Did you know that October is National Reading Group Month? We're helping celebrate by rounding up our top 10 paperback picks for reading groups (so far!) for 2015. And you can always find the best new books for reading groups in our monthly column!
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
Shipstead revisits the era of Soviet ballet superstars, providing a backstage look at the demanding lives of professional dancers. Using Mikhail Baryshnikov’s famous defection as her point of departure, Shipstead tells the story of Arslan Rusakov, a Russian virtuoso who shakes up the ballet world after seeking asylum in America.
Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Sharma’s Family Life is a masterfully crafted novel that examines the immigrant experience and the ties that bind parents and siblings. Narrator Ajay Mishra tells the story of his family’s arrival in New York from New Delhi—a trip they make in 1979. Ajay’s brother, Birju, lands a spot at a notable prep school, and his father has a job with the government. The family seems set for a fresh start, but many obstacles soon arise.
Redeployment by Phil Klay
In Redeployment, which captured the 2014 National Book Award for fiction, Klay offers up 12 powerful stories about the Iraq War. Klay served in the conflict as a Marine Corps public affairs officer, and his work has the sort of immediacy and intensity that can only come from first-hand experience. Each of these first-person tales has a different narrator; each provides a unique perspective on the experience of war.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, Tartt’s The Goldfinch is at once an epic coming-of-age novel and a sophisticated art-world thriller. The narrator, Theo Decker, is 13 when the novel opens and struggling with the loss of his mother. After her death in an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a valuable Dutch painting ends up in Theo’s hands—a rare work that changes the course of his life.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings is based on the life of Sarah Grimké, an outspoken abolitionist who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1800s. Headstrong Sarah is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. A woman of principle who believes in justice and equality, she seeks a platform for her energies. Since childhood, she has been friends with Handful, a slave owned by the Grimké family who is her personal maid. Their relationship is greatly tested as the girls grow older and the years pass.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A deadly virus takes its toll on humanity in the bold, accomplished Station Eleven, which was a National Book Award finalist. Actress Kirsten Raymonde belongs to a theatrical troupe that travels by horse-drawn wagons through a post-apocalyptic world, staging Shakespeare for survivors of the virus. When the performers come to a settlement called St. Deborah by the Water, they meet a crazed religious leader who could land them in danger.
Some Luck by Jane Smiley
Smiley’s many fans have welcomed the appearance of Some Luck, the first volume in a new family-saga trilogy set in Iowa. Spanning three decades—the 1920s through the 1950s—the book chronicles the lives of Rosanna and Walter Langdon and their five children, with each chapter covering a single year.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Diamant, the beloved author of The Red Tent, returns with another absorbing historical novel. In The Boston Girl, heroine Addie Baum recounts the remarkable story of her life to her 22-year-old granddaughter. Addie, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, was born in 1900 in Boston. Along with her two sisters, she grew up in a cramped tenement in the North End, a melting pot of a neighborhood that sparked her curiosity about the larger world. Over the course of her long life, she witnesses wars, experiences heartbreak and comes into her own as a woman.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Paying Guests is a vivid, hypnotic portrait of 1920s London. Frances Wray and her mother take in boarders to make ends meet after World War I. Their family has undergone its share of hardship: Frances’ father has died, and her two brothers were killed in the war. Frances, who is 26 years old, devotes herself to housekeeping, taking on duties once executed by servants. When new tenants Lilian and Leonard Barber arrive at the Wrays, a fresh chapter begins for Frances.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson takes readers back to the town of Gilead, Iowa, in Lila, a stirring, beautifully crafted novel that was nominated for the National Book Award. Lila is a lonely young woman without a home when she meets the elderly Reverend John Ames, whom Robinson introduced in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead.
Get ready for some fabulous fall (well, almost-fall) reading! LibraryReads has put together a list of the 10 books coming out in September that librarians are most excited about putting on their shelves.
Three fiction debuts make the list: Bill Clegg's heartbreaking Did You Ever Have a Family; the ghostly mystery The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young; and the story of a woman who dares to defy society, Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart. Lauren Groff returns with a riveting examination of a marriage combusting, Fates and Furies, while Jonathan Evison follows a widow making the most the most of her latter years in This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!. Meanwhile, Lee Child continues the thrilling Jack Reacher series, which he started in 1997, with his new novel Make Me. Jenny Lawson is coming out with a new memoir, Furiously Happy, at the end of September, and I'm furiously excited about it.
You can see the full September LibraryReads list here. Which book are you most looking forward to picking up at your local library or bookstore?
