8 Rip-Roaring Reads as Wild as Amusement Park Rides

July 11 2022
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While it’s fun to remember summers filled with the thrills of roller coaster rides and time happily lost in the mind-numbing spins of the teacups, sometimes the best way to reminisce is vicariously. Luckily, since just the right book can provide a similar adrenaline rush from the comfort of your home, we’ve paired novels with their park ride counterparts for you. So, whether you’re in the mood for more of a reflective experience or a stomach-turning drop, we’ve got the perfect ride-in-book-form to match!

Falling
by T. J. Newman

The Drop of Doom

Heather’s Pick: FALLING, by former flight attendant and debut author T.J. Newman, is the definition of a white-knuckle thriller and the perfect match for the Drop of Doom ride, in which your stomach plummets. The book drops you into a terrifying and all-too-realistic scenario, one in which you learn that the pilot for a flight to New York is in a compromised position. As it happens, his family at home was kidnapped mere minutes before he boarded, and now he’s got exactly one choice: Crash a plane with himself and 144 passengers on board to save his family, or land the aircraft safely, knowing his family will be killed. Just as your suspense builds while the Drop ride slowly climbs to the top, reading this book is sure to have you anxiously turning the pages to find out what happens next. And whatever does happen, you’re in for a reeling ride.

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Falling
T. J. Newman

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER * NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“T. J. Newman has written the perfect thriller! A must-read.” —Gillian Flynn
“Stunning and relentless. This is Jaws at 35,000 feet.” —Don Winslow
Falling is the best kind of thriller…Nonstop, totally authentic suspense.” —James Patterson
“Amazing...Intense suspense, shocks, and scares...Chilling.” —Lee Child

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

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In Five Years
by Rebecca Serle

Bumper Cars

Emily’s Pick: Bumper cars are one of the most thrilling amusement park rides to me, because I’ll be simultaneously in the middle of chasing an opponent WHILE dealing with the undercurrent of fear over who might be chasing me down at the same time from another side. I got a similar sense of layered adrenaline rushes while reading IN FIVE YEARS. At the book’s outset, the main character, Dannie, a lawyer living in NYC, glimpses her life five years into the future, and sees herself in bed with a man who is definitely NOT her current fiancé. The thrill of the bumper cars came into play for me as I raced through the pages, trying to beat Dannie to the punch and figure out where this man appears in her life (and, when he does finally appear, how in the world she ends up with him). Then, once you think you’ve figured everything out, author Rebecca Serle comes racing through in a final bumper car—delivering a twist that punches you right in the feels.

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In Five Years
Rebecca Serle

An Atria Book. Atria Books has a great book for every reader.

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This Tender Land
by William Kent Krueger

Log Ride

Holly’s Pick: This was by far my favorite book that I read last summer and perhaps the best book I’ve read in years. It’s also a great pairing with the contemplative, leisurely pace of the log ride. THIS TENDER LAND follows the lives of four children who have escaped the confines of a Native American boarding school and traverse the Mississippi by canoe in search of a better life. After orphan Odie O’Banion finds himself in trouble with the Lincoln School’s superintendent, he and his friends make the decision to flee the cruel school that Native Americans have been forcibly sent to. During the children’s journey, they meet various characters across the unique American landscape marked by the Great Depression. This incredibly captivating read is littered with poetic descriptions and provides an insightful look at personal faith and self-purpose.

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This Tender Land
William Kent Krueger

For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, “a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones” (Bob Drury, New York Times bestselling author) that follows four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that is “more than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home” (Booklist).

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Little Eyes
by Samanta Schweblin

House of Mirrors

Jordyn’s Pick: While TikTok is full of funny videos of dogs or babies trying to get through a house of mirrors and bumping into reflections of themselves, my interest in the amusement park attraction is a little more spooky. In the daytime, the house of mirrors is silly and cute for kids, but in the darkness of nighttime, you’re left in a maze where your reflection is inescapable. You can’t help but watch yourself and the people around you trying to escape that maze, and it’s easy to start getting a little freaked out by it. I felt the same way while reading LITTLE EYES by Samanta Schweblin. On the surface, this is a story about a cute robot pet that the world is charmed by, which is given to kids and other family members, but quickly the characters start to see that letting a robot controlled by a stranger into your life feels like a panopticon, and they can’t escape the horror of being watched. This view of humanity from the eyes of the little robot, and from the eyes of the person who is being watched, feels similar to the blend of self-reflection and entertainment you’d get in the house of mirrors.  

