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  • Jeff Somers 1:30 pm on 2018/05/16 Permalink
    Tags: alayna schroeder, big life changes, black & decker the book of home how-to, Books You Need to Read, buying a home: the missing manual, egypt sherrod, , home buying, home buying made slightly more simple, , , ilona bray, jack guttentag, jay anson, keep calm...it's just real estate, marcia stewart, , mark montano, , nancy conner, nolo's essential guide to buying your first home, real simple: the organized home, the amityville horror, the big ass book of home decor, , the mortgage encyclopedia   

    10 Books Everyone Should Read Before Buying a Home 

    Buying a home remains a huuuuge step in anyone’s life. While younger generations feel less pressure to hurry up and buy their own home, it’s still the ultimate goal of many of us to eventually own their own home. Homeownership is more than just a signal that you’re all grown up and ready to be an adult. It can also serve as an essential component of your net worth, retirement goals, and financial stability—not to mention a place where you can keep all of your stuff.

    But buying a house is scary—and it should be. It’s probably the single most expensive thing you’ll ever buy, the single largest loan you’ll ever take on, and one of the biggest responsibilities you’ll ever accept. Before you dive into mortgage brokers and real estate agents, open houses and the endless paperwork, here are ten books you should take some time to read in order to ensure you know exactly what you’ll be getting yourself into.

    Buying a Home: The Missing Manual, by Nancy Conner
    Start with some brass tacks. This book is a step-by-step guide that covers all the nuts-and-bolts aspects of buying a home, from choosing the house you want to assembling a real estate team ideal for your needs, figuring out mortgages and financing options, and dealing with inspections and other due diligence. If you think buying a home is a complex and overwhelming process, this book will take away much of the intimidation factor and mystery that surrounds many of the steps along the way.

    Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home, by Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroeder, and Marcia Stewart
    It’s always good to get a second opinion, and this guide covers similar ground to Conner’s book while offering a different perspective. Instead of one expert’s advice, this guide collects the wisdom of dozens of real estate professionals from every facet of the business—Realtors, loan officers, investors, landlords, buyers, and sellers. The end result is a plethora of advice, facts, and useful true stories from various perspectives that really make it easy to understand how things work and the impact of certain specific mistakes.

    Keep Calm … It’s Just Real Estate, by Egypt Sherrod
    If all the talk of mortgages, putting down roots, and dream homes is getting you anxious, you might want a more comforting tone. Sherrod, host of HGTV’s Property Virgins, offers a great mix of advice, facts, and humor in this book. The main takeaway from her advice is that buying your first home doesn’t have to be a stressful horrorshow if you take the time to do some research and be thoughtful in your choices. While this book isn’t as heavy on the facts and figures as the other guides mentioned, it’s a friendlier, kinder, and gentler approach that makes it easier to get your head around such a big decision while also making the process seem a lot easier and less frightening than it otherwise might.

    The Mortgage Encyclopedia, by Jack Guttentag
    The biggest part of the homebuying decision for most people is the mortgage, which is just a fancy term for “huge loan.” Many first-time buyers are stunned to discover how much they can borrow—or or how little—and mortgages come in so many shapes and sizes (and loan officers can be surprisingly creative in putting together financing packages) that it’s easy to worry that you’re going to get pressured into a bad deal. This comprehensive reference work offers everything you need to know about how mortgages work and the different options you’ll encounter, giving you the expertise you’ll need when figuring out how to finance your dreams.

    Real Simple: The Organized Home
    One thing many people fail to think about when searching for their first home is how they’ll organize it. Sometimes the problem is moving from a studio apartment to a 3,000 square foot home means you’ve got a card table in the dining room and absolutely nothing in the spare bedroom. Sometimes the problem kicks in when you clear out your storage units and discover you have turned your second bathroom into a place to store your boxes full of comic books. Either way, thinking about how you’ll organize your home before you move in will save you a lot of stress.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
    Similarly, Kondo’s runaway bestseller will get you into a crucial frame of mind: keeping things neat. A tidy, organized home will always seem bigger, newer, and in better shape than a disorganized, cluttered space. But when going from a relatively small space (or a space where cleaning and tidying duties were shared with others) to a larger space that’s all your own, keeping things neat can seem wearying and impossible. Let Marie Kondo show you the way before you move in.

    The Big Ass Book of Home Decor, by Mark Montano
    Something else you should start thinking about before you buy your first home is what you want it to look like. While some people grow up cutting out photos from magazines and collecting fabric swatches, just as many step into their first home and realize they have no idea how to choose paint colors, upholstery, and other home decor basics. Get a head start and reduce that first-week stress load by boning up on home decoration basics, while also getting a load of information about how to re-purpose items and otherwise make your new home pretty without spending a lot of money—money you probably don’t have because you just bought a house.

    Black & Decker The Book of Home How-To
    Once you’re in the house, trust us: no matter how comprehensive your home inspection was, things will go wrong. Repairing and maintaining your new house is an essential part of protecting your investment, and if you want to save yourself a boatload of money along the way, learning how to do at least some basic stuff is an absolute must. This book offers easy-to-follow guides on all the basics you’re going to face, offering an overview of everything that gives just enough information without overwhelming you with complicated details you simply don’t need to know about. Having this book packed up in a box before you move will give you some peace of mind.

    Finally, house-hunting can be so exciting you overlook some of the possible problems, so here are a couple of books to remind you to consider everything that can go wrong—or at least to deflate that sense of optimism that might lead you to buy more house than you can handle, or to ignore downsides. In the horror classic The Amityville Horror, by Jay Anson, you’ll get a good dose of house-hunting paranoia as the Lutz family is driven from their dream home in just a month by a malevolent force they maintain was very real. And in Mark Z. Danielewski’s modern classic House of Leaves a family discovers that their house is larger on the inside than the outside—something that might be cause for celebration when you’ve just finished calculating your price-per-square foot, but which serves as a reminder that no matter how much due diligence you do, a house is a place of secrets.

