Rushali here with this week’s Three to Read: the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week. For more information on this week’s picks, click the link below:
Not sure what to read this week? We have a suggestion: something unlike anything you’ve read before. You may be grappling with finals or watching in agony as students prepare to do what you wish you could (not have to wake up early every damn day), but one thing’s for sure—you need a book as hot as the impending summer.
Our picks for this week are as unique as you are: a look into the unapologetically political and astoundingly insightful The Handmaid’s Tale, an ambition sci-fi read that peers five years into a more recognizable future, and a groundbreaking work of lesbian fantasy. (My fantasy? More lesbian rep on the best-seller list.) Grab a copy of these books and take a look… when you glance up disoriented several hours later, you’ll thank me.
OUR HOT PICK
Explore the world of Gilead with this behind-the-scenes look at the award–winning show The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Handmaid’s Tale—the groundbreaking show produced by MGM Television and based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel—has drawn rave reviews and attention worldwide. Now, this comprehensive book details the process of bringing the story to the small screen with forty-five exclusive cast and crew interviews, backstage and set photography, concept art, costume design, and more.
Delve deep into the dystopia of Gilead as interviews with the show’s cast and creators provide insight into the inspiration behind the characters, settings, and themes, as well as its parallels to the real-world political climate. Showcasing striking visuals and insightful commentary, The Art and Making of The Handmaid’s Tale is the definitive exploration of one of television’s most critically acclaimed shows.
The popular TV series The Handmaid’s Tale will return for its third season on June 5, and the timing couldn’t be more poignant. This season includes pivotal scenes shot in Washington, D.C., further emphasizing the inherently political nature of the show and its source material. Currently, The Handmaid’s Tale is trending on Twitter—of course, there’s a historical precedent. The story trended directly after Donald Trump’s inaguration, coinciding with the historic Women’s March. Currently, the story is likely trending in part because of recent decisions in Alabama and Georgia on the subject of reproductive rights. The former state’s law is particularly stringent for reasons we won’t mention here, as they may be deeply upsetting. (Imagine how upsetting they are when they result in unwanted pregnancy.) The Art and Making of the Handmaid’s Tale captures the essence of these troubling times, featuring rich and thoughtful bonus content such as interviews with Margaret Atwood herself. Other exclusive interviews feature Elisabeth Moss (the actress who portrays Offred) and Warren Littlefield (executive producer)!
OUR COFFEE SHOP READ
Hard to say when the human species fractured exactly. Harder to say when this new talent arrived. But Lion Zorn is the first of his kind–an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the we. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen.
It’s a useful skill for a certain kind of company.
Arctic Pharmaceuticals is that kind of company. But when a routine em-tracking job leads to the discovery of a gruesome murder, Lion finds himself neck-deep in a world of eco-assassins, soul hackers and consciousness terrorists. But what the man really needs is a nap.
A unique blend of cutting-edge technology and traditional cyberpunk, Last Tango in Cyberspace explores hot topics like psychology, neuroscience, technology, as well as ecological and animal rights issues. The world created in Last Tango is based very closely on our world about five years from now, and all technology in the book either exists in labs or is rumored to exist. With its electrifying sentences, subtle humor, and an intriguing main character, readers are sure to find something that resonates with them in this groundbreaking cyberpunk science fiction thriller.
New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler is as ambitious and impressive as his latest novel: a multiple-time Pultizer Prize nominee whose work has been translated into over forty languages, Kotler offers journalistic insight into a surprising range of timely topics. Since Last Tango in Cyberspace peers only five years into the future, it’s a striking and uncanny exploration of the world we might inhabit, playing on real fears and questions that we have as people living in 2019. The novel discusses ecological and animal rights issues alongside more traditional sci-fi topics, the more familiar neuroscience and technology. Sci-fi fans will appreciate Kotler’s expert balance of references to the genre at large and unique new additions to the genre. Lion Zorn is a charismatic and nuanced protagonist, and readers are sure to appreciate him just as much as the novel’s conceptual striving.
