Twenty-Somethings Book List

Reading in your twenties can be difficult. Many readers find themselves trying to bridge the gap between young adult fiction and adult fiction. Many of these issues stem from the fact that a large amount of adult literature focuses on an older adult audience, featuring protagonists whose dilemmas may still seem foreign to someone in their twenties. Many twenty-somethings, including myself, often find themselves searching for books that feature characters their own age.

Well, look no further. Here is a list of books about people in their twenties, with the ages of the protagonists included.

Cover ImageThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Protagonist’s Age: 28
Lucy Hutton is colorful, quirky, and optimistic. Joshua Templeton is everything Lucy is not — uptight, careful, and composed. Normally the two’s paths would have never crossed, except that they both work as assistants to the co-CEO’s of a successful business. When both Lucy and Joshua are considered for the same promotion, their simmering hatred of each other quickly comes to a boil. However, as the game between them heats up, Lucy realizes that maybe the feeling between herself and Joshua isn’t hate, and that she’s been playing a much more dangerous game all along.

Cover ImageIt Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Protagonist’s Age: Teen to 20’s
Though Colleen Hoover is a veteran romance writer, It Ends With Us goes far past the genre description of romance. Though the story of Lily and Ryle starts out easily enough, when Lily’s first love, Atlas, unexpectedly comes back into her life, things take a drastic turn. This book tackles issues like abuse and domestic violence with grace, and reminds readers of the occasional dangers of the “bad boy” romance stereotype. For those worried about a love triangle, the two romances in the book happen at two separate times in Lily’s life, and thus have little overlap. Grab your tissues, because this one’s a tearjerker.

Cover ImagePlaying With Matches by Hannah Orenstein
Protagonist’s Age: 22
In today’s world of Tinder, Bumble, and various other online dating apps and sites, nearly every twenty-something has a story about a match not quite made in heaven. Sasha Goldberg exists on the other side of the algorithm: she works behind the scenes for a matchmaking service in New York City. Though her recent college graduation and successful relationship seem to hint towards an idyllic future, her life is soon spun out of control when her boyfriend betrays her — and she ends up in the arms of one of her clients.

Cover ImageLuckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Protagonist’s Age: 28
Ani FaNelli knows what it’s like to not be perfect, thanks to a shocking incident when she was in high school. As an adult, she finally feels like she’s nearing perfection with her impressive job, impressive clothes, and altogether impressive fiancé. But she’s got a secret from her past that threatens her glamorous life, even more so than her high school humiliation. Facing the immense pressure from society to have it all together, Ani must decide whether or not she should keep her secret buried or finally come clean.

Cover ImageAn Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Protagonist’s Age: 23
Out for a walk with her friend, April May comes across what she assumes is a sculpture, and uploads a video of it to YouTube. As it turns out, her discovery isn’t a sculpture at all: it’s one of several alien objects that have appeared on Earth, known as Carls. As the first person to document a Carl, April very soon becomes an Internet sensation, and she finds her new fame pervading every aspect of her life. In addition to finding a new balance, April must also figure out just what it is the Carls are, and what they may want from the people of Earth.

Cover ImageA Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Protagonists’ Age: 19-21
There are multiple Londons: Grey, Red, and White London, along with the long gone Black London. Kell is one of the only remaining Antari — magicians with the ability to jump between the three different Londons. Though he is from Red London, circumstances cause Kell to flee to Grey London, a place devoid of magic. There he meets Lila, a thief who convinces him to take her with him to the other Londons. With dangerous magic on the horizon, Kell and Lila must fight to save the worlds, and, more importantly, themselves.

Cover ImageThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Protagonist’s Age: 27
When he is thirteen years old, Theo Decker survives a horrendous accident that kills his mother. He is soon taken in by the affluent family of one of his friends, and finds himself struggling to face the world in the absence of his mother. The novel switches between Theo at thirteen and Theo at age twenty-seven, and the effect the loss of his mother has on his life. At the center of it all is a small painting of a goldfinch, which is the only thing Theo has that reminds him of his mother. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014.

