This chronicle of a group of friends who rent a home in exclusive Montauk for the summer is as tantalizing as a lemon ice after a sultry day at the beach. Although the hedonistic self-destruction of these uber-privileged characters is about as far from my own experience (or, frankly, my typical reading interests) as I can imagine, this book wholly captivated me. Glynn’s evocation of place and brilliant metaphorical language had me hooked from the beginning.
I devoured this story of a London artist (past his heyday) who rents out his home on a website similar to AirBnB in order to make ends meet. Starting over in late middle age takes a special kind of bravery, as does falling in love, and Russo celebrates these quotidian bits of courage on every page. Lots of wonderful bits of London color, art, and human insight to boot. A most impressive debut!
Pulling off a coming of age for three generations of a family is no small feat and Straub manages it with style. Whether we have family who aren’t really friends, or friends who are definitely family, we all need second chances at forgiveness, not least of all for ourselves.
Something mysterious and tragic strikes when a family of four trade their ordinary life for a sailboat adventure on the high seas. Juliet's narrative, told in retrospect, intersperses with her husband's captain's log to drive the plot forward. This is a truly fine piece of writing and I hope that this book is the tipping point for Amity, finally giving her the wider readership that she so demonstrably deserves.
What happens to the Harry Potters of the world after they save it? More than a decade after Sloane and her friends save the world from the Dark One, settling into a daily routine that isn't defined by danger and survival seems surreal. Now in their twenties, they're trying to normalize their lives when the unthinkable happens: they're sucked into a parallel world where they must battle the Dark One again. This time, though, Sloane is cynical enough to challenge authority each step of the way, leaving her to question whether the government has the moral right to demand their service. This novel is fast-paced and full of action with a sardonic anti-heroine who is absolutely riveting.
When Alexis's boyfriend disappears under mysterious circumstances on a cycling tour of Vietnam, the puzzle pieces just don't fit together. She picks at each unraveling thread until she is dismayed to discover that a certain NY doctor may be trafficking in germ warfare using lab rats. This global thriller serves up chills and compelling characters in equal measure, and the ending was so horrifying that I lay awake until nearly dawn imagining the Four Rats of the Apocalypse!
I started and finished this book in one day, with tears streaming down my face when I reached the end. Believe me, this is no the book you're expecting! It's a fabulous tribute to friendship that simultaneously invokes P.S. I Love You and Sliding Doors.
Thirty-something Vanessa reflects on an affair she had with her teacher when she was a teenager. This book is an insanely good read, but it's also a thought-provoking and capable of pushing the reader into a serious discomfort zone. I could barely put this book down! Lolita meet #metoo.
When her much-older sister Alison goes missing from a luxury Caribbean resort and is later found dead under mysterious circumstances, Claire is never the same again. Haunted by the sister-shaped hole in her life, she struggles to redefine everything about herself until the day fate puts her into the back seat of a taxi driven by Clive, the man long suspected of foul play in Alison's disappearance. What starts as a page turning thriller eventually morphs into a sly but substantive narrative on privilege and it defies belief that a first novel could be as polished and wry as this one.
Krivak"s nature writing is simply divine. This lyrical fable has a few white-knuckled moments, but it's the story's tender spirituality that kept me up reading through the night
A coffeeshop and a myaterious notebook bring together a group of strangers in London. Like a bright sorbet, this novel is a perfect palate cleanser for the darker and heavier fiction out there. Entirely charming and sweet!
It's been a long time since a middle grade novel has charmed me as much as this one has. I love stories where loyalty and stoutness of heart rule the day and this novel is one of the best.
This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. Nuanced but completely accessible, Kiley Reid’s depicts the problems inherent at the intersection of good intentions and white privilege.
I would typically dismiss a novel in list form as too gimmicky, but I'm so glad I gave this one a try! Dan loves his wife, owns a failing bookstore, and is about to have a baby. Making lists -- both practical and absurd ones -- gives him a small sense of control! This reminded me a lot of the humor in Nick Hornbu. Try it!
