Under the Antarctic sun, life vanishes entirely, replaced only by the endless white of nothingness. In this vast white void, a lone speck of life solemnly marches forward. The White Darkness (Doubleday, $20) is the epic story of Henry Worsley, one lone trekker who sought to conquer the unforgiving continent. Tracing the steps of the legendary Ernest Shackleton, Worsley set out by himself to complete what would be the first solo journey across the span of Antarctica. David Grann brings his masterful storytelling abilities to the trek of Worsley. White Darkness is an utterly captivating account of the dogged determination of one man who literally followed in the footsteps of his hero. Most importantly, Grann asks the question: why? In an age where the frontiers of human exploration have been pushed to the extremes, Worsley’s endurance stands out as deeply inspiring.
In his newest work of fiction, legendary Japanese writer Haruki Murakami tells a haunting tale of art, memory, and the traumas of the past. Killing Commendatore (Knopf, $30) follows a middle-aged artist at a crossroads in his life. Recently separated from his wife, the artist meets a mysterious bachelor who requests a portrait of himself. What follows takes the reader to a universe not unlike the one of Murakami’s seminal novel, 1Q84. Like a grand abstract painting, Killing Commendatore sweeps across centuries—from Nazi-era Austria to Japan’s Asuka Period to the mysteries of the present day—and rests in the idyllic settings that make Murakami’s works so memorable. Fans of Murakami’s rich prose will love Killing Commendatore’s fantasies. Like all great Murakami works, Killing Commendatore explores the caverns of human intimacy, never shying away from the forces of good and evil that make up our own relationships with the people closest to us.