OUR dark horse
In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
Malinda Lo‘s Ash is our Dark Horse this week for no lack of accolades: the groundbreaking LGBT+ YA was a Lambda Award finalist and a Kirkus Best Young Adult Novel. Published in 2009, the ten-year-anniversary edition of this dark, lesbian Cinderella story is actually a re-release, printed due to the novel’s success and cultural significance as an earlier LGBT+ work. The special anniversary release is jam-packed with special features, including a foreward by iconic YA fantasy author Holly Black, a letter from Malinda Lo, exclusive Q&A, and more! If you missed out on this story a decade ago (possibly because you were a small child then), now’s your chance to get in on the (literal!) magic. Even in YA fiction, which has grown increasingly open to LGBT+ characters and stories, lesbians and queer women remain underrepresented. Not in this book! Despite its basis in fairy tale, the novel received an outpouring of praise from sources like Publishers Weekly and The New York Times, praising its originality and deliberate, beautiful language.
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Each week, Bookstr will be offering a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list. Today, we’ll be recommending five recent science fiction and fantasy novels for your reading pleasure. Sci-Fi and fantasy novels provide gateways into other worlds, full of aliens, monsters, magic, and cool technology while addressing themes that cannot be showcased in nonfiction reading. Here are some of the top five recent ones!
5. Ship of Smoke and steel by Django Wexler
This young adult novel tells the story of a young named Isoka in a fantasy world full of great cinematic battles and a mysterious ships. Isoka follows a group of thugs, forced to obey their orders. This dirty work helps her feed her sister, who lives in the slums of the city they call home. But after her magic gets her arrested, Isoka is tasked with a quest to redeem herself: finding the mysterious ghost ship Soliton, a ship all who have gone after have died trying to steal. But Isoka must try to find it if she wants to escape with her life. Isoka journeys with a crew across the land, finding terrible monsters and forming a romance with a charming rogue. This a great, action-heavy book with intrigue and plenty of world-building to keep fans invested.
4. Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg
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Smoke & Summons is a wild and inventive fantasy novel that centers around a unique protagonist called Sandis. Sandis is the host of ancient, dark entity that can transform her without warning into a monster at any time. When this happens, she becomes horribly dangerous to others around her, becoming a violent engine of destruction. A servant to a dark master, Sandis finally runs away from home and flees across the land, as her master pursues her with all he has, Sandis not just in danger from him but herself as well.
3. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
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A standalone fantasy novel, this book follows a pair who are somewhere between god and human. The twins understand the world differently than others, with the male twin, Roger, understanding the world through words/stories while his sister, Dodger, through math/numbers. Their creator is an alchemist called Reed, who plans to help their reach their full potential but truly wishes to steal their power for his own. This is a great book with an intriguing premise and two very unique protagonists at its center.
2. Last Tango in Cyberspace by Steven Kotler
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Last Tango In Cyberspace tells of a dystopia in the near future where emotions have become a commodity, suppressed and studied. An ’emotional forecaster’ of this world, Lion Zorn, tracking emotional changes in the world and informs his employers of various changes in emotional perspective. While doing some digging in emotional perspectives, Lion discovers a terrible murder and is brought into a massive conspiracy full of gritty assassins, terrorists, and more. This is a mystery novel speculating what the future could be like, based on technology that already exists or is in development.
1. The Ruin of Kings by Jenn lyons
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An epic fantasy tale, The Ruin of Kings tells of a man called Kihrin. He is a man broken and imprisoned, with nothing to do to pass the time but tell his tale to his keeper. A rough childhood as a thief in the slums of Quur has given Kihrin a unique set of skills—skills that become useful when he is recognized as missing prince of a major house of Quur and is imprisoned in a palace full of scheming nobles. When Kihrin learns that the stone around his neck is a powerful device that will protect the wearer, he begins to understand his place in the plans of other far more powerful players in a game that is bigger than he can imagine. This is a great fantasy book, told in a long flashback that unfolds to become bigger and bigger across the story. Pick it up if you haven’t already!
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