This book made me feel as if the author had tapped into my deepest longings as a reader -- it is replete with secret societies, underground caverns, doors to other worlds, and agents sworn to protect the sanctity of storytelling. Absolutely no author is better at tiptoeing through the netherworlds between dreams and waking or between reality and imagination.
What happens when ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances? Best friends Neale and Cate discover much about themselves after a brutal assault, and their road to recovery is unexpectedly challenging. Anshaw is one of the most skilled, but under-read, authors of our time. Give theis one a try!
Less curmudgeonly than his travel narratives, this book is Bryson at his best. Nobody is better with an uncanny ability to blend science and humor. This is the best of nonfiction, which makes me want to pester friends and strangers alike with all the fascinating facts that I have learned from him about the human machine.
Who could have predicted that the feel-good book of the year that we all needed was the unlikely story of a rescue donkey in need of a purpose? When the McDougall family rescues Sherman, he's so fragile he can barely walk, but love, determination, and luck prevail. This book is heart-warming and incredibly satisfying. I loved this book so much!
Food and memory are intrinsically linked, and these essays offer delightful and wide-ranging stories of writers' favorite meaningful meals. Also includes recipes!
The author's dialogue and reckoning with her rapist from 14 years earlier -- who was her close friend --- is provacotive, distressing, and brave. It reads like a two person Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It definitely made me uncomfortable at times, but I cannot stress enough how important this book is.
I picked this up for the Roxane Gay quote but stayed for the humor and the intersectionality. loved the interesting, inspiring, and flawed characters, plus the great dialogue. I just wish I could have read this when I was Juliet's age! Lots of fun!
Whether discussing institutionalized racism of the NCAA and NFL or his passionate mission to provide fresh and affordable food in poor urban centers, his prose is accessible and informative. You definitely don't need to be a football fan to appreciate what Bennett has to say -- I didn't know who he was until I picked up this book to read. Recommended!
I loved this book so much! This novel is the perfect mixture of Marilynne Robinson's honest meditations on faith/doubt and Ann Patchett's flawed but deeply relatable characters. I love novels that grapple with issues of faith vs reason, and the ways these characters treat their differences with respect and dignity is an inspiration in our partisan times.
Alexandra Fuller’s writing is just as much a force of nature as the family she writes about. No other writer I know can turn the quotidian into the extraordinary the way she can. This was beautiful and heartbreaking.
S. T. the crow knows that something is wrong with his human when Jim's eyeball falls out and no amount of beer or Cheetos can cure his lethargy. The streets of Seattle are no longer safe and the wilds of nature are creeping into the city limits when S. T. and his buddy Dennis the bloodhound decide to take action. They venture from neighborhood to neighborhood seeking answers and rescuing other pets that have been trapped inside their homes. I didn't think I needed another book about the zombie apocalypse, but I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is hilarious, raunchy, sly, outrageous, and grotesque, but it also packs a powerful message. It's Christopher Moore meets World War Z, plus Watership Down. If that sounds unlikely, you're right, but somehow it all works.
A case of mistaken identity lands college-bound Elwood at Nickel Academy, a boys reform school in the Jim Crow south. Rampant corruption and institutionalized violence are the hallmarks of his new life in a place where boys who resist are taken "out back" and never seen again. Based on a real juvenile reformatory in Florida, this novel draws modern parallels between Jim Crow and our times, all wrapped up in gorgeous prose. This is one of the most important novels to be published this year.
This book lured me in with its sly premise of exploring the unconventionality of three women’s sexual desire: Lina, a suburban homemaker, is a decade into a passionless marriage when she embarks on an all-consuming affair. Sloane, a glamorous restaurateur in the northeast, is married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other people. Maggie, a high school student in North Dakota, is seduced by her English teacher. At its core, though, this book is an honest, occasionally painful, narrative whose heart beats time with the age of feminism and *that* is what kept me feverishly turning these pages.
If you're a fan of big, meaty family sagas, you're in for a treat! The four adult Sorenson sisters from a Chicago suburb couldn't be more different, but what unites them is their ability to keep secrets -- from each other, yes, but also from their parents who, despite all odds, are still very much in love with each other. When one secret from the past threatens to undo the present stability of all of them, the reader gets a clear-eyed view of a family at the tipping point and what it takes to push somebody over it. This is family drama at its best, and if you imagine the literary love child of Ann Patchett and John Irving, you'll have a pretty good idea of how terrific this book is!
