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Captivating Fantasy Worlds to Explore Next (05/22)
A trip to Elsewhere in the young adult debut Hotel Magnifique is enough to give anyone the itch to travel. The question is, where to next? Here are some suggestions of fantasy worlds to explore once you've checked out of Emily J. Taylor's wondrous hotel.

Battle Magic (2013): Tamora Pierce's worldbuilding is famed, with fans ...

Overcoming Childhood Sexual Assault: Survivors' Stories (05/22)
In her debut memoir, Ashley C. Ford reflects on the lasting impact of her childhood, most notably the sexual assault she suffered at the age of 14. The process of dissecting trauma through literature is certainly not easy, but doing so can bring catharsis to writers and readers alike.

With assault affecting everyone differently, ...
HarperVia (04/22)
In 2019, HarperCollins, the world's second-largest book publishing group, announced a new imprint for international literature: HarperVia. With a planned 24 releases per year, HarperVia focuses on works from around the globe. Staff in the US and UK work to streamline the acquisitions process: Rather than waiting for a manuscript to be ...
Novels About Inheritance (04/22)
In Housebreaking by Colleen Hubbard, protagonist Del finds herself in the position of having inherited her family's home and being tasked with what to do with it. Inheritance, whether of a home, money, information or an object of unique value, has long proven to be a fertile plot point in fiction. The revelation of an inheritance can ...
Young Adult Novels Written in Verse (04/22)
Novels written in verse for a young adult audience can be an excellent way to encourage reluctant readers of poetry to embrace the unique power of the form. While retaining a focus on character and narrative, the loose approach to structure and hints of more experimental language can increase the pace and heighten the emotional intensity ...
Fiction by Indian Diaspora Authors (04/22)
Sindya Bhanoo, author of the story collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, writes about South Indian immigrant and diaspora communities and the connections people in them maintain (or lose) with family in India. Bhanoo, who lives in Texas, was born to immigrant parents in the United States. The Indian diaspora is the largest in the world ...
Fictional Pandemics (04/22)
Emily St. John Mandel's Sea of Tranquility features a character Mandel seems to have based loosely on herself: an author named Olive Llewellyn who is famous for writing a novel about a pandemic. Pandemics are a common trope in novels, particularly in the speculative or science fiction genre, with authors considering different imagined ...
Feminism and Water Imagery in Literature (02/22)
In Sara Freeman's debut novel Tides, after undergoing a harrowing loss, the protagonist Mara takes to the road, leaving everything and everyone she loves behind. She doesn't know where she will go, but if asked, she knows she will say, 'without hesitation, [t]he sea.' She is drawn to a town — any town — by the sea because her ...
Contemporary YA Literature by Indigenous Authors (02/22)
Darcie Little Badger's second young adult book, A Snake Falls to Earth, contains cultural elements from the Lipan Apache tribe, of which both the author and the book's main character, Nina, are members. The book references the animal people who appear in the Lipan Apache creation story, and it is inspired by traditional Indigenous ...
Contemporary Korean Literature in Translation (01/22)
From Parasite to BTS to Squid Game, there's no shortage of brilliant Korean media and entertainment that has had international reach lately. Books are no exception, with Sang Young Park's Love in the Big City, translated into English by Anton Hur, being just one example. Here is a sampling of some other exciting novels that have been ...
When Dystopia Meets Mystery (01/22)
With his novel Leave the World Behind, Rumaan Alam explores how a group of isolated strangers react to an unspecified threat that is sweeping across New York. By hinting at the disaster's cause and effect, but depriving both his characters and his readers of concrete answers, he is able to tap into our inherent fear of the unknown.

