I waited to read S.P.Q.R. because I did not want to read yet another history of Rome. Not for the first time, I find myself in error. Mary Beard interrogates our marbled vision of Rome, re-examines the historical record, and writes with wit that warms my Classicist heart.
I need you to read this book because: It's an excellent historical spy story. Furst knows his locations, from the Balkan States to NYC, bringing to life a cast of characters. But more importantly I need you to read this book because I have questions. Seriously: a minor-seeming detail discovered early takes a plain-seeming ending and makes it insidious. Did you catch it? Am I reading too closely? Night Soldiers is great because Furst turns the reader into a Spy.
If you enjoy the fiction of Ursula Le Guin, and seek something new, read Karin Tidbeck. Her novel Amatka is powerful but Tidbeck's short stories are nigh perfect, perfectly weird.
Murakami should have been an investigative reporter. What happens when no one talks about the Sarin-Gas-Attack in the subway? Murakami gleans answers through interviews; in what is said and unsaid. As Murakami writes: "The sad fact is that language and logic cut off from reality have a far greater power than the language and logic of reality ... unable to comprehend each other's words, we'd part, each going our separate ways." Underground is a critique, a dialogue, a warning, and a reminder for communities to think critically and respond commonly.
Never again! Never again would I be ensorcelled into reading a multi-volume epic fantasy. I have failed. Sanderson's The Way of Kings is a breezy adventure encased in a door-stopping package. Seriously: I read all 1,252 pages in two and a half days. Then, forgoing sleep and nourishment, I finished the sequel (Words of Radiance) and another book within the same universe (Warbreaker) the following week. So yes, Sanderson, cast me wherever thou wilt! Your stories are refreshing, your universe filled with Easter eggs, and Wit. I look forward to reading ALL of your books.
In need of a mad-cap fantasy-not-fantasy-but-definitely-fantasy-novel? This is it. Follow insufferable Elliott in his insufferable quest to bring peace to insufferable warriors of fairyland. Oh, and talk to at least one mermaid (preferably plural), woo an Elf (at the loser's expense), and navigate the Borderland School (preferably without physical exertion). Perfect for most ages (sorry middle schoolers), all grumpsters, and every know-it-all. Losers can come too.
Dive in to the science of jellyfish, a.k.a. the spineless ones. Berwald documents the oft misunderstood jellyfish and their contributions to the sciences: from engineering (how to make a better submarine), to genetic research (thank you lectin), and as an incredible source of protein (move over energy bars) to name a few. Whether younger or older, Spineless makes excellent holiday reading for the armchair scientist in your life.
Windswept art and prose bring to life Shackelton's fated Antarctic journey. Perfect for story-time, coffee table, or the joy of a well made book.
Journey to the meeting place between east and west. Where Kassabova blurs the borders between the present and the past; this world and the next. Her clear voice marked the way and I couldn't help but follow.
Brad Warner returns to write about Buddhism in clipped vignettes, this time in conversation with Dogen's TREASURY OF THE RIGHT DHARMA EYE. Prepare for deep dives into the Dogen's philosophy, cut with a reunion tour of Punk Rockers. I enjoyed the accessibility to some arcane examples of Zen storytelling. Now sit down, stop writing, and read
Here be monsters in the unlikeliest of places and we are all the better for it. Ferris' debut stalks the graphic diary of 10-year old Karen Reyes. Monsters, pulp-fiction, and bic-pen work meet to tell the macabre tale of growing up in '60s Chicago and solving a neighbor's murder. Ferris has drawn it out of the park.
I walked the Camino in 2012 and Jason's memoir brought all those memories back: sore feet, conversations, bed bugs, and everything else. A look into the Camino from a great graphic novelists. I can't wait to make the walk again.
On the surface, this is a book about horses. Beneath, it is about everything else. Family, racism, social mores, love, loyalty, a nation's history, hate, friendship, and, yes, horse races. Morgan provides too much content packaged in beautiful prose, leaving you devastated and desiring more.
Neuvel takes the style of World War Z, adds the "X-Files," and writes an incredibly interactive debut novel. The last time I had this much fun was The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins.
Fun. This book is fun. As though Chambers distilled every TV space opera series (Farscape, Lexx, Red Dwarf etc.)into their essences and bound them up in a single volume. Chambers writes a refreshing, non-dystopian, Sci-fi adventure with big ideas and memorable one-liners. The characters are gold, the universe shiny, and the navigators suitably saucy and scaled.
2016 came and went. :deep breath: 2017 stands before us. :second deep breath: I invite you to read a bit of Simone Weil's philosophy from her slim little book On the Abolition of All Political Parties. Weil makes sense of politics and the reasons why we can't look away. Simone influenced her generation by her stalwart pursuit of truth and justice, as related in Milosz's afterward. She gives us a center from which we may move and work today. :third breath:
For the book enthusiast in your life I present to you Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created. This book is more than a reading list of classic sci-fi and fantastical tomes. It delves into the whys and what-nots of 98 classics and their influences on history and literature. A perfect gift for the reader, historian, or litterateur.
