The Wave

by Susan Casey |

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REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

NON-FICTION

You think Jaws made you fear the ocean? In this adrenaline rush of a book, Casey (a former development editor at Time Inc., PEOPLE's parent company) describes "nature's biggest tantrum": monster waves that can fracture bones, swallow oil tankers whole and chew chunks out of the landscape. Once thought to be the tall tales of mariners, 100-ft.-plus waves have now been documented; thanks to global warming, they're getting bigger. Casey, who tracked great white sharks for her 2005 bestseller The Devil's Teeth, spent five years following the new breed of extreme surfers who seek out colossal surf, putting their lives at risk for the thrill of the next awesome ride. In addition to interviewing scientists and marine salvage experts (who "save wave-battered, imperiled ships and cargo from disaster"), she dove into the action herself, even accompanying champion big-water surfer Laird Hamilton to surf a 40-ft.-high "Jaws" wave on the back of a jet ski, making "every cell of her body vibrate." Her eerie, majestic descriptions ("If heaven were a color, it would be tinted like this," she writes of the breathtaking Maui waters) make The Wave an unsettling thrill ride that's as terrifying as it is awe inspiring.

Mini Shopaholic

by Sophie Kinsella |

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REVIEWED BY CLARISSA CRUZ

NOVEL

The new installment in Kinsella's popular series follows label-loving Becky and her 2-year-old in the kind of madcap adventure the former always manages to get herself into. (This time it involves an over-the-top surprise party for husband Luke.) Escapist, if slightly repetitive, fun.

Salvation City

by Sigrid Nunez |

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REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

NOVEL

The narrator of Nunez's brilliant latest is Cole Vining, a boy whose parents die in a flu pandemic, sentencing him to life with an evangelical pastor who heads a survivalist enclave. "Pastor Wyatt's hands are of a whiteness and a softness that make Cole think of milk, of goose down, of freshly washed and bleached flannel sheets," Nunez writes, evoking all that the boy has lost and yearns for. Salvation City isn't light reading, but it's worth the weight.

Half Empty

by David Rakoff |

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REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

ESSAYS

It's not entirely clear what unifies these essays, besides the fact that they come from the mordant mind of one of our funniest writers. Part memoir, part reportage, the collection addresses topics ranging from the romantic claptrap surrounding our notions of "the artistic life" to New York's Exotic Erotic Ball and Expo, where Rakoff ponders the realities of enacting all those hot scenes: "[the] rose petals are going to turn into mushy vegetable matter in about four minutes and just clog the drain." Essentially, Half Empty is about the power of negative thinking: why our cultural obsession with the shiny, happy life is a crock ... but life is delicious anyway.

FICTION

HALF BROKE HORSES

by Jeannette Walls

The author of The Glass Castle returns with a truth-based novel about her spirited Texas grandmother.

NEW IN PAPERBACK

WHERE THE MONEY WENT

by Kevin Canty

Where the love went is Canty's true preoccupation in these haunting, beautifully crafted tales.

WOLF HALL

by Hilary Mantel

Henry VIII and his court through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. A novel so richly imagined you'll think Mantel had her ear to the wall.

BODY-IMAGE BUILDING

The 20-year-old daughter of Maria Shriver and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes her book Rock What You've Got will help young girls love their looks.

DID YOU HAVE BODY-IMAGE PROBLEMS?

In high school I was really stressed out about it. All of a sudden, I was getting hips and a butt.

DID YOU TRY DIETS?

My friends and I tried every fad diet. A girl offered to teach us how to throw up. It scared us into never thinking of doing that again.

WHAT HELPED YOU ACCEPT YOURSELF?

I talked to my mom, who'd had experiences with her own weight. And I realized it was ridiculous to compare myself to images in magazines.

HOW DO YOU STAY IN SHAPE NOW?

Exercise. My dad and I always work out together.

Anthrozoologist Hal Herzog's new book explores our conflicted feelings about other species. He shares some thoughts:

PET OWNERS AREN'T ALWAYS HEALTHIER

People believe pets are miracle workers, and for certain people there seem to be health benefits. But some studies show pet owners are worse off.

OWNERS DO LOOK LIKE THEIR DOGS

Four studies have shown that people choose dogs who resemble them. And obese people tend to have obese pets.

ABUSING ANIMALS ISN'T JUST FOR FUTURE SERIAL KILLERS

About 30 percent of male college students say they abused animals as kids.

VEGETARIANS HAVE MORE EATING DISORDERS

Vegetarian women are about four times as likely to be bulimic.

MORAL CONSISTENCY IN RELATION TO ANIMALS IS TOUGH

Should I wear leather? What if I kill bugs while I'm driving? It'll make you crazy. I think we should try to minimize animal suffering in this world. But don't get in a twit about it.