Each month we’re asking a panel of our bloggers to suggest a book based on what they’re reading right now. Here’s what we think you should read this month!
Joel: Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
VanderMeer is known as a purveyor of the weird side of sci-fi, but his new horror thriller, the first of a trilogy being published throughout 2014, is poised to be his breakthrough. The atmospheric, carefully crafted prose creates a sense of unease that builds even before you begin exploring Area X, the quarantined site of an ecological “incident,” and get to know our unnamed narrator, part of the doomed twelfth team sent there by the mysterious Southern Reach organization; what happened to the previous eleven is the mystery at the heart of this slim, terrifying novel.
Dahlia: OCD Love Story, by Corey Ann Haydu
Probably the YA novel that had the single greatest impact on me in the past year, this is an extremely thoughtful and well-crafted look inside the brain of an OCD sufferer, and a worthwhile and highly recommended (though admittedly difficult) experience for readers of any age.
Sara: Playing Dirty, by Jennifer Echols
Echols’s featherlight romance about a PR expert trying to save a struggling country rock band from their own self-destructive impulses is summery and fun and sexy in all the right ways. If it’s still freezing where you are, this will raise your spirits and have you looking forward to long, top-down summer days and steamy nights.
Nicole: Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
The second Miss Peregrine’s book is not only a worthy creepy, pictoral follow-up, but maybe even a superior experience—with Riggs seeming more sure of himself as he delves further into Peculiardom—as evidenced by two things: a scene-setting opening excerpt from Dante’s Inferno, and the existence of “armageddon chickens.”
Lauren: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
Okay, okay. Most of you have probably already read this. But I hadn’t. And this month, when I found myself stuck on the couch after hip surgery, a friend sent me the first three books in the Harry Pottery series and promised me that I would be hooked by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And I am. I’m laughing out loud, I’ve entered magical places, I’ve drunk the Kool-aid. And now I’m wondering what’s taken me so long to dig in. So for those of you who, like me, haven’t yet dug into J.K. Rowling’s epic series, I urge you to pick up the first book—just one. Just try it. You’ll become addicted way before The Prisoner of Azkaban, I promise.
Melissa: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
How did it take me so long to read this book? Alexie’s teen alter ego, a geeky Native American who dares to leave the reservation to pursue a better education, had me in his corner from his opening gambit, a hilarious, heartbreaking accounting of all the physical shortcomings (water on the brain, too many teeth, giant head) that keep him stuck firmly in the lowest social stratosphere. But while I started out laughing, I ended the book in tears, not just of sadness but of gratitude. I can’t believe this brilliant book has been hiding from me in plain sight for this long!
Rebecca: The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, by Gary Shteyngart
Vladimir Girshkin’s adventures (as inadvertent as they often prove to be) take him from the arms of pudgy, professional submissive girlfriend Challah, to Prava, where he attempts to bring American ingenuity to gangster life by way of a Ponzi scheme. Truly excellent.
Paul: The Martian, by Andy Weir
Andy Weir’s debut novel—a science fiction thriller about an astronaut stranded on Mars and his struggle to stay alive—is an undeniably “unputdownable” thriller: if you enjoyed the movie Gravity, you’re going to love this page-turner set on the red planet!
Dell: Transatlantic, by Colum McCann
It’s no surprise that National Book Award–winning McCann is back again with an elaborately constructed, deeply moving novel. Comprised of three seemingly disparate stories which essentially stand on their own as tightly wound novellas, McCann quietly, deftly creates unforgettable characters and rich experiences that ultimately connect and illuminate, among many things, the heartbreak of war, the exhilaration and exhaustion of a life in the spotlight, and key junctures in Irish history.
Amy: The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
Despite my own essayistic tendencies, I’ve never before read what I now consider Didion’s best. This memoir, composed of obsessive, introspective fragments, traces the outline of her grief over her husband’s sudden death and her own narrative’s abrupt departure in fluid lyricism.
What are you reading this month?