Simple and complex, crushing and beautiful, Breathe, Eyes, Memory will linger long in your own memory. In her Pulitzer Prize—winning book, The Sixth Extinction , New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert confronts what may well be the most compelling, portentous, and defining characteristic of our modernity: the nearly inconceivable and irretrievable loss of earth's biodiversity at the hands of our own species.
Although earth has endured five mass extinctions over the last half-billion years — during which "the planet has undergone change so wrenching that the diversity of life has plummeted" — we now have the distinct and dubious honor of not only "witnessing one of the rarest events in life's history, [but] also causing it.
Eliot is an author most people know from school or because they see her books on lists of "important literature. With a touch of satire and an incredible grasp on the intricacies of human nature, Eliot illustrates the patterns — and peculiarities — of the people inhabiting her fictional town of Middlemarch. Flawed and conflicted, her characters stumble along as we all do, navigating mistakes and misfortunes with varying levels of success. This is not a book of classic character arcs or happy endings, but it is a true masterpiece, something to be enjoyed for its intrigue, savored for its razor-sharp prose, and admired for its timelessness.
From to , almost six million African Americans left the South in search of better economic opportunities and a higher quality of life. It was one of the largest internal migrations in history and had a profound effect on the culture and politics of this country. To better understand this monumental yet underdocumented event, Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson spent 15 years and interviewed more than 1, people researching and writing The Warmth of Other Suns.
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In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, Wilkerson gives the epic scale of the Great Migration a human angle by focusing on three individuals to represent each of the three main migratory routes. The Warmth of Other Suns is an illuminating and riveting account, filled with stories that are finely crafted, meticulously researched, and immensely readable. Jacobs was a writer, activist, and visionary whose work had a profound effect on the way we look at the urban areas around us.
She was considered an outcast in the male-dominated world of urban planning, yet her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities , remains a seminal text in this field. One of the great joys of this book is that Jacobs is not an academic, but rather a committed city dweller who obliviously derives much pleasure from living in an urban landscape. Her writing is insightful, honest, unpretentious, and eye-opening. The enthusiasm Jacobs feels for our cities is contagious and shines through on every page of this classic.
Didion is a true original. Her spare, no-nonsense style and acute observational skills completely changed the way we view literary nonfiction, and the influence she's had on generations of authors is immeasurable. Though often grouped together with Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, and others in the New Journalism movement, her work has endured in ways theirs has not.
It's been nearly 50 years since the first essays in Slouching towards Bethlehem were written, yet her unblinking portrait of America in general and California in particular remains as vibrant and relevant as ever. Armstrong's career began when she wrote and presented a documentary on the life of St. A former nun and one of the foremost authors writing on comparative religion, Armstrong has published over 20 titles.
A History of God discusses the origins of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and explains how our concept of God has changed throughout the course of history. It is fascinating to learn how politics, philosophy, and various schools of thought have changed the way we think about monotheism. Most of us don't spend much time considering where our ideas about God came from. In A History of God , Armstrong gives the reader a wealth of information in order to better understand the big picture. It's a meaty book, full of big ideas and well worth the read.
Her agent found the book thoroughly distasteful and suggested an extensive rewrite. Shriver eventually found a new agent and published the book to great success. Twelve years later, We Need to Talk about Kevin continues to be a timely and necessary examination of evil in our society and what happens when that evil is under your own roof. It's a compelling and grim read that has a train-wreck quality to it; you can't seem to look away from the characters. Are they despicable, or well-meaning people floundering in a situation beyond their control?
While it's likely you've read her more recent titles, to get the keenest sense of Erdrich and her heritage, it's well worth it to return to the first novel of her Native American series, Love Medicine.
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The story exposes the heart and soul of the Kashpaw and Lamartine families living on a North Dakota reservation, across generations. Erdrich's writing is colorful and melodic throughout, with breathtaking passages like her depiction of Grandpa Kashpaw: "Elusive, pregnant with history, his thoughts finned off and vanished.
