Paige works in the black market and what she trades in is magic; her specialty involves scouring other people’s minds for information. Alarming as this is, it is far less disturbing than the world of 2059 which, suspicious of magic, locks up those that possess it, forcing Paige and her kind into an outlaw existence. The Bone Season (Bloomsbury, $17) is the first installment of a new series by the exciting young Oxford author Samantha Shannon, and when the action enters those hallowed halls, it makes moves that will cause you to spend your hard-earned vacation hours turning these pages—tracking the secret societies, brutal hierarchy, and the magic that summons our most ancient understanding of the mythic while coexisting in a world of tablets and human programming. The Bone Season and its sequels will surely take you on an exceptional journey.
From the brilliant minds at Tin House and the mighty pen of Allen Crawford comes a brilliant portrait of the catalog of human godliness and failing that was Walt Whitman’s work. Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself (Tin House, $28.95) is the defining poem of the American ideal of individualism, illustrated in the manner of a medieval manuscript. The colorful artwork, however, doesn’t stay in the margins, but entwines and interacts with the text. While this may not afford the easiest reading experience, it is an experience, one true to Whitman’s playful, iconoclastic, and dynamic spirit. Engage with Song of Myself through this kinetic illumination, and the other senses evoked in the poem—the scents of the grass, the brushes against skin, the sound of the cries of the American people—all blossom, revealing themselves anew.
Depression-era New York is a treasure trove of wonderful narratives, and City of Ambition (W.W. Norton, $17.95) recounts a story that, considering our current political discourse, almost reads like fiction. Mason B. Williams shows us how two men of different temperaments and on opposite sides of the political spectrum united to build the infrastructure that changed the city of New York and directly influenced the nation as a whole. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia crossed party lines to embrace President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal; these leaders fought each other’s opponents, listened to one another’s ideas, and worked tirelessly to push through the fear that dominated America during the Great Depression and construct a new world grounded in downright gumption.