Tag: booklist

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How I Unexpectedly Found New Books to Read

I always wonder how people meet their book-of-life. For me, I like to stroll around the bookstores and let serendipity guide me to the right books. Sometimes a miracle happens, and I get some life-changing books; yet, sometimes it is not that magical.

 

Well, some books came to me this morning on my way to work. As usual, I took the 7 train where I can still get internet signal because of high-line tram. When I opened my Instagram page, an Amazon ad popped up like this:

 

 

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Image via my Instagram

 

I was surprised. Though for Instagram users, it is not surprising when sponsored ads pop up, for me, this is the first time I have seen any regarding book culture. So, with curiosity, I checked these books out and found that they are appealing.

 

 

Pachinko by Min Jee Lee (2017)

 

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Image via Amazon

 

Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

 

Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story (Goodreads).

 

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (2013)

 

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Image via Amazon

An enchanting child, Claire, was born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life. 

But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself (Goodreads).

 

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (2007)

 

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Image via Amazon

 

At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter…

Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his relationship with Erica shifting. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love (Amazon).

 

The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh (2014)

 

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Image via Amazon

 

The Hungry Tide is a very contemporary story of adventure and unlikely love, identity, and history, set in one of the most fascinating regions on the earth. Off the easternmost coast of India, in the Bay of Bengal, lies the immense labyrinth of tiny islands known as the Sundarbans. For settlers here, life is extremely precarious. Attacks by deadly tigers are common. Unrest and eviction are constant threats. Without warning, at any time, tidal floods rise and surge over the land, leaving devastation in their wake.

In this place of vengeful beauty, the lives of three people from different worlds collide. Piya Roy is a young marine biologist, of Indian descent but stubbornly American, in search of a rare, endangered river dolphin. Her journey begins with a disaster, when she is thrown from a boat into crocodile-infested waters. Rescue comes in the form of a young, illiterate fisherman, Fokir. Although they have no language between them, Piya and Fokir are powerfully drawn to each other, sharing an uncanny instinct for the ways of the sea. Piya engages Fokir to help with her research and finds a translator in Kanai Dutt, a businessman from Delhi whose idealistic aunt and uncle are longtime settlers in the Sundarbans. As the three of them launch into the elaborate backwaters, they are drawn unawares into the hidden undercurrents of this isolated world, where political turmoil exacts a personal toll that is every bit as powerful as the ravaging tide (Amazon).

 

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013)

 

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Image via Amazon

 

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future (Amazon).

 

 

 

I’ve been reading Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being for weeks and I am enjoying the novel a lot. For one thing, Ozeki is one of my favorite authors; for another, the book explores the possibilities and openness among authors, readers, and characters. Though the other four books are written by authors who are new to me, after my research, I found out that they are all telling stories happening outside of America. That echoes my recent reading taste: stories of and by immigrants, people of color, minority, and feminists. Awww, I’m excited for the journey ahead. 

 

If you have the same experiences about “finding something good without looking for it,” please don’t hesitate to share with us!

 

 

Featured Image via Richtopia

Elon Musk

5 of Elon Musk’s Favorite Science Fiction Stories

Elon Musk has been in the news lately, for better or worse. First, he offered to design a submarine to ferry away the Thai soccer team trapped in the cave. Then he raged and threw an infantile fit at a rescue leader for rejecting that submarine, calling him offensive names on Twitter. Then his company Tesla’s stocks hit some turbulence because of said tweet and some other bad press.

 

Musk has some issues, it’s true. But he’s not at fault for his tastes in sci-fi, which are excellent. Here are some of his favorites.

 

Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov

 

Foundation Covers

 Image Via Digital Trends

 

A set of classic science fiction novels concerning the fall of a Galactic Empire and one man’s attempts to predict the future accurately enough to forestall an interstellar dark age. The Foundation exists as a repository of human knowledge in order to save civilization itself and prevent an era of barbarism.

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

A galactic hitchhiker

Image Via Paste Magazine

 

A comic masterpiece that starts with the Earth being demolished to make way for a space highway — and it only gets wackier from there. A novel that asks the important questions, like what is the meaning of life the universe and everything, and gets 42 as an answer in return.

