You Must Read This
Mar 23, 2014 — John Crowley's sweeping, epic novel follows four generations of the Drinkwater family. Author Lauren Oliver says this imaginative book reminds her why she likes reading in the first place.
Mar 16, 2014 — In his 1973 debut novel, The Miernik Dossier, former CIA agent Charles McCarry combines a classic Cold War thriller with a road trip. Olen Steinhauer says it's one of the best spy novels ever written.
Feb 9, 2014 — In her unconventional memoir, Jennifer Clement writes about the famous artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his relationship with Suzanne Mallouk — from Mallouk's perspective. Rebecca Walker says it's harrowing, beautiful and utterly riveting.
Jan 19, 2014 — If you liked the movie No Way Out, writer and editor Adam Sternbergh has one message for you: The book was so much better. Kenneth Fearing's 1946 noir novel The Big Clock, which inspired the Kevin Costner thriller, is just as tightly plotted and suspenseful — but it's also a moving meditation on mortality and time.
Jan 1, 2014 — Travel Light is an unjustly forgotten fairy tale about a wandering princess who goes from bears and dragons to the real world of medieval Constantinople — and back again. Writer Amal El-Mohtar says she encountered the book as an adult and "felt, very powerfully, that I had been waiting for it."
Dec 15, 2013 — Critics bashed Martin Amis' Yellow Dog, a novel that tells the competing stories of a thug, a king, a tabloid hack and an airplane flight. But author Ben Masters says you should ignore the naysayers and pick up this surprising, supple novel. In fact, Masters says, it's a "small 21st-century masterpiece."
Dec 1, 2013 — Napoleonic Wars? The Royal Navy? Yawn. Novelist Nicola Griffith had low expectations when she started reading Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander. But soon she was tearing through the 20-volume series, reveling in the deeply rendered friendship between the characters Jack and Stephen. It's a masterpiece, she says: "Jane Austen on a ship of war."
Nov 10, 2013 — There are plenty of memoirs of China's Cultural Revolution written from the perspective of elite intellectuals. But Hong Ying's story is different; in her youth, the writer was the sixth child in a crushingly poor family. Novelist Karen Ma says Hong Ying's memoir, Daughter of the River is unflinching, unapologetic and incredibly powerful.
Oct 13, 2013 — Author Antoine Wilson suggests bypassing Proust in favor of a far shorter choice: Nicholson Baker's 1988 novel, which shares the internal monologue of a businessman on an escalator. Shoelaces, drinking straws and the corporate culture of men's bathrooms undergo thorough analysis in this slim book, which Wilson calls "relentlessly perceptive."
Sep 15, 2013 — Shirley Hazzard's 1980 novel Transit of Venus tells a sweeping, decades-long tale of two Australian sisters and three men, with a dash of astronomy thrown in. Author Roxana Robinson says the novel entranced her with tragedy, complexity and elegant, arresting prose.