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  • 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.

  • Whitney Collins 3:30 pm on 2017/07/18 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read,   

    50 of the Funniest Books Ever Written 

    If you love to laugh then you’re in luck, because we’ve gathered 50 of the funniest books of all time on this can’t-miss list. From the dark and dry to the witty and wry, from the fictive to the factual, from travel logs to comedic blogs, this extensive collection of humor both classic and new includes something for everyone. Get ready to read ‘em and weep with laughter.

    Cold Comfort Farmby Stella Gibbons
    Published in 1932 in satirical response to romantic rural literature popular at the time, Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm is a rollicking read about Flora Poste, a broke 19-year-old metropolitan orphan who decides to impose herself upon her remote farming relatives, the Starkadders. Full of aptly (and hilariously) named characters such as the Jersey cows, Graceless, Pointless, Aimless, and Feckless; and cousins Urk, Ezra, Harkaway, and Caraway, this laugh-out-loud novel details what happens when a bossy city girl tries to meddle in pastoral affairs.

    A Confederacy of Duncesby John Kennedy Toole
    Posthumous winner of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize, Toole’s masterpiece has awed and entertained scholars, skeptics, and general scalawags for decades. This peerless and eternally hilarious novel relays the misadventures of the misanthropic Ignatius Reilly—a thirtysomething who lives with his mother in 1960s New Orleans and struggles to find work while battling an affliction of the pyloric valve—as well as the various trials of the colorful characters of the Quarter.

    Do the Windows Open?by Anne Hecht
    Originally published as a series of absurd pieces in the New Yorker, Do the Windows Open? follows the life of a neurotic narrator who spends most of her time attempting to photograph bizarre subjects, most notably a renowned reproductive surgeon, the ponds of Nantucket, and the many houses of Anne Sexton. Wry, dry, and irresistible, this book will have readers rooting for its exasperating star, who struggles with claustrophobia, dental complaints, and an impossibly clean macrobiotic diet.

    The Selloutby Paul Beatty
    This satirical novel about race and racism reads like a brilliant standup routine that goes on for days. Every sentence of Paul Beatty’s masterpiece is so dense and multilayered, you’ll want to set aside precious time to absorb the barrage of images and genius within. Chock full of keen observations, singular interpretations, and loads of all-American cultural and historical references, The Sellout is in a league of its own.

    Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), by Jenny Lawson
    Jenny Lawson, better known on the Interwebs as “the Bloggess,” shines her brightest in this irreverent memoir that reveals what it was like to grow up with a father who ran a taxidermy business out of the house, a mother who worked the school cafeteria, and a sister who shamelessly wore her mascot costume everywhere. Equally morbid and magnificent, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened unearths all of Jenny’s humiliating moments and mines them for wit and wisdom.

    Nakedby David Sedaris
    It’s nearly impossible to choose just one David Sedaris book for this list, as there are nearly a dozen that belong here. But if I’m forced to pick one, Naked takes the cake. Why? Although its contents are much like those contents of his other works (outrageously smart and hysterical essays that render readers incontinent), Naked does include the notorious “C.O.G.,” a piece of writing so stellar and original it’s a wonder anyone, anywhere, has dared put pen to paper since its publication.

    Still Life with Woodpeckerby Tom Robbins
    Redheaded Princess Leigh-Cheri, a former cheerleader turned vegetarian, falls in love with her opposite, outlaw Mickey Wrangle, at a liberal political convention in Hawaii that Mickey intends to bomb. A book about individual priorities, “metaphysical outlaw-ism,” the purpose of the moon, and “how to make love stay,” Still Life with Woodpecker has also been described as a postmodern fairy tale that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes.

    I Was Told There’d Be Cakeby Sloane Crosley
    A collection of helpless, hapless, and howlingly good essays, Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake details the struggles and pitfalls of young urban life, from upsetting an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to managing an unhealthy obsession with plastic ponies to attending weddings for people you no longer remember.

    Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
    This 1963 science fiction masterpiece follows a cornucopia of crazed characters around a sordid Carribbean island where one writer’s desire to document atomic bomb stories overlaps with a high-stakes political drama. Once a mainstay of every student’s backpack, Cat’s Cradle offers important commentary on American imperialism, man versus technology, and the threat of nuclear war. But above all else, it’s screamingly funny.

