Four girls in school together in Nigeria form the heart of this intimate epic that spans, in the end, an astounding 150 years. Their stories are so absorbing, it will sneak up on you too. These women, their histories and successes and griefs and loves, will stay with me a long time. Ogunyemi’s writing is stellar and beautiful and clarifying.
New to Elly Griffiths? I was, and this book has made me a convert! This group of school friends, now grown up, makes me glad to be far and away from high school. But why did the rock star come back to the reunion? The politicians? The police officer? It’s a treat to watch DI Kaur unravel it all.
This spooky thriller set in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides asks: What happens when someone at the heart of a reincarnation claim tries to find out the truth? Johnstone’s excellent rendering of atmosphere, history, and unreliable narrators make this story impossible to put down.
Small-town Australia, a spring festival, and a woman who vanished, leaving behind a grieving family and a mystified community. Harper’s rendition of the land and those who people it, strangers and confidantes trying to make sense of a complicated world captivated me completely.
Just fantastic! Eavesdrop on Rickman’s thoughts on business, politics, and plays (their staging, their strengths, their overall points or pointlessness), his insightful off-hand remarks, his generous friendships. The included illustrations he drew are inspiring. His diaries are an intimate window into another world. I encourage you to check them out.
It turns out, no one likes a big new development around the corner from their long-established neighborhood—not even in the wide-open Welsh borderlands. Ffion wonders if it’s the new houses overlooking the lake that have soured neighbors on the developer, or something else. Ffion is a compelling detective—her sleuthing will keep you guessing.
In this rich, joyous, intense, heartbreaking collection, Chen Chen reveals a world of connections—geese, grackles, classes, students, lovers, sex, songs, dinners, parents—full of sustenance. His language inhabits forms from prose blocks to Q&As to lyric lineation. These poems are a tour de force.
As a longtime Beaton fan, I’ve looked forward to Ducks since Beaton’s first strips, in 2014, about the oil sands. It’s even better than I imagined. Despite the quiet clarities of her line & her narration, Beaton never simplifies the complex problems of work & community in the midst of a fragile yet grueling landscape. A beautiful, important book that’s at the top of my list for the holidays & beyond.
A perfect read for nights that are drawing in: you’ve got a scary storm, an isolated island, an unhappy family, & 8 hours to low tide. All on the night before Halloween! This book had more twists and turns than a creepy message in spindly cursive written on a wall—a fantastic thriller, and a lot of fun.
A remarkable homage to Christie, full of lively new adventures for our heroine, this collection is a beautiful extension of Miss Marple’s voice, and an always timely reminder to keep an eye on the quiet, elderly lady knitting in the corner. She’ll certainly have her eye on you!
Another fun outing from the Thursday Murder Club, compiling all a mystery needs: a missing reporter, a hardened criminal, a little love, and the heartbreaking reality of a beloved spouse’s slow decline. A perfect escape for a winter night.
Thursday Murder Club returns! Richard Osman's charming retirees and their friends have another mystery in the offing, and the twists are tightly plotted, while the characters are just as fun to hang out with as the adventure unfolds. It's not often that one gets a page-turning story with insight about lives well-lived, but Osman and his characters have made it happen here. Excellent for those who loved the first novel, but this one is fine to start with, especially if you quite like spy stories with a bit of gangster thrown in, too.
In this exquisite lyrical memoir, a grandfather’s love is a childhood anchor, & his death a discovery that ricochets. Petrosino’s narrative encompasses realities of racism & colorism, family, time, Dante, Shakespeare, & living with sorrow. Read this to better know the poet, & the world, & maybe yourself, too.
Is this a mystery about writing a novel or about avoiding one? A story about what happened in a Swiss hotel room, or why? As Dicker writes himself into the unfolding puzzles, each revelation remains absolutely riveting. This book is a surprising revelation—a mystery of mourning, a celebration of escape.