Cover ImageThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Protagonist’s Age: Teen to late 20’s
Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of the Dominican American Oscar de León, nicknamed Oscar Wao by friends, as he chases his dreams of falling in love and writing the next great fantasy/sci-fi saga. The only problem? Oscar’s family is cursed, and has been for generations, originating from before the family moved to New Jersey from Santo Domingo. Oscar doesn’t want that to get in his way, but, as the title suggests, things do not always go as planned. Equal parts Oscar’s story and his family’s history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a book you won’t want to miss.

Sleep No More: Horror Novels That Will Keep You Up At Night


Halloween isn’t all candy and costumes; for many horror buffs, it is the time of year where horror movies reign supreme. Here are some spectacularly spooky reads to get you in the Halloween spirit. Make sure not to read these books late at night.

Cover ImageHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves exists in the terrifying space between a horror novel and a horror anthology. Though it features a frame story, much of the book seems to be the rantings of a mad man — because they are. The novel is presented as the scrambled research manuscript of a man studying a documentary he claims to have once seen, but has never found proof of existing. The supposed documentary tells the story of a family that moves into a new home, only to discover that their home is somehow bigger on the inside. Through the several narrators and stories interwoven in this book, Danielewski’s pieces together a truly haunting tale.

Cover ImageUniversal Harvester by John Darnielle
If the name John Darnielle sounds familiar, it’s likely because he is also the creative mind behind indie folk band The Mountain Goats. In Universal Harverster, Darnielle tells the story of Jeremy, a small town video store clerk in the late 90’s who lives with his father. While on the job, Jeremy discovers that someone has been recording over portions of VHS tapes in the store, and that the clips being spliced in feature incredibly puzzling and disturbing content. As more clips appear, the unnerving video additions begin to paint a bigger picture. Slowly but surely, Jeremy begins to unravel more of the dark history behind the clips, and the decades of history that led to their creation.

Cover ImageSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
No list of horror fiction can be complete without Ray Bradbury’s famous horror fantasy, telling the story of two thirteen-year-old best friends and their nightmarish experience with a traveling carnival that comes to town, led by the terrifying Mr. Dark. As the carnival begins to affect the town and its people, the boys discover that Mr. Dark is not what he seems, and that the carnival’s attractions are much more sinister in nature than they originally thought. Preying on the desires and wishes of the townsfolk, Mr. Dark and his carnival members must be stopped, or else the entire town may find themselves enslaved to the circus.

Cover ImageThe Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
Horror fiction is known just as much for its short stories as it is its novels, and Laird Barron’s third collection of horror stories is the perfect terrifying read for any horror fan. The stories themselves are actually loosely connected, but it is Barron’s astute ability to weave bone-chilling scares into each tale that earns this book a place on this list. In fact, Barron won a Bram Stoker award in 2013 for Superior Achievement in Fiction Collection for The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. The award, named after the author of Dracula, is given out each year by the Horror Writers Association to celebrate the year’s best in horror and dark fantasy writing.

Cover ImagePet Sematary by Stephen King
One of the most well known horror authors of all time, Stephen King has penned numerous novels that went on to become horror film classics, including The Shining, CarrieMisery, and It. Though these movies often get heralded as King’s best, many readers of King’s books consider Pet Sematary to be his most horrifying work. When tragedy strikes, a young family turns to dangerous powers to bend the rules of life and death. Though at first their solution seems to work, it quickly becomes clear that dead things are meant to stay that way, and that whatever has come back is not what they thought it was.

Cover ImageThe Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay received uproarious praise for his 2015 horror novel, A Head Full of Ghosts, but this summer his brand new release took the horror world by storm. While on a trip to a remote cabin with her parents, a young girl, Wen, is approached by a man who apologizes for what he is about to do. He is joined by a few other strangers, and tells her that he and his friends need her family’s help to save the world, and that it won’t be pleasant. What follows is a gripping story of sacrifice and paranoia, in a strange tale where the fate of the world lies upon the difficult decision of a single family.

Cover ImageNOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Victoria “Vic” McQueen is the only child to have ever escaped from the clutches of the despicable Charles Talent Manx and his 1938 Rolls-Royce (with a NOS4A2 license plate. Many years have passed since she was whisked away to his nightmarish home known as “Christmasland.” Now an adult, Vic wants to do everything in her power to forget her harrowing escape from evil. But Manx has kept Vic in his sights for years, and now he has chosen a new victim: Vic’s son. For the sake of her son, Vic must now face off against the literal demons of her past in this exciting tale from Joe Hill.