Spooky October is better with a book. Particularly one with dinosaur leads, whimsy, wordplay, and monsters. Take a break from frightful ghouls and noxious cauldrons to follow Optimus Yarnspinner as he seeks the author of an anonymous work in Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books.
This is the graphic novel you've been seeking, but didn't know existed. Alt-history earth, populated by ghosts of Gods, Ancients, Arcanics, Humans, and Maika; the Wolf-girl who wants some answers. Monstress is that great mix of natural storytelling of Liu with the stunning artwork of Takeda. Treat yourself.
Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is an episodic epic with the greatest Ronin Rabbit as your lead. I've read and re-read Usagi Yojimbo. It always impresses. Great for both adults and young-adults, fans of Jeff Smith's Bone Series, or old Samurai movies.
I picked this up on account of the cover and finished it in a sitting. Dark Run is Guardians of the Galaxy meets Firefly meets Han Solo with more whiskey. Space Pirates, misfits, and one-liners: what more does one need? Can't wait to read the next book by Mike Brooks.
Baseball season is in full swing and it's time we caught up on the rules of our National Pastime: When is an out an out? Does the strike zone change between Leagues? Are there rules for spectators? Dan and Paul combine clear diagrams and strict rules with delightful anecdotes and not a little humor. Whether you've watched baseball for decades or just started this season, Baseball Field Guide is a great place to start.
Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant comic series has made me laugh aloud more than is decent. Step Aside, Pops collects some of her more recent comics with lots of new content. Kate teases out whimsy from stuffy Victorians, re-introduces us to classic literature, and invites us into a stranger world that happens to be our own.
Sonny Liew weaves a stunning history of Singapore through the eyes of its greatest comics artist who never was: Charlie Chan Hock Chye. This book is delightful, decadent, and wide in scope. Sonny Liew demonstrates his artistic range and ability to tell a story. You will want to read, re-read, and explore The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye again and again.
In honor of Poetry Month I would have selected the Iliad, one of the finest examples of Epic Poetry-history-geneaology-singing-dancing-and-the-"occasional"-death-scene. However, I'll go a bit off-script with two of the finest essays about the Iliad by two of the finest French philosophers of the 20th century: The Iliad, or the Poem of Force by Simone Weil and On the Iliad by Rachel Bespaloff. Both philosophers remind the modern reader why we all should re-think, re-imagine, and re-read this 2,000 plus year old piece of poetry.
Steve Olson's book is a fascinating and refreshing look into the eruption of Mount St Helens. A little bit of science, a little bit of history, and a heavy dose of human interest kept the book fresh, engaging, and personal. This book is for fans of Daniel Brown's Boys In the Boat or David William's Too High & Too Steep
I became aware of Robert Walser through his novels (The Tannersand The Assistant). It was Walser's characters who grabbed me, but his flowing prose that kept me. This gorgeously crafted book, with tipped-in plates of the paintings, collects Walser's musings on the arts and the artists. Looking At Pictures is a lovely book wherein art is explored with whimsy and awareness.
Growing up David Macaulay taught me Science with his book The Way Things Work. Randall Munroe, author of XKCD, has taken up the mantle with his wry and aptly titled new book Thing Explainer. An excellent gift for the curious child or the interested adult. Munroe's clear illustrations and clearer prose make it easy to delight in scientific discovery.
Cool characters, interesting mythology, and a plot that keeps you guessing. Best of all, it's a stand-alone!
I set out to re-read The Three Musketeers and then I found theTraitor's Blade. No offense to Dumas, but I count this as a win. Traitor's Blade is one part wit, two parts action, and three parts valorous hero. This book is for fans of Michael Sullivan's Theft of Swords series or Scott Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora.
I told myself I would only read completed series, then I read the description. It may not be perfect but this book is just the right mixture of fantasy adventure and intricate world building. If you're looking for a new epic fantasy to fall into, When the Heavens Fall is a great place to start.
The most under-the-radar book find of 2015. For fans of Gaiman, Mieville, and Pratchett: this is the book to read next.
The artwork pulled me into the book with the softness of watercolor and kept me with a quiet story of expectations and grief. Obata has moved away from the static image and created a work which is a study in timing, much like Noh theatre. Haunting and beautiful, this story is one to drift into.
Stop! Read this book!
Contains Science! Adventure! History! Computers! Most importantly: Crime Fighting!
"For the sake of London and Science!"
Summer is here and baseball is in full swing. The greatest game has the written rules of the umpires and the unwritten code of the players. Turbow's book sheds light on the Code using hilarious anecdotes of players past and present; tracking the evolution of the Baseball's Code to the modern era. This book had me laughing at, and learning about, some of my favorite players and managers.
I've accepted bureaucracy as a fact of life. As something to take for granted. As something insidious. Graeber's collection of essays explains why this is so. More importantly, he points us to new ways and tools to conceive of, and interact with, bureaucracy. This book left me buzzing with ideas and wanting to reread. One of my favorites of the year.
Fresh fantasy of an alt-history bent. Dug Sealskinner, our warhammer-wielding-mercenary, just wants a paycheck. Unfortunately baleful Kings, maleficent Druids, and doing the right thing get in the way. Age of Iron is filled with believable characters, hilarious one-liners, and nearly every use of the exclamation "badgers' bollocks". Seriously this book has everything you've wanted in a period-piece fantasy. Excellent.