Teens already have plenty to read in preparation for the next school year, so nonrequired reading should be majorly entertaining. From big laughs to creepy thrillers, we've selected the best new YA books to keep teens reading all summer long:
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Hillyer's debut is perfect for a super-lazy summer day. When four friends reunite after drifting apart for years, a novelty photobooth sends the girls back in time to their last summer at camp, where they relive those sunkissed days and get a second chance at saving what has been lost. Read more>>>
The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
Konigsberg has a knack for balancing hilarity and real emotion, and his latest novel is no exception. New Yorker Carson and his psychologist mother are spending the summer in Billings, Montana, to care for Carson’s estranged, dying father. Then he meets Aisha, gay and cast out by her own father. Add a road trip plus plenty of quirky jokes, and you've got a great summer read. Read more>>>
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Ugh, sunshine. How about something a little darker? Hardinge's new novel is a fantastic work of horror without skimping on elegant prose. When Triss awakes from an accident, she's insatiably hungry and her parents are terrified of her, and yet she can't remember what happened. Cuckoo Song has creepy dolls and changelings so horrifying it'll make your skin crawl, and then you've got a nuanced exploration of post-WWII grief. This is horror at its best. Read more>>>
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Suma consistently blows us away with her unsettling tales and gorgeous writing, and we were rewarded with everything we wanted from this ghost story. After being convicted of murdering her abusive stepfather, Amber was sent to Aurora Hills, a juvenile detention facility, where she becomes roommates with Ori. Ambitious, Julliard-bound ballerina Vee was once Ori's best friend. The unraveling of these girls' darkest secrets is shocking, suspenseful and so, so good. Read more>>>
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
In this lush romance set in the historical Persian empire of Khorasan and inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, the courageous Shahrzad volunteers to marry the Caliph of Khorasan after her best friend becomes one of his murdered brides. But it seems there's something more to the Caliph—and soon her feelings start to grow. There's so much to enjoy about this kickass heroine. Read more>>>
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Maas kicks off a new series full of faeries and curses and lusty glances. Our heroine here is a bit of a damsel, but she's got an edge to her, and nothing will stop her when love is on the line. It's much spicier than her popular Throne of Glass series, so this one will be best suited to teens ages 14 and up. Read more>>>
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Based on her award-winning webcomic, Stevenson's riotous graphic novel is set in a medieval society with both old-world magic and high-tech gadgets. Nimona wants to be the sidekick to Ballister Blackheart, “the biggest name in supervillainy.” Go ahead—bust a gut. It's hilarious. Read more>>>
Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
So you loved John Green and Levithan’s collaboration Will Grayson, Will Grayson (didn't EVERYONE?), and you were especially obsessed with the openly gay character Tiny. Now you can finally read Tiny's musical in its entirety. "Funny" doesn't even begin to describe it. Read more>>>
Undertow by Michael Buckley
Debut author Buckley serves up a major dose of action and entertainment in this sci-fi thriller set on Coney Island, renamed "Fish City" after the arrival of the Alpha, strange creatures from the ocean. Read more>>>
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
In the magical, feuding lands of Norta, Red-blooded commoners serve the Silver-blooded elite, who possess superhuman abilities. But when Red-blooded Mare discovers her own powers, the entire rigid class system is thrown into chaos. This will satisfy readers' thirst for dystopia while exceeding their expectations. Read more>>>
No summer vacation plans? No worries, just go on a world tour of authors! Here are 15 books in translation that we're looking forward to in the upcoming months.
Be sure to check out our list of 15 of the best books in translation from the past year!
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman (Sweden), translated by Henning Koch
You may remember Backman from his international bestseller A Man Called Ove, the tale of a grumpy old man who learns some lessons late in life. His new novel follows a young girl as she delivers letters of apology written by her recently deceased best friend—her grandmother. June 2015
Innocence: Or, Murder on Steep Street by Heda Margolius Kovály (Czech Republic), translated by Alex Zucker
Best known for her memoir about her survival during the Holocaust (Under a Cruel Star), Kovály's thriller will finally be available in English this summer. Using Raymond Chandler as her literary lodestar, the Czech author, who died in 2010, weaves a plot of political corruption and oppression, murder and deadly secrets in 1950s Prague. June 2015
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Italy), Translated by Ann Goldstein
This is the final novel in Ferrante's critically applauded Neapolitan series, which follows the diverging lives of two friends. Ferrante's novels, which capture the female voice with almost shocking honesty and intensity, are international bestsellers. However, adding intrigue to the series is the fact that Elena Ferrante is a pen name—the public has no clue who she (or he?) truly is. In a letter to her publisher, she writes, "Books, once they are written, have no need of their authors." (Via The New Yorker) Quite refreshing in this age of author Twitter feuds. Sept 2015
The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat (France), translated by Adriana Hunter
Is H.R. Sanders the true author of the hit YA adventure series, The Black Insignia, or is it actually young Hélène’s mysterious and nomadic uncle, Daniel Roche? When the rumors of a 24th and final volume start swirling, Hélène and her friend Guillauame decide to track down the elusive Daniel Roche, but they may stumble upon some very big secrets in the process. May 2015
Confessions of the Lioness by Mia Couto (Mozambique), translated by David Brookshaw
Couto, who was shortlisted for the 2015 International Man Booker Prize, sets his latest novel in a mysterious, remote village in Mozambique, where lionesses have begun attacking the women of the village. But when the elders call in a huntsman in the hopes of ridding themselves of the predators, things begin to unravel. Witchcraft, encroaching modernity, male insecurity and the unjust treatment of women all come into play in this poetic mystery. July 2015
The latest from Vásquez is a collection of seven short stories set in Europe, where he lived for several years. The Colombian author is perhaps best known for his insightful, deeply felt prose and his award-winning novel The Sound of Things Falling. The stories in this collection are heartbreaking and tender, focusing on the faults of love and memory. July 2015
The Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano (France), translated by Frank Wynne, Patricia Wolf & Caroline Hillier
When Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014, most Americans had one collective thought: Who? Modiano is famous in France, but most Americans are unfamiliar with his work. Luckily, American publishers have caught on. Look for this translation of the entire Occupation Trilogy in the fall of 2015.