    Now that you’ve done the reading, go ahead and start house-hunting. Just remember the biggest lesson from those TV shows: don’t fret about the colors on the walls. Paint is cheap.

    What books would you recommend to potential homebuyers?

    The post 10 Books Everyone Should Read Before Buying a Home appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2018/01/18 Permalink
    Tags: , a season with the witch, , , being nixon, , Books You Need to Read, bullies, , cooked, devil’s bargain, escape from camp 14, , , how google works, how we got to now, in the garden of beasts, , it’s okay to laugh, , , mistress of the vatican, muslim girl, Night, , orientalism, , , , , silent spring, , stamped from the beginning, the autobiography of malcolm x, the blood of emmett till, the crown, , the new jim crow, the origins of totalitarianism, the six wives of henry viii, , , , victoria the queen, , we were eight years in power, welcome to the universe, what happened, , world without mind, year of yes,   

    50 Nonfiction Books that Will Make You Smarter in 2018 

    It’s 2018, and we’ve all heard the phrase “New Year, New You”…but here’s the thing: being you is actually the best, because you’re the only you there could ever be! So instead of trying to reinvent yourself, why not read some nonfiction books to help yourself be the smartest, most interesting, well-informed person you could be? (Also, you’ll know so much it will be impossible not to impress people at parties.)

    1776, by David McCullough
    Hamilton fans, if you can’t get enough of Revolutionary history, this book is your next read. It follows both the North American and British sides of the conflict, and focuses on two leaders in particular: George Washington, and Red Coat commander William Howe. Factual but fun to read, American history that won’t put you to sleep.

    Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
    Another mandatory pick for Hamilton fans; the book the musical is based on! Follow Hamilton’s haunting upbringing as a poor, but brilliant kid in the Caribbean who travels to America with the hope of changing the world…and the downfall he could not recover from.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot
    This true story confronts the collision of science and systemic racism with the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken without her consent for study…and are still living today.

    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick
    If you want to impress with facts from forgotten tales, this riveting thriller details the shipwreck of the Essex, the boat that inspired Moby Dick!

    The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt
    History can certainly inform the present….that is, if we the people aren’t informed. This book starts in the 1800’s and continues through World War I. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, history is history, and it never hurts to remember it.

    The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir
    On to a more scandalous historical figure…or six of them, actually! The wives of Henry VIII had interesting lives before they met him, and his impact on their lives—and in some cases, their deaths—altered history. Full of juicy details, this reads like a novel.

    Cleopatra, A Life, by Stacy Schiff
    Who WAS Cleopatra, a woman built into life by myth and legend? Historian Stacy Schiff gives you access to her palace and a world that you MUST read to believe: incest, murder, poison, infidelity, and more…why isn’t there a TV show about her again?

    MAUS I, by Art Spiegelman
    I first read this book when I was young, but the story has stayed with me forever. The author shares the story of his father’s experience during the holocaust in graphic novel form, using animals instead of humans to detail the horrifying experience.

    We Were Eight Years In Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    This collection of essays that follow President Obama’s two terms is a fascinating deep-dive into how race impacted Obama’s presidency and the ensuing 2016 election.

    The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
    Here’s an uncomfortable truth: The ripple effects of slavery and Jim Crow are still here due to a systemic mass incarceration problem, essentially enslaving millions of black men and women behind bars. Learn about this system of oppression in this difficult, but important book.

    Night, by Elie Wiesel
    This classic autobiography of one man’s journey to survive the Holocaust is a gripping portrait of both the depths of evil—and the precipice of hope—that human beings are capable of.

    How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
    With terms like “net neutrality” leading in the news, it’s important to become informed on the intersection of tech and government…and where best to start than with Google? Learn about their founding history, philosophy, and what it takes to succeed there.

    Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    If tech isn’t your thing, but art, writing, dance or performance are, definitely check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s treatise and lifestyle guide for living creatively.

    How We Got to Now, by Steven Johnson
    The modern world wasn’t built in a day, but it did innovate to evolve. This book is great for history buffs and factoid-finders (and maybe a reluctant reader or two, because there are illustrations!).

    The Crown, by Robert Lacey
    Season Two of the hit Netflix TV show has aired, you’ve marathoned it already, and you want more! Check out the book the show is based on and relive all the shocking and emotional moments, this time on the page.

    Mistress of the Vatican, by Eleanor Herman
    This salacious non-fiction history delves into the sordid and secretive history of the Vatican, and the forgotten woman who helped a man become Pope.

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    Look, 2017 was a rough year. So maybe the secret to success is not caring so much? Read this book and pass along the gospel of not giving a f*ck to your friends.

    Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle
    Glennon Doyle shares the heartbreaking story of learning her husband was unfaithful, and how she took her broken marriage and used the opportunity to piece herself back together again.

    It’s Okay to Laugh, by Nora McIerney
    This memoir about a woman’s journey through becoming a young, widowed mother (and losing her father shortly after her husband’s death) is surprisingly hilarious. That’s what Nora does: she uses dark humor to guide herself through grief, and if you could use a little bit of that, this book is for you.

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X
    A definitive figure of the Civil Rights Movement, Malcom X’s biography is essential reading when it comes to understanding current race relations in the United States. Learn about his upbringing, his conversion to Islam, and his activism.

