Comprehensive Vladimir Putin biography, Elaine Castillo essays: 5 new books this week

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In search of something good to read? USA TODAY's Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases. All books are on sale Tuesday.

For more new must-read book recommendations, check out our summer books guide of the 20 hottest books of the season; our favorite books of 2022 so far; the most swoon-worthy rom-coms coming out this month from Ruby Barrett and Lacie Waldon; and the juiciest celebrity memoirs released this year from Kenny Loggins, Christine Quinn, Jennifer Grey, Viola Davis and more.

To see what everyone else is reading, check out the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list for this week's best sellers.

"Putin," by Philip Short.
"Putin," by Philip Short.


By Philip Short (Henry Holt and Co., nonfiction)

What it's about: An unflinching, comprehensive, up-to-date biography of autocratic Russian President Vladimir Putin as he wreaks havoc on the global stage, digging deep to reveal the man behind the mask.

The buzz: A starred review for Kirkus Reviews calls it "required reading for anyone interested in global affairs."

'How to Read Now'

By Elaine Castillo (Viking, nonfiction)

What it's about: "America Is Not the Heart" author Castillo explores the ethics and politics of reading in her new collection of essays, interrogating assumptions and challenging popular wisdoms about what we read and why.

The buzz: "An excellent collection of essays about important subjects too often glossed over," says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

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'Inventing the It Girl: How Elinor Glyn Created the Modern Romance and Conquered Early Hollywood'

By Hilary A. Hallett (Liveright, nonfiction)

What it's about: This winning biography embraces the overlooked life of Elinor Glyn, a trailblazing English author who gained celebrity with her then-scandalous erotic romances, coined the term "it girl" and became a tastemaker of the Roaring Twenties.

The buzz: A starred review from Kirkus Reviews calls it "A brilliant, thought-provoking portrait of a forgotten 20th-century influencer."

'The Half Life of Valery K'

By Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury, nonfiction)

What it's about: From the author of "The Kingdoms" comes an epic Cold War novel set in Soviet Russia, where prisoner and former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov studies the effects of radiation on a remote and mysterious town hiding a dangerous secret.

The buzz: A starred review for Publishers Weekly calls it "provocative, unsettling," and says, "The chilling result feels all too plausible."

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'A Hundred Other Girls'

By Iman Hariri-Kia (Sourcebooks Landmark, fiction)

What it's about: In this insider's look at the fractured media industry, amateur blogger Noora has just landed her dream job with Vinyl magazine, but a bad boss and a turf war between old-school print and new-fangled digital turn her experience into the stuff of nightmares.

The buzz: "A refreshing take on the classic media-insider novel, championing the value of passion and thoughtfulness over career," says Kirkus Reviews.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vladimir Putin bio, Elaine Castillo essays: 5 new books this week