Southeaster by Haroldo Conti (Argentina), translated by Jon Lindsay Miles
Gabriel García Márquez numbered as one of his many fans, but it is assumed that Conti's life was cut short when he was "disappeared" by the Argentine dictatorship in 1976. In this first book by Conti available in English, Southeaster follows a reed-cutter who allows himself to fall into a solitary life as a river drifter after his friend dies. November 2015
The Prophets of Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine (Norway), translated by Martin Aitken
Kim Leine’s sweeping historical saga moves from the quiet, bourgeoisie homes and churches of Copenhagen to the stark villages of Greenland’s Fjord in the 1780s, where a idealistic (yet naïve) young priest, Morten Falk, struggles through a series of exploits to decide where he belongs and who he wants to be. Leine weaves true historical events of colonial rule and Greenland’s native villagers struggle for independence into this rich page-turner. July 2015
French Concession by Xiao Bai (China), translated by Chenxin Jiang
The 1930s underworld of Shanghai comes to life in Bai's literary noir thriller, his English debut. When photographer Hsueh is unwillingly coerced into spying for the Shanghai authorities, he has no idea that the two women he is enamored with are spies themselves, both deeply involved with gangs, mobsters and various shadowy dealings. As the stakes rise, his desire to protect both women leads him deeper into the underworld. July 2015
Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens by László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), translated by Ottilie Mulzet
Krasznahorkai is known for his gritty novels, but his newest work is part travel memoir, part social history where he examines his time spent in China during the dawn of the new millennium. He focuses on the country's growing pains during its rise to becoming a global superpower and high-powered industrial country while also attempting to better understand its cultural traditions and political climate as a Westerner. January 2015
The Exchange of Princesses by Chantal Thomas (France), translated by John Cullen
Based on real events, this sweeping historical follows the intrigue surrounding the marriages of two very young princesses in the early 18th century. In an attempt to stabilize relations between kingdoms, a French princess and a Spanish princess are betrothed to heirs in the neighboring countries. There is a grand ceremony, hopes are pinned on them—and nothing goes as planned. July 2015
The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt), translated by Russell Harris
When Abd el-Aziz Gaafa loses his wealth and his land, he moves his family to Cairo for a chance at getting back on their feet. Once there, he takes a job serving at the Automobile Club—a luxurious refuge for strictly European clientele. But Abd el-Aziz can only stand the Club's corruption for so long, and after he is killed for standing up for himself and his fellow workers, his widow and two sons are drawn deeper and deeper into both the Club's shadowy politics and Egypt's social underworld until they are given a stark and gut-wrenching choice: live safely as lifelong servants or fight for their human rights. August 2015
Nobel Prize-winner Pamuk sets his latest novel in the enthralling, ancient city of Istanbul. The young Mevlut Karataş comes to the city of Istanbul from his provincial village with hopes of wealth and happiness, and although he settles into life in the glorious city, he feels that something is lacking. As he wanders the streets at night selling boza (a traditional Turkish drink), he comes to a greater understanding of himself and the city. Oct 2015
The Circle by Bernard Minier (France), translated by Alison Anderson
When a professor is found murdered in her home, the French university town she resided in is thrown into chaos. Shortly thereafter, Martin Servaz receives a message indicating that a serial killer may be back on the prowl. Are the events linked? Servaz and the detectives he recruits are motivated to act quickly, for Servaz's own daughter attends the university, and the secrets they uncover are deadly. Oct 2015
See anything you're also looking forward to, readers?
Few things are better than sinking into a lush, well-wrought historical novel. From 16th-century England to 1960s America, we've rounded up 15 of our recent favorites.
Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre
There's a price to be paid for beauty in this debut based on real events in King Charles I's early 17th-century court. The beautiful but aging Venetia Stanley is terrified that her looks are slipping away and turns to potions and creams to keep her youthful glow. But as the ladies of the court come to discover, beauty can be toxic.
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
The Water for Elephants author travels to Scotland during the height of World War II in her latest novel. Naive and kind-hearted Maddie sets out to join her rich husband and his friend in their search for the Loch Ness Monster and falls in love with the Scottish countryside. However, soon it dawns on Maddie how ridiculous her husband and his quest are, and things take a dark turn.
The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman
Ladies, let's get ready to rumble! We've been waiting for this book to land in our office since last fall, and it did not disappoint. Although, as a novel based on real events in women's bare-knuckle boxing in late 18th-century England, how could it?
The Tutor by Andrea Chapin
If you're a Shakespeare lover like me, The Tutor is right up your twisty London alley. The novel follows the relationship between the widow Katharine de L’Isle and William Shakespeare—a relationship that brings the Bard's writing to new heights.
The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak
Shafak, a Turkish native, explores the beautifully lush world of the Ottoman Empire in her latest novel. Arriving in court as a young boy, Jahan gradually finds himself in the inner-circle of the Sultan's premier architect, helping to build some of the most magnificent buildings ever seen. However, jealousy threatens to dismantle the two architects' accomplishments.
Into the Savage Country by Shannon Burke
In 1826, the American West was a rugged landscape filled with potential as well as danger. William Wyeth, a young man set on earning his fortune in fur-trapping, sees this firsthand as he delves deep into the territory, finding love, friendship and of course, encountering near-death experiences.
Driving the King by Ravi Howard
In a fictional account of the life of Nat King Cole's driver, Howard explores the tumultuous landscape of 1960s America. After saving Cole, his childhood friend, from an attacker during a performance in Montgomery, Alabama, Nat Weary is rewarded with a 10-year jail sentence. But upon his release, Cole offers him a job as his driver and a chance to travel through the changing country.
Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck
When you live in an isolated village in 1717 Finland, you really have to be able to rely upon your neighbors. Unfortunately for newly settled Maija and her family, one of these neighbors is discovered dead, a devastating winter is unfurling and things just get weirder from there.
Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
England in the 1930s was not a hospitable place for a woman pregnant out of wedlock. When Alice finds herself in this predicament, her mortified parents ship her off to lonely Fiercombe Manor, where she will wait out her pregnancy and then give the child up for adoption. But there's something strange going on at the manor, and its secret history has disturbing implications.
The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister
Accused of murdering her husband (onstage, no less), the Amazing Arden, a famed magician in the early 1900s, must convince a young policeman that she is innocent. Or is her plea just smoke and mirrors? If you enjoyed Water for Elephants or The Night Circus, this book's for you.
The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday
Daniel Torday blends two coming-of-age stories in this powerful debut novel about truth and memory. As a teen, Eli Goldstein adored his Uncle Poxl, a Czech Jew who served in the British Royal Air Force during World War II and lived to write a best-selling memoir. But as Poxl's story unfolds, it gradually becomes clear that the past may not be as straightforward as he presents it. Torday excels at depicting the struggles of everyday people facing devastating airstrikes, and Poxl's unusual perspective makes the novel feel fresh.
West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan
Travel back to the golden age of Hollywood with a washed-up F. Scott Fitzgerald in this poignant novel from O'Nan. His former literary fame and fortune shattered, Fitzgerald heads to Hollywood to try his luck at screenwriting. There he rubs elbows with silver screen queens and kings, even as he spirals deeper into despair and the alcoholism that will eventually kill him.
Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy
The lives of a slave named Cow Tom and his granddaughter Rose unfold in this novel set in the 1800s American West. Cow Tom has an uncanny talent for mastering languages and is sold as a translator to the Creek tribe at a young age. Inspired by the strength of her grandfather, Rose is determined to keep her family together and thrive despite living in a hostile, violent world.
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Parmar explores a world of literary stars in her second novel. The Bloomsbury Group was a set of thinking elite in early 20th-century London, with Vanessa and her sister, Virginia Woolf, among the founding members. Basing her novel off of Vanessa's letters and diaries from the time, Parmar offers up a fascinating fictional account of these privileged, clever and troubled bohemians' lives.
Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell
Although they seemingly have few things in common, a white woman named Hazel and a black woman named Vida are linked by the devastating deaths of their young children. As they grow closer through this tragedy in pre-Civil Rights era Mississippi, Hazel's eyes are opened to harsh realities about society.
Believe it or not, it's the first day of spring! Raise your hand if you're sick of gray days and ice—or if you're pretty sure the spring equinox is a big fat liar (looking at you, NYC). Littlest readers can celebrate the return of spring (or dream of it) with a fresh crop of picture books:
Shawn Sheehy sneaks plenty of fun facts into his outstanding new pop-up book, Welcome to the Neighborwood. Each spread reveals the home of a different creature, from spiders to hummingbirds. I love how this delicate paper craftsmanship mirrors the intricacy and fragility of nature, encouraging little ones to both explore and respect their environment.