    Devil’s Bargain, by Joshua Green
    Moving from the past political situation to the present, this book is essential reading for newfound politicos who want to enter 2018 informed and engaged. It details Steve Bannon’s relationship with President Trump, and what it took to get him elected.

    Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo
    We all need a little more joy in our lives, so consult organizational specialist Marie Kondo for the ways you can get rid of clutter and make room in your heart for objects and people that make you happy.

    Bullies, by Alex Abramovich
    A fascinating story of a man who befriends his childhood bully later in life, this story can teach you about reaching beyond your bubble, finding common ground in common pain, and the importance of forgiveness.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    Math is not my thing, but reading the story of the brilliant black women who got us to the moon totally is. These women worked as “human computers” and calculated what we would need to win the space race, but their stories have been lost to history until now.

    Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi
    Be an informed citizen and read this detailed account of racism in America. Using the stories of prominent American intellectuals to frame the debates of assimilationists, segregationists, racists, and allies.

    Being Nixon, by Evan Thomas
    Learn about the man behind the Watergate scandal: his background with a troubled older brother, his service in the Navy, and his political ascent. We tend to define historical figures by one event, and this biography shares the whole picture.

    In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
    Imagine being an American in the government….working with Adolf Hitler. This fascinating true story follows the Ambassador to Hitler’s Third Reich, William E. Dodd, and his family, as they enter the garden, are charmed by the snake, and witness the atrocities firsthand.

    Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden
    We know most things about Hitler’s Germany, but North Korea’s totalitarian regime is still, in many ways, a mystery. This is the haunting story of a person born inside a North Korean prison camp who escaped—after witnessing the executions of his family, being taught to distrust his fellow prisoners, and even fighting his mother for food.

    Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
    The definitive text on the urgency of man-made harm to planet Earth, this book follows the banning of DDT and the sweeping reform that followed.

    Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli
    This book rides the border between fiction and non-fiction, but I’ll allow it, because it’s so cool. Reinvented stories about amazing women throughout history using fairytales as a framing device? Read this book yourself, then get it for everyone you know.

    What Happened, by Hillary Clinton
    Have you been living under a rock, or are just too busy/depressed/overwhelmed to deal with politics? Start 2018 on an informed note by reading the first female candidate for President’s account of the 2016 election.

    World Without Mind, by Franklin Foer
    Technology is the defining innovation of our time…but is it also the greatest threat? This book tracks the history of technological innovation, especially on the internet, and how it presents unseen dangers we need to prepare ourselves for.

    The Blood of Emmett Till, by Timothy B. Tyson
    We see stories of police brutality daily, but this story of civilian brutality had inexorable consequences on the Civil Rights Movement. Who was Emmett Till? And why has his murder shaped American history?

    Shrill, by Lindy West
    This memoir-slash-lifestyle guide for how to be a loud feminist who takes up space in a world that often wants women to be quiet, sweet, and invisible, is full of true stories about the importance of speaking out, showing up, and not caring if people call you “shrill.”

    Sex Object, by Jessica Valenti
    This book, on a similar theme, explores the impacts of sexism on the day-to-day lives of women.

    Muslim Girl, by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
    This painful and beautiful memoir details the reality of growing up Muslim in the wake of 9/11, and how Amani struggling with the impact of Islamophobia before launching her groundbreaking website.

    Orientalism, by Edward Said
    The origins of the problematic view of “orientalism” still persists, but this classic book breaks down the cultural and political perspectives of the Middle and Near East, aiming to combat prejudiced western philosophy.

    Welcome to the Universe, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott
    Something for the science nerd! (Or, aspiring science nerd.) Take a tour of the universe (literally) with renowned scientists explaining planets, aliens, and so much more.

    Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
    Have you ever thought of the history of things we use every day, and totally take for granted? I never thought of salt as having a history, but it does, and this interesting book details where it comes from, and why it matters so much.

    Cooked, by Michael Pollan
    This memoir is one of the most unique on the list, structurally and content-wise! It follows a food writer’s journey through exploring the different ways we cook things—with fire, water, air, and earth—and mastering the techniques we use to perfect our food.

    Yes Please, by Amy Poheler
    A funny memoir by one of the best comediennes ever, read about Amy’s (rough) beginnings in Hollywood, her persistent optimism, and why she loves being funny.

    Bossypants, by Tina Fey
    If you read Amy’s memoir, you have to read her BFF’s! Tina Fey is wry, witty, and has lots to say on what it takes to succeed as a woman in a man’s world in this hilarious book.

    Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
    When your life collapses and there’s nothing left, where do you go? For Cheryl Strayed, to the Pacific Crest Trail, to figure out what she wants and who she wants to be by putting her body to the ultimate physical test.

    Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
    The story of a pilot brought down during World War II begins with a boy who would become an Olympian, despite a difficult childhood with a tendency towards defiance. It’s that defiance which saved his life years later in the Pacific Ocean, with only a life raft to guide him home.

    Victoria the Queen, by Julia Baird
    She was fifth in line for the throne, and only a teenager, but she became Queen. The second longest-reigning Queen in history, Victoria led a fascinating, passionate life: all of which is detailed in this book!

    A Season With the Witch, by J.W. Ocker
    Salem is an infamous place, ground zero to the 1692 Witch Trials. So when this writer decided to move his family to Salem in 2015 to experience Halloween in the most infamous stomping ground for witches.

    Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
    Radium is everywhere; in everything, and considered an essential ingredient to the beauty industry during World War I. But there is a dark underbelly to this element, experienced by girls working in factories to produce it who suddenly become ill.

    Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
    Part how-to guide, part memoir, this uplifting (and short, perfect for commutes!) read by showrunner and TV writer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes is the guide to positivity you need going into 2018.