...
Contemporary New England Fiction Writers and Their Work (01/22)
The stories in Lily King's Five Tuesdays in Winter include settings in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, three of the six northeastern states of the USA that are collectively known as New England (the others being New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island). Below we've highlighted some other contemporary authors who reside in and/or set...
Young Adult Novels Exploring Sexual Abuse Against Boys (11/21)
Despite its prevalence, sexual assault remains a largely taboo subject, particularly in cases where men and boys are victims. Toxic masculinity and societal pressure push many to suffer in silence, afraid of being perceived as 'weak' and the repercussions this could have throughout their lives. The mental impact of this decision is ...
Books That Address Infertility (10/21)
In Flesh & Blood, author N. West Moss writes of her struggles with infertility, detailing her emotional reactions to miscarriages and an illness resulting in a hysterectomy. The feelings, experiences and circumstances surrounding an inability to conceive are multifaceted and varied, and so are the works of literature that have addressed ...
Graphic Works of Nonfiction (09/21)
Although the term 'graphic novel' implies works of fiction, lists of popular graphic novels are often dominated by memoirs and other nonfiction. You can find one such list here, and a short history of the genre here.

Since there is no widely used or non-cumbersome term for these books ('graphic works of nonfiction' probably coming the ...
Young Adult Fantasy Novels Featuring Black Girls (08/21)
An exciting addition to young adult fantasy, Liselle Sambury's Blood Like Magic is a thrilling story of a Black teenage girl discovering her magical powers in a genre that has been disproportionately filled with white main characters for a long time. There are now plenty of fantastic young adult books out there where Black girls are no ...
Grief Memoirs (08/21)
Carol Smith's Crossing the River recounts the death of her young son, Christopher, in combination with stories of other people who have experienced loss. In an interview with Hippocampus Magazine, Smith recalls memoirs about grief that have been influential for her. Below are some of the books she mentions, along with other significant ...
Books Narrated from Beyond the Grave (07/21)
Yu Miri's Tokyo Ueno Station is told from the viewpoint of Kazu, a ghost who wanders the grounds of the train station in which he lived out his final years. Though the book makes unique use of this framing device to explore its particular themes of poverty and homelessness, it is certainly not the only novel to feature a narrator who ...
Reading About Dictionaries and Lost Words (05/21)
Pip Williams was prompted to write The Dictionary of Lost Words, a novel including historical detail about words omitted from the Oxford English Dictionary, by reading Simon Winchester's 1998 book The Professor and the Madman and wondering where women were in the story of the dictionary. Below is some background on Winchester's book as ...
Books About Choosing (or Not Choosing) Motherhood (05/21)
Over the past couple of decades, it's become more socially acceptable to talk and to write about the complexities of motherhood. It's also become less taboo to acknowledge—as Rose does in The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas—that motherhood is not the right choice for every woman. The following books articulate, ...
Books Set Across Centuries (04/21)
Katy Simpson Smith's novel The Everlasting is set entirely in Rome, but it takes place across multiple centuries, introducing us to separate storylines in 2015, 1559, 896, and 165. Here are some other noteworthy books that are set in one location spanning multiple centuries.

The Kingsbridge Series by Ken Follett
Originally published...

Young Adult Novels That Address Gentrification (03/21)
In Like Home by Louisa Onomé, Nelo fights the forces of gentrification and change in the neighborhood that she loves so dearly. Gentrification has become an increasingly popular topic in recent young adult novels, and there are now a variety of titles offering different points of view on the subject.

This Side of Home by Ren&#...
Locked Room Mysteries (02/21)
In Eight Perfect Murders, bookseller Malcolm Kershaw is contacted by the FBI regarding his list of favorite mystery novels with seemingly unsolvable murders. The oldest book on Malcolm's list is The Red House Mystery, written in 1922 by A.A. Milne (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame). Milne's book is a locked room mystery, also known as an ...
Older Characters in Fiction (11/20)
The elderly are often underrepresented in popular culture, and where these characters do exist, they are often one-dimensional. The most effective depictions of elderly people demonstrate that age does not limit one's ability to have an interesting inner life, new adventures, and/or the chance for romance. In short, they resist the notion...
Books by Filipino Authors for Young Readers (11/20)
Not that long ago, it would have been difficult to find many young adult or middle-grade novels featuring a Filipino or Filipino-American protagonist, let alone Filipino settings and customs as we see in My Heart Underwater. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. 