For another unique offering that gets up close and personal with nature, April Pulley Sayre's Raindrops Roll zooms in on the magic of rain with a captivating balance of science and poetry. Seven Impossible Things blogger Julie Danielson shares a few spreads from the book on her blog here.
The title of Kadir Nelson's If You Plant a Seed recalls the slippery-slope hijinks of a certain demanding mouse and his cookie (or moose and muffin, if you prefer), and the rabbit and mouse at the beginning of this gorgeous book certainly need to learn some manners—but fortunately they do, and their gardening efforts become a sweet allegory for the importance of kindness and sustainability.
You Nest Here with Me, written by Jane Yolen and her daughter and fellow birder, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is a classic bedtime book—but with so many baby birds tucked into their little homes, it's also a classic springtime book.
Carin Bramsen's Just a Duck? is on this list simply because of its hyper-vibrant illustrations. It's a story of unlikely best friends who learn to appreciate each other's unique strengths, but there's something about the colors, textures and, most of all, hilarious expressions that reminds me of all the best parts of spring.
Finally, the bears have it in two exceptional new picture books: The magical paper collages in Finding Spring by Carin Berger capture just how hard it is to wait for new seasons; and The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach is irresistibly full of mischief and bright, sunny adventures.
Want even more? Check these out at your local library:
You can view all our children's picture book coverage here.
There's an abundance of wolves in the publishing industry. No, not publicists—the titles. Have you noticed the volume of books with wolves in the title lately? Did it all start with Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall? Who knows. But we're (sorry) wolfing them down.
Wolf in White Van
By John Darnielle
Wolf in White Van was the dark horse (so many animal metaphors!) at the 2014 National Book Awards when it was longlisted in fiction. Although it didn't take home the prize, this novel from the lead singer of The Mountain Goats is an incredibly impressive debut—especially considering that fact that Darnielle's got an album coming out in April!
Sometimes the Wolf
By Urban Waite
When Bobby Drake is tasked with watching over the first wolf spotted in decades in his small pacific Northwest town, it's a harbinger of things to come: namely, his violent, estranged father.
A Wolf Called Romeo
By Nick Jans
This title is not actually a wolf metaphor! This is the true story of an oddly friendly lone wolf who wandered into Nick Jans' life while he was living in Alaska.
By Cecilia Ekbäck
Moving to a new community is hard. Especially when that new community is a 1700s Lapland village, it's a wolf winter—an especially difficult winter—and the "wolf" that killed your neighbor may not be an animal after all.
By Mo Hayder
This thriller hooks you by the first page. When a dog is found with the words "HELP US" inscribed on its collar, it's a race against time to find the dog's owners before it's too late.
Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves
By Carolyn Chute
I'm not sure if this is a well-known phrase that eluded me, but I absolutely love the title. (Hence its inclusion on our Best Titles of 2014 list.) In this novel, a doggedly determined reporter is on the tail of the strangely alluring leader of a homeschool, a man known as "The Prophet."
Wolfie the Bunny
By Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora
Yes, even the children's books are getting into the wolf trend. Luckily, this wolf is a friendly one with no tricks up his sleeve!
The Hunger of the Wolf
By Stephen Marche
In Stephen Marche's latest, the billionaires are werewolves . . . It's a metaphor. This takedown of capitalism could easily slide into hokey, but Marche guides the narrative with immense skill.
Lest you think this trend is dying down, The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall will be out in June from Harper, and Mysterious Press will publish The House of Wolfe in April. We wonder what the next title trend will be . . . Bears? Badgers? I, for one, hope it's hedgehogs.
Ah, February, the season of love. Or not. If you're lacking a flesh-and-blood Valentine, we've selected the best novels about love from the past year to sweep you off your feet. Because really, what's more reliable than a book?
Ruddy is a former football star, current car thief and has one friend—a lethargic Basset hound. And then the voices start. No, this is not a dismal journey into a depressed man's psyche; it's a humorous, romantic romp of a novel. With comedy and wit, Ruddy attempts to revamp his life, solve a murder mystery and woo a woman. Read more>>
Want your love story to have a literary spin? Zevin's breakout hit about a crotchety bookstore owner named A.J. and a perpetually upbeat book peddler fits the bill. However, their road to romantic bliss is roadblocked by a baby on the doorstep, dismal books sales and A.J.'s own stubbornness.
Tom Putnam is in a rut. As an English professor in a small Southern college town, he spends his days teaching and his nights with his fragile wife. He's in need of a shake-up. And that's exactly what he gets when plucky Rose, a new employee at the local bookstore, and the 10-year-old son he never knew he had come to town. If you enjoyed Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, you're sure to enjoy this charming story.