Cover ImageThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Along with several other children, Carolyn was taken in by a man she and her adopted siblings refer to as Father, who they suspect may be God. He has forced them to tend to his library, where he has them study his ancient customs and powers. When Father goes missing, his adopted children, now adults, are left to protect his secret library and the vast control it holds over the world. Facing off against impossibly powerful foes, Carolyn and her siblings must defend the library without sacrificing the very things that once made them human.

Westworld Readalikes

Image result for westworld promo

As season two of Westworld draws to a close, viewers will be happy to hear that the show has been renewed for a third season. Until that third season comes out, here are a few great reads to fill the theme park-sized hole in your life!

Image result for jurassic park book cover

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Fans of Jurassic Park won’t be surprised to learn that Michael Crichton also wrote and directed the original 1973 Westworld. Though many have seen the movies, Jurassic Park is a great novel that also covers the concept of a futuristic theme park gone wrong. Just like the hosts in Westworld, it doesn’t take long for the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to misbehave. Even if you love the films, give the book a try!

 

Image result for utopia lincoln childUtopia by Lincoln Child
From acclaimed author Lincoln Child, Utopia tells the story of a futuristic theme park that utilizes robots in its attractions, several of which feature reproductions of past eras. The robots’ programmer is called in to fix the malfunctioning robots, only to discover that the park is being held hostage by a mysterious guest. This novel is a great read for Westworld fans, and the familiar plot elements allow for just as exciting of a story.

Image result for love in the age of mechanical reproduction coverLove in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Judd Trichter
Judd Trichter’s book takes readers to futuristic Los Angeles, where the main character Eliot falls in love with an android woman who gets sold for parts to the black market. Unable to let go of his love, Eliot travels all over the city to find her parts and put her back together. The novel covers many of the same issues as Westworld, such as the concept of love between human and machine, and the morality of artificial life.

Image result for do androids dream of electric sheep coverDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
The novel that inspired the film Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick’s classic novel tells the story of Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford in the movie), a bounty hunter tasked with hunting down and eliminating a group of rogue androids that have escaped from Mars. Just like Westworld, the novel brings into question what it means to be human as Deckard begins to wonder what makes the androids so different from human beings.

Image result for lonesome dove bookLonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
For fans of Westworld’s cowboys and Wild West narratives, Lonesome Dove tells the tale of a group of retired Texas Rangers as they drive a herd of cattle across the country, coming to terms with their old age and the loss of love in their lives. Though it lacks the futuristic elements of Westworld, the story lines of the show’s fictional park mirror this tale in tone and themes. The deep emotional core of the friendship between the main characters makes this novel much more than your typical Western story.

Image result for civilwarland in bad declineCivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
This collection of six short stories and a novella follow various different people in a dystopian world. Each story takes place in the fictional futuristic theme park of CivilWarLand, which recreates the American Civil War, and the many things that go wrong there. The historic theme park connection to Westworld is clear, but the book’s focus on multiple plots through its short stories and novella may appeal to fans who enjoy the many different story lines the television series follows.

 

<p>Asimov&#8217;s groundbreaking series originated as a series of stories published in the 1940s and &#8217;50s. This book interlinks them, exporing the development of the robot and offering an unnervingly cogent vision of the near future. Buy it <a href="https://www.amazon.com/I-Robot-Isaac-Asimov/dp/055338256X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1524261156&amp;sr=1-2&amp;keywords=i+robot">here</a>.</p> I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Science fiction legend Isaac Asimov’s famous collection of short stories paints a future in which robots and artificial intelligence are a part of everyday life, and their positronic brains (a term Asimov developed for the artificial conscience in robots) create a host of complicated issues for humanity. Fans of the 2004 Will Smith movie will be surprised to learn that there is little in common in the book with the film. Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics, outlined in this book, still effect science fiction to this day, and can be identified all over Westworld.

