and arcane concepts that have shrouded the workings and institutions of the financial world. As he showed in his previous books, and does again here, he can present economic principles and financial matters in clear and often entertaining ways.
Roger Straus, editor and publisher at FSG, was loved, loathed, feared, and admired, and the publishing house with which he came of age was (and still is) perhaps the mightiest producer of quality literature in America. Hothouse perfectly captures the often uneasy alliance of commerce and culture. Through anecdote and first hand reminiscences, Kachka weaves a compelling - and sometimes hilarious - history of 20th century American publishing, involving the geniuses, egotists, and neurotics, namely most of the important voices of writing and publishing in a golden era of American literature.