Now that summer’s officially here, there’s no time to waste in finding a good book for the beach, hammock, or backyard recliner. And one book won’t cut it, of course. Even factoring in naps and beer breaks, you’ll need at least a few titles to get you through to autumn.
But no worries, we’ve got you covered. All the titles below are new releases; most were (or will be) published in this calendar year, and all were released within the last 12 months. We haven’t read them all yet, but there are still 92 days of summer to go . . . . .
HYBRID HUMANS by Harry Parker
“Being an amputee feels normal,” the author writes. But it’s still a new normal, one Parker has earned through intense reflection and effort. Limb loss, he writes, requires one to accept “the strangeness of not being who you used to be, turned into something that sets you apart from those around you.” The title reflects Parker’s experience of being a fully human being who has integrated machinery into not only his body but also his sense of self. That’s not strange in today’s world, he notes—not when so many of us are attached to our smartphones, and when so much of what we experience is mediated through bots and algorithms. More than a decade into his amputee journey, Parker has much to teach about a future in which bionic body parts and intelligent technologies seem destined to make hybrid humans of us all. Buy it at waterstones.com.
DO NO HARM by Robert Pobi
In the third novel in the Lucas Page series, due to be released on August 8, our hard-bitten amputee hero gets drawn—grudgingly, as always—to investigate a string of suicides and fatal accidents in the local medical community. The cops and the FBI can’t find any pattern tying all these deaths together, but Page doesn’t believe in coincidences. He knows he’ll be sorry if and when he uncovers the truth, but the guy just can’t help himself. We’ve grown fond of Page while turning the pages of City of Windows and Under Pressure, the first two books in the series, and we look forward to getting reacquainted with the salty old grouch later this summer. Preorder at Bookshop.org.
HANDED A GREATER PURPOSE by Jason Koger
We could have sworn Koger already had written a memoir of his dramatic limb-loss journey. The story has been out there since 2008, when Koger lost both arms in an accident on his Kentucky farm. Since then it has been retold in Ted Talks and cable-news specials, and Koger (a bilateral arm amputee) has toured the country as a public speaker. But he’s never shared his whole story in this level of detail, mainly because he has a hard time seeing what all the fuss is about. “I’ve had people wanting me to tell my story in a book for a long time, and I think, ‘Why is my story so special and over their story?’” Koger told his hometown newspaper. “I did not write this book so that I could have people envy me. If this book can change somebody’s life, that’s why I [wrote] it.” Order your copy at Butler Books.
THE INK BLACK HEART by Robert Galbraith
In case you didn’t know, Robert Galbraith is a thinly veiled pen name for JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Ink Black Heart brings Galbraith’s series featuring amputee private investigator Cormoran Strike up to six books, just one shy of the number in the Potter canon. The new entry won’t drop until August 30, and plot details have been closely guarded, but that hasn’t stopped rabid fans from trying to guess. Strikefans.com reports that the book will be set in 2015; Hogwarts Professor sifts the tea leaves and predicts the plot will focus on the music industry and the text will feature allusions to Shakespeare’s sonnets and the rape of Leda; and various sources put the page count at more than 1,000. Our only forecast is that the thousand pages (or however many it is) will fly by. You can preorder from multiple outlets; we recommend Bookshop.org.
THE LEFT-ARMED CORPS by Allison Johnson (ed.)
The actual authors here are the dozens of Civil War soldiers who lost their right (dominant) arm to the surgeon’s saw and later wrote about their experiences in William Oland Bourne’s “left-handed penmanship” contests. Bourne put up some serious money for these annual competitions—the winner took home $500 in mid-1860s dollars (equivalent to nearly $20K in 2022 coin). The essays are poignant testaments to the physical agony of limb loss in that era; the mental and emotional toll it took on men who had largely been farmers and laborers prior to their injury; and the faith and guts that enabled these men to persevere in a society that could be downright cruel to people with disabilities. Bourne hoped all the entrants (not just the winners) would profit by their participation, using their essays as proof of fitness for employment in business or clerical jobs. It’s an academic work, and priced accordingly; order from LSU Press.
SABRINA AND HER NEW SHOE by Jokima Hiller
The title character of this coloring book for all ages is the author’s prosthesis—and she definitely has a mind of her own. The jacket copy describes Sabrina (an RAKA device) as hilarious, moody, smart, beautiful, and above all sassy. “I have endured all types of pain and emotions during my amputation experience,” says Hiller, a professor at Indiana University Northwest of Gary. “I decided to turn my experience into an opportunity to educate and encourage those who may be going through amputation.” Buy it at Amazon.