Welcome to the Blister. Where your hero is an ex-librarian, his partner is a gun-toting bio-engineered gorilla, and the laws of physics take a back-seat to surreal storytelling.
It's 1988. The border closes on December 31st. Your parents decide to leave the U.S.S.R. What do you take? My favorite memoir of 2014. Take up and read Golinkin as he retells the story of his abrupt exit from the Soviet Union, his time in the refugee camps, and his attempts to forget his past.
My favorite trilogy of 2014! Now collected in an eye-catching single volume. Vandermeer's words read as if horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft and film director Andrei Tarkovsky wrote a script together. Gift the journey into Area X to a science fiction reader this holiday season.
It's November but your favorite holiday is Halloween and you've a pressing need to be scared: look no further than The Girl With All The Gifts. The adults have plans for the children, but Melanie has plans of her own. Transitioning from writing graphic novels (Hellblazer, Lucifer) Carey's debut novel is a refreshing thriller you simply need to read.
The Mirror Empire is epic fantasy in every sense: new worlds, cultures, and places to explore via multiple points of view. Thankfully, it is not a simple hack-n-slash or high-magic fantasy epic where lords save ladies after slaying dragons. This is a political fantasy where gender is fluid and the lines between parallel worlds are blurred. If you enjoy world building, dynamic characters, or are looking for a new style of fantasy: start here.
Multi-generational in scope, Pekar's and Waldman's honest conversation of Israel brings history and memory into focus. Recently released in paperback, Pekar's last graphic memoir is a reminder of the need for continuous reflection on our received identities and histories. Forceful and witty, this is a great example of Harvey Pekar's work and an excellent introduction into the development of modern Israel.
Looking for a funny, sci-fi action story, with more than a touch of madness? Then take a post-apocalyptic-gong-fu-man-with-no-name-romp through The Gone Away World (ninjas, mad-scientists, and large trucks included).
Have you ever wanted a familiar, like a Puma? Or wanted to be like Indiana Jones? If your answer is yes to either of these questions check out Jane Lindskold's latest book Artemis Awakening. A mystery tour of the pleasure planet Artemis that mixes sci-fi/fantasy genre with a Dr. Jones' adventure.
Looking for something strange to read? Something not a little puzzling? Look no further than the Southern Reach Trilogy. Jeff Vandermeer's words read as if horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft and film director Andrei Tarkovsky wrote a script together. Annihilation follows Expedition 12 as they explore the mysterious Area X and its improbable happenings.
Using K2's treacherous ascent as a backdrop, Zuckerman and Padoan explore the effects of tourist-driven climbing on indigenous populations and their way of life. An excellent book about the human cost of big-business, high-altitude climbing.
I didn't fall into this book. I plummeted. Wholly absorbing, follow the winding path as Aaliyah Saleh parses through Beirut, literature, war, family, and memory. A necessary novel.
You've eaten at Wandering Goose on Capitol Hill, now read the book! A lovely fable about Bug and Goose written by Heather Earnhardt and gorgeous artwork by Frida Clements. Reverse that: read the book, fall in love, and reward yourself with an excellent meal!
Gorgeous illustrations: check. Great writing: check. Gift item for everyone: triple check. WOOP studios (best known as graphic designers for all things Harry Potter) has collected a selection of their prints in this beautiful book. A Compendium of Collective Nouns is a delight to the eyes, fun to flip through, and arrived just in time for the holiday season.
So you've read Game of Thrones, waiting for the next books, and you're looking for something to read. I recommend The Warded Man. Multiple character arcs combine to create a brilliantly detailed world with an action packed story and meld of fantasy and science that's sure to delight. Bonus: the entire series is out, so no need to wait.
After 50 years of silence Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart, Chike and the River) wrote his reflections of the Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-1970). He attempts to understand how the hope born of an independent Nigeria in 1957 gave way to a brutal civil war. Achebe writes: "My aim is not to provide all the answers but to raise questions, and perhaps to cause a few headaches in the process."
I'm a sucker for Eastern European history and novels in translation. When I learned that Binet's brilliant debut historical novel HHhHwas out in paperback I had to share. Binet writes history as a fast-paced thriller and doesn't disappoint. Follow the narrator as he pieces together the story of the Allies' Operation Anthropoid.
May, 1940: The German blitz crashes through Europe, civilian evacuations begin, and chaos reigns. Herded onto a train, separated from family, Marcel Feron has one question: who is she? Simenon's The Train will keep you entangled in its subtlety and tantalized with the possibilities of who she is.
Relax in a patch of sun and take A Month In the Country with you. Carr's novella takes the train to sleepy northern England and walks the reader through the history of a village and a veteran. With something for the historian, the artist, the romantic, and the detective, A Month In the Country's tightly woven story makes it a perfect companion for a sunny afternoon.
The atmosphere that Okasanen creates elicits such visceral reactions from the reader as a witness to how well she writes (and is translated from Finnish.) Dramatic, gut-wrenching and hauntingly beautiful. Purge is a must-read.