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THE BEST OF BOOKS

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Marjorie Herrera Lewis's WHEN THE MEN WERE GONE sublimely ties together the drama of high school football, gender politics and the impact of war on a small town in Texas. Based on a true story, the historical novel follows teacher Tylene Wilson during World War II, as she takes over the football team at Brownwood High. Amid ridicule and rejection, she inspires her young pupils. Wilson's story even motivated the author, Herrera Lewis, to volunteer as an assistant at Texas Wesleyan.

—Jamie Lisanti

Ben Reiter's ASTROBALL is more than the definitive story of the 2017 World Series champs. Broad in scope (the intro quotes H.P. Lovecraft and Dr. Dre), it's also a wonderfully written rumination on the disparate elements necessary for modern success.

—M.B.