Sit back, Off the Shelf readers, we’re getting meta here. If you love mysteries and you love books, then let us recommend one of our favorite genres: the literary mystery where books themselves are at the center of the puzzle. Here are 8 novels featuring whodunits and riddles with a bookish bent.
I have a meditation pillow. It’s like a big biscuit I put under my butt so my legs don’t fall asleep while I meditate (legs falling asleep is the #1 obstacle to enlightenment). In 10 years of owning this pillow, I had used it less than 20 times. That changed 2 months ago, when I read Dan Harris’s book about his own discovery of meditation, 10% HAPPIER: HOW I TAMED THE VOICE IN MY HEAD, REDUCED STRESS WITHOUT LOSING MY EDGE, AND FOUND SELF-HELP THAT ACTUALLY WORKS—A TRUE STORY. I’ve meditated every day since.
While I‘m a firm believer that it is always the right time to buy flowers, Mother’s Day in particular is the perfect reason to pick up a bouquet of your mom’s favorites. Daisies, lilies, hydrangeas, tulips—any of these will brighten up her day and her counter or nightstand. Having worked in a florist shop in high school, I am somewhat averse to roses (stripping thorns from stems is just as awful as it sounds) but a huge fan of aromatic hyacinths and beautiful peonies! How clever would it be to pair those pretty petals with a book matching their name? The titles below do just that, and your mom will be as engrossed in these varied tales of love, loss, mystery, and devotion as I was. Happy Mother’s Day!
As a young writer, I was often told that you needed to master all the rules of writing before you could go about breaking them, and this statement is illustrated no better than in the work of George Saunders. In his short story collection TENTH OF DECEMBER, Saunders demonstrates clearly that he can master and twist every rule to his will, but in his first novel, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, he takes this a step further, breaking every single rule in the most beautiful and poignant way possible.
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There’s no better way to learn about the lives of others than through books. Though novels can put us in the heads and hearts of interesting and unforgettable characters, it’s through immersive narrative nonfiction that we can break out of our daily routines and embrace a world that is more memorable than fiction. To get you started, here is a list of nine of my favorite nonfiction journeys.
Part of the magic of books is discovering new places, new cultures, new perspectives, and new characters that change the way we think about and interact with the world. These 14 remarkable contemporary novels by a diverse group of authors will introduce you to a plethora of eye-opening experiences and will greatly enrich your literary diet.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! This holiday commemorating the Mexican army’s victory over France during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862 is certainly celebrated in Mexico but is also quite the occasion here in the United States. We tend to use this day as an excuse to throw a party and enjoy Mexican food and drinks—and now, books. Let’s kick off the celebration with these contemporary Mexican writers you should read on Cinco de Mayo. Mix the guacamole, pour the margaritas, and turn the page.
Since its debut, “S-Town” has been captivating listeners and sparking endless discussions. This comes as no surprise, considering “S-Town” has the same producers as “Serial” and “This American Life.” The premise of their new project began with an email from a rural Alabama clock maker, John B. McLemore, to journalist Brian Reed, asking him to investigate a murder, but it turned into so much more. “S-Town” is a modern Southern Gothic, a family drama, a look at small-town America, and most of all, a fascinating character study of a brilliant yet troubled man.
If you binged on every episode of “S-Town” and now wish there were a way to recapture the same excitement, mystery, and intrigue, here’s the reading list for you.
Time magazine called Bryan Stevenson’s JUST MERCY one of the 10 best nonfiction books of 2014. The next year, it won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. I wouldn’t have known. The book was sitting on my nightstand, making me feel slightly guilty.
I grew up a picky eater, but when I met my husband, he quickly turned me around—introducing me to the pleasure of sitting down to a good meal, to the joy of eating together, and to the flavors of delicious ingredients paired with the right wine. An avid reader, I savored words in the same way that I savored food, and it wasn’t long before I realized the power of those two things when put together. Here are eleven novels that are sure to delight your reading palate as much as they did mine.