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Little Eyes
Samanta Schweblin

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Pachinko
by Min Jin Lee

Ferris Wheel

Sara’s Pick: Similar to a Ferris wheel going round and round, traversing the same path but with new people on each ride, the epic novel PACHINKO take readers through a resonating, cyclical journey. The book follows four generations of a Korean family in the twentieth century as they deal with subjugation under Japanese rule, war and famine—and trying to constantly build new lives for themselves as the world changes around them. Whether it's through savvy business decisions, the kindness of strangers, or just bits of luck, this small family continues to expand and survive. A hauntingly beautiful novel, with its ups and downs, that will make you laugh, cry, and root for this plucky family.

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Pachinko
Min Jin Lee

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Sometimes I Lie
by Alice Feeney

Teacups

Shauneice’s Pick: I’m a huge fan of the teacups ride at amusement parks. Spinning dizzily and leaving my mind somewhat in shambles is what I enjoy in both rides and books. Which is why I absolutely love when a good book can keep me guessing and leave my mind whirling. SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney is definitely one of those books. From the very beginning, the reader is taken on the dizzying journey of the protagonist, Amber Reynolds, as she tells her story while lying in a coma. From that premise, I knew the details of the story would keep me off-balance. The reliability of a coma patient’s memory once they wake up is one thing. But Amber is in a coma while relaying her story to us (via the mind, I guess) the way she currently remembers it. With the chapters alternating between detailing what happened, her time before the coma, visits in the present from people in her life, and childhood journal entries, by the time I reached the end of the book my mind was swirling, and I was still thinking W. T. F. just happened?

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Sometimes I Lie
Alice Feeney

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The Ingredients of You and Me
by Nina Bocci

Fried Dough

Molly’s Pick: If, like me, your favorite part of carnivals and amusement parks is loading your fried dough with cinnamon and powdered sugar, THE INGREDIENTS OF YOU AND ME by Nina Bocci may be the summer read for you. The third book in the Hopeless Romantics series centers around Parker Adams, whom we briefly met in the previous book, MEET ME ON LOVE LANE. After selling her popular New York City bakery, Parker visits her best friend Charlotte in Hope Lake, Pennsylvania to figure out her next steps. She finds she is not only refreshed by the charming small town but invigorated by the community and eclectic cast of characters. The only difficulty is being so close to her ex, the lovable Nick Arthur, who has recently moved on to a new relationship. THE INGREDIENTS OF YOU AND ME is a big-hearted story about friendship, love, and rediscovering yourself. It’ll have you wishing you could taste Parker’s pastries, too, but cotton candy should suffice.

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The Ingredients of You and Me
Nina Bocci

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “heartwarming and refreshingly sweet” (Lauren Layne, New York Times bestselling author) On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a story about a baker who takes her chances on a new town...and an old love.

After selling her famous bakery back in New York, Parker Adams visits Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, to figure out her next steps. And soon she’s wondering why she ever loved city life in the first place. Between the Golden Girls—the senior women who hold court—and Nick Arthur, her equally infuriating and charming former flame, Parker finds a community eager to help her get her mojo back.

But even though Hope Lake gives her the fresh start she’s been looking for, Parker discovers that it’s not so easy to start over again with Nick. Their chemistry is undeniable, but since Nick is a freshly taken man, Parker is determined to keep things platonic. With a recipe for disaster looming, Parker must cook up a new scheme, figuring out how to keep everything she’s come to love before she loses it all.

Perfect for fans of Amy E. Reichert and Jenny Colgan, The Ingredients of You and Me is a scrumptious romantic comedy that lets you have your cake and eat it too.

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Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Haunted House

Heather’s Pick: Perhaps it’s because I grew up going to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios every fall, or because I inhaled ghost stories as a kid, but a haunted house will always be my first stop at an amusement park. Not knowing what’s around the next corner may be stressful in real life, but as a game it can be positively cathartic. Enter Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s MEXICAN GOTHIC, which offers haunted house thrills in book form. When Noemí Taboada arrives at High Place, a remote estate in the Mexican countryside, she only has one mission in mind: Answer her cousin’s (rather ambiguous) plea for help. The longer she stays at High Place among her cousin’s secretive new husband and in-laws, though, the harder it becomes to see a way out. . . .

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Mexican Gothic
Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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