Havana without Makeup: Inside the Soul of the City by Herman Portocarero

Havana without Makeup is the ultimate insider’s view of Havana, a wide-ranging exploration of its complex facets as seen by few. Its aim is to capture the soul of a city and a society that have evolved on their own terms at the moment before they face inevitable transformations.

Opening on the eve of the announcement of reconciliation between the U.S. and Cuba, the book then looks back at the cultural, political, economic, and religious influences that led up to this historic moment and beyond. Readers are led by a brilliant renaissance man and writer who has been at the vanguard of the city’s struggles for more than twenty years. Portocarero’s anti-tourist guide to Havana examines the built environment of “the most sensual ruin on the planet”: why are large parts of the city so neglected, and what changes may we see over the coming years? Examining all things Cubania–racial issues, la revolución, baseball, Hemingway, communism, synagogues, Santeria, Cimarron culture, and much more–Portocarero overturns every stone in his endeavor to bring us inside the city he loves.

Illustrated with original photographs, this is a unique and essential account of Havana’s history, its present, and what its future may hold.

Dragon at the Edge of a Flat World: Portraits and Revelations by Joseph Keckler

Joseph Keckler’s signatures are his magnificent three-plus-octave operatic voice and the mesmerizing stories he tells. Combining original pieces with material from his acclaimed performances, Keckler confirms his storytelling mastery, revealing still more of himself on the page.

In these tales, one can’t easily draw a line between reality, embellishment, and fantasy. Odd jobs and odder employers: what is it like to work for a blind man who runs an art gallery? Or for an aging club kid who administers a university classics department? These outré characters make an artful spectacle of daily life. Some strive to be center stage and others struggle to be seen, but all soldier on in the margins. In this world, you may board a familiar bus or train and find yourself in some shady netherworld, or skipping past midnight on New Year’s Eve. There is sex with ghosts. And the incessant GPS voice that mocks the last moments of a longtime love.

A celebration of the ridiculous and a tour through stations of longing, this diverse collection will thrill devotees and new fans alike.

A Piece of Me: My Childhood in Wartime Bavaria by Beatrix Ost

As a young girl growing up in the ’40s on a vast estate near Munich, Trixi Ost lives a life that is charmed by talent and privilege yet scarred by turbulent times. She enjoys the attentions of a beloved grandfather who sings her songs and holds forth in Latin, the pig and the deer she keeps as pets, and a wide freedom to roam. But everyday routine is swiftly upended as the estate becomes temporary home to an unlikely collection of people displaced by the war: distant relatives, forced laborers, Prussian royals, Polish peasants, generals, and even a few spies. One bright afternoon, a band of Easterners arrive: “The farm community gathered…staring rigidly at the approaching strangers in their desiccated floral colors, the skin of their faces gaunt and gray like dusty paper…. Who were they? Where were they coming from on this June day? Dachau, breathed the young man who led them, almost inaudibly.”

More Than Everything: My Voyage with the Gods of Love by Beatrix Ost

Beatrix Ost’s memoir of her artistic awakening and early marriage opens on the heels of Germany’s recovery from the self-imposed disasters of World War II. She is part of the new generation that dances disobediently in the bombed-out villas and underground jazz caverns of Munich. Beatrix rides the dynamic decade up through the world of art, fashion, and cinema into the revolution of politics and consciousness.

The Lure of the Map by W.P. James

Written in the 1920’s, The Lure of the Map is a series of magical and witty essays by a man who would choose to bring an atlas if he was asked to select only one book to take to a desert island.

Lost Splendor: The Amazing Memoirs of the Man Who Killed Rasputin by Prince Felix Youssoupoff

Born to great riches, lord of vast feudal estates and many palaces, Felix Youssoupoff lead the life of a Grand Lord in the days before the Russian Revolution. Married to a niece of Czar Nicholas II, he could observe at close range the rampant corruption and intrigues of the imperial court, witch culminated in the rise to power of the sinister monk Rasputin. Finally, impelled by patriotism and his love for the Romanoff dynasty, which he felt was in danger of destroying itself and Russia, he killed Rasputin in 1916 with the help of the Grand Duke Dimitri and others. More than any other single event, this deed helped to bring about the cataclysmic upheaval which ended in the advent of the Soviet regime. Here is an unforgettable true story of intrigue, murder and revenge.

The Portrait of Zélide by Geoffrey Scott

Introduction by Shirley Hazzard

This beautiful Bloomsbury-era biography is the story of Isabella Van Tuyll, who called herself Zélide, was courted by Boswell, and married a Swiss mathematician, while desperately in love with Benjamin Constant.