In this heartfelt, funny, touching memoir, Tan France, star of QUEER EYE tells his origin story for the first time. With his trademark wit, humor, and compassion, Tan reveals what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional South Asian family, and also as one of the few people of color in South Yorkshire, England. He illuminates his winding journey of coming of age, finding his style, and how he finally came out to his family at the age of 34, revealing that he was happily married to the love of his life—a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City. Combining just the right mix of gossip substance, Tan’s voice comes through loud and clear, producing a book is all about that while trying to live your best self.
I have read and admired all of Lauren Groff’s novels, but this short story collection has completely blown me away. She is a writer at the top of her game and I can see myself turning to these stories again and again down the road, for the sheer pleasure of experiencing her writing and her deep evocation of place. Months later, the tone of these stories, with something menacing always lurking below the sunny surface, still haunts me.
Lara is only 19 when she decides on a whim to enter the world's toughest horse endurance race. An old soul whose outlook on life is equal parts poetry and stubborness, she narrates with unnerving honesty and self-awareness. Adventure fans and armchair travellers will love this compelling and unlikely story of triumph.
Pulling off a coming of age for three generations of a family is no small feat and Straub manages it with style. Whether we have family who aren't really friends, or friends who are definitely family, we all need second chances at forgiveness, not least of all for ourselves.
Some of today's best writers tell the story of their first important relationship -- their moms. Whether the essays are sad, surreal, or sweet, they are all singularly smart the way they explore the mother/child dynamic with clear-eyed openness and hard won wisdom.
This is a totally propulsive read! Perfect combo of Agatha Christie meets Chris Bohjalian. Filled with complicated characters whose motives are as hidden from themselves as they are from the reader. This book is perfect for fans of mysteries, courtroom dramas, and family intrigues alike!
What do you get when you cross an Alabama debutante with an Upper East Side socialite and world-class poker player? You get Harlan Ellis's Southern Lady Code, delivering home truths with an iron fist wrapped in a cashmere glove.
This is easily one of the best and most relatable essay collections I have ever read. If you have ever struggled with feeling "less than" as a parent, student, spouse, employee, or just plain human being, this book will speak to you, too. It is funny, warm, and very reassuring!
In a dystopian future, life on "The Wall" is full of constant tension and fear of attack from "The Others." This fable of a dangerous and unforgiving future is an absolutely propulsive read -- a real page-turner!
I just loved this book! If Caitlin Moran and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie conspired to write a book together, they'd be thrilled with this result. Queenie marks a smart debut with a fresh voice edged with pop culture and scio-political references. It's about time we had a FUN and ACCESSIBLE novel that explores the intersectionality of #blacklivesmatter and #metoo!
Two friends from college reunite for a white-water wilderness adventure when multiple disasters strike. Heller cannot be surpassed for the sheer beauty and ruggedness of his nature writing. With The River, he knocks it out of the ballpark.
The glamour of old Hollywood and the glitter of the Italian Riviera form the backdrop of this lush novel where fact and fiction converge. Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and others of the literati spring to life through the eyes of narrator Frank Merlo. Frank reflects on a lifetime of being in the shadow of greatness, pondering over the years through a haze of nostalgia whether it is more noble to have loved deeply, or to have been loved deeply. The author's meditations on art, inspiration, genius, and love provide psychological depth and human insight in this beautifully crafted novel.
From a thrice-decorated war veteran comes a bleak novel that asks difficult questions: how does war change us and what makes a life worth living? This is an incredible novel that is more powerful for being so slim and sp[are. This author is the real deal and a literary star on the rise.
The country of Trinidad, in all of its lush complexities and socio-political intricacies, is the real star of this novel. As a family striggles with the terrible news that their son has been kidnapped, the reader is treated to a tour of the sights, sounds, and scents of Port of Spain and the outlying countryside. This lyrical first novel portends great things to come from Claire Adam.
