"MaddAddam" by Margaret Atwood

If you’re interested in pre-apocalyptic literature with a strong biopunk undercurrent, I’d recommend you immediately buy all three Margaret Atwood novels in the MaddAddam trilogy: "Oryx and Crake," "Year of the Flood," and the new "MaddAddam." Read them in order. You’ll need to: even the latest book begins with a recap, because all three are parallel tales following the adventures of motley individuals leading up and immediately following a global pandemic, and the bio-hacked future that follows. Gene-splicing, human pigs, goats with human hair, gangs of sadist “painballers,” a cult church worshipping the “holy petroleum,” and a new race of engineered humans who hive-sing and have bright blue genitals are just part of the shocking new world Atwood envisions. I don’t want to spoil any surprises: just come ready for one of the most brilliant and depressing landscape of ideas about the future outside of William Gibson. -- Scott Stein, senior editor

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"A Memory of Light" by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

This is the fourteenth and final book in Robert Jordan's epic fantasy cycle "The Wheel of Time." The series has more than 11,000 pages and 4.4 million words, and if you listened to the audiobook version straight through for eight hours a day, you'd finish in about two months. But what an ending! When Sanderson takes over starting with book 12 after Jordan's untimely death, the intricate weave of the story tightens and the pace picks up noticeably. Battle scenes become more urgent and realistic, tangents less frequent, and the lovingly fleshed-out characters leap into leadership roles, at times finally realizing their world-shaking potential (and if you thought "Game of Thrones" had too many characters to follow, you ain't seen nuthin'). "Light" focuses on Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle, wrapping up the reader's magical journey in as satisfying and dramatic a way as possible. And yes, some characters actually die. Now where's the movie? -- David Katzmaier, section editor

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"League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth" by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru

In a way, the NFL's efforts to cover up the true damage caused by concussions--and normal everyday football plays--is just the beginning of this fascinating story. One amazing takeaway is that the brain damage playing football indisputably causes might set in as early as college and even high school. Another is that the NFL is actually able to get away with lying to the public, its players and their families for 20 years by simply denying basic science. This revelatory book is required reading for any football fan, and the issues it raises threaten to undermine the country's most popular sport. Want the short version? Watch the Frontline documentary that ESPN pulled its name from after a lunch with NFL executives. -- David Katzmaier, section editor

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"How Music Works" by David Byrne

While rock biographies are seemingly a dime-a-dozen, rock autobiographies are relatively rare. So when a musician uses his memoirs as an opportunity to analyze the industry and even the nature of music itself, that's a very special book indeed. Of course the title "How Music Works" by David Byrne is a bit of a giveaway, and whether you're a musician, a music lover, or a big fan of Talking Heads you'll find something to like in this e-book. Byrne's writing style is conversational yet insightful and entertaining, and he covers everything from his ideas on how venues themselves determine music styles to his pre-fame days living in New York. While as a (presumably) wealthy musician his gripes about making little money from records do ring a little hollow, this is likely one of the most original rock histories you'll ever read. --Ty Pendlebury, senior associate editor

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"The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

I'm a sucker for mystery and suspense thrillers and, for the most part, "The Cuckoo's Calling" doesn't disappoint. While protagonist Cormoran Strike was a hair too reminiscent of Lee Child's Jack Reacher character for my taste -- another physically large former MP turned investigator -- Rowling proves herself quite capable of writing about more than the magical world of Hogwarts. Her pseudonymous work is a pageturner with an ending I didn't see coming, and I consider myself fairly adept at figuring out the whodunit before the end. --Laura K. Cucullu, senior editor

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"The Circle" by Dave Eggers

What if Google and Facebook merged into one giant company that effectively controlled all the world's data? That's the basic conceit behind "The Circle," Dave Eggers' novel set in the not-too-distant future (and named for the fictional megacorporation). The story is told through the eyes of a new Circle employee, an everywoman just struggling to make her parents proud as she navigates the seductive yet cultlike workplace of the Silicon Valley behemoth. As she's pulled deeper into heart of The Circle, the reader is pushed to darker realizations about the future implications of social media and other technologies we find our society already embracing. -- Sarah Tew, senior photographer

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