    I’m Judging You, by Luvvie Ajayi
    Multi-award-winning writer, critic, blogger, and all-around wisecracking social commentary mastermind Luvvie Ajayi holds nothing back in this howlingly brave and funny collection of essays tackling not just the insipidness of pop culture but the pervasiveness of racism. A self-proclaimed “professional shade thrower,” Ajayi has written a brilliant bestseller that will have you laughing at (and ruthlessly lambasting) the world around you.

    In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders
    George Saunders, lauded and beloved writer of fiction, is more than just a fantastic storyteller; he’s a keen-eyed satirist who knows both heartache and humor and can expertly dish up equal servings of pathos and absurdity. In Persuasion Nation is a collection of varied short stories that blend the literary with the fantastical and offer poignant insight into the emptiness and hilarity of our modern world.

    Hyperbole and a Halfby Allie Brosh
    Praised as genius, human, broken, and sidesplitting, Hyperbole and a Half is the wildly illustrated book that Bill Gates proclaimed to be “funny and smart as hell.” Spawned from the popular blog and webcomic following Allie’s adventures with depression and rescue dogs, Hyperbole and a Half is one of the most original and captivating creations of our Internet age.

    What I’d Say to the Martians: And Other Veiled Threats, by Jack Handey
    Known for his New Yorker wit, Saturday Night Live bits, and riotous Deep Thoughts, Jack Handey is also celebrated as one of America’s most enduring humorists. In What I’d Say to the Martians, he dishes up his trademark accessible weirdness through various short stories, sketches, and musings. From “How to Prepare a Wild-Caught Rabbit for a Meal” to “My Third Best Friend” (which ends up being his wife, Brenda), Handey will have you gasping for air and buying up copies for friends.

    Our Dumb Worldby The Onion
    Brought to you courtesy of The Onion, arguably the planet’s most hilarious fake news source, Our Dumb World is the most outrageously fun faux atlas you’ll ever encounter. Chock full of laugh-out-loud maps and graphics, this book skewers every corner of the world, from Nevada (“Where Everyone’s a Loser”) to Greenland (“The Largest Land Mass on Earth”).

    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore
    Most everyone knows the story of Jesus, but no one tells it as well as Christ’s little-known childhood friend, Biff. In Lamb, Christopher Moore retells the short life of the Messiah, including every miracle, journey, kung fu fight, and hot babe you may have missed the first time around. Hailed as both heartfelt and hilarious, this wacky, surprisingly wonderful lost book of the Gospel is truly divine comedy.

    If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t), by Betty White
    Betty White has spent seven decades in Hollywood, so you can imagine she has plenty of tales to tell and wit and wisdom to share. In If You Ask Me, White shares everything she knows about love, fame, our fine feathered and furry friends (she’s a devout animal lover), pop culture, and getting older. This read is as charming as its beloved author.

    The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain
    No one writes a travel book quite like humorist Mark Twain. In The Innocents Abroad (aka The New Pilgrims’ Progress), Twain details his journey aboard the chartered Quaker City, which took him and fellow Americans from New York City to Europe and the Holy Lands in 1867. Full of exasperation, awe, and laugh-out-loud comedy, this must-read may make contemporary travelers long for the days of slowpoke steamers.

    How to be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran
    Fearless, feminist, and funny, How to be a Woman, by one of Britain’s most brilliant broads, has been praised as “entirely necessary” and a cultural phenomenon. Full of well-crafted arguments on how to bring down the patriarchy, as well as zingers regarding bras, strip clubs, and witches, this can’t-put-down read is everywoman’s pick-me-up.

    Portnoy’s Complaint, by Philip Roth
    Named for the psychiatric disorder in which “altruistic impulses are perpetually at war with extreme sexual longings,” Philip Roth’s masterpiece is told from a psychoanalyst’s couch. This comedic jewel launched Roth to the forefront of American literature in the ’60s and continues to delight readers with its bravery and bawdiness.

    Diary of a Mad Diva, by Joan Rivers
    The last thing Joan Rivers ever wanted (or expected) as a gift was a diary, but when her daughter, Melissa, gave her one, the world’s most lovable and loudmouthed diva found she had a lot to say. The result is this gasp-inducing gem that skewers Hollywood celebs, New York, LA, vacations in Mexico, and, as always, Joan herself.

    Cruel Shoes, by Steve Martin
    One of the wisest and weirdest comedians of all time penned this classic compilation, which features absurdist short fiction and hilarious essays with LOL titles such as “The Diarrhea Gardens of El Camino Real,” “Poodles…Great Eating,” “The Vengeful Curtain Rod,” and “How To Fold Soup.”