 

Image result for brave new world coverBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Originally published in 1931, Brave New World set the groundwork for stories on artificial intelligence, futuristic technology, and robotics. There likely isn’t a single book on this list that has not been affected by Brave New World, and its influences can be found all over the Westworld television series. The book imagines a Utopian society achieved through technology and genetics, where the perfection of life is not all that it seems. This novel is a must read, especially for fans of Dystopias like Westworld and Blade Runner.

 

 

Upcoming Movie Adaptations of Books

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Starring Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat), this adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s national bestseller comes out on August 15, 2018. The movie follows Rachel Chu, an American woman who finds out her boyfriend secretly comes from an extremely wealthy and powerful family in Singapore. You can watch the trailer here!

 

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
This supernatural horror novel is coming to the big screen on August 31, 2018. From the director of 2015’s Academy Award-winning film Room and starring Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars) and Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre), the film will tell the tale of a British doctor’s terrifying experience at a family’s countryside estate. You can watch the trailer here!

 

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), and David Tennant (Doctor Who) are just a few of the talented actors in this film’s star studded cast. Saoirse Ronan stars as Mary Stuart opposite Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I. Written by the creator of Netflix’s House of Cards, the film is scheduled to be released on December 7, 2018. You can watch the trailer here!

 

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley
Coming to theaters September 28, 2018, this film tells the harrowing true story of Garrard Conley, who was outed as gay at age 19 and sent to a gay conversion therapy program by his parents. The movie stars Joel Edgerton (Red Sparrow), Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies), and Russell Crowe (Gladiator). You can watch the trailer here!

 

First man: the life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen
Ryan Gosling (La La Land) stars as Neil Armstrong in this biographical film about the first astronaut to walk on the moon. Directed by Damien Chazelle of La La Land and Whiplash, the movie is set to be released on October 12, 2018. You can watch the trailer here!

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Cate Blanchett (Carol) stars as the titular Bernadette, who disappears and is pursued by her teenage daughter. The movie also features actors Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live, and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), and directed by Richard Linklater, director of the 2014 Best Picture Academy Award-winning movie Boyhood. The release date is set for October 19, 2018.

 

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
In this sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Claire Foy (The Crown) takes over the role of Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker who teams up with a journalist to investigate corrupt government. The movie comes out on November 9, 2018. You can watch the trailer here!

 

The Black Hand by Stephan Talty
This movie follows a New York City detective as he goes up against the Italian mafia. The film is produced by Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), who also stars in the movie. No release date has been announced yet, but the movie is expected to hit theaters in 2019.

 

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Produced by Peter Jackson, director of the award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mortal Engines tells the tale of a post-apocalyptic future in which humans are forced to live in moving cities, and suffer under a corrupt government. The movie is set to be released on December 14, 2018. You can watch the trailer here!

 

Ophelia by Lisa Klein
In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) stars as Hamlet’s forbidden love, and stars Naomi Watts (The Glass Castle) and Tom Felton (Harry Potter). The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018, but is set to be released in theaters later this year.

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
From the producer of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this movie tells the story of a British author, played by Lily James (Cinderella), who travels to the island of Guernsey at the end of World War II, where she meets a book club that began as an alibi during the island’s German occupation. Netflix has purchased the streaming rights to the film, which will be released through their service on August 10. You can watch the trailer here!

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s famous novel is once again coming to the big screen, this time directed by Kirsten Dunst (Marie Antoinette). The movie tells the tale of Esther, played by Dakota Fanning (The Alienist), and her struggle with her mental health. No official release date has been announced, but the film is expected to hit theaters in 2018.

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
From the mind behind Mozart in the Jungle, Bel Canto tells the story of an opera star, played by Julianne Moore (Still Alice), and several other members of an embassy party as they are taken hostage by terrorists. The film also stars Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), and is set for a September 2018 release.

 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has been developed into a star-studded adaptation, with names such as Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver), Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies), and Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story). The movie tells the tale of a young man living in Las Vegas with his deadbeat father, where he gets involved in the dangerous world of art forgery. The film is set to be released on October 11, 2019.

