Posts tagged books
Posts tagged books
Ironically, now that publishers have stopped pinning “for readers who loved Gone Girl!” to any thriller with a complex female protagonist that stays put long enough, a book that is actually for readers who loved Gone Girl has popped up its head. That book is Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Chockablock with moral ambivalence and thoughtful examination of the relationships between men and (strong) women, this book will string you along slowly and then go for a punch that you know is coming, and which will surprise you anyway. One scene actively repulsed me (like, I was making weird lizardy motions with my neck trying to get away from it), which I always love in a book. Great smart thriller.
I love independent book stores. I want them to succeed, and I hear and understand their frustrations about the Amazon situation. Over the years as an author, I’ve worked with some great, great indies and indie people who are on point with their management, strategy, customer relations, marketing, event planning. I have also worked with indies who are angry and distraught about Amazon but still running their businesses like there is no Amazon. Stores that make silly mistakes when it comes to using social media or don’t use it at all, stores that don’t communicate consistently or clearly with existing customers, or don’t try to figure out how to reach out to new ones, stores whose web sites don’t display their location and hours on the front page, stores that sell Kobos without explaining to customers how to set up an account so it actually benefits their store, stores that don’t hire smart, stores that have gone out of business two months after opening because they’re not creatively problem-solving how they can offer customers something Amazon can’t—because they have an attitude that says it’s the customer’s job to support and patronize them in solidarity against The Man (yeah, there was this one store that basically blamed local authors and its potential customers for its failure). I want indies to succeed and I do what I can to see that happen. But dude, in this climate, you gotta bring your A game.
Observe: Sara gets into one paragraph more compassion and pragmatism about the current state of indie bookselling than most people can manage in a full article.
I finished Red or Dead by David Peace weeks ago and I still don’t know what to say about it, which was really bugging me, because I enjoyed it beyond all reason and wanted to write something that would convince all of you to give it a try. Luckily for me, Toby went ahead and wrote a highly literate and thoughtful review of the book, so I no longer feel I need to write about it.
So let me just say this, then. This book is a fucking masterpiece, okay? It’s worn me down and that is all I can say, because I’d rather think about it than talk about it. I have nothing thoughtful to offer you, nothing insightful, no new connections, no nothing, because this book is smarter and better than me, and I loved every second of it. I do hope it is the same for you.
Yesterday I read Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith and was pretty blown away. There are a couple reasons, but primarily, it’s a fabulous book because it’s clear that Smith wrote this book for nobody. Or maybe, just for himself. This is a nice surprise in YA, where the target market of a book is often clear from the jacket copy. (Side note: is this book YA? I actually am not sure that it is. But let’s table that for now. It’s been published as YA, so I’ll judge it against other YA books.) Because the book feels like it’s for nobody, when it ended up feeling like it was just for me, only for me, it was a lovely surprise.
There are two other things I love about this book. The first is that it’s the first book I’ve read in a long time featuring a really confused and probably bi teen. As a former really confused and probably bi teen, I was overjoyed to see myself in a book for once. I wish there had been books like this when I was a teen. A selfish reason to love a book, I guess, but aren’t all reasons to love a book ultimately selfish? Smith does an incredible job of portraying how thin the line can be between loving a friend and having a crush, and how unsettling and mutable that can be for both (or, in this case, all three) people involved.
The second is that it’s successful on multiple levels. A lot of YA right now has a great hook but puts all its weight on that hook (alternately, a lot of YA has a great character but puts all its weight on that character, a burden that no teen, no matter how fictional, can hold), and when that fails, the book fails with it. This book is a good LGBTQ novel, a good dystopia, a good contemporary realistic up until the point it becomes a dystopia, a good small-town novel, a good love story. It’s a much more complete reading experience. Each piece holds the other pieces together accordingly. It’s a great book for fans of Frank Portman, John Barnes, and E. Lockhart—and it’s also a great book for thinking about what YA is, and what it could be.
I suppose we could spend today arguing about whether authors who say they don’t take mysteries seriously are jerks. Or we could spend that same amount of time reading books by authors who do take mysteries seriously and do a damn fine job of it. Laura Lippman is one of those authors and her new book, After I’m Gone, is damn fine. Read it instead of linkbait.
In case you were wondering, yes: Alan Moore is exactly as crazy as you’ve always suspected. (You may have this impression due to this interview from last month.) But you don’t have to take my word for it: read Magic Words and find out for yourself. It’s weirdly detailed and Moore is way more involved with it than I would expect any author to be with a respectable biography, but I suppose that fits the subject. As a recovering Moore fangirl, I found it enlightening, gossipy, and a bit sad. But I recommend it all the same.
Sunday, January 19, was Edgar Allen Poe’s 205th birthday; to celebrate the occasion, the Mystery Writers of America announced its nominees for the 2014 Edgar Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, and television published or produced in 2013.
Having garnered rave starred reviews and listings on many top ten lists, will Louise Penny’s ninth Inspector Gamache title How the Light Gets In finally garner the multi-award-winning author her first Edgar Award? Or will Matt Haig’s genre-blending The Humans steal the show? Stay tuned. The winners will be announced at the 68th Annual Edgar Awards banquet, May 1, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.
Tumblarians start loading your shopping carts.
I need a new crime novel to read!
Read How The Light Gets In. Possibly my favorite mystery of 2013. She just gets better and better. Structurally, she’s hard to beat.
You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love Counting by 7s. I am rooting for it to win the Newbery next Monday. Not only is it a fabulous middle-grade book, it’s also the first book I’ve read since The Book Thief that I can see having serious adult appeal. If you’ve never read middle grade, it is still for you. Just pretend it is a really short book for grownups. (Maria Semple blurbed it. Isn’t that enough for you? It should be.)
It’s deceptively simple, a portal to the simple and precocious voice of Willow Chance, a 12-year-old genius who writes only one-sentence paragraphs and obsesses over plants and diseases and trying to understand middle school. Something truly horrible happens to her and, far too young, she finds herself alone, restarting her life. It’s a tearjerker for sure and pure of heart in the way that only a 12-year-old nerd can be. Whatever you think this book is when you start it, it will turn out to be much more.