    We Should All be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Based on her incredible TED Talk, this book explores the intersections of women’s issues, politics, and race using the author’s own experience against the backdrop of history.

    Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
    Roxane Gay’s essays on what it means to be a woman of color in the modern age are funny and profound, and touch upon everything from pop-culture, how Hollywood approaches rape, privilege, and much more. You’ll certainly impress at a cocktail party with some insights from this one.

    The post 50 Nonfiction Books that Will Make You Smarter in 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2017/09/22 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read, geek love, neil degrasse tyson,   

    10 Books Non-Geek Parents of Geeks Need to Read 

    Having children is one of the most powerful aspects of existence—the opportunity to mold and educate a new human, to shape their personalities and moral code. Or, try to anyway—sometimes your kids go in directions you never expected. One day they’re perfectly happy watching Spongebob, the next, they’re binging Doctor Who and reading X-Men comics. That’s right: while you were busy researching how to afford Ivy League colleges, your kid evolved into a geek.

    Don’t panic. Geeks built the world, they keep it running smoothly, they founded Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook. Plus, you’ve got books on your side—reading the 10 books below won’t make you into a Geek yourself, but they will give you the necessary background to avoid tip-toeing around your geek child with a permanently confused expression on your face.

    Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
    Heinlein’s influential sci-fi novel isn’t for everyone, but in it he captures the unique combination of brilliance, superiority, terror, and loneliness that defines many geeky folks’ early life experiences. The story of a human raised on Mars by Martians who returns to Earth as the ultimate outsider, it explores that painful outsider status in a way that resonates with many smart kids, while introducing a ton of concepts (and fun words like grok) that have become foundational in geek culture.

    A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Maybe a better place to start is with some foundational scientific concepts. If your kid is getting into the sci-fi, they’re probably also getting into the science behind it—so having at least a glancing acquaintance with the field will help you keep up. Hawking and Tyson both wrote their books with the non-scientist in mind, but these works aren’t dumbed-down. Instead, they present incredibly advanced concepts in a jargon-free, but intelligent manner.

    Gödel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter
    One of the fundamental aspects of the geek mindset is curiosity—not about one specific thing, but about everything. Thoughts can jump alarmingly quickly as connections are made, which can sometimes make conversations a little tricky. Hofstadter’s famous book is like a deep-dive into the geekiest brain ever; just following the ebb and flow of his thoughts, and his brilliant wordplay, logic games, and intellectual experiments will be fascinating and delightful even if you don’t quite get all of them. Don’t worry—most people fail to “get” something in this book. It’s a lot to take in, but even making the attempt will put you on the right wavelength.

    Neuromancer, by William Gibson
    Another sci-fi classic that offers clues to the cyberpunk and programming subculture that your geeky kid is somehow magically well-versed in. Although dated, Gibson’s novel established so many of the tropes that reign in modern-day sci-fi, it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the thrill of hacking together your first app—or simply hijacking the neighbors’ Netflix password.

    Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
    Another writer who “gets” the geek subculture. Neal Stephenson’s classic novel not only offers up some (again, slightly dated) examples of the geek approach to life, but also gets into the headspace of people who want answers and aren’t waiting patiently for someone to deliver them. As you read, you’ll run into a bunch of terms and concepts (like the concept of an avatar) that are common today—and then you’ll realize Stephenson coined them decades ago.

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
    If you want to get your geek’s sense of humor, start here, with the geekiest of comedy sci-fi novels. Adams himself was pretty geeky, a lover of gadgets and technology and an early adopter of the personal computer, and his humor runs the gamut from obscure technologies to philosophical puzzles with hilariously unconventional solutions.

    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, by Tom Bissell
    Geeks love games. Well, most people love video games to some extent, but the geeks of the world own the gaming space, so understanding the thrill of video games (if you don’t already) is essential to being able to understand your kids. Bissell’s approach is readable but thorough, seeking to cut through the surface concepts of games simply being mindless entertainment and the crazier theories about games inspiring violence and sociopathic behavior, concentrating on what video games mean for mental and emotional development—and how it’s probably not a bad thing to let your kids enjoy the heck out of these entertainments. Video games, after all, are complex, vibrant imaginary worlds that can teach kids to use their wits, to love solving puzzles, and to deal with uncomfortable situations in a safe way.

    Playing at the World, by Jon Peterson and Empire of Imagination, by Michael Witwer
    Role playing games (RPGs) are often misunderstood—and considered the geekiest of geek pursuits. While RPGs are cracking the mainstream as more and more people discover the intense, deep-dive pleasures of total immersion in a fictional universe, they’re still difficult to understand for the non-geeks of the world. These two books will help illuminate what makes RPGs so fun, getting into the history, the mechanisms, and the basics of a good RPG experience. Read them, and you’ll understand better the next time your kid references a “saving throw” or a 20-sided die.

    The post 10 Books Non-Geek Parents of Geeks Need to Read appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 7:15 pm on 2017/08/02 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read,   

    45 Novels Written In the 19th Century That Deserve a Place on the Modern Bookshelf 

    When discussing novels to read, there’s always a focus on the new and the upcoming. New is always exciting, the idea that you’re going to encounter something you’ve never seen before. But if you haven’t read older books, they’re new to you, which is more or less the same thing—and when it comes to novels, new is certainly not always better.

    The fifty books on this list were all published more than a hundred years ago, and yet remain fresh and exhilarating reads. There’s a temptation, of course, to mutter the names Dickens, Tolstoy, and Twain and assume you’ve covered the 19th century—but a deeper dive proves the novel was alive and well in the 1800s.