The same color as water. It can be hard to pinpoint what makes Lydia Davis's writing so magnetic. Her precise, no-nonsense language combined with her liberal definition of the short story? Her attention to the overlooked, the mundane, the clutter in our lives that holds so much meaning? Her understated sense of humor, so deeply ingrained in her observations about the absurdities of life? Whatever it is, you'll find it in spades in her Collected Stories , which compiles all of Davis's short fiction from her seminal Break It Down through Varieties of Disturbance Few writers' work lends itself so well to a compilation.
Whether you pick stories at random or start at the beginning and work your way through the collection highly recommended , this is a book that feels like the best gift: fun, poignant, and endlessly rewarding. Atwood is a master at conveying the inner landscape of her characters, and her novels are frequently peppered with sharp and incisive social commentary. Adored by both readers and critics, she has published over 40 works, including many books of poetry, and has won countless accolades, including the Booker Prize and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Cat's Eye , written in , is the story of Elaine, a famous painter who returns to the city where she grew up for a retrospective exhibit of her work.
Long flashbacks take the reader back to Elaine's childhood where she endured much emotional torment from her group of friends. Cat's Eye is an uncanny portrayal of how cruel children can be to their peers, the toll it can take on the victims, and how that cruelty echoes on in the mind for years.
Atwood brings Elaine's world alive for the reader in vivid and incandescent detail. In her short 53 years, Mary Shelley wrote novels, plays, short stories, essays, biographies, and travel books, but it's not surprising that she is best known for her novel Frankenstein. It's hard to separate the idea of Frankenstein's monster from the popular icon he's become, but everyone should read the original novel.
Shelley's gothic masterpiece, first published when she was only 20 years old, is far richer than the legacy it brought to life, a work of elegance and depth, more tragedy than monster story, exploring the dangers of hubris, the nature of so-called evil, the sorrows that lead us to our crimes, and the possibility that rejection and remorse are far greater horrors than any monster. Highsmith is a master of stark, poetic prose, acclaimed for her relentless themes of murder and psychological torment. She is best known for her series of five Tom Ripley novels, popularly referred to as the Ripliad.
Like the Ripley stories, Highsmith's debut book, Strangers on a Train , is most remembered for its adaptation to the screen. Its hypnotic plot revolves around a moment between two strangers and one very out-of-the-ordinary proposition: "…what an idea! We murder for each other, see? I kill your wife and you kill my father! More than just a gripping thriller, this fascinating character study asks the question: What is the dividing line between sanity and madness, between the hunted and the hunter? Solnit is one of the most eloquent, urgent, and intelligent voices writing nonfiction today; from Men Explain Things to Me to Storming the Gates of Paradise , anything she's written is well worth reading.
But her marvelous book of essays A Field Guide to Getting Lost might be her most poetic, ecstatic work. Field Guide is about the spaces between stability and risk, solitude, and the occasional claustrophobia of ordinary life.
An Inspector Montalbano Mystery Series
Promising review: "I had a blast reading this and will definitely be looking up more by this author. I was hooked from the very first chapter and the snippets of the killer's POV had me freakin the hell out! It was a ton of suspense with a little bit of romance. A decade after being placed in solitary confinement for a crime he didn't commit, former cop Joe King is a private detective.
While working for a Black radical journalist being accused of killing two corrupt cops, King receives a letter from a woman who admits she was paid to frame him — and suddenly King is desperately trying to save not only his client's life, but also his own. Promising review: "Mosley doing what he does best, weaving a complex story that is at once over-the-top and utterly believable. As usual, there is a diverse and entertaining cast of characters, each of whom bring something important to the story and slowly, slowly untangle the mystery. It's Mosley's writing that I always look forward to.
Lydia Fitzsimons has a charmed life — her husband is a respected judge in Dublin, they live in a stunning house, and their son, Laurence, is the light of her life. But when Laurence meets someone who leads him toward a dark secret in his parents' past, the veneer of Lydia's perfect life starts cracking.