I’ve written this blurb 12 times, & still it falls short. Kuang’s fantasy reflects the British Empire’s drive to consume the world through a silvered mirror, making it both familiar & revelatory. By the end, my heart was in my throat.
How do you make peace with the scary, confused, awkward teen you were, who you had to be to get to be the person you are today? Frankie has to find out. Wilson perfectly captures the lonely buzz of adolescence, the urge to create something bigger out of anything that’s within reach.
I couldn’t put this book down, yet I didn’t want it to end! A decade on, Hannah remains understandably scarred from the murder of her charismatic roommate their first year at Oxford. As her story—past & present—unfolds, tensions notch ever higher. Ware delivers another stellar plot, never neglecting to tally the costs of relying on what we think we already know—about others, and about ourselves.
This is a great read, & an important one. Intimate & expansive, these essays build on personal and political history to construct a picture of the myriad nations & narratives of Africa, examining why it’s so hard for those of us outside to see them clearly. An excellent and generous guide, Faloyin outlines the many ways the Europeans set African nations up for failure, from their first colonial forays to the arbitrary divisions they imposed—legacies that still distort our view. This is a vision of hope & change through knowledge & narrative, allowing us to see the complex workings of history, art, politics, and action that shape us all.
It may sound silly, but this is one of the most thoughtful books I’ve read this year! Its easy tone belies the importance of the big concepts Schur introduces to himself and us, at the heart of which is always the question “What do we owe to each other?” Whether you are a Good Place fan or not, this book is a great dive into the questions of how we can responsibly & realistically share the world with other people. A great practical introduction to philosophy for anyone wondering what it means to try to be a good person, imperfections & all.
Perfect suspenseful action for either wintry nights or summer storms! Family histories, longtime friendships, and—always!—secrets kept too long come to a head under the noisy isolation of an inland storm. I sped through this book, enjoying its red herrings, ominous portents, and surprisingly compelling questions about where we draw the line with those we consider family, and where we bend it.
The best, clearest breakdown of strengths & failures of the US Constitution, & a fantastic guide to key points of constitutional law that we must grapple with, now, to make a better union. A crucial, illuminating, & brutally honest read!
A deft examination of what remains of Americanness when America is lost. This deceptively quiet story is filled with the unpredictable tension of life at the margins, set in a near future more possible than we might like to admit. Funny, scary, brilliant, true.
The crucial minutiae of life—a forgotten workplace’s mug, a turtle in a yard, a clatter in the night—reveal intimate hope in the midst of the necessary anxiety of living. Philpott is the generous, unflinching, observant friend you are looking for.
Don’t be fooled by her breezy tone! Delia Ephron’s memoir unfolds into big questions about life and death—but mostly life, and hope, and surprising grace found in moments of confluence, even in the face of inevitable loss.
Perfect for fans of Circe or Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, this novel reimagines the life of the Ramayana’s Kaikeyi, the queen mother who sends Rama into his ten-year exile so her son might take the throne instead. Patel’s Kaiyeki wrestles with the weight of history and the question of how to be good in the face of unknowable destinies and ineffable deities, while doing her best to be a good parent, too. A gripping adventure, and an examination of the crucial roles even the least appreciated characters play in all our stories.
Stepford Wives meets the Brothers Grimm, by way of Daphne du Maurier, but also totally new. A gripping thriller and a fable that will stay with you longer than its slim spine may suggest.
These stories of Bruno and his friends in the Périgord are perfect petits plats to savor as we wait for the next installment. A great introduction to Bruno—but beware! He’s a great cook, so you may find yourself looking up recipes before you are halfway through!
This groundbreaking collection of poems interrogates customs at every level. From interviews at the international terminal to the way we bend our language to make the powerful yet more comfortable, these poems break open the stories we tell ourselves about America. Through their jagged edges, Sharif compels us to see what’s underneath.
Taking the shape of Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov and making it a story about an entirely different unhappy family, cf. Tolstoy, seems risky, yet this novel soars on all counts. All three sons of the titular family are in terrible shape—their struggle over the restaurant that defines every member of their family is a fantastic, insightful, epic, rewarding roller coaster of a ride.