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    You really can’t discuss 19th-century American literature without discussion of Twain and his two most enduring works. Still controversial more than a century after publication, both novels remain hilarious examples of Americana while carrying potent social commentary, especially concerning race in America—commentary that is still, sadly, applicable. Twain’s skill in couching serious criticisms of the world he lived in within an entertaining and engrossing adventure remains unparalleled in American literature.

    The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
    Considering how much Twain disliked Cooper’s writing (devoting an entire essay to the subject of Cooper’s “offenses”), it’s fitting to follow Twain on this list with The Last of the Mohicans, chronologically a sequel to Cooper’s The Deerslayer. Often cited as the first truly successful American novel, set during the French and Indian War, it continues the story of Natty Bumppo’s adventures and is often seen as an allegory for the rise of America itself, as both a country and a symbol.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    It seems strange today, but the concept of “childhood” as a separate and distinct period of life is pretty recent. Of course, the odds of surviving childhood have greatly improved fairly recently, too, so it’s not entirely surprising. Alcott’s Little Women is one of the earliest books to have all the features of young adult fiction: a focus on youthful characters and their struggles, a story that presents an idyllic starting point that becomes complicated by adult concerns, and a realistic approach to the concerns of youth. It’s easy to see the seeds of the genre in this wonderful book.

    McTeague, by Frank Norris
    It’s usually Norris’s later novel The Octopus that people are familiar with, but his debut is the more satisfying read. It’s a grim story of a romance soured by financial pressures and dreams deferred, descending rather alarmingly into insanity and murder. It’s an evergreen story; anyone who has ever bickered over money with a loved one will see themselves in it.

    The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    One of the most complex novels ever written, dealing subtly with issues of sin, justice, shame, and religion, this is one of those novels that many people encounter first in school. The tragic and thoughtful story of a 17th-century New England woman named Hester Prynne who is sentenced to wear a red letter “A” after being convicted of adultery, it uses its seemingly obvious symbolism to incredible effect, exploring life in America in ways that applied to both the 19th century when it was published as well as today.

    The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
    Many books have explored the true terror and dread of combat, but one of the first and most powerful to subvert the cliché of glorious warfare is Crane’s 1895 masterwork. What makes it so interesting is it explores the subject without succumbing to the temptation to become an anti-war screed, presenting the protagonist, Henry, as a young man who dreamed of glory but finds his first experience in combat to be terrifying. After fleeing the battlefield, he returns to his regiment seeking the “Red Badge of Courage”—that is, a wound—and behaves more bravely, only to discover his whole unit is considered expendable. Crane manages to make Henry’s inner struggle a noble one without undercutting the inhumanity of warfare.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    Pride and Prejudice remains so powerful a template for romance fiction that it’s still used as the inspiration for new novels, films, and more to this day. The tale of vivacious Elizabeth Bennet and her unwitting ensnaring of proud, rich Mr. Darcy has launched a million first-date conversations, and contains multiple speeches and lines of dialogue worth memorizing. You could (and people have) rewrite this book today with modern slang and language and sell millions of copies.

    The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
    The essential irony of a young woman who revels in her independence losing that freedom because she inherits great wealth drives this classic novel. That Isabel Archer faces the consequences of her decisions even though they take her further and further away from her desires makes her one of the most interesting characters in American literature.

    Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
    Moby-Dick has the distinction of being perhaps the most well-known novel no one has read. Its reputation for 19th-century density and complex language makes it fearsome. The trick to Moby-Dick? It is hilarious. There are more dirty jokes in this book than you can shake your peg-leg at (see what we did there), and the whaling stuff? Absolutely thrilling, once you get used to the rhythm of the language.

    The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
    More than a century after its initial publication, no one totally agrees on what actually happens in this brilliant short novel. A young governess is hired to care for two children on an isolated estate, ordered by their uncle not to bother him in any way. She comes to have great affection for the children, especially young Miles, who has been mysteriously expelled from his boarding school. She begins to see two mysterious figures, a man and a woman, and learns that her predecessor and another employee were lovers and are both now dead; she becomes disturbed because no one else seems to notice the pair. Here we are a hundred years later and no one is entirely certain whether this is a ghost story, the story of a woman going insane—or both.

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical story of a young girl falling down a rabbit hole and entering the strange, perilous world of Wonderland is so influential, so commonly referenced, reimagined, and reinterpreted, it transcends time. It might have been written yesterday as easily as 1865, and its clever wordplay and Carroll’s loose view of the rules of logic and language guarantee it will remain a fixture on bookstore shelves for a very long time to come.

    Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling
    Kipling’s 1897 novel is the story of a spoiled rich American teenager named Harvey who is washed overboard in a storm and rescued by a fishing boat. The crew doesn’t believe his stories of wealth, but the Captain takes him on as a crew member. Harvey slowly accepts his fate and becomes a valuable member of the crew until they finally put into port and he contacts his parents. Celebrated as a testimonial to the American spirit, the book remains thrilling to anyone who has ever sat in a boring lecture or meeting and wished fate would intervene with a dose of adventure.

    David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
    Speaking of Dickens and his dominance of the 19th century book-writing business, David Copperfield may well be his most beloved novel (it’s certainly one of his most adapted). Originally serialized, the story of the titular character’s life is largely autobiographical. Not many writers get the chance to fictionalize their own lives in such grand style, and no other Dickens novel exemplifies his wordy, fluid style like this one.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Stoker’s classic novel has been filmed so many times, it’s possible some don’t realize there’s a source novel. Stoker’s genius is using a series of diary entries and letters (plus a few newspaper clippings filling in background material) to limit the awareness of his characters, ratcheting up tension as the reader realizes they know more than the people they’re reading about. The result is an air of claustrophobic, gothic horror that has kept us reading for centuries.