In 2005, Melissa de la Cruz, best known for her Descendants, Alex...
Women in Translation (11/20)
Translated fiction is something of a rarity in the English-speaking world. It's been widely reported that only about three percent of books published in the United States were originally written in a language other than English – a statistic that led to the creation of the University of Rochester's Three Percent database, a valuable...
Literary Sequels (08/20)
2019 has been a year of literary sequels: bestselling authors expanding on fictional worlds they created, in some cases decades after the original book was published. Find Me by André Aciman is one such example, published 12 years after Call Me By Your Name. But it's hardly a new phenomenon—here are some of the most ...
19th Century Literary Companions (06/20)

In Sara Collins' historical novel The Confessions of Frannie Langton, the titular protagonist, a slave, tells her master's wife, 'Books were my companions…And I am grateful I could learn something, no matter how I came to do so. It was a way to know that lives could change, that they could be filled with adventures. There were times...

Young Adult Epistolary Novels (05/20)
letter

Epistolary novels have a long tradition in literature, and even young adult novels like Sarah Henstra's We Contain Multitudes have gotten in on the act. Given their younger audiences, however, authors writing for teens often incorporate new technologies or other clever twists on the epistolary form. Check out a few of these examples of YA...

Posthumous Cancer Memoirs (03/20)
Once or twice each year, I find a superb memoir in which the author comes to terms with mortality after a diagnosis of incurable cancer. Sometimes when I look up more information about the author I'm relieved to learn they're still alive (e.g. Kate Bowler, Clive James and Christian Wiman). But sometimes I see an end date to the life span,...
Young Adult Dystopian Novels (02/20)
In Tehlor Kay Mejia's debut novel We Set the Dark on Fire, men marry two wives – one Primera, who is logical and controlled, and one Segunda, who is beautiful and passionate. However, when Dani, a young Primera, joins the resistance as a spy, she becomes determined to invert the whole system. Dystopian novels, while often set in ...
Recent Reinterpretations of Pride and Prejudice (02/20)
Unmarriageable might be the first version of Pride and Prejudice set in Pakistan, but it's hardly the only creative retelling of this classic novel. Fortunately for fans of Jane Austen, several other imaginative reworkings of her beloved novel have been published recently - perhaps a Jane Austen book club could tackle any or all of these ...
An Organ Donation Reading List (01/20)

Readers curious to learn more about organ transplantation after finishing surgeon Joshua D. Mezrich's memoir on the subject have a wealth of options to choose from; here are five recommendations, two fiction and three nonfiction:


Fiction:

The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson
Fifty-year-old Patrick is a philandering professor with a ...

