I love reading novels with dysfunctional characters. Something about their utter inability to get it together makes me feel so much better about my own moments of ineptitude. I may have accidentally forgotten to pay my electric bill last week, but I’ve never been so overwhelmed with responsibility that I disappear on my family like Bernadette in Maria Semple’s WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE. Sure, I’ve embarrassed myself after a drink too many once or twice, but I certainly haven’t squandered an entire inheritance after a drunk driving accident like Leo in Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s THE NEST.
And I may be a poor twentysomething trying to make it in New York City, but I’m so glad I’m not a grad-school dropout living at home and unable to face reality like Cal in Kris D’Agostino’s THE SLEEPY HOLLOW FAMILY ALMANAC.
At the start of each year, we always look forward to the unveiling of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. Their list of 24 book prompts is the basis of their challenge to the literary community to read more widely, read more diversely, and try genres and topics we might never pick up otherwise. The list this year is no exception, and we are so excited to get reading! Here are some of our recommendations for the challenge. Read along with us or visit Book Riot to create your own list.
MRS. BRIDGE is one of those books that writers love to pass along to other writers, although there’s nothing difficult or “writerly” about it: it’s funny, even hilarious, and written in fleet, nimble, sparely elegant prose. I forget who urged me to read it first—I remember a classmate in grad school raving about it—but my near-instant infatuation with the book had to do with marijuana.
I think we can all agree that Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2016 Oscar for Best Actor was hard-won. But even before he brought Michael Punke’s novel, THE REVENANT, to life, DiCaprio had a long history of delivering phenomenal performances in book-to-film adaptations. Though he’s noticeably absent from this year’s Oscar ballot, we’re still swooning over Leo. From his teen-heartthrob days to his most powerful performances, here’s a look a Leonardo DiCaprio’s career in page-to-screen adaptations.
Throughout February, we commemorate the black writers, leaders, and inventors of influence from our history who contributed to the rich identity of America. However, today there are many black voices emerging from different parts of the world, engaging us in compelling conversations on race, identity, politics, and more—and urging us to think inclusively and creatively. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (among the writers listed below) warns us of the danger of a single story, we bring you this list of contemporary black authors who offer new and refreshing perspectives on issues from race—and hair—to the wounds of our past.
Lisa Genova has created her own niche in women’s fiction. With a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University, she is exceptionally qualified to write about the medical, emotional, and interpersonal afflictions of neurological disorders. Genova’s medical expertise, coupled with her incredible ability to create authentic characters with nuanced emotional growth, is why every novel she writes feels so original.
Many misunderstand faith and spirituality as a rigid set of rules and convictions one must perfectly abide by to reach the zenith of existence—or to avoid eternal damnation. But religion is much more complex than a straightforward path to heaven. These 14 remarkable and diverse memoirs portray the ups and downs, the mysteries and discoveries about living religiously.
The tiny country of Belize packs a lot into its 9,000 square miles—an area about the size of New Jersey. The Central American nation boasts stunning Mayan ruins, a vast network of caves, extensive undeveloped regions (more than 60 percent of the country is forested, and much of that area is protected), extraordinarily diverse wildlife and human culture, beautiful beaches, and the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Belize is also home to the scarlet macaw, considered by many to be the most beautiful bird in the world.
I love living in New York, but sometimes I need a little fix of Southern comfort. Books are cheaper than airfare, and there is no shortage of nationally acclaimed literature from the South. Of course y’all have all heard of the classics—GONE WITH THE WIND, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, or BELOVED—but the well of amazing and provocative Southern novels runs much deeper. So go pour yourself an ice cold sweet tea, sit back in your rocker, and crack open one of these lesser known novels set below the Mason Dixon line.
Plot twist! Today’s list of page-turning murder mysteries is straight off the shelves of our very own Off the Shelf readers. We asked you on Facebook about your favorite mystery books and were overwhelmed (and delighted) with your responses. We sifted through your picks and here are just a few of the spine-tingling books we can’t wait to dive into.