    Emma, by Jane Austen
    Featuring one of literature’s great characters in the self-satisfied, well-intentioned, misguided Emma Woodhouse, Austen’s 1815 novel continues to be repurposed in the modern age (it was the basis for the film Clueless, after all) owing to its timeless themes of class, romance, and self-awareness. These evergreen concepts converge on the story of a wealthy young woman who fancies she is an expert matchmaker based on little more than her own high opinion of herself. The hilarious mess she makes as she pursues her newfound avocation is as entertaining and perceptive today as it was back then; we all know at least one Emma.

    Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
    Hardy’s best-known novel tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak. Gabriel falls in love with Bathsheba when he is well-off, but she rejects his proposal because she values her independence. As their fortunes wax and wane, Gabriel and Bathsheba remain in each other’s lives, dealing with tragedies and mysteries, more or less until Bathsheba has been through enough turmoil to realize that Gabriel is her only true love. Along the way you get to enjoy some of the finest writing the English language has ever produced.

    Flatland, by Edwin Abbott
    Somehow, impossibly, combining social commentary with serious mathematics, Flatland is one of the least-read books everyone should read. It’s set in a two-dimensional world where every character is a geometric shape and the main character is a square (named, yes, A Square) who has a vision of a one-dimensional world inhabited by points on a line, and who then is visited by A Sphere, a visitor from three-dimensional space. It’s a lot of fun, and manages to be very sneaky as it educates you about dimensions and social structures.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    The story of the orphan Pip as he makes his way through his life, from a childhood being brought up “by hand” by his harsh sister and gentle, loving brother-in-law, through his callow young adulthood, covers every aspect of our existence, dealing in universal themes including misplaced gratitude, unrequited love, and regret. It doesn’t hurt that it contains some of Dickens’ best-known characters, including the tragic Miss Havisham, who perpetually wears her rotting wedding dress after being jilted at the altar.

    Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
    Conrad’s exploration of what it means to be “civilized” unfolds as one of literature’s most iconic plots, the search for the enigmatic and ultimately insane Captain Kurtz in the Free State of Congo (adapted in nightmarish fashion in the film Apocalypse Now). Examining how supposedly civilized Western forces turned the Congo into a nightmare, Conrad’s story remains horrifying and compelling to the modern reader, and continues to be recycled and to inspire new works that seek to illuminate similar themes.

    The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells
    More than a century after its publication, Wells’ classic novel retains its power to horrify—a power that only increases as medicine advances. The question of whether or not we should do some of the things medical science is now capable of—or will shortly be capable of—will never be an easy one to answer. While Moreau’s insane experiments on animal/human hybrids may be a bit far-fetched no matter how far genetic science advances, the story demonstrates in horrific fashion just how much suffering awaits us if we ever decide that things like ethics and morals are holding back our ability to control the most fundamental aspects of biology.

    Ivanhoe, by Walter Scott
    One of the first true examples of a historical novel, Ivanhoe is set in the 12th century and focuses on one of the few Saxon noble families still intact after the Norman Conquest. Wilfred of Ivanhoe supports King Richard and is disinherited for his trouble, joining the king on the crusades. The story includes jousts, kidnappings, and plain old-fashioned adventure, and was thrillingly unlike anything that had come before it.

    Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
    This revolutionary novel is in part responsible for our modern concept of storytelling, as it was the first to delve directly into the inner life of its protagonist. The story is told firmly from Jane’s point of view, embellished, dramatized, and rendered slightly unreal by virtue of her perception, memory, and prejudices. While telling a love story about a complex proto-feminist character, the novel finds time to offer thoughtful critiques of what was then modern life—critiques that still ring true today.

    Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmoore
    If you’re thinking of the cookies, you’ve missed out on a great book. This classic story set in 17th-century England tells the story of the Doones, a formerly aristocratic family that has devolved into a gang of impoverished criminals. John, a farmer whose father was murdered by the Doones, falls in love with a beautiful girl named Lorna only to discover she is the granddaughter of Sir Ensor Doone. Remarkably, Blackmore perfectly captures the lilt and rhythm of a regional dialect without it becoming distracting or comedic, giving this book a feeling of verisimilitude rarely matched.

    The Luck of Barry Lyndon, by William Makepeace Thackery
    The source material for Stanley Kubrick’s film Barry Lyndon, this novel follows the entertainingly incompetent attempts of Redmond Barry, born into an aristocratic but poor Irish family, as he seeks both a fortune and an English title. Redmond thinks a lot of himself, and is a very unreliable narrator always seeking to make himself look good, but Thackery skillfully reveals his failings as both a person and a social climber, making this a book that can be read several times, each reread revealing something new.

    Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
    Dickens’ story borders on being an exposé of how orphans were treated in the 19th century, as Oliver Twist’s horrible childhood, sale into indentured servitude as an apprentice, and absorption into a criminal gang (led by the iconic Fagin and including the equally iconic Artful Dodger) was all too possible at the time. Dickens combined a bracingly realistic look at criminal life with a satisfyingly happy ending in a book everyone should read at least once in their lives.

    Tom Brown’s School Days, by Thomas Hughes
    The semi-autobiographical story of Tom Brown’s experiences at school offers universal themes of childhood and the intimidating, exciting moment when you take those first steps toward independence and adulthood. These themes still resonate, as do the episodes of impish pranks and adventures (including the occasional dorm room explosion).