Promising review: "It is brilliantly plotted to ratchet up the tension and suspense. It crawls beneath the surface of obsessive love and lays bare its darkness. The insights into this mother and son relationship are mesmerizing. FBI special agent Clarke Sinclair has been trailing serial killer Simon Cross across the country, piecing together key elements of his pattern Cross murders red-headed women, and doesn't kill a new victim until Clarke has discovered his previous one as she closes in.
But then Simon breaks the pattern, and Clarke has to reconsider everything she thought she knew as she falls further and further into this life-threatening case. Promising review: "Although this may be Brianna's first published novel, I think it is nothing short of outstanding: extraordinarily well-written, nicely paced, intricate, credible scenarios, characters, dialogue, psychology and intriguingly presented through alternating past and present accounts of villain and victims.
I haven't rated many books with five stars lately, but this one deserves it IMHO! Maggie is thrilled when her year-old daughter Anna moves back in with her, even though her new husband Noah seems less than thrilled about her arrival. When Anna is murdered, all eyes are on Noah — and Maggie has to survive not only the loss of her daughter but potentially of her husband, too. Promising review: "Never in a million years did I guess the turn of events that made this one of the best books I have read this year. Lisa Scottoline has truly outdone herself with this one.
When a wealthy woman is murdered just hours after planning her own funeral, a disgraced police detective turned private investigator begrudgingly takes on the case, and brings along the man he's hired to document his life — a writer named Anthony Horowitz. Promising review: " The Word Is Murder is a delight of a novel and easily one of the most creative endeavors I've read all year. It's incredibly self-aware and meta, and half the fun is trying to pick out the truth from the embellishments from the flat-out fiction. I absolutely loved the ending and found it befitting of the tone of the entire story and Hawthorne and Horowitz's tumultuous relationship.
This is one book that will be sticking with me for awhile. Ten years after Laurel's year-old daughter goes missing, Laurel falls hard and quick for a charming man named Floyd. But when Floyd introduces her to his 9-year-old daughter, Laurel is floored — the girl looks exactly like Laurel's missing daughter at that age.
Suddenly Laurel is facing all of her unanswered questions about this traumatic unsolved mystery. Promising review: "This author just writes so well.
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Her characters are always so real that I can imagine them living out in the real world. I flew through this book, because I just had to keep reading, literally could not stop — I needed to find out what was going to happen. Easily one of my favorites of the year. In India, Sam Wyndham is trying to quiet his memories of the Great War with an opium habit which is rapidly becoming an addiction — one he needs to hide from his fellow officers in the Calcutta police force.
When he's called in for a case, he realizes he's seen the grisly work of this murderer before. The only problem is he saw that corpse while high in an opium den, and now he has to solve the two murders without letting his secret out. Promising review: "Cracking dialogue, immersive scene setting, beautifully crafted.
I do think actually that Smoke and Ashes is the best [in the series] yet. In the years following a devastating mass shooting at a mall in Portland, Maine, the survivors funnel their trauma through different outlets: pursuing careers in law enforcement, cultivating an artistic side, generally trying to move on in some level of peace. But while the city is healing and rebuilding itself, one person believes the shooter didn't go far enough — and plans an attack that will leave no survivors. Promising review: "This story, which touches so many current horrors and ancient truths, has all of Nora Roberts's trademark attention to character development and detail.
I simply love the way she takes me into the story. It's San Francisco in , and just as bartender Sammy Tiffin is about to make his move on a mysterious, beautiful lady, he's interrupted by an Air Force general who desperately needs his help. After all, Sammy has some serious connections on the street.
Soon he's wrapped up in a situation that only gets weirder and weirder, and when the same woman he was originally interested in goes missing, he realizes he's in too deep to walk away. Promising review: "Christoper Moore is like a fine wine — he gets better as time goes on. Contact Arianna Rebolini at arianna.
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