Welcome to Bookstrology, your monthly guide to what the stars say you should read. Mercury is going to be in retrograde for most of this month, so you know things are going to get kind of weird. We’ve got some stellar picks for you that are destined to vibe with your mood this month.
Each book listed down below is paired with one song – or possibly two – that would best fit the book’s theme given its summary, and the books themselves have been hand-selected from those being released this summer – starting this month – and those that have already been released within the last few months of this year…
Cosmic horror is gaining more and more fans as the year go by. However, once a fan is finished with all of the works of Lovecraft himself, they often run into a dead end in not being able to find anything else to read afterwards. Well, have no fear! Your friends here at Bookstr got you covered with a reading list of five books to read to expand your dark, Lovecraftian fantasies.
1. The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers
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The King in Yellow is not only the name of a deity, but also Chambers’ largely celebrated work. The book is a collection of ten short stories, all of which refer to, in some way, shape, or form, a cursed play read throughout the book. The play shares the same name as the title and is talked about as a book that has been banned because of its imminent secrets and belief that it causes immediate madness. For anyone obsessed with Hastur or the origins of the idea of The Yellow Sign, this is a must read and indeed a classic inspiration on Lovecraft himself.
2. The Three Impostors by Arthur Machen
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Arthur Machen’s The Three Impostors is a collection of short stories that served as another of Lovecraft’s inspirations. Machen’s collection of short stories all revolve around a species that descended from man, but began to differ as evolution continued. Our ancestors and townsfolk would have called them Devils and Fairies. Within Machen’s collection, The Novel of the Black Seal and The Novel of the White Powder stick out the most as the closest to Lovecraft’s own horror.
3. Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein
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Klein will blow you away with Dark Gods. As a collection of four novellas, each story draws significantly from Lovecraft’s way of storytelling as well as including the Cthulhu mythos and further expanding it in the author’s own unique way. Reading it may feel as a genuine tribute, but Klein’s own style is ever present in his writing. Another must read for fans; one that came after Lovecraft as opposed to the previous two entries.
4. The Inhabitant of the Lake and Other Unwelcome Tenants by Ramsey Campbell
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Another collection of stories, The Inhabitant of the Lake and Other Unwelcome Tenants, contains Ramsey Campbell’s best additions to the Cthulhu mythos. Campbell’s work was highly regarded by Lovecraft scholars and was even hailed as one of the best weird stories available for its time. This stays true to present times and is a highly recommended read for anyone wishing to continue their Lovecraftian adventures.
5. Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti
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Many updated fans highly recommend Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe since Ligotti portrays Lovecraftian horror very differently. Instead of dark gods and eldritch monsters, Thomas Ligotti uses insects, clowns, mannequins- more grounded real things that further explore the horror of our own existence. Although hard to read for beginners because of structure and vocabulary, a fan of Lovecraft can enjoy Ligotti’s masterwork if they have read Lovecraft’s own classics.
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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 is thriller The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll. Our Beach Read is Lauren Groff’s stunning new short story collection Florida, and our Dark Horse, one you might not have added to your reading list but should, is The Possible World, by Leise O’Halloran Schwarz. We hope you enjoy!
Our Hot Pick:
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
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When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…
Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.
Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.
Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.
The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.
Knoll’s breakout novel The Luckiest Girl Alive was a celebrity favorite, with Reese Witherspoon even optioning the film rights, and calling it “It was the most non-stop nail-biting crazy train of a book with one of the most intriguing characters I have read in a long time!” Sarah Michelle Gellar is among the other famous faces who are buzzing about Knoll’s new book The Favorite Sister.
Knoll told NPR that the book’s five hyper-successful protagonists are based on her guilty pleasure: The Real Housewives of New York. “It’s an homage to them. I love these women. I really do.”
Our Beach Read
Florida by Lauren Groff
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In her thrilling new book, Lauren Groff brings the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother.
The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.
Groff is a singularly gifted writer, with her 2015 novel Fates and Furies picked by Barack Obama as his book of the year. The New Yorker called Florida “gorgeously weird and limber” and the Washington Post said “Groff is recognized as “Florida’s unofficial poet laureate, as Joan Didion was for California.” This is not Groff’s first short story collection, with her first Delicate Edible Birds solidified “Groff’s reputation as one of the foremost talents of her generation.”
For an insight into Groff’s intelligence and biting humor, read her brilliant answers to The New York Times’ ‘By the Book’ interview. We can’t wait to dip into these stories in between swims at the beach!
Our Dark Horse
The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz
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A richly compelling and deeply moving novel that traces the converging lives of a young boy who witnesses a brutal murder, the doctor who tends to him, and an elderly woman guarding her long buried past.
It seems like just another night shift for Lucy, an overworked ER physician in Providence, Rhode Island, until six-year-old Ben is brought in as the sole survivor from a horrifying crime scene. He’s traumatized and wordless; everything he knows has been taken from him in an afternoon. It’s not clear what he saw, or what he remembers.
Lucy, who’s grappling with a personal upheaval of her own, feels a profound, unexpected connection to the little boy. She wants to help him…but will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?
Across town, Clare will soon be turning one hundred years old. She has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, but a surprising encounter makes her realize that the time has come to tell her story.
As Ben, Lucy, and Clare struggle to confront the events that shattered their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together.
An expertly stitched story that spans nearly a century—from the Great Depression through the Vietnam War era and into the present—The Possible World is a captivating novel about the complicated ways our pasts shape our identities, the power of maternal love, the loneliness born out of loss, and how timeless bonds can help us triumph over grief.
So, Jodi Picoult has said that she wishes she wrote this book, which is pretty much the highest praise there is, but we haven’t seen it getting the buzz it deserves! It explores myriad themes, in a gripping way, with differing points of view, and we think everyone should put it on their reading list!
Fantasy author George R.R. Martin revealed his top 10 book recommendations to The New York Public Library as part of the #ReadingIsLit campaign which encourages readers to visit their local libraries.
The Game of Thrones author was asked which five books he would recommend to fans of Game of Thrones and served up some iconic and lesser known (yet just as thrilling) stories he’d highly recommend. No surprise, The Lord of the Rings topped the list twice, but for fans of genres outside of fantasy, he also offered up his all-time favorite books which— on top of Tolkien’s iconic fantasy series – included four modern/contemporary favorites. Check these out!
Top 5 Fantasy Books:
1. The Lord of the Rings | J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Watership Down | Richard Adams
3. The Once and Future King | T.H. White
4. Lord of Light | Roger Zelazny
5. A Wizard of Earthsea | Ursula K. LeGuin
Top 5 All-Time Favorite Books:
1. The Lord of the Rings | J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Great Gatsby | F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. The Prince of Tides | Pat Conroy
4. Catch-22 | Joseph Heller
5. A Tale of Two Cities | Charles Dickens
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