    The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    Wells’ classic sci-fi story remains so modern in execution it’s easy to forget it was written more than a century ago, especially since sci-fi to this day continues to explore the narrative possibilities of time travel. The ending of the story remains among of the most chilling sequences in literature—you will be depressed, disturbed, and, finally, haunted by the traveler’s ultimate mysterious fate.

    Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy
    Hardy’s deeply considered rumination on morality, man’s relationship with both nature and modern technology, and sex is perhaps his greatest work. Tess, a good young woman from a poor family, is raped, her sickly son dies weeks after birth, and her marriage with a stalwart young farmer is ruined by the stain to her reputation—and things only get worse from there. Yet the story is animated by a deep level of empathy and contemplation that renders it not entirely bleak.

    A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
    The nearly infinite opening passage of this novel, beginning with the famous “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” signals the wide range of themes the book intends to cover; Dickens wanted nothing less than an examination of the human condition and all of history in the confines of a story. Set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution, Dickens captures the frenetic spirit of the times in the unsteady adventures of his characters, resulting in one the most sprawling epic novels of all time.

    Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
    The story of fierce social climber Becky Sharp and her ascent—and rapid descent—in life as she schemes, steals, and seduces those who can assist her until an almost-too-late epiphany, is extremely well-done on the surface, entertaining and well-written. But then comes the moment when the narrator reveals that he’s heard her story through gossip and has no actual knowledge of the events, and the book suddenly twists itself into a brilliant puzzle. Trying to figure out what’s true and what matters in the story has been keeping people up past their bedtime ever since.

    The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
    There’s little argument that Collins’s novel about a mentally deranged woman, amateur sleuths, and a plot to steal a fortune is one of literature’s first true detective tales. Marian Halcombe and Walter Hartright are genuine amateurs, employing nothing more than their good sense and keen eye to slowly unravel a mystery involving switched identities and an enormous amount of money. The novel is also notable for Collins’ somewhat progressive take on women’s rights, as the mystery centers on the lack of legal standing a wife had at the time when it came to her own money, and is written in a lively tone that makes it seem more modern than it actually is.

    Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
    Bursting with passion, Emily Brontë’s only novel is concerned with the destructive power of that unbridled emotion, demonstrating how feeling unchecked by reason can distort life and ultimately destroy it. Part romance, part ghost story, Wuthering Heights offers one of the best characters ever created in Heathcliff, a shifting character of uncertain parentage and legacy who is ultimately undone by his mad love for foster sister Catherine and taste for vengeance following her death.

    Venus in Furs, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
    A fascinating novel that refutes any claim that the 19th century was prudish, this story of a man who volunteers to be a woman’s slave, encouraging her to treat him in increasingly awful ways so he can attain what he calls “suprasensuality,” is unsettling, and ends on an unexpected note. The woman is initially put off by the man’s request, and eventually meets another man she wishes to be dominated by, souring the original relationship. It’s basically Fifty Shades in 1870.

    Flowers in the Mirror, by Ju-chen Li
    A brazenly feminist novel written in 1827 in China? Why wouldn’t you read this classic fantasy? A lighthearted story that begins when a power-mad empress orders all the flowers of the world to bloom the next day; when the flower spirits, fearing her, comply, the gods punish them by reincarnating them into the mortal bodies of young girls, whose adventures make up the rest of the surprisingly modern story.

    The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
    Dumas’ classic revenge story is also the ultimate adventure story, centered on a man who is wrongly imprisoned, escapes, makes a fortune, and seeks to get back at his enemies. All of this is set against the backdrop of one of the most politically and militarily unsettled periods of European history—a moment when it seemed literally anything might happen, lending the story an urgency that still jumps off the page today.

    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
    Sea monsters and what is essentially the first steampunk submarine: it doesn’t get more adventurous than this. Verne’s classic work of adventure and sci-fi isn’t exactly scientifically rigorous—at one point Captain Nemo exits his submarine and strolls about on the floor of the ocean without difficulty—but its spirit of discovery as the captain and his companions travel to various incredible places (including the lost city of Atlantis) is unparalleled.

    Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
    In some ways Russian literature has been an unending reaction to the nearly endless social change that has swept and re-swept the country for the last two centuries. After an era of rigidity in the social structure, Russia began what could be seen as a still-ongoing struggle with its past and its future, unsettling everybody. Tolstoy’s vivid story of three complicated romantic relationships—particularly that of its titular character, who leaves her husband and the safety of societal approval in order to pursue a great love affair—is also a study of how Russian society adjusts, or doesn’t, to its ongoing social friction.

    Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Dostoevsky explores what some see as the inherent nihilism and violence of Russian society in this novel, in which a man named Raskolnikov plots and commits a murder partially out of a belief that he is predestined to do so. Raskolnikov’s torment and struggle with his burgeoning conscience eventually result in his confession and a clear implication that he can be saved despite his brutal actions, and in some ways the novel still encapsulates the Russian view of morality, justice, and human nature.

    War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
    In some ways, any consideration of Russian literature starts here—in fact, any consideration of the novel as an art form could start here, or at least nearby. The epic story of Russia during and immediately after the invasion by Napoleon, the novel combines fiction, philosophy, history, and a clear-eyed study of 19th-century Russian society and culture. If you read just one Russian novel, this would be the right choice.

    Cousin Bette, by Honore de Balzac
    With subtle homoerotic themes, Balzac’s greatest novel is a dark and delightful story of a woman purposefully working to destroy her own family. Cousin Bette, middle-aged, spinsterish, and bitter, works with the beautiful and greedy Valérie Marneffe to seduce and destroy the men of the Hulot family until Bette’s burning resentment literally kills her. She’s one of the greatest characters in literary history, and you should read this book immediately.