    Under the Frog, by Tibor Fischer
    An audacious and daring black comedy that was the first debut novel ever to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Under the Frog tells the dark but surprisingly funny story of two Hungarian basketball players, Pataki and Gyuri, between the end of World War II and the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956. Determined to flee their pointless factory work, the two athletes travel to every corner of Hungary, oftentimes in the nude, on an epic search for food, women, and meaning.

    No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July
    Miranda July, award-winning performance artist and filmmaker, delights fans and first-time readers alike with this collection of short stories that mine the awkwardness of the human experience for moments both mundane and meaningful. Sly, tender, strange, and often hilarious, July proves with this compilation that she’s one of the smartest, and unexpectedly funniest, voices around.

    A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, by David Foster Wallace
    There’s nothing quite like David Foster Wallace’s literary gymnastics; his flair for the funny, fearless, and footnoted are indisputably unmatched. And in this howler of a book, in which Wallace reports on experiences ranging from tennis to a Caribbean cruise to the Illinois State Fair, he brings his A-game. Readers will have their minds illuminated and their sides stitched.

    Meaty, by Samantha Irby
    Samantha Irby made her mark with her screamingly funny blog BitchesGottaEat, and the fun continues in outrageous literary debut Meaty. From the crass and witty “How to Get Your Disgusting Meat Carcass Ready for Some New, Hot Sex,” to poignant stories of her mother’s death and her struggles with Crohn’s, this bawdy and beautiful grouping of essays covers everything from poverty, race, and tacos to kittens, longing, and recipes. Yes, she’s included a few, to readers’ great joy.

    Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen
    Only the outrageous plot master and character genius Carl Hiaasen could concoct something as rude and riotous as Skinny Dip, a novel involving attempted murder, bales of floating Jamaican pot, ex-cops, and fraudulent marine biologists. Readers can’t go wrong reading any of Hiaasen’s works, but this beauty in particular dips into the real skinny of his comedic genius.

    Bossypants, by Tina Fey
    Everyone knows who Tina Fey is: she’s an SNL queen, she’s Liz Lemon, she’s an accomplished and adored writer, actor, producer, and comedian. But who was she before all that? In Bossypants, the Tina Fey story is brought to life, in the sort of autobiography everyone wishes they had written—and lived. From her early days working at the YMCA to her adventures in motherhood, this tell-all shows Fey really is as down to earth, and otherworldly, as we’ve made her out to be.

    Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
    Trust us: if authors Gaiman and Pratchett are in charge of Armageddon, it’s going to be a hilarious event. In Good Omens, these two warped and witty Brits serve up their version of the end times, in which a witch whose prophecies always come true lets everyone know the world will end next Saturday before dinner. That’s when an angel and a demon (who’ve been living among mortals and enjoy it just fine) set out to find the Antichrist and put a stop to things. Too bad the Antichrist was switched at birth by a Satanist nun. Don’t miss the heaven this devilishly great read dishes up.

    In Such Good Company, by Carol Burnett
    One of television’s greatest variety shows was The Carol Burnett Show, starring Burnett alongside the outrageously fun Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway. In this read that’ll have you gasping for air, Burnett details the behind-the-scenes fun of all 276 episodes, with details on not just how the sketches were crafted, but also Burnett’s relationships with guest stars, like Lucille Ball, Rita Hayworth, and Jim Nabors.

    Lamentations of the Father: Essays, by Ian Frazier
    Ian Frazier, accomplished novelist, essayist, and social satirist, whose classic comedic stylings have long graced the pages of the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, is at his all-time best in this collection. Hailed by The Boston Globe as “an antidote for the blues,” it reminds us why this life is so worth living and laughing at.

    If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I doing in the Pits?, by Erma Bombeck
    From 1965 to 1996, the incomparable Erma Bombeck wrote almost 5,000 newspaper columns about what it was like to be an ordinary Midwestern housewife, and her wry, dry style appealed to nearly everyone, laundry specialist or not. In this classic collection, readers will laugh aloud at Bombeck’s take on everything from lettuce to bunk beds to tennis elbow. Bombeck was indeed an American original, and this gem that stands the test of time reads like a slice of our country’s history.

    Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, by Mil Millington
    Though the title sounds like a blog entry, this scream of a novel is actually fiction at its finest. Main character Pel, who lives with his feisty girlfriend Ursula, is unequipped to handle the downward spiral that occurs when he takes over his boss’s job. From run-ins with the Chinese mafia to stolen money and missing coworkers, Perl’s misadventures also include a series of laugh-out-loud arguments with his stalwart and stubborn love interest. This read proves a thriller can also be a killer comedy.

