5 books not to miss: Amanda Gorman's debut poetry collection, Vivian Maier biography


In search of something good to read? USA TODAY’s Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases. All books are on sale Tuesday.

1. “Call Us What We Carry,” by Amanda Gorman (Viking, poetry)

What it’s about: Gorman proved herself an energizing new voice in American poetry with her stirring poem, “The Hill We Climb,” memorably delivered at this year’s presidential inauguration. Her breakout collection includes that poem and more that carry a message of hope and healing.

The buzz: There are no early reviews yet, but last month Gorman, 23, was an honoree at the Variety Power of Women event, where she was feted by Angelina Jolie. “If ever we needed words that can lead us and bring people to the streets, it is now,” Jolie said.

5 books not to miss: Amanda Gorman’s debut poetry collection, Vivian Maier biography

2. “Beasts of a Little Land,” by Juhea Kim (Ecco, fiction)

What it’s about: A young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school and befriends an orphaned boy, JungHo. As the friends come of age, they become swept up in Korea’s revolutionary fight for independence in this epic historical tale.

The buzz: “Gorgeous prose and unforgettable characters combine to make a literary masterpiece,” says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

3. “Sea State,” by Tabitha Lasley (Ecco, nonfiction)

What it’s about: Former journalist Lasley quit her job, left London for Aberdeen, Scotland, and dove into her book idea about oil rigs and the men who work on them – to see how men behaved with no women around. The longer she was there, the more her presence destabilized the men – and her.

The buzz: “A raw, bold, unsparing memoir,” says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

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4. “Bright Burning Things,” by Lisa Harding (HarperVia, fiction)

What it’s about: Former stage actress Sonya’s life finds her once-glamorous life upended by alcoholism. But she still has something to live for: her 4-year-old son Tommy. Can Sonya give up drinking to avoid losing Tommy forever?

The buzz: “This unflinching portrait of a troubled, tender soul takes readers to the depths of the human heart,” says a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

5. “Vivian Maier Developed: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny,” by Ann Marks (Atria, nonfiction)

What it’s about: A definitive biography of Maier, a nanny who was secretly a masterful photographer and only skyrocketed to fame when her work was discovered after her death, that paints a portrait of a woman who lived life as she saw fit on her own terms.

The buzz: “A well-researched and incisive biography of an artist who should be better known,” says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

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