Don't be alarmed by the fact that this novel was written by one of Bravo's Real Housewives of New York. This is a smart, funny and surprisingly moving story about redefining yourself when your other half is gone. After the shocking death of her famous (and philandering) author husband, Claire Byrne feels lost without his formidable shadow to stand behind. But slowly, Claire finds that she can thrive on her own. Read more>>
If a lover from your past called you, would you pick up? What if this past lover is your present lover? That's the issue Georgie faces when she discovers that she can dial her husband, Neal—or rather, college-age Neal—on a magical telephone. Can Georgie’s conversations with the Neal of the past prevent their present-day marriage problems? Read more>>
When Sophie Collingwood receives two requests for an obscure old book while working in an antiquarian bookshop, she's intrigued. Little does she know, her research into the novel will cast doubt on the patron saint of literary love, Jane Austen, and bring romance into her own life. Read more>>
What goes together better than road trips and romance? Well, a lot of things actually. But that doesn't stop the charmingly mismatched pair of single mom Jess and millionaire Ed from unexpectedly falling in love as they journey to Scotland to give Jess' daughter a shot at a scholarship. Read more>>
In this darkly romantic tale, a talented musician falls for two strange and alluring brothers during her freshman year at college. As she is drawn deeper into their seductive world, she discovers that the Bulgarian myths of her childhood might hold truth. Read more>>
In the sequel to the bestseller The Rosie Project, Simsion delves into what happens after the happily ever after. Don and Rosie are a mismatched pair—but that's always been part of what makes them work. Unfortunately, their differences have been getting in the way, and Don knows that if they don't do something soon, the offbeat pair will completely fall apart. Will the lovably quirky Rosie and Don make it work? Read more>>
What do you think, readers? In the mood to pick up one of these love stories this Valentine's season?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in another era? Scientists have yet to create a time machine, but until then, we've got the next best thing: books! From medieval mysteries to WWII dramas, we've put together a list of books published this year that will let you escape to another time.
The life of Laura Bridgman, the first person to communicate using finger spelling, is explored in this compelling novel set in the mid-1800s. Without the ability to hear, see or taste, Bridgman was confined solely to the sense of touch, and both her inner life and her relationships were intensely complex. But despite being a celebrity during her lifetime, Bridgman has largely been forgotten by history. Thankfully, Elkins skillfully revives the memory of this pioneering woman and her singularly fascinating world.
The mind of Tom Robbins is a world in and of itself, and we're invited to journey through it in his memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie. Detailing his childhood during the Great Depression, his time as a soldier in Korea and his experiences during the LSD-fueled counterculture movement, the author of the classic Even Cowgirls Get the Blues guides the reader through his life with a sly, playful voice. You can't help but be taken along for the ride.
In 1527, 600 men set sail from Spain to explore the New World. By the end of the year, only four men remained alive. Among the survivors was a Moroccan slave named Mustafa, renamed Estebanico by his Spanish captors. The four men wandered the wilderness for eight years before finally reaching a Spanish settlement, yet Estebanico's account of their journey was never written down. In Lalami's meticulously researched novel, she imagines what the first black explorer of the New World might have to say about the years spent searching for civilization—and what he found when he finally reached it.
If you're looking for a fat, juicy tome to get lost in, this novel, set in 1794 England, might be it. Bent on marrying off their daughters to wealthy suitors, four oblivious high-society men hire a pianoforte instructor to teach the girls the art of the newest musical craze. Little do they know, the musician has an agenda of his own and is instructing their daughters in quite a bit more than pianoforte . . .
Take a relaxing trip to Walden Pond, literary oasis of Henry Thoreau. In his biography of the famous poet, Sims paints a lovely portrait of the delightfully zany father of nature writing. You might be inspired to leave the cumbersome modern world behind and retreat to your own Walden Pond . . . or at least go for a hike.
Furst's masterfully executed spy novel unfolds as the world is on the cusp of WWII, capturing the tumultuous, dangerous moment before all-out war enveloped Europe. Recruited to secretly fight the agents of fascism, a truly diverse crew carries out clandestine deeds across Nazi-infested Europe in this fast-paced, thrilling novel.
The 17th-century Medici court of Florence is the scene for this tale of a talented wax sculptor, Zummo, attempting to outrun his past. While completing a bizarre commission from the Grand Duke, Zummo finds love with a mysterious young woman. But of course, scandal is not far behind, and dangerous secrets lurk in the shadows of the beautiful city.
Reeling in the aftermath of WWI, Frances Wray and her mother decide to take on a young married couple, Leonard and Lillian Barber, as tenants in their South London apartment. The lonely Frances is delighted when she becomes fast friends with the affable Lillian, and Frances' confession that she is attracted to women feeds the flames of their relationship. But as their infatuation grows, things take a dark and deadly turn.