Set on an unnamed island not long after the downfall of a brutal regime, this taut novel hums with restrained energy. When Lena suspects foul play in the death of a young woman working for the junior senator, she is reminded of her younger days and the assault she survived at the hands of the same man. This novel's revolutionary sensibility is a powerful reminder of the ways we shape our world through both our actions and our silence. It explores the juxtaposition of power and brutality but also the myriad mays we can uncover and reinvent ourselves. The lyrically beautiful prose makes this an unforgettable novel.
This genre-bending story collection completely blew me away. Whether he's tackling a virtual reality game where players up the violence ante each time, or hardcore Black Friday commercialism where shoppers' lives are at stake, these stories pack a punch! These raw stories command the reader's respect, all while playing with a cross section of racial identity in America not found often enough in fiction. Adjei-Brenyah is the real deal, a young writer who wields words with lethal precision.
What a fun romp! Heiresses, con men, millionaires, and the most famous artists and literati of 1920s Paris converge in one delightful novel. B A Shapiro takes for her subject the real-life Albert Barnes of Philadelphia whose peerless art collection became controversial for its modern sensibilities, and drapes layers of scandal and mystery over the historical scaffolding. Readers will rub shoulders with luminaries such as Gertrude Stein and Henri Matisse, all while learning the most fascinating tidbits of early 20th century art history. It’s the perfect novel for readers of Tracy Chevalier, Paula McClain, and Kristin Hannah.
A science teacher, a naturalist, and an out- of-work journalist walk into a novel...and so begins Kingsolver’s most engaging and cogent work to date. When Willa, a contemporary freelance writer, delves into the local history of the nineteenth century iconoclasts Mary Treat and Thatcher Greenwood who may have once lived in her neighborhood, she is surprised to realize that their long-ago struggle with the bombastic demagogue running the town may be able to inform the current political factions in the US. Filled with fascinating tidbits from the historical scientific record, Unsheltered celebrates the visionary humanists of both the past and today who have the boldness of heart to embrace new ways of being in our world. It is a novel for our time by one of our most gifted storytellers.
The subdued, not-quite-monochromatic palette is the perfect counterpoint to this graphic memoir featuring a young boy who has to learn at an early age the difficulty of loving a mother whose addiction prevents her from loving him back in a safe way. I finished reading it in one breathless sitting, marveling at how an author known for making readers laugh could now bring me to tears with his own personal story. Full of depth, complexities, hard truths, but also hope, this graphic memoir definitely fills a void. It’s no wonder that Hey Kiddo is now on the longlist for the National Book Award.
What happens when a Meet Cute becomes a Missed Connection? Arthur is spending one glorious summer in New York City when he runs into Ben (literally), who is on his way to mail a box of stuff back to his ex-boyfriend. They reluctantly go their separate ways, but the interest that sparks between them soon compels them to seek a second meeting, despite the odds and not even knowing each other’s name. With the help of a fabulous supporting cast of friends, Arthur and Ben figure out in funny and delightfully awkward ways whether the universe is trying to bring them together...or keep them apart. This novel is a fun and frothy romance with just the right amount of substance that also serves as a love letter to NYC itself.
This posthumous novel moved me deeply. What could have turned into a thriller or a political manifesto instead developed into an exploration of mother-daughter relationships and a meditation on forgiveness.
This road trip novel with its rag-tag bad of misfits becomes so much more. It's a journey of self-discovery as well as a multicultural education. I devoured each page and was eager for more!
The first half of this coming-of-age novel made me roar -- with laughter, yes, but also with the shared indignations of Dolly Wilde and women everywhere. But what I loved is that beneath the humorous and raunchy veneer, the heart of this novel beats time with the age of feminism.
At once earnest and ironic, over-the-top AND understated, this novel boldly defends the adsurdities of 21st Century "Realism" with one hand and tears them down with the other. I couldn't always understand where the author was going, but the narrative's dreamlike qualities continue to haunt me.
The most captivating character from The Odyssey finally gets her story! Miller must surely posess the Midas touch to burnish these ancient tales to such a shine that they cast light upon our contemporary lives, longings, and loves. The classics are not dead with Miller at the helm. BRAVA!