    To Have and to Hold, by Mary Johnston
    It’s an old-school melodrama, but one of the most popular books of 1899 is a well-done one. In 16th-century Jamestown, an English soldier named Ralph buys a wife, a woman named Jocelyn who initially loathes him. Unknown to Ralph, Jocelyn is actually a ward of the king, and already betrothed to an aristocrat. Adventures ensue in a surprisingly convoluted plot that’s got plenty of action, making this a nearly forgotten gem.

    King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard
    Written in a time when Africa seemed infinite and largely unexplored, at least from a Western point of view, Haggard’s classic adventure novel created the template still followed today—the Indiana Jones films, for one, owe a huge debt to Haggard. Adventurer Allan Quatermain agrees to locate a man who went missing searching for the titular mines in exchange for a share of any treasure found, and encounters hidden kingdoms and terrible dangers on the way.

    Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev
    If you’ve ever heard or used the word nihilism, you can thank Turgenev’s novel, which popularized the term. A study of the growing generational divide in early 19th-century Russia, Fathers and Sons is sometimes regarded as Russia’s first modern novel. The changing times in the country background an intense study of the characters as they mature and change, leaving nihilism behind in favor of a more spiritual and traditionally Russian outlook on life.

    The Death of Ivan Ilych, by Leo Tolstoy
    This devastating short novel hits everyone right where they live, as its tale of an absolutely average man diligently advancing in his career, tolerating his unhappy marriage, and engaging in the sort of dull, meaningless existence most people know all too well is suddenly forced into an existential crisis as a seemingly minor injury inexorably turns fatal, leaving him to face the terror of death—and the worse terror of assessing how he has spent his time. Don’t read this if you’re feeling fragile, but do read it before it’s too late.

    The post 45 Novels Written In the 19th Century That Deserve a Place on the Modern Bookshelf appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 7:30 pm on 2017/07/25 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read, , let's make some magic, , sarah skilton   

    Club Deception Author Sarah Skilton on Magic-Themed Books for Every Kind of Reader 

    My debut novel for adults, Club Deception, comes out today! A murder mystery set at an underground magic club in downtown L.A., it has been referred to as “juicy noir.” (I liken it to The Prestige meets Desperate Housewives, with a little Sons of Anarchy thrown in for good measure.)

    As the wife of a magician, I had an absolute blast writing this behind-the-velvet-curtain caper about modern magic. To celebrate Club Deception’s release, here are five terrific books about magic, for fans of different genres.

     

     

     

    If you like historical fiction, you’ll love…

    The Magician’s Lie, by Greer Macallister
    Set during the turn of the 20th century, at the height of vaudeville, The Magician’s Lie is the story of Ada Taylor (stage name Amazing Arden), whose provocative “sawing a man in half” illusion comes back to haunt her when she’s accused of using it to commit murder. You’ll be captivated by this dark feminist fable, which expertly weaves together psychological thrills, a touching romance, and a dash of fantasy.

    Mrs. Houdini, by Victoria Kelly
    “Many people had known some of his secrets…But only Bess knew everything.” He was born Ehrich Weiss, but we know him as Harry Houdini, the most famous escape artist in history. She was born Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, and most people don’t know anything about her—until now. Mrs. Houdini proves there has never been a love story like that of Harry and Bess Houdini, two Coney Island entertainers who married after a one-day courtship in 1894, and went on to perform a husband-and-wife act featuring impossible escapes, mentalism, and “communions with the dead.” From the Jersey boardwalk and the Walsh Brothers traveling circus, to prisons in Scotland Yard and séance rooms in Manhattan, Kelly brings the past alive in glorious detail, all wrapped around a heart-wrenching tale of spousal devotion that continues even after Harry’s sudden, too-young death.

     

    If you like romance, you’ll love…

    The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
    An enchantingly evocative debut about Le Cirque des Reves (the Circus of Dreams), a magical traveling production that “arrives without warning” and opens only at night. Against this backdrop we follow the travails of Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, two rival magicians forced to play a complex game of one-upmanship by their warring supernatural guardians. Problem is, the two are in love. So layered is Morgenstern’s prose, you’ll believe you’re actually visiting Le Cirque yourself, somewhere beyond the realm of imagination.

     

     

     

    If you like self-help books, you’ll love…

    Spellbound, by David Kwong
    Written by a genuinely original, whip-smart magician whose act includes creating a one-of-a-kind New York Times–level crossword puzzle on the fly, Kwong uses his knowledge of magic and magic history to teach the seven principles of illusion. These principles are designed to elevate anyone’s career, regardless of field, by explaining how to command an audience, sway opinions, and sell products and ideas in more effective ways. Kwong’s unique premise makes the advice not only entertaining, but memorable as well.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you like nonfiction, you’ll love…

    The Last Greatest Magician in the World, by Jim Steinmeyer
    A rock star historian and inventor, highly regarded in the magic world, Steinmeyer has designed illusions for David Copperfield, Ricky Jay, and even Orson Welles. Here, Steinmeyer expertly introduces readers to Howard Thurston (1869–1936), who became a worldwide phenomenon during the golden age of vaudeville. A pickpocket and con man turned spectacular (and spectacularly vain) conjurer, Thurston was mentored by Harry Kellar and eventually took over Kellar’s act, billing himself as the headliner of “The Wonder Show of the Universe.” Hyperbole aside, in his day he was more famous than Houdini. And even though he’s no longer a household name, Thurston’s classic image, style, and grandiose spectacles—the biggest traveling magic act in the world—are the ones we continue to envision when we think of stage magicians.

    Club Deception hits shelves today.

    The post Club Deception Author Sarah Skilton on Magic-Themed Books for Every Kind of Reader appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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