The ingenious plot will draw draw you in, but it's the characters and their choices--often terrible or vicious, but occasionally noble, misguided, or foolishly desperate--that will make this story stay with you even after all the twists and turns have faded into a satisfying memory, like places from a Paris stay you might have had, one we hope, unlike Jess's and her brother's, didn't go awry.
This book is a revelation. Forms here run the gamut from exquisitely crafted lists to compressed and insistent prose blocks—with every poem outlining and expanding its world through a brilliantly precise construction of language and sound. These poems live both aloud and on the page, and they reward the reader's attention with insight and feeling. Read this—read this now.
This debut novel from the author of the memoir Missed Translations follows an estranged family as they discover their paths back to a new kind of normal in the wake of loss. Set against the backdrop of the New Jersey Bengali community where the author grew up, this novel is a sweet and hopeful testament to art’s powers to help us heal, even when hope seems lost.
In this multilayered who-why-where-dunit, Owen and Luna, unlikely BFFs since college, must navigate their separate hidden pasts, and their desires to keep everyone safe, to solve a present-day murder. A thoughtful study of loyalty, wrapped in a a gripping and suspenseful plot. A great wintry read!
Urgent, important, intimate, political, personal, formal, challenging, explosive, and revelatory—Petrosino's insightful and lyrical illumination unfolds across each sequence and on every page.
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.
Stuck’s characters, wrestling with masculinity, race, and class, undergo bizarrely absurd and brutally real adventures, and shine a light back on us at every turn. This debut collection is an excellent, bitter, funny, incisive, heartbreaking read.
This satisfying sequel to Magpie Murders finds our intrepid editor Susan Ryland bored and worried in Greece, where the puzzle of a woman gone missing in the wake of reading an Atticus Pund mystery entices her back to England. Susan tries again to get in her departed writer's head as she tries to figure out what the woman saw in the book, and how it might lead her family to find her now. Horowitz's homage to Poirot, Christie, and the mystery genre's industry enlivens his elaborate country-home mystery, brilliantly executed, as ever.
Third in the series, but a great one to start with! Perveen Mistry, solicitor, investigates the death of her not-quite-client, as Indian independence makes strides against British rule. Setting and character combine in this lively procedural, and this pioneering woman navigates her investigation's needs and her familial responsibilities.
"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.)
Dr. Siri and his wife, as brilliant and enduring as ever, find themselves pursuing the origin of a journal that made its way to them. This, the final mystery in Cotterill's Dr. Siri series, finds Dr. Siri and Madame Daeng traveling across rivers and into mountains in search of the journal writer and the source of his journal's increasingly fabulous tales. As warm and unflinching as all the novels in this series, their final adventure reveals much about war, survival, and how we all try to make our lives into the best stories we can.
An intimate, unflinching portrait of the aftermath of a school shooting. Through letters, lists, fragments, and more traditional narrative sections, Otto and others grapple with anger, grief, and the impossible necessity of living in a world that holds such pain. A vital story unfolds with truth and beauty in Griner's hands.
This gripping mystery examines a brother’s life spent in penitence for a bad decision on a bad day, a brother’s death after a mysterious decision on his own bad day, and the harsh secrets a family has allowed to fester, all under the brutal, unforgiving glare of the Australian outback’s heat and space. Harper creates a breathtaking picture of harsh beauty and failed connection that will pull in lovers of mysteries and of excellent writing alike.
This in-depth look at the life, times, lyrics, and impact of Kendrick Lamar and his music is a beautiful exploration of how art moves in the world. Perfect for longtime fans and for anyone who wants to understand the impact of Lamar's work.
If you are new to Mathis’s work or unfamiliar with her long career, this retrospective will be a fantastic education. Her poems, dynamic and intimate, invite readers into her unfolding examinations of family, parenting, aging, and living in this imperfect world.