She's got (arguably) the most famous face on the planet. But who is the woman in da Vinci's Mona Lisa? Experts disagree, but many believe the painting depicts Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, the Florentine wife of a wealthy merchant. Through public records and informed guesses, Hales is able to reconstruct a probable portrait of her life—a life perhaps just as fascinating as her portrait.
Inspired by a real unsolved murder, Frog Music is set in San Francisco during the muggy, disease-ridden summer of 1876. When her cross-dressing friend is murdered, Blanche delves into the shady underbelly of the city, determined to find the killer.
Fast-forward 60 years, and San Francisco is on the upswing. In the talented Lisa See's latest novel, three women of Asian descent with very different backgrounds form a seemingly unbreakable bond working as dancers at the Forbidden City nightclub. But as their fame grows and the world around them begins to change, their friendship is tested.
King Richard II is nervous—and with good reason. Whisperings of a dangerous book are floating around 14th-century London. Within this book are the accurately predicted deaths of every king of England—including him. Rulers, deceit, prophecies and every English major's best friend, Chaucer, all make an appearance in this satisfying medieval mystery. Holsinger, a renowned medieval scholar, lends his formidable knowledge to the novel, giving it a well-deserved air of authenticity.
Perhaps you would like to revel in these last sweltering days before fall. If that's the case, this evocative memoir will take you back to midcentury Georgia as travel writer Mayes unspools memories of her early life, filled with the chaos and love of a dysfunctional family. Highlighting the beauty and pain of her Southern childhood—not to mention the steamy afternoons—Mayes has written the perfect companion book to a tall glass of iced tea.
Spanning decades, this novel inspects the evolution of love and evil within a group of friends. Paris in the 1920s was about as fabulously decadent as you can get, and within the city's glittering night life, a group of misfits and strange geniuses finds acceptance and encouragement. But as the world takes a truly horrific turn, the stunning characters within this novel must turn with it, leading them to unexpected and devastating choices.
The Golden Age of Amsterdam comes to life in this wonderfully imaginative debut. When country girl Nella marries a much-older merchant and moves to Amsterdam, she's disappointed to find that life in her new household is incredibly dull and austere. Her husband seems to take no interest in her, and his severe sister runs the household with an iron fist. So Nella is surprised when her husband orders an expensive cabinet-sized replica of their home as a gift. She commissions a miniaturist to furnish her little home, but soon the miniaturist's work reveals dark secrets about the odd family she has married into.
If you think it's hard to get a book published these days, try publishing in Cold War Russia. The Zhivago Affair details the travails author Boris Pasternak, had to endure in order to get his now-classic novel, Dr. Zhivago, published. It's a fascinating tale of intrigue, the CIA (yes, really) and how one phenomenal book helped sow seeds of dissension in Soviet Russia.
Set in a North Carolina coastal town as the Revolutionary War draws to a close, Smith's debut follows three generations of a troubled family as they struggle to cope with loss. The memory of the well-loved, deceased Helen haunts the family she left behind, affecting each family member in complex ways. This novel eloquently conveys how intrinsically connected love and grief truly are.
If you like your historical novels with a bit of a biting edge, this novel drips with dark Gothic mystery. When Charlotte's brother goes missing within the elite world of Victorian society, she is determined to find him. But she soon discovers that there is something supernaturally sinister afoot, and that high society might be more than a little connected to the underground.
Need an escape from the late-summer heat? Picking up a book with "Ice" in the title might be a good route. In his gripping nonfiction account of the ill-advised 1879 expedition to the North Pole, Sides follows the shipwrecked crew of the USS Jeannette as they struggle to survive the Arctic tundra. This vivid nonfiction thriller is guaranteed to leave you chilled—in more ways than one.
Do you see any books that make you want to hop in a time machine? Let us know in the comments!
Fall always brings a bounty of fabulous books, and this year is no different. Here's our guide to the 30+ books we're looking forward to seeing in bookstores this fall.
Lock In by John Scalzi (Tor).
The Hugo Award-winning author sets his latest in the near future, where a very contagious virus causes 1% of the people it infects to become locked in their bodies.
The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Smith Thompson (S&S).
Set in North Carolina during the American Revolution, this accomplished first novel is a lyrical exploration of one man's loves and losses.
Mr. Tall by Tony Earley (Little, Brown).
The acclaimed author of Jim the Boy returns with a collection of linked short stories.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Random House). Welcome to a world where lifespans are negotiable—Mitchell's latest is a tour de force of imagination, suspense and literary chops.
