Le Carré invites us to return to the heart of the Cold War era—Legacy revisits a turning point in both Smiley’s career & the security of Britain’s intelligence service, but from the discomfiting vantage of hindsight, which is, of course, anything but 20/20. The story takes an unflinching look at the personal costs of espionage, & reminds us, as ever, that Smiley, if not always our government, tries to move towards peace. It’s a pleasure to visit with these characters, with their strengths & frailties, once again.
A midlife change in financial fortune starts off this debut novel—the Jhas have come into money, & so they move from their modest flat in East Delhi to a new, gated community. The Jhas & their neighbors, old & new, reckon with what money can & can’t change—& what it shouldn’t. Encompassing manners & romances, this generously observed social comedy is a perfect read for the end of the summer, or any time of the year when one is wishing for a modern Austen-esque novel to dive into.
Alexie’s memoir examines his relationship with his mother, its unceasing love & its many-faceted failures. Fans of his semi-autobiographic novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will want to dive into his life again, this time more directly. He uses poetry & prose to honor & to question his mother, his language always unfailingly splendid in its clarity. Alexie’s memoir reveals how our stories define us & free us through every telling.
This murder mystery can satisfy readers looking for a cozy village puzzle as well as those looking for a sharper-edged modern thriller. This nested plot is both encomium & loving critique of mysteries’ popularity, whether televised or set in print. You’ve seen Horowitz’s writing on TV (Poirot, Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War)—this foray into print is gripping, fun, & keeps the reader guessing till the end.
Americanah is both a unfolding love story & an incisive look at constructions of race—Ifemelu is a transplant to the U.S. from Nigeria, and the story of the end of her time in the States and her return to Nigeria is bound up in her youthful love affair with the man she called Ceiling, and in all she has had to learn about how to be black in America, as well as all she has to learn about having been an expat upon her return to Nigeria. Like Austen, Adichie uses the framework of love lost & longed for to examine the society she, and the rest of us, move through. Her beautiful writing & her characters' intimate dilemmas reveal a multiplicity of layers in the world around & beyond us.
"If only I had some summer reading that made me laugh," your kid says. "If only we could read something besides the Magic Tree House," you think. Don't let the movie's existence stop you--run right out and try Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon books. Gentler than the movie, and more outrageous, these books are fun to read aloud and exciting enough for the listener to pick up the book and read ahead when your voice is gone. Hiccup is the hero we all could be, and his efforts to find a new way to be the Viking leader his dad hopes him to be are funny and touching and never soppy. It's a great series. (And if you are wondering if your young reader will have the Monty-Python-appreciation gene, these books may be the predictor to soothe your fears.)
Enough story for readers of any age: tsunami, pirates, sharks, astronomy, beer, how we make meaning from tragedy, how we communicate, even mistaken priorities of colonialism--he packs a lot in. It's funny, heartbreaking, adventuresome and contemplative--classic Pratchett, even if not Discworld. A good introduction to a wonderful writer.
When I was 11, I'd've said these were the Greatest Books Ever. As a post-6th-grader, however, I can more modestly attest that Percy's adventures swept me away. Riordan's accomplished world-building & plotting make this a great adventure story, with enough humor & tension to keep readers of all ages rapt. Percy's own discovery of the world of Greek mythology provides an excellent introduction to the newcomer, and the story's layers of reference to Homer, Bullfinch, and beyond will provide satisfying touchstones to readers' further explorations of the myths themselves.
A very funny and surprisingly insightful novel. For any fan of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, or Jasper Fforde. Or for those you hope will grow up to be fans of theirs, too.
Even more than a funny, kind, magic-filled (well, half-magic filled) adventure story, this novel is a delicious screwball comedy for the 12-and-under set. A family of four kids finds a magic coin and has to work out the limits of its wishing power from first principles. A hoot of a story!
The third Vish Puri mystery is, yet again, even better than the last. After the sudden death of a cricket team's VIP at an honorary dinner, Puri must use all his resources to tease out the connections between cricket's match-fixing problems, the history of the 1947 Partition, & even an incident from his mother's past--all while trying, per his wife's orders, to lose some of his well-earned weight. Puri's adventures are full of derring-do, but he always finds time to contemplate the wider repercussions of the secrets he learns. How lucky we are to come along for the ride!
India's Most Private Investigator is back! This second Vish Puri novel is even better than the first, with its intriguing plot, characters whose secrets unfold with the the story, and all the immersive description of India's daily sights, tastes, sounds, and smells. If you're a fan of the mysteries of Alexander McCall Smith or even Magdalen Nabb, give Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri a try. It's armchair travel and adventure at its finest.
Read this to feel good about your earthbound life, to marvel at the unsung details & work & research that send astronauts into space, and to laugh with Roach over the myriad detours her research into the science of space travel makes and at her own surprising discoveries. This one is as wonderful as her other books, too.
Bee's essays run the gamut from unflinching self-examination to riotous speculation. Like a great night of stand-up, the book leaves the reader feeling both more intimate with the writer and more unsettled about the strangeness that attends so much of our lives. Bee has written a funny, unsettling, and strangely true book--I'd urge fans of either Sedaris, Sloane Crosley, or Shalom Auslander to give it a go, and of course any fan of Bee's from the Daily Show should pick this up right away.
In this funny, sharp satire, Mr. Mandery's concisely drawn & vivid characters, his "translation" of the novel's aliens' daily lives, and his insightful commentary woven gently throughout the book make for a surprisingly accessible novel. You might worry this is a knock-off of Vonnegut or Adams--don't. The author's handling of the post-modern, self-referential trope is masterful, multilayered, & refreshingly light. The aliens' rabbi prank is hilarious and disturbingly insightful, and the shrinking universe jokes, the heartbreaking kindness of the collapsing universe's last minutes, and thoughts on celebrated Gordons all come together to make an absorbing read.
Bizarrely informative, strangely cheerful--this book is a pleasure to pick up and peruse. (It's also easy to pick up and get happily lost in.) Learn about Byron's daughter's strange computer prescience, eccentric rich people's fondness for monkeys, Genghis Khan's system of governance and warfare, and much, much more. Book of the Dead is a great read for all.
This gripping debut novel has it all—great plot, vivid characters, crisp settings. Even more, its story and subject reveal a part of our history in all its messy, funny, cruel, heartbreaking and hopeful truth. It's hard to put down and hard to stop thinking about. A great read at any time of the year.
If Sarah Vowell had written my high school textbooks, I'd've remembered what I learned about the pilgrims. Read this in honor of Turkey-Day and you'll learn more, remember more, and you too will come under Vowell's spell, discovering a crucial and complicated spirit of our country, too.
The Paradise is an absorbing novel about the birth of marketing, department stores, and conspicuous consumption. Though it is the product of 19th-century France, it remains remarkably contemporary in its portrayal of rampaging capitalism's pros and cons as well as in its rendering of frenzied shoppers. And there is even a little love story to carry you along, too. Splendid, indeed!