Six new paperbacks to check out this week.
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, by Tayari Jones. (Algonquin, $16.95.) The lives of a young black couple in Atlanta are thrown into chaos after the husband, Roy, is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. As the couple grapple with their grief, they must also confront the failed hopes of a marriage and romantic love. The grave miscarriage of justice forms the core of Jones’s deeply compassionate and heartbreaking novel.
HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE, by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. (Broadway, $15.) Think beyond the coups d’état: The backslide from democracy into autocracy can be brought about by elected officials who upend the processes that empowered them. The authors, political scientists at Harvard, describe four criteria to identify authoritarian leaders. Donald Trump has met all of them.
GRIST MILL ROAD, by Christopher J. Yates. (Picador, $18.) A gruesome act of violence connects three teenagers, who stay linked to one another for the rest of their lives. As more is revealed about the crime, this thriller raises questions of guilt, culpability and forgiveness. As our reviewer, Sarah Lyall, put it, “You have to work hard to follow the winding road Yates sends us down, and the drive is full of pleasantly unpleasant surprises.”
NO TIME TO SPARE: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin. (Mariner, $14.99.) Long revered as a master of fantasy writing, Le Guin turned to blogging late in life, writing about everything from feminism to aging to breakfast. This collection brings together some of her best blog posts. There’s a lot that will delight fans of Le Guin, who died last year: “The pages sparkle with lines that make a reader glance up, searching for an available ear with which to share them,” our reviewer, Melissa Febos, wrote.
TEXT ME WHEN YOU GET HOME: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship, by Kayleen Schaefer. (Dutton, $16.) For generations, the importance of these relationships has been played down, taking a back seat to romantic partnerships and family bonds. Drawing on the evolution of female friendships in popular culture and her own experiences, Schaefer puts camaraderie among women on a pedestal.
THE GHOST NOTEBOOKS, by Ben Dolnick. (Vintage, $16.) Facing career burnout and a stalled relationship, a young couple leave New York City for Hibernia, a tiny town upstate. As they settle into their new home, a historic house with a secret dark past, their romance becomes a ghost story: The relationship soon begins to unravel, and it’s not clear whether psychosis or malevolent spiritual forces are to blame.