The Secret Place by Tana French (Viking). A new crime novel from the talented French is always news. This time, she's delving into the secret-filled world of an all-girl's school, which just might be harboring a murderer.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan (Doubleday). Would it feel like fall without an Ian McEwan novel? Here, the action takes place in family court, where a successful judge faces personal challenges as well as a complicated case that pits faith against medicine.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf). Yes, we know you think you've been there, done that when it comes to post-apocalyptic fiction, but Mandel brings something fresh to the genre with a story that focuses on what remains after most everything is lost.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. In a novel that early readers say could be her best yet, the British writer turns to 1920s London, where a widow and her daughter take on a young married couple as boarders—needless to say, things don't work out quite as planned.
Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle (FSG). The lead singer of The Mountain Goats makes his fiction debut with a world-bending story featuring a role-playing game and its mysterious creator. (read more)
The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis (Little, Brown). When an Israeli politician finds himself attacked by his own for taking a moderate position on settlements in the West Bank, he retreats to Yalta, the place he vacationed as a child. But in running away, he is instead forced to confront his past.
Rooms by Lauren Oliver (Ecco). The popular YA author makes her adult debut in this story of a family who inherit a mansion when their father dies—along with its ghosts.
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein (S&S). In his first adult book since the runaway bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain, Stein returns to the Pacific Northwest—but this time, he's telling a story of fathers and sons.
Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner). A journalist whose first work of history (Empire of the Summer Moon) was a bestseller and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Gwynne applies his stellar storytelling skills to the story of Stonewall Jackson, a mediocre professor from the Virginia Military Institute who became one of the Confederacy’s most brilliant generals.
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories by Hilary Mantel (Holt). As the world eagerly awaits the final volume in her Wolf Hall Trilogy, Mantel throws us a bone with this collection of accomplished short fiction. (read more)
The Prince of Los Cocuyos by Richard Blanco (Ecco). The first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet (he read his poem “One Today” at Barack Obama’s second inauguration) offers a lyrical, hilarious account of growing up in Miami as the son of Cuban immigrants.
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin (Scribner). In his seventh novel, the acclaimed Irish novelist follows the quiet life of a widowed young mother, who must bring her four sons up alone in her small community of Wexford, Ireland.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Riverhead). In this literary tour de force that recalls Toni Morrison, James takes on Jamaican history through the attempted assassination of reggae star Bob Marley.
Some Luck by Jane Smiley (Knopf). The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres is back with an ambitious new project: a trilogy that spans from 1920-today. This first installment introduces the Langdon family, an Iowa farming clan at the center of her story. (read more)
Lila by Marilynne Robinson (FSG). Robinson returns to the quiet Iowa community she created in Gilead with the story of yet another of the town's inhabitants: Lila, the mysterious young woman who comes to town and marries John Ames. (read more)
The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue (Picador). Donohue is known for his ability to craft eerie and magical tales. His latest is no exception: It tells the story of a young boy whose talent for drawing monsters suddenly starts affecting the real world.
The Innovators by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster). Journalist and author Isaacson, who has penned biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, turns now to the "Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks" who brought us the computer and the Internet. His narrative reveals the contributions of little known engineers and programmers, as well as the stars of the show (Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Larry Page, etc.).
Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash (Ecco). One of America's most beloved Southern writers returns with another story of modern-day Appalachia, where a young park ranger and a longtime sheriff join forces to solve a crime that threatens their community.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine). An elephant sanctuary is at the heart of Picoult's latest, which finds a lonely young woman attempting to track down the mother who left her without a word a decade before.
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury). The sequel to The Bone Season promises more thrills in a near-future London, where clairvoyant Paige Mahoney continues to uncover the secrets of the Rephaim. [EDITOR'S NOTE: This book has been moved to January 2015.]
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice (Knopf). Rice returns to the genre that made her famous with her latest, which brings back everyone's favorite vampire: Lestat. Vampires around the world are being massacred, and Lestat may be their only hope.
Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story by Rick Bragg (Harper). It’s an author/subject match made in heaven: The chronicler of hardscrabble Southern life recounts the adventures of the hell-raising musician who brought us “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire.”
Yes Please by Amy Poehler (Dey Street). The first book from the SNL alum and “Parks and Recreation” star promises personal stories and advice on everything from sex to parenting. We hope it’s as funny and appealing as Poehler herself.
Let Me Be Frank with You by Richard Ford (Ecco). In case you couldn't guess by the title, Frank Bascombe (The Sportswriter) is back in Ford's latest book, which finds Frank attempting to put his life back together after Hurricane Sandy.
A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin (Pantheon). The author of Waiting investigates the secrets that can be hidden within even the closest of families in his latest book, which veers between post-WWII China and the modern-day U.S.
Us by David Nicholls (Harper). The best-selling British writer, whose tear-jerker One Day was a dark horse hit back in 2009 and later became a film starring Anne Hathaway, returns this fall with a second novel that follows one man's attempt to rescue his broken marriage.
*Pub dates subject to change.