Best-selling author Chris Bohjalian is back with The Light in the Ruins, which was released last week. Set in Florence in 1955, the novel is described by our reviewer as "a brilliant blend of historical fiction and a chilling serial killer story." No doubt it'll keep readers briskly turning the pages until the very last one.

We were wondering which books Bohjalian hasn't been able to put down lately, and so we asked him to recommend three recent reads. Here they are:

helpforhauntedHelp for the Haunted
By John Searles


I read this novel as a galley and was mesmerized. (It goes on sale in September.) Searles, whose previous novels include Boy Still Missing and Strange But True, has given us something absolutely wonderful: A coming-of-age tale that is poignant and touching . . . and will scare the living hell out of you. I loved every single page of this book. I loved the two sisters and the story and the lush, atmospheric, page-turning mystery. I just may never go downstairs into my basement again.


vampires in the lemon groveVampires in the Lemon Grove
By Karen Russell


This is a collection of short stories, and I really don't read many short stories. I'm more likely drawn to doorstops that have a novel hiding somewhere inside them. But I enjoyed Russell's 2011 novel, Swamplandia!, so I gave this collection a chance—and I'm very glad I did. They are all a little quirky and more than a little disturbing: Humans are transformed into silkworms. The meaning of life for a lonesome teenager may exist in the objects that a seagull is hoarding in its nest. And, in a tale set among the Nebraska homesteaders in the 19th century, a windowpane anchors one boy’s terrifying ride across the plains.


flimsylittleplasticmiraclesFlimsy Little Plastic Miracles
By Ron Currie Jr.


Earlier this year, I was nearly asked to leave the waiting room outside the endoscopy clinic at a Vermont hospital, thanks to this novel. A friend of mine had just turned 50 and was getting his first colonoscopy. I drove him to the hospital and brought Currie’s novel to read while he was sleeping through what we euphemistically refer to as “the procedure.” I reached a scene so blisteringly funny that I laughed as I hadn’t laughed in years: We’re talking demonic, unstoppable, don’t-sit-next-to-that-guy howls. It was the narrator’s confession that he’s incapable of moving his bowels in the same building as his girlfriend and the efforts he’s made to hide from her the fact that he has ever gone to the bathroom. I’m not sure what it says about me that I found Currie’s potty humor brilliant, but it does make me a bit like his narrator, who is filled with buckets of self-loathing. The book is actually a sentimental rom-com, and—just for the record—I really like sentimental rom-coms.


privateeyejulyWhat do you say, readers? Will you be cracking open The Light in the Ruins or any of Bohjalian's suggestions?

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