The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for August, Téa Obreht’s Inland, combines magical, mystical elements with historical fiction set in the rich, vibrant, gritty, and menacing American West of the late 1800s. In it, two unlikely lives intertwine—Nora, a fierce frontierswoman awaiting the return of her husband with water for their drought-ridden land, and Lurie, an outlaw haunted by the ghosts of people who want something from him. The vivid book is filled with suspense and surprises unveiled with every turn of the page.But what is a reader to do after finishing this incredible book and discussing it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on September 10 at 7 p.m.? We’ve rounded up 9 more reads to keep you busy until next month. Check out our readalike picks for Inland.
All the Pretty Horses (Border Trilogy Series #1), by Cormac McCarthy
Much like Inland, Cormac McCarthy’s profound first book in the Border Trilogy takes readers on a journey across an often unforgiving landscape as 16-year-old John Grady Cole leaves his home in Texas on horseback following the death of his grandfather. He is joined by his friend Lacey Rawlins and a 14-year-old sharpshooter named Jimmy Blevins. Together the three teens navigate not only the geographical terrain of their trip to Mexico, treacherous desert weather, wily bandits, and corrupt Mexican officials, but also the deeper meanings of friendship, life, love, and inhumanity. McCarthy’s literary prose transports the reader to the plains the boys themselves traverse, and the connection between the horses and humans is profound in this must-read bestseller.
The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
Eowyn Ivey’s 2012 debut novel, a retelling of a Russian fairy tale about a girl made from snow who comes to life, beautifully blends magical realism and historical fiction, just as Téa Obreht did with Inland. Jack and Mabel, a childless middle-aged couple, struggles to build a new life for themselves in the brutal Alaska wilderness of the 1920s, and in an effort to distract themselves from the harsh realities of their surroundings and inner despair, they build a child out of snow during the season’s first snowfall. The next day, the show child has simply vanished, but Jack sees a real girl running through the woods. Jack and Mabel come to care for this enigmatic child called Faina as their very own, but they soon learn that everything is not as it appears.
News of the World: A Novel, by Paulette Jiles
Paulette Jiles’s National Book Award Finalist finds Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly war vet in 1870s Texas, hired to travel 400 treacherous miles to San Antonio to deliver a 10-year-old orphan to her relatives. Recently rescued by the U.S. Army, the girl has lived for four years with the Kiowa tribe after they killed her parents and sibling. She has forgotten the English language and doesn’t remember a time before the Kiowas took her in. Having just been ripped away from the only home she knows, Johanna attempts to run away repeatedly during the pair’s long journey. Over time, however, she begins to trust Captain Kidd as they bond on a mutual quest for survival.
Paperback $20.99 | $23.00
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser
Inland readers who enjoyed the feeling of being transported through American history will find a new favorite read in this beautiful biography. Fans of Little House on the Prairie feel like they know Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the autobiographical children’s books. But Caroline Fraser, editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series, fully reveals the true story of Wilder’s life, which was far more difficult than the children’s books that encapsulated the pioneer spirit ever described. Pulling research from unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and more, Fraser paints an intricate portrait of a woman who lost nearly everything before spinning the tales of her impoverished upbringing into a treasured series of enthralling books adored by generations of children and adults.
The Essex Serpent: A Novel, by Sarah Perry
Magical realism and an incredible bond between two unlikely individuals tie together themes of Inland and Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. Perry’s novel, set in 19th century England, finds Cora Seaborne, an intelligent and restless woman, pushed into a society marriage at the age of 19. When her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her with her young son and his nanny, Martha, Cora is glad to be free again. Headed to the country for privacy, she finds herself drawn to a local legend about a magical serpent blamed for a recent death. Cora decides she will prove the legend a farce and perhaps even discover a new species. In the process, she meets William Ransome, the local vicar, who seeks to do the same for different reasons. Their relationship is at the heart of this dark, magical story of love, mystery, and opposites attracting.
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson’s winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction will become a fast favorite among fans of Inland. In this tale of fathers and sons that covers three generations—from the Civil War to the 20th century—77-year-old Rev. John Ames in 1956 offers an account of his life, his father’s, and his grandfather’s—both preachers before him—in the form of a letter to his 6-year-old son with Ames’s young wife. Ames relays his meditations on faith, the spiritual battles raging at the heart of America, and the slow death of what the country once was in a remarkable book that will stick with readers long after they’ve turned the final page.
A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline
Many have gazed upon Andrew Wyeth’s iconic 1948 painting Christina’s World and tried to imagine just who this prairie woman was and why she had so very far to go. And Orphan Train‘s author took that very idea and put pen to paper in this beautiful collision of fact and fiction. In A Piece of the World, Kline imagines Anna Christina Olson, Wyeth’s dark-haired, enigmatic subject, with the same grace and vivid detail in which Wyeth famously depicted her as she crawls across a field toward her family’s farmhouse in Maine. Destined for small-town life, Christina is Wyeth’s neighbor, a woman who soon becomes his greatest inspiration in this emotionally resonant character portrait that will appeal to readers who loved Inland.
Only Killers and Thieves, by Paul Howarth
Inland readers looking to be once again transported to and immersed in a different place and time in history will find that in Paul Howarth’s Only Killers and Thieves, a gritty tale set in the Australian outback of 1885. Life in colonial Australia bears a striking resemblance to that of the early American Wild West—it’s savage, untamed, and the indigenous people are targeted by the Native Police Force. In an outback suffering from devastating drought, two young brothers search for justice for a shocking tragedy—the murder of their parents and sister by, they believe, the family’s former Aboriginal stockman. But the truth they discover on their quest for vengeance is far more complicated, with severe, far-reaching consequences the boys could never have imagined.
Caroline: Little House, Revisited, by Sarah Miller
Another one for fans of both Inland and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sarah Miller’s Caroline: Little House, Revisited, a novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, paints a vivid portrait of life on the frontier in all its joy and hardship with a focus on one particularly courageous pioneer woman—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Wilder’s beloved Little House books. The book finds the Ingalls family in February 1870, preparing to leave Wisconsin via wagon for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Readers can witness through a fresh perspective the Ingalls family’s familiar story as Caroline learns to overcome the struggles of pioneer life and relish the promise of a new opportunity for her and her family.
What books would you recommend for fans of Inland?