Time-Slip Novels (01/20)
The Heavens is not an easy novel to categorize, but on at least one level, it participates in a category of fantasy literature called a 'time-slip' novel, in which a character travels between two or more separate timelines. The mechanism for the shift in time varies, but can be reading letters, doing research, traveling through a doorway ...
Memoirs by First Ladies (12/19)
Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming has been a huge success by all standards, and she joins a long and illustrious list of former First Ladies who have written memoirs. The appeal is obvious: who wouldn't want to know more about the women who've stood beside the President of the United States, acting as confidant, support system, and ...
A Van Gogh Reading List (10/19)
Deborah Heiligman's Vincent and Theo draws on the hundreds of letters that passed between the Van Gogh brothers. There are various editions of Vincent's letters, including a 2009 version endorsed by the Van Gogh Museum that contains all Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. The letters between Theo and his wife, Johanna, are also ...
Books about the History of Race in America (10/19)
In Andrea Bobotis' The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, an affluent white woman nearing the end of her life in the 1980s takes stock of her family estate in Bound, South Carolina, while recounting the years she spent there as a child during the 1930s. The novel offers a riveting tale of family secrets, revenge, and, especially, racial ...
An Introduction to Graphic Novels (10/19)
If David Small's Home After Dark is your first introduction to visual storytelling through book-length graphics, you're in for a treat. There is a wealth of wonderful, accessible yet profound books that can serve as a terrific introduction for new graphic novel fans. This list just scratches the surface of this fantastically rich and ...
Narratives that Explore the Immigrant Experience (09/19)
Picture Us In the Light adds to readers' consciousness of the immigrant experience – and the experience of children of immigrants in the United States. But it is not the only novel that does this. Children's and young adult texts in particular are consciously addressing these issues from wider and wider lenses, providing unique ...
Cults and Cult Leaders in Contemporary Literature (09/19)
The Parking Lot Attendant's Ayale is an archetypical cult leader – charismatic, intelligent, savage and manipulative. The novel's young narrator finds herself unwillingly ensnared in a cult through her association with Ayale. The cult leader is a fascinating figure, one that is frequently reproduced and reimagined in literature. ...
Celebrity Status: Books about Fame (09/19)
As one half of the famed Vlogbrothers (a popular YouTube channel with over three million subscribers), Hank Green is no stranger to internet celebrity, albeit perhaps not quite at the level that his protagonist, April May, achieves in his debut novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Though Green's debut is aimed at adult readers (with ...
Sibling Rivalry in Literature (09/19)
In My Sister, the Serial Killer, the narrator Korede protects her younger sister Ayoola at great cost, despite her feelings of bitterness that Ayoola has always been favored by their mother and admired everywhere for her beauty. Sibling rivalry has long been a source of inspiration for conflict in great literature.

Here are a few ...
Family Through the Ages: Multi-Generational Sagas (09/19)
The Latecomers utilizes a multi-generational structure to bring the stories of the Hollingworth family members vividly to life. Here a few more novels I recommend that employ a similar narrative structure:

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Allende's first novel follows three generations of the Trueba family. Esteban, the ...
California Reading (08/19)
One of the most captivating aspects of Lisa Brennan-Jones' Small Fry is the portrayal of California during the 1980s and 1990s. From the small, specific aspects of Northern California culture to the sweeping descriptions of the San Francisco hills, Brennan-Jones creates not just a backdrop, but an atmosphere of a time and place. Here...
Love Potions in Literature (06/19)
What if love could be grasped with a single sip?

The idea isn't too absurd. Lisa Moore's YA novel Flannery tells the story of Flannery, a sixteen-year-old girl, who decides to see if she, along with her classmate and crush Tyrone, can create love potions for her entrepreneurship class. While planning, she concocts the idea ...
Books on Adoption (06/19)
In Little Fires Everywhere, an intense custody battle divides the idyllic suburban town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, into two when Bebe Chow, a Chinese immigrant, attempts to regain the rights to her daughter. The baby is now living with a white family after Bebe was forced to abandon her child during a period of desperation and poverty. ...
Anthony Horowitz: Creating Across Medias (05/19)
Anthony Horowitz has had a prolific career writing across multiple media including books, TV, film and stage plays. Since publishing his first novel in 1979, he has written over forty books for both adults and children, his screen credits include episodes of six TV series including Poirot and Midsomer Murders and creator and writer for ...
Maggie O'Farrell – Life & Books (04/19)
Maggie O'Farrell was born in Northern Ireland in 1972 and grew up in various locations across Wales and Scotland. When she was just eight she contracted encephalitis, an experience she describes in a chapter called 'Cerebellum (1980)' in her memoir, I Am I Am I Am. The illness did long term damage, leaving her physically weak and ...
Linked Short Stories (03/19)
Linked short stories, novels in stories, story cycles – these are terms for collections in which the stories are not all discrete pieces with separate worlds and characters. Instead, characters recur, whether subtly or overtly, and multiple stories have the same setting. What makes linked short stories so enjoyable, and what sets ...
A Short History of Graphics & Comics (10/18)
In the Beyond the Book feature that accompanies the review of the graphic novel Home After Dark, there's a list of books to read – basically a graphic novel starter pack. The earliest on the list is Maus, the Holocaust-as-cats-and-mice graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, published in 1986.

But go back eight years and you'll...
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