 

Image result for brain on fire

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Coming to Netflix on June 22 is the movie adaptation of Susannah Cahalan’s bestselling memoir, which tells the story of Cahalan’s struggle with a rare autoimmune disorder, which had been discovered only three years before she was diagnosed. The movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie), Tyler Perry (Acrimony), and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)

 

 

Honorable Mention: “Mary Shelley”

Currently in theaters, this movie tells the tale of literary legend Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein when she was just eighteen. Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon) stars in the titular role as the movie follows Shelley through her stay in Geneva, in which she wrote Frankenstein as a part of a competition to write the best horror story between herself, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron. Though it is not based on a book, the film tells the story of how one of fiction’s most famous monsters came to be. You can watch the trailer here!

New Fiction – March 2018

Anatomy of a ScandalAnatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Desperate to clear the name of her loving and charismatic husband in the wake of scandalous accusations, Sophie clashes with a determined prosecution lawyer, Kate, who is determined to uncover the truth and bring Sophie’s husband to justice.

 

 

Everything Here is BeautifulEverything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

The bond between a responsible, self-contained older sister and her mentally ill, impulsive younger sister is shaped and tested over years marked by the loss of their mother, an impetuous first marriage, a fling that results in the birth of a baby and painful sacrifices.

 

The Gone WorldThe Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

Time-travel secret agent Shannon Moss visits future time periods for clues about a Navy SEAL astronaut’s murdered family and the disappearance of his teenage daughter, a case that is complicated by the SEAL’s and Shannon’s own impact on the timeline.  A Pittsburgh author.

 

 

The Great AloneThe Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

When her volatile, former POW father impulsively moves the family to mid-1970s Alaska to live off the land, young Leni and her mother are forced to confront the dangers of their lack of preparedness in the wake of a dangerous winter season. By the author of The Nightingale.

 

Song of a Captive BirdSong of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

A first novel by the best-selling author of The Good Daughter re-imagines the life of rebel poet Forugh Farrokzhad, who is depicted as a passionate young writer in search of freedom and independence from the restrictions imposed on women in mid-20th century Iran.

Coming to the Big Screen 2018

AnnihilationAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation , the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

(February 23)

 

A Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L”Engle”s ground-breaking science fiction and fantasy classic, soon to be a major motion picture.

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

(March 9)

 

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

The bestselling cult classic–soon to be a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut–part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner , and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

(March 30)

 

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Cate Blanchett

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

(May 11)

 

Crazy Rich AsiansCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

(August 17)

Nobel Prize Winners

Check out these titles from 2017 Nobel Prize Winners in Literature and Economics:

Remains of the DayThe Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is Kazuo Ishiguro’s profoundly compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and of his fading, insular world in post-World War II England. Stevens, at the end of three decades of service at Darlington Hall, spending a day on a country drive, embarks as well on a journey through the past in an effort to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving the “great gentleman,” Lord Darlington. But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness,” and much graver doubts about the nature of his own life.

 

NudgeNudge : improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness by Richard Thaler

Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. Nobel laureate Richard Thaler and legal scholar and bestselling author Cass Sunstein explain in this important exploration of choice architecture that, being human, we all are susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder. Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself.

Back to School

Summer’s over, but don’t fret. Here are some books to get you back to school.

 

 Old FilthOld Filth by Jane Gardam

Sir Edward Feathers has had a brilliant career, from his early days as a lawyer in Southeast Asia, where he earned the nickname Old Filth (FILTH being an acronym for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) to his final working days as a respected judge at the English bar. Yet through it all he has carried with him the wounds of a difficult and emotionally hollow childhood. Now an eighty-year-old widower living in comfortable seclusion in Dorset, Feathers is finally free from the regimen of work and the sentimental scaffolding that has sustained him throughout his life. He slips back into the past with ever mounting frequency and intensity, and on the tide of these vivid, lyrical musings, Feathers approaches a reckoning with his own history. Not all the old filth, it seems, can be cleaned away.

The MagiciansThe Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .

The Art of FieldingThe Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets.

Straight ManStraight Man by Richard Russo

William Henry Devereaux, Jr., is the reluctant chairman of the English department of a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt.  Devereaux’s reluctance is partly rooted in his character–he is a born anarchist–and partly in the fact that his department is more savagely divided than the Balkans.

