A Haunting Portrait of Girlhood

A well-done first-person narration plunges the reader into a story, a mind, much different from her own. For me, the most magical experience of reading comes in that moment, as I fail to distinguish between my inner voice and the one bleeding through a book’s pages, filling me with salient, foreign emotions and thoughts.

A GIRL IS A HALF-FORMED THING by Eimear McBride has continued to haunt me for just this reason since I first read it almost two years ago, and especially after I reread it recently.

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Second Wives, Detached Husbands, and a House Full of Secrets

I collect ghost stories. I don’t believe in ghosts—but I’ll read any and all types of haunting stories. One of my favorites, REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier, is a Gothic novel that doesn’t technically have a ghost but features many fundamentals of a classic ghost story. There’s a huge, labyrinthine old mansion, a spooky woman in black, a mysterious death, an eerie painting, and a dead woman whose haunting presence is felt in every corner of her former home, Manderley.

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The Perfect Novel to Read Before Election Day

Whenever a charismatic politician makes us uncomfortable, whenever a high-profile candidate seems dangerously powerful, Robert Penn Warren’s 1946 classic novel ALL THE KING’S MEN experiences a resurgence in popularity. In bookstores across America, the novel is pulled from fiction shelves and set face-out on tables at the front of the store. Clever, ironic references appear on social media.

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A Hundred Years in the Life of an American Family

Ever since I read A THOUSAND ACRES, I have loved the work of Jane Smiley. That novel has it all: love, lust, rivalry, betrayal, loss, grief, conflict, wisdom. It reworks Shakespeare’s tale of King Lear—that “fond, foolish old man.” By locating her story in a farming community in contemporary Iowa, Smiley shows us how all the best stories are timeless. They deal with what it is to be human, to find our way through a world that is often hostile and always confusing.

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A Beautiful Spanish Novel for Fans of Elena Ferrante

Decades before Elena Ferrante gifted us with Lenù and Lila in her Neapolitan novels, Carmen Laforet gave us Andrea in NADA. The works have a great deal in common: in both, passionate young women try to wrench themselves from the poverty and close-mindedness of their society. The specter of World War II looms over both books, along with the reality that for many that war never ended but continued on in broken hearts and crooked streets all across Europe.

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A Delicious Read to Enjoy With a Glass of California Pinot

California summer. A vineyard. A fiancé with a British accent. A wedding dress that’s been somewhat rumpled by a nine-hour drive in the opposite direction from said fiancé . . . there’s a lot to love in the opening pages of Laura Dave’s novel EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES. But before you dive in, you should pause to pour yourself a glass of wine (or maybe order a plate of lasagna!) because Dave stuffs this story of family, love, and secrets with so many delicious descriptions that you’ll want to taste everything yourself.

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An Enchanting Story of a Modern-Day Invisible Man

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I recently revisited Aravind Adiga’s THE WHITE TIGER to discern what about it so riveted and enchanted me when I first read it in college. I figured it had to be the first sentence. This was a book that enraptured me with its utterly distinct and unrelenting voice, and I thought it must have been the first sentence where I got a glimpse of that.

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A “Good Ole Boy” Welcome to Lady Police Officers

In the 1970s, police departments throughout the United States were forced to admit the first female officers, thanks to the expansion of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited police departments from discriminating against women in hiring, promoting, and working conditions. This step heralded in a new era of policing as women joined departments across the country that were largely unprepared for, and in many instances hostile to, the integration of women into their male-dominated ranks.

In her novel COP TOWN, bestselling author Karin Slaughter takes us directly into the thick of it, introducing us to the first female police officers in the 1974 Atlanta Police Department.

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A Razor-Sharp Narrator Who Is No Amazing Amy

I read Jessica Knoll’s LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE when it first debuted in the summer of 2015. We were in a heat wave, and the air itself seemed to sizzle. I read it on the beach, under an umbrella and covered with a towel because I couldn’t be bothered with silly things like sunscreen reapplication and child-minding. I shushed people who tried to talk to me. Few books have sucked me in so completely, so quickly.

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