Lauren Owen's debut is a gripping read. Set in the changing world of England in the late 1800s, the story follows two siblings who each make their way to the big city from their country home; both of their journeys, though separate, go terribly, terribly wrong. Ms. Owen has a terrific grasp of the language of the time & the pacing of her story. The Quick is an absorbing novel that surprises with its slow burn of suspense, & remains with the reader longer than one might expect.
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.
Perhaps if Edward Gorey were tasked with writing an episode of Downton Abbey with Nancy Mitford . . . well, it might turn out to be a bit like what Ms. Jones has dreamed up here. This is a remarkably thoughtful novel about an upper-class family's dinner party as it is increasingly derailed by a nearby train accident. Also, there's a pony! Ms. Jones's novel is surprisingly gripping, & an adventurous read.
Don't let the cover fool you for long: Bacigalupi's page-turner is deceptive—it's a goofy zombie gorefest for kids, but it is also an introduction to the ways people's many layers can surprise even those who know them best. And the kids' adventures in fighting off the zombie cows (it's a comedy, after all) lead them, ultimately, to grapple with how we all get ahold of so many of our resources—food, information, money—and even ask our heroes to think about the many tools that all sorts of people use to hold on to all sorts of power. But there's also baseball. And brains! Like Carl Hiaasen's Hoot, this is a great read for avid & reluctant readers alike.
"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!
An illuminating and funny ride--Pinkwater's at the top of his form here, and his hero is, as ever, a pleasure to travel with. A great gift for the summer reader on break from school, or even for the young at heart of any age.
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.
Hang out with Rob Sheffield as he exchanges mix tapes with his baby sister to the background of NKOTB and The Replacements; helps his grandad out to a soundtrack of baseball games, Irish shanties, and Yo! MTV Raps; and as he gives the definitive analysis of the cassingle format. Talking to Girls . . . is a surprisingly philosophical delight of a memoir, for all of us who might have spent time contemplating the meanings of our lives' various soundtracks.
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.
Reading a Hitchhikers sequel not by Mr. Adams? How could one manage it? Think of this as an extension, an exploration, an homage, but not a cover version. Mr. Colfer captures the essence of the Hitchhikers' characters' motives, and finds his own groove with the series' uniquely pessimistic humor. Like Adams, Colfer doesn't descend into wackiness, but keeps his characters' antics reflecting on humanity's (and, of course, Vogonity's) flaws--absurdity, avarice, ineptitude, and all. If we can't laugh at ourselves, at least we still have Marvin. Mr. Colfer has crafted a surprisingly good return to the well-known series, without stepping on the original's metaphorical toes.
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.
The sometimes This American Life commentator's memoir about the New Orleans flood and its aftermath takes an intimate tone. Wagner focuses tightly on her own neighborhood and experience, and yet her story reveals much about the whole disaster without explicitly doing so. She makes this memoir of flood recovery--or perhaps I mean survival--encompass a good deal, narratively and tonally. Her vision is often unflinching, and her insights are not highlighted or drawn out, but they are acute. Plus, the title completely rocks.
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.
This collection of Blount's essays is funny, smart, and incisive. He may or may not want to be the "modern Mark Twain," but in any case, he's the definitive Roy Blount, Jr. Pick up this book and pick a few pages to peruse—he's a great writer to spend time with, and you'll come away with your eyes and ears opened in new ways, too.
A hopeful and surprisingly festive memoir.
A wonderful book - magically real, and really magic in places, it tells a compelling story of place, memory, and how we make ourselves out of our history, known and unknown.
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!
This new mystery is compelling, funny, noirish, meditative, scary, & absorbing. If you like the thoughtfulness of McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe, the exuberance of Adams' Dirk Gently, or the grit of a Kate Atkinson novel, this may be the mystery for you. Claire DeWitt reluctantly returns to New Orleans to solve the unsolvable in the wake of Katrina. Her methods are unorthodox, her encounters with the city riveting. I can't wait to read what Claire DeWitt might do next.