 

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

 

Surface to Air Missiles

Image Via Pop-Verse

A future Lunar society facing food shortages rebels against the tyranny of Earth with the help of an artificial intelligence. Another science fiction classic by a member of the big three of sci-fi writers.

 

Culture Series by Ian M. Banks

 

Spaceship approaching a star.

Image Via Gizmodo

 

 

A series of novels and short stories centered around a utopian psuedo-anarchist spacefaring society ruled by benevolent intellects known as Minds. The stories often concern the Culture’s contact with other civilizations that don’t share their particular set of values. Several of SpaceX’s droneships were named after Minds from this series.

 

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

 

A mutated man

Image Via Bloody Disgusting

A cautionary tale about the dangers of superintelligent artificial intelligence. In a word, terrifying. The AI at the center of this story wields godlike powers that he inflicts sadistically upon the last survivors of the human race.

 

Feature Image Via CNet

Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff’s 40 Books That Make up Her Brain

Lauren Groff, the famed novelist and short story author widely known for her works The Monsters of TempletonDelicate Edible BirdsArcadiaFates and Furies, and Florida, is celebrating her fortieth birthday today and, in honor of the reunion of her birth, she took to the Twittersphere to release into the winds a list of forty books that makeup her incredibly vast, brilliant, and talented brain.

 

 

Groff has gained notoriety as one of the masters of contemporary fiction, and it’s no wonder why. Her works are bold, cutting, strange, crude, and poetic; she has a way of turning the mundane into something uniquely stunning in all of it’s simplistic beauty:

 

It occurred to her then that life was conical in shape, the past broadening beyond the sharp point of the lived moment. The more life you had, the more the base expanded, so that the wounds and treasons that were nearly imperceptible when they happened stretched like tiny dots on a balloon slowly blown up. A speck on the slender child grows into a gross deformity in the adult, inescapable, ragged at the edges. —Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies

 

She is someone who will no doubt go down in history as one of the leading novelists of the modern era, and getting to take a small glimpse at the inner workings of her mind and the pieces of writing that have helped to influence and inspire her is so, insanely exciting. 

 

Thanks to Groff I officially have a new summer reading list so grab a pen, jot these down, and we can journey through these works together!

 

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot

2. Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

3. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

4. Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

5. Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

6. The Lover by Marguerite Duras

7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

8. Paradise Lost by John Milton

9. Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick

10. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

11. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore

12. Beloved by Toni Morrison

13. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

14. Light Years by James Salter

15. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

16. Citizen by Claudia Rankine

17. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis

18. Odyssey by Homer

19. Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

20. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

21. Cane by Jean Toomer

22. A Dance To The Music of Time by Anthony Powell

23. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

24. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

25. A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

26. The Decameron by Boccaccio

27. Inferno by Dante

28. The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams

29. The Collected Stories by Grace Paley

30. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

31. Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

32. NW by Zadie Smith

33. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

34. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

35. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Lois

36. Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

37. Hadriana dans tous mes rêves by René Depestre

38. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

39. Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

40. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

 

In the end, fiction is the craft of telling truth through lies.

 

via GIPHY

 

 

 

Featured Image via The New Yorker

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Our Three to Read for This Week!

Monday always seems to come around too quickly, doesn’t it? Thankfully, that means we are back, too, and we’re bringing with us three great books for you to read this week. If you’re unsure about what book to pick up next, hopefully this list will help you choose!

 

This week, our hot pick is the novel on the tip of everybody’s tongue, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Our beach read is the humorous, insightful and surreal short story collection Awayland by Ramona Ausubel. And our dark horse, the book that may not be on your to-read list yet, but definitely should be, is the beautiful poetry collection Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen. 

 

Our Hot Pick: 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

 

 

Book cover for The Immortalists

Image Via Amazon

 

Synopsis:

 

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.



The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality. (Via Amazon)

 

Why?

 

If one complete, longer story is more your speed, The Immortalists will meet that need. The Immortalists was featured as a choice for Jimmy Fallon’s new book club and is described as “a sprawling, enchanting family saga,” by Entertainment Weekly. This is a touching story about family, destiny, and using your time wisely. It will definitely give you lots to think about.

 

Our Beach Read: 

Awayland: Stories by Ramona Ausubel

 

 

Book cover for Awayland

Image Via Goodreads

 

Synopsis:

 

Elegantly structured, these stories span the globe and beyond, from small-town America and sunny Caribbean islands to the Arctic Ocean and the very gates of Heaven itself. And though some of the stories are steeped in mythology, they remain grounded in universal experiences: loss of identity, leaving home, parenthood, joy, and longing.



