What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include “Thanks a Thousand,” A.J. Jacobs’ paean to the people who bring him coffee every day, plus Michael Connelly’s latest crime novel.
“Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey” by A.J. Jacobs; Simon & Schuster/TED; 160 pp., nonfiction
A.J. Jacobs is grateful. Very. Very. Grateful. Hence, the title of his latest effort, “Thanks a Thousand” – a sweet, slender and simple exploration of positivity that begins with a cup of coffee.
Jacobs is, clearly, trying to be a better man.
That’s quite evident in this book, which starts on a dare from the author’s son. Jacobs (“Drop Dead Healthy,” “The Year of Living Biblically”) attempts to thank every single person with a role in the making and delivery of his morning Joe.
He begins by thanking the oft-ignored neighborhood barista. Soon he’s with farmers in Colombia, talking to the inventors of the “Java Jacket” that keeps millions from scorching their fingers, safety inspectors, artists and the people who keep our water safe.
And every thank you, even when less than appreciated by the recipients, effectively drives home the intended notion that we are all, in fact, far more connected than we realize and – just in time for Thanksgiving – have much to be grateful for.
And we learn lots about our favorite pick-me-up beverage, including the fact that more than 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day around the world and the industry employs more than 125 million people globally.
USA TODAY says ★★★ out of four. “Uplifting … full of self-deprecating humor.”
“Dark Sacred Night” by Michael Connelly; Little, Brown, 448 pp.; fiction
Pairs a recently introduced Connelly character, detective Renee Ballard, with an old friend – prickly LAPD hero Harry Bosch – on a cold case, the disappearance of a teenage runaway.
USA TODAY ★★★. “(Connelly’s) denouement … is thrilling.”
“Solace Island” by Meg Tilly; Berkley, 294 pp.; fiction
Bride-to-be Maggie Harris, dumped by her fiance at her bachelorette party, travels to the aptly named Solace Island for vacation, where her life is threatened. To the rescue: Luke Benson – a Special Forces operative turned security specialist turned bread baker.
USA TODAY says ★★★. “A guilty pleasure.”
“The Library Book” by Susan Orlean; Simon & Schuster, 317 pp.; nonfiction
The story of one of the worst building fires in LA history, a 1986 conflagration in the city’s Central Library, an architectural landmark. It destroyed or damaged more than 1 million books.
USA TODAY says ★★★½. “A sheer delight … as rich in insight and as varied as the treasures contained on the shelves in any local library.”
“Unsheltered” by Barbara Kingsolver; Harper, 496 pp.; fiction
The world is crashing down on Willa. Journalism cutbacks have ravaged her income. Her professor husband, Iano, lost tenure when his university became insolvent. Their son’s wife has killed herself, leaving behind an infant child.
USA TODAY says ★★★. “Earnest and ambitious … has the virtues of (Kingsolver’s) best fiction.”
Contributing reviewers: James Endrst, Charles Finch, Mary Cadden, Chris Woodyard, Mark Athitakis
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