Tag Archives: Bryan Stevenson

Debuts out in Paperback


I often wrestle with when to review a book…when it first comes out, and there is a lot of hype about the title, but it is only available in hardback or via e-book, or later after it comes out in paperback, but when it is no longer being actively reviewed by others.

I know some of you read on Kindle, so for you the price (and weight) of a book is always the same. But if you read a paper book there is a difference between buying a hardback and a paperback. And I’m curious, for paper book readers, do you wait for new releases to come out in paper before you buy them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

And if you are interested in the history of the hardback – paperback release tradition, I found this article in the Economist.

Debuts from 2014 are coming out in paperback this summer. The paperback release is a second coming for a book, and for those of you in NYC, Julia Fierro is having a party at BookCourt for the paperback release of Cutting Teeth tomorrow night, July 7th. Cutting Teeth is a comical book about a group of parents who go on a long weekend together with their kids. The group will never be the same.

Other debuts out now (or soon) in paper:

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng, one of my favorite reads of last year, and made it to the NYT bestseller list.

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, one of my favorite reads of this year, will be out in paperback in mid-August. This book also just won a medal of recognition from the American Library Association.

The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton. I didn’t review this one, but it was well received last year. It is set in the 17th century and is about a woman who gets a miniature replica of her home as a wedding gift and real-life dramas get played out in miniature form.

We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas. I also did not review this one yet, mainly because of the heft. At over 600 pages, I was daunted when I picked up the hardcover in the bookstores, but now that it is out in paper it feels more accessible. And it has also been well received. It tells the story of an Irish-American family in post-WWII Queens.

To paperbacks in the summer!

Photo credit: By Frank H. Nowell (California Building), via Wikimedia Commons


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Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson


Just Mercy

By Bryan Stevenson

Spiegel & Grau, 2014

336 pages

Just Mercy is one of my favorite books so far this year. Part-memoir, part-social commentary, Stevenson tells the story of his law career, founding the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, AL, while also recounting the many hard cases he has worked on with the EJI since 1989.

I’m possibly hard wired for this book. My late father, David Baldus, was a death penalty researcher, working in the same community as Stevenson. I was brought up hearing about men on death row, mainly black men, who were sentenced to death for killing white people, men whose sentences were harsher than those given to black men who killed other blacks. My ear is open to Stevenson’s story, but I believe this book has universal appeal. Stevenson is a fluid writer and he tells such a powerful story—of all the injustices poor, mainly black, people face in our legal system. He takes on death cases proving the innocence of wrongly convicted men and mitigating the sentences of others. At the center of the book is the story of Walter McMillian a man who claimed he was wrongly convicted for a murder he didn’t commit. Stevenson also writes about his work to reduce excessive juvenile sentences—kids who are given life in prison for rape or robbery at 12 or 14. Winner of a MacArthur Award for his work, he is a champion of the under-represented.

I was given a copy of this book by a friend and before I read it my sister and husband had also devoured it, each of us reading the book in less than a week. For anyone interested in legal justice, Just Mercy is a must read.

Stevenson is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and a law professor at NYU.


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