In the course of a single week, Devereaux will have his nose mangled by an angry colleague, imagine his wife is having an affair with his dean, wonder if a curvaceous adjunct is trying to seduce him with peach pits, and threaten to execute a goose on local television.  All this while coming to terms with his philandering father, the dereliction of his youthful promise, and the ominous failure of certain vital body functions.  In short, Straight Man is classic Russo–side-splitting, poignant, compassionate, and unforgettable.

Dear Committee MembersDear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can’t catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work  In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies.

 

 

 

Beach Reads

Need an escape? Check out some of our favorite titles from 2017 to read on the beach.

The Last LaughThe Last Laugh by Lynn Freed

To escape their griping grown children, husbands and lovers, and an abundance of grandchildren underfoot, three self-proclaimed “old bags,” Dania, Ruth, and Bess, head for a quiet island on the Aegean Sea. They’ll spend a year by the water–watching the sunset, eating grilled fish and fresh olives, sipping ouzo. They deserve it, they say. After all those years, the three women will finally have some peace.

Except that they can’t. For one, Bess, a pampered, once-beautiful inheritress, falls swiftly into an affair with a poetry-writing taxi driver–who has, of course, a territorial wife. And Dania, a therapist, begins to receive an increasing number of cryptically menacing phone calls from a psychotic patient. An ex-lover of Ruth’s shows up unexpectedly, right before one of Bess’s does–and then the women’s children arrive, with their own demanding children in tow. As the island quickly becomes crowded, the women’s serene year in Greece devolves perilously, and uproariously, into something much more complicated.

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

When Graham Cavanaugh divorced his first wife it was to marry his girlfriend, Audra, a woman as irrepressible as she is spontaneous and fun. But, Graham learns, life with Audra can also be exhausting, constantly interrupted by chatty phone calls, picky-eater house guests, and invitations to weddings of people he’s never met. Audra firmly believes that through the sheer force of her personality she can overcome the most socially challenging interactions, shepherding her son through awkward play dates and origami club, and even deciding to establish a friendship with Graham’s first wife, Elspeth. Graham isn’t sure he understands why Audra longs to be friends with the woman he divorced. After all, former spouses are hard to categorize–are they enemies, old flames, or just people you know really, really well? And as Graham and Audra share dinners, holidays, and late glasses of wine with his first wife he starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did I make the right choice? Is there a right choice? A hilarious and rueful debut novel of love, marriage, infidelity, and origami, Standard Deviation never deviates from the superb.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter , Scaachi Koul deploys her razor-sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. She learned from an early age what made her miserable, and for Scaachi anything can be cause for despair. Whether it’s a shopping trip gone awry; enduring awkward conversations with her bikini waxer; overcoming her fear of flying while vacationing halfway around the world; dealing with Internet trolls, or navigating the fears and anxieties of her parents. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color: where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn; where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.

With a sharp eye and biting wit, incomparable rising star and cultural observer Scaachi Koul offers a hilarious, scathing, and honest look at modern life.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Or did she?

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.

Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.

Saints for All OccasionsSaints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

A sweeping, unforgettable novel from  The New York Times  best-selling author of Maine , about the hope, sacrifice, and love between two sisters and the secret that drives them apart.

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan–a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

 

Looking for a Thriller?

Check out these new titles for something to get your heart racing this summer.

The DestroyersThe Destroyers by Christopher Bollen

Arriving on the Greek island of Patmos broke and humiliated, Ian Bledsoe is fleeing the emotional and financial fallout from his father’s death. His childhood friend Charlie–rich, exuberant, and basking in the success of his new venture on the island–could be his last hope.

At first Patmos appears to be a dream–long sun-soaked days on Charlie’s yacht and the reappearance of a girlfriend from Ian’s past–and Charlie readily offers Ian the lifeline he so desperately needs. But, like Charlie himself, this beautiful island conceals a darkness beneath, and it isn’t long before the dream begins to fragment. When Charlie suddenly vanishes, Ian finds himself caught up in deception after deception. As he grapples with the turmoil left in his friend’s wake, he is reminded of an imaginary game called Destroyers they played as children–a game, he now realizes, they may have never stopped playing.

 

Fierce KingdomFierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running.

 

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie-scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to–a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

 

Now, Quincy is doing well–maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiance, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past. That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep.

 

Magpie MurdersMagpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.