Some of the greatest American literature ever written tells the stories of families—whether they’re striving to provide a better life for their loved ones, to persevere in the face of adversity, or to face each day with optimism. While the American Dream means something different to every family, diversity, idealism, and hard work are consistently what make their stories so poignant and inspiring. Here are some of our favorite novels about families who are carving out a place for themselves in America.
When I was young, there was nothing more thrilling than pulling a brand-new, yellow-spined Nancy Drew mystery off my shelf. What new adventures would the girl detective encounter with her blue roadster gassed up and her faithful friends Bess and George at her side? I couldn’t wait to dive into her world again, and with every chapter-ending cliffhanger, I’d breathlessly ask to have just one more chapter read to me. If as an adult you are awash with nostalgia for the Nancy Drew series, here are some grown-up female sleuths with continuing series to devour.
As evidenced by my reviews of/obsession with EMPIRE FALLS and & SONS, stories about small towns and big families just hook me. I can’t really explain it—there’s just something about people and drama stuck in a contained space that’s guaranteed to please every single time.
Which is why, when I first heard of Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning novel THE SHIPPING NEWS, I knew it was probably for me.
For any person who appreciates looking at beautiful people reading smart books—this list is for you. @HotDudesReading is an Instagram sensation and they recently published HOT DUDES READING—a book full of their famous Instagrams of good-looking men reading. We’ve collected some of the best books the hot dudes are reading in their glamour shots here, and we are very pleased to find that they read really good books!
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THE BLAZING WORLD calls to mind the best of the “zings”: its stage amazing, its structure mesmerizing, its arguments tantalizing, and its heroine magnetizing. But the title may be the most illustrative “zing”—this novel is on fire.
One day in the spring of 1995, when Frank McCourt was sixty-four years old, I received a box from literary agent Molly Friedrich, containing the first 159 pages of the memoir ANGELA’S ASHES. Several of us read the pages, as Frank would say, with alacrity. And loved them, swiftly seduced by the opening sentences: “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived it all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood; the happy childhood is hardly worth your while.”
Your favorite author has a brand-new book out. You rush to your local bookstore to buy it, experience the intense pleasure of being reunited with an old friend, and gobble it up in a few sittings. But then comes the crash. You finish the novel and give it a place of honor on your bookshelf, but then you’re bereft because it can take years for that writer to publish her next novel. We feel your pain.
So many writers who we admire have new books out this year: Richard Russo, Ann Patchett, Jane Hamilton, and Amor Towles, just to name a few. But the good news doesn’t stop there. To help you combat the dreaded waiting-for-the-next-book syndrome, here are some of our favorite older books from writers with new ones out this year.
So you’ve finished reading A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman and fallen in love with the (secretly wonderful) Swedish curmudgeon known as Ove (in case your Swedish is as good as mine, it’s pronounced “Oo-veh”). And now you’re bereft. We understand. What do you read after falling under the spell of such an unexpected, surprising, charming book? Here are thirteen suggestions. (As with OVE, it might serve you to keep tissues close at hand.)
As the summer comes to an end, we’re spending every waking minute with our favorite books. Here are some of the stories we’re squeezing in while the sun is still shining and the beach still calling. And to help you end your summer right, we want to share them with you.
Sixty pages in, you’ll have witnessed troubling violence and tragedy; sixty pages more and you’ll bear witness to darker deeds. By story’s end, you’ll have explored the lowest reaches of human nature, traveled countless miles, and watched a nation grow out of its ancient imperial origins into a modern industrial power, all through the eyes of the same tortured souls. This is the thread of Susan Barker’s THE INCARNATIONS, a gorgeous, sweeping work that carries you across the history of China as experienced by two soul mates.