Each month we ask 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!
Nicole: The Walled City, by Ryan Graudin
Hands down one of the most skillful thrillers of the year, The Walled City is part YA, part suspense, part mystery, part race against the clock, and a whole heaping helping of dystopia. Told from the perspective of three teenagers trapped in the aforementioned city, Hak Nam, a shady enclave of excess and iniquity, this story never stops its breakneck pace from the moment you crack the cover.
Ginni: The New Yorker Stories, by Ann Beattie
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” That’s never more apparent than in Ann Beattie’s spot-on short stories depicting relationships and domesticity in modern American life. For decades, Beattie has been a celebrated contributor of short stories to The New Yorker with an uncanny knack for capturing people at their most vulnerable, most narcissistic, and most unwittingly transparent moments. Beautifully and sparely written, these stories are a perfect retreat from family drama around the holidays. Beattie’s narratives remind you that people are flawed, fickle, and little in their love, but they’re all that we have.
Ester: Half Bad, by Sally Green
In this heady English YA thriller, Nathan’s magical community treats him like he’s an infection waiting to spread, and he begins to live up to their expectations—until he breaks free, determined to face down his own destiny, no matter the cost. The adrenaline of reading will keep you warm throughout November and the family dysfunction will prepare you well for Thanksgiving.
Lauren: Blame, by Michelle Huneven
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Chicago Tribune Favorite Fiction of the Year, blahblahblah, this book won so many words it’s boring to talk about. And it deserved each and every accolade. Blame is the portrait of Patsy MacLemoore, a 28-year-old teacher with a wild streak who accidentally runs over two people when she’s black-out drunk. The story spans the following decades of her life as she puts together the pieces of what happened, attempts to rise above her guilt, strives to love herself and others, and deals with the final curveball life throws her at the end. It’s a portrait of one deeply flawed character, as well as the deeply flawed characters around her. It’s a roller coaster that comes around full circle, but when you return, everyone and everything is different, and you are, too.
Dell: A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
Because it’s a lot like looking into Jared Leto’s eyes (or, I suppose, the sun), I’m rereading Forster’s classic novel, A Passage to India. It’s the time of year when I celebrate my 3 favorite Fs: Food, Family, and Fiction, and Forster’s complex portrait of Dr. Aziz and Adela in tense colonized India is a masterful example of the latter.
Melissa: Human Croquet, by Kate Atkinson
I’m powerless to resist a book with this in the description: “As Isobel investigates the strange history of her family, her neighbors, and her village, she occasionally gets caught in Shakespearean time warps.” But that doesn’t even begin to describe Atkinson’s deeply weird sophomore novel. It’s a rangy, sad, magical-realistic look at teenaged Isobel Fairfax and the enchanted pocket her house is built on, where things get lost then resurface without warning—shoes and people and whole other times. Atkinson’s character studies are astonishing, and her writing crackles with magic. If you loved her Life After Life, you must read this immediately.
Joel: The Peripheral, by William Gibson
Tech visionary William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer looks pretty prescient these days, having more or less accurately envisioned how this thing called the Internet would change our lives. Which makes the prospect of his first far-future novel in nearly two decades an even more tantalizing prospect: Are we looking through a window into life a few decades from now?
Dahlia: Kiss Kill Vanish, by Jessica Martinez
An honest-to-goodness rare YA suspense thriller, filled with twists and turns, skillful character and relationship development, and gorgeous writing. Unlike anything else from this author, or from YA this year.
Sara: Rogue Spy, by Joanna Bourne
I have been waiting for this book since, literally, the moment I finished Bourne’s last historical romance set during the Napoleonic wars. There are spies, romance, mortal peril, and bringing the whole series together, Bourne’s writing, which is so luscious and has such a distinct voice I just want to wrap myself in it and stay there for a month. Don’t come looking for me November 4—I ‘ve already voted and this is what I’m doing all day.
Paul: Metrophage, by Richard Kadrey
The first novel by Kadrey, this vastly underappreciated cyberpunk novel is being reissued after being out of print for more than two decades. Fans of cyberpunk classics like Gibson’s Neuromancer and Sterling’s Islands in the Net will find this dystopian romp through late 21st-century Los Angeles to be both visionary and visceral. A cult classic unearthed.
What are you reading in November?