Crisscrossing the pages of Awayland are travelers and expats, shadows and ghosts. A girl watches as her homesick mother slowly dissolves into literal mist. The mayor of a small Midwestern town offers a strange prize, for stranger reasons, to the parents of any baby born on Lenin’s birthday. A chef bound for Mars begins an even more treacherous journey much closer to home. And a lonely heart searches for love online–never mind that he’s a Cyclops. (Via Amazon)

 

Why?

 

This collection of eleven stories is sure to fill you with emotion and leave you wanting more. You will not be able to put this book down, not even for one minute. Awayland, full of “weirdness and warmth,” as O Magazine describes it, leads your mind away to new worlds and puts you on an emotional roller-coaster. It’s a perfect summer read.

 

Our Dark Horse: 

Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen

 

Book Cover for Not Here

Image Via Amazon

 

Synopsis:

 

Not Here is a flight plan for escape and a map for navigating home; a queer Vietnamese American body in confrontation with whiteness, trauma, family, and nostalgia; and a big beating heart of a book. Nguyen’s poems ache with loneliness and desire and the giddy terrors of allowing yourself to hope for love, and revel in moments of connection achieved. 

 

Why?

 

Poems are probably the best pieces of writing to read at the beginning of the week. You usually don’t need much time to enjoy them and often, as is true with this book, the short verses pack big meanings that offer new perspective to last the whole week. Nguyen’s work is so personal, yet so accessible and relatable. It’s definitely worth a read.

 

Check out our editor, Laura-Blaise, talking about the books below! 

 

 

 

 

 Feature Image Via Bookstr. All Synopses Via Amazon. 

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3 Books You Need To Read This Week

Top picks from celebrity book clubs, a new release from Stephen King, and beachy murder mysteries perfect for your summer reading have made this week a great week for book releases. We all know Mondays can be tough, so here’s a list of three books you *need* to read this week, including Stephen King’s The Outsider, Rachel Rhys’s Dangerous Crossing, and Anthony Ray Hinton’s The Sun Does Shine.

 

 

What?

 

The Outsider by Stephen King

 

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Image Via Tor

 

Synopsis: 

 

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation.

 

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakingly to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. 

 

Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad. 

 

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? 

 

Why?

 

As per usual, Stephen King doesn’t disappoint with his newest novel. Backed up by The New York Times “Monsters of one kind or another are what the man does best, and The Outsider delivers a good one.” 

 

Instead of the typical monsters you’re used to seeing in King novels like It and The Mist, The Outsider probes the monstrous side of human nature, making the horror of this novel hit even closer to home than ever before. With an expansive collection of works, King adds new influences to his newest work, making his legacy as a writer stand out more than ever by diversifying his literary range. 

 

 

What?

 

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

 

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Image Via Penguin Books UK

 

Synopsis:

1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way — Naples, Cario, Ceylon — the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day.

 

But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.

 

Why?

 

In all honesty, who wouldn’t want to read about a whirlwind around-the-globe trip on a boat with all the flair of the 1940’s? Not only does Dangerous Crossings fulfill the adventure and escapism aspects of the perfect beach read, it also throws in some danger and death, making it irresistible. Paula Hawkins, the queen of beachy, or really anytime, murder mysteries herself even called it “thrilling, seductive, and utterly absorbing.”

 

What?

 

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

 

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Image Via GPB News

 

Synoposis: 

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free. 

 

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. As Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon — transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015. 

 

Destined to be a classic member of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s member tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy. 

 

Why?

 

Not only is it Oprah’s newest book club pick, this memoir details Hinton’s time in prison including how he has created a fulfilling life by starting a book club for fellow death row inmates and becoming a motivational speaker. This memoir shines a light on the justice system in 1980’s Alabama and how books gave him a fighting chance during his wrongful sentence. When asked about the book club Hinton had started, he said “I’ve often thought books give you — put you in a world that you never thought you could go. And I often would say, I don’t need to go to California. Give me a book that talks about California. And I can put it in my head and imagine what it looked like.”

 

 

Featured Image Via Game of Glam.