‘Boy, Snow, Bird’ ‘Jack of Spies’ ‘The Empathy Exams’

What to read this week

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Word’s pick: “Boy, Snow, Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi can do no wrong. Her last book, “Mr. Fox,” was a twisty, unsettling riff on “Bluebeard.” This one is “Snow White” — sort of. It is really so much more than that. “Boy, Snow, Bird” reinvents the wicked stepmother, finds the anger in the perfect daughter, and explores a thorny tangle of identity, love, race, and perception. Oyeyemi writes like no one else, but she is absolutely an heir to the brilliant Angela Carter. Bravo.

— Molly Templeton, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096,].

The BookMark Shoppe’s pick: “Jack of Spies” by David Downing

David Downing’s new novel is a thought-provoking and moving historical epic set in 1913, about a British man who is a talented linguist and who gradually becomes a spy over the course of the book. The novel takes place the year before World War I breaks out, an absolutely fascinating moment in history when women were fighting for the right to vote and when oppressed peoples all over the world were rebelling from colonial power structures. Somehow, Downing is able to capture all these complexities in the details of the story without slowing down the pace of this gripping thriller. Highly recommended for readers of spy novels like John Le Carre as well as fans of historical thrillers, like “The Meaning of Night” and “The Alienist.”

— Bina Valenzano, co-owner, The BookMark Shoppe [8415 Third Ave. between 84th and 85th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–5115,].

Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Empathy Exams” by Leslie Jamison

In a word, stunning. In several more — Leslie Jamison’s debut essay collection is one of the most thoughtful, thought-provoking, and mesmerizing contemporary essay collections out there today. Jamison’s final essay should be required reading for every English-speaking woman alive. Jamison brilliantly asks questions I never knew I wanted to ask and does so in a way that never presumes a particular answer. The bar is set for future essayists.

— Emily Russo, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200,].

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