    I’m Just a Person, by Tig Notaro
    In 2012, over the course of just four months, Tig Notaro was hospitalized with a rare intestinal disease, lost her mother, endured a devastating breakup, and was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. The good news? Notaro is a comedian, and she took her unthinkable predicament onstage to deliver one of the most raw, illuminating, and darkly hilarious standup performances of all time. Her brave book tackles those same topics and is a must-read for its deep delivery of hope and laughter.

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
    There’s The Odyssey and then there’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which just might be slightly more adventurous than what Odysseus got himself into. In Adams’ galactic road trip, prepare yourself for all sorts of interstellar road blocks, philosophical musings, and alien weirdos—like Zaphod Beeblebrox, a two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie who’s also the president of the galaxy. If you’ve ever wondered what the meaning of life is, and why we wear watches, crack open this chestnut for the universe’s answers.

    I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron
    Being a woman of certain age isn’t easy, but it just got a whole lot more fun thanks to the eternally observant and wisecracking Ephron, who gives readers the lowdown on empty nests, city life, sagging necks, and general runs of bad luck. With chapter titles like “The Lost Strudel or Le Strudel Perdu” and “Me and JFK: Now It Can Be Told,” not to mention its status as a #1 bestseller, I Feel Bad About My Neck will have readers feeling great about life.

    One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by B.J. Novak
    B.J. Novak of The Office and standup fame does something unexpected and wonderful with his debut book: he tries his hand at fiction, not memoir, and the result is amazing. Including stories both sharp and tender, One More Thing has been compared to the stylings of George Saunders, Steve Martin, and Woody Allen. At its core, however, it is entirely original, and every piece of prose within tackles why humans are always searching for that one thing that will complete them.

    Shrill, by Lindy West
    Lindy West was an incredibly shy child who struggled with her weight and her large, often controversial, viewpoints. Yet she grew up to be one of the freshest, wisest, and downright funniest voices of modern feminism. In her blockbuster memoir Shrill, in a voice both charming and unapologetic, West tackles everything from rape jokes and internet trolls to activism and intestinal fortitude (or lack thereof). In a world where women are expected to be both seductive and submissive, “like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you,” West’s insights are extremely relevant and necessary. As well as hilarious.

    Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome
    Published in 1889, this howler is still considered relevant and witty even though it was written more than one hundred years ago. Detailing a boating holiday on the Thames River, Three Men in a Boat began as a travel guide, but soon evolved into a comedic manuscript about the pitfalls of group vacations. Real, witty, and timeless, this humorous account proves that, when journeying with friends (and dogs), the more things change, the more they stay insane.

    Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
    What happens when a mother tires of her Seattle life and lifestyle? One in which she’s considered too bold (by her husband), too outrageous (by fellow moms), and too revolutionary (by colleagues)? She becomes an agoraphobic misanthrope who can no longer function…not even for a reward trip to Antarctica with her devoted daughter. Touching, brilliant, and very very funny, this page-turner has turned millions of heads.

    More Stories About Spaceships and Cancer, by Casper Kelly
    This little-known jewel, written by an award-winning TV writer, is chock full of absurd dark fiction that Joe Randazzo, editor of The Onion, bluntly praises as “f***ing awesome.” Within, readers will enter the mind of one of the seven dwarfs, who lusts after Snow White; an elderly man who has had his brain placed in a vat; and an office drone who believes his entire life may consist of implanted memories. Weird and incredibly smart, Casper Kelly’s little masterpiece earns a big spot on any must-read humor list.

    Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
    Bridget Jones is a thirtysomething “Singleton” on a quest to tighten her thighs, brighten her love life, and learn how to operate the VCR. But first she must overcome patronizing questions from “Smug Marrieds,” the temptation of delicious sandwiches, and the disastrous world of dating. Full of everygirl woes, delightful self-disgust, and loads of laughter, this gem is not just comedic, it’s now a chick-lit classic.

    The World According to Garp, by John Irving
    John Irving grew up not knowing his biological father, and warned his mother that if she didn’t supply him with some details, he’d create a fictional story about his origin. This award-winning opus is said to be the result of that conversation, to which his mother famously replied: “Go ahead, dear.” Within, feminist icon Jenny Fields rapes a wounded soldier in order to become pregnant, and her son, T.S. Garp, grows up wondering who he is, where he came from, and what’s the meaning of it all. Filled with sexual deviance, heartbreak, and endless humor, this book is both harrowing and hilarious.

    Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
    Paling, of The Mindy Project and The Office fame, wows fans in her second book, in which she details her quest for happiness, her advice regarding on-camera beauty, her run-in with Bradley Cooper, and how to lose weight (or not) without employing behavior modification. This chuckle of a read is as self-deprecating and delightful as Paling herself.

    Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Much Faster), by Dave Barry
    For more than twenty years, Dave Barry, acclaimed author of over thirty books and sometime guitarist for the Rock Bottom Remainders, wrote a weekly humor column for the Miami Herald, earning him a Pulitzer Prize and a TV show. In this knee-slapping compilation, Barry gathers essays on a variety of noteworthy topics ranging from Brazil’s soccer obsession to Putin’s Russia to his very un-Mad Men-like hometown, as well as witty advice for his infant grandson.

    The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae
    In this lovable, laugh-out-loud memoir named for her hugely popular web series, Issa Rae details the perils of being both awkward and black, a condition “someone once told [her] were the two worst things anyone could be.” From cybersexing and eating alone, to “rapping” and PDA, Rae endears and enlightens all readers, no matter their cool factor or skin color.

    The Kid, by Dan Savage
    Dan Savage might be best known for his syndicated sex advice column, “Savage Love,” but in this frank and courageous book, in which Dan and his boyfriend decide to start a family, new territory is chartered, and it’s both hysterical and heartfelt. For anyone who has ever wanted a baby, but perhaps have not considered what it’s like for two gay men to approach this milestone, The Kid is equal parts illuminating and entertaining.

    Seriously…I’m Kidding, Ellen Degenres
    Degeneres has given so many so much through her talk show, her standup comedy, and her activism. But she always has more to give, so she also writes books. And thank goodness for her efforts, because her memoirs are some of the most laugh-out-loud funny personal chronicles out there. Seriously…I’m Kidding is chock full of anecdotes about her life with wife Portia de Rossi and her time on American Idol, all wrapped up in a laugh-till-you-cry tell-all that’s a gift to all.

    A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
    An acclaimed writer of nonfiction (with a primarily travel-oriented bent), Bill Bryson is at his wittiest in A Walk in the Woods, tackling the Appalachian Trail, its history, and all the people he meets on his journey down it (not to mention bears). Howl like a wolf with Bryson as he makes his way from Georgia to Maine for more than two thousand miles of facts and fun.

    The Bedwetter, by Sarah Silverman
    Sarah Silverman’s autobiography is as fierce as she is, full of tales both tall and low about what it was like to grow up Jewish in New Hampshire, what it was like to write for SNL, what is was like to battle depression, and what it was like to struggle with an ongoing bedwetting condition. Very brave and extremely funny, Bedwetter will have readers wetting their pants.

    The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde
    Since it took the stage in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s piece de resistance, The Importance of Being Earnest, has delighted audiences and readers with its endlessly genius wordplay. In addition to a riveting plot and dialogue, this classic play employs all sorts of tricks of language that have continued to entertain for more than a century.

    The post 50 of the Funniest Books Ever Written appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 7:00 pm on 2017/07/11 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read,   

    Swell Author Jill Eisenstadt Shares Her Picks for Essential Summer Reading 

    Jill Eisenstadt’s debut, From Rockaway, was bound by the nihilistic routines of a trio of lifeguards who spend their summers surveying New York’s Rockaway Beach. Though still young, their lives already seem decided, split between watching the waves and working blue-collar jobs in the cold months. Her latest, Swell, returns to the shore thirty years later, in the story of a family with some serious baggage, moving into a Rockaway house that’s haunted in more ways than one. An unwanted houseguest and the return of a character who first appeared in From Rockaway round out this darkly funny, sympathetic tale.


    Both books make for perfect beach reading, set seaside but far from candy-colored. Here’s Eisenstadt to share a list of more ideal waterfront reads, for your summer enjoyment.

    What makes a good beach read? For me, it’s mainly about practicality. Leave the heavy tome at home. Avoid the minuscule print (though that’s advice for everywhere). Don’t bother with anything you’d care about getting stained with sunscreen or sandwich drippings. Wind, wet, sand, salt – such conditions require a book you can wrangle. Break the spine, throw the sopping towel over accidentally, or fold down pages when your bookmark vanishes. Other than that, it’s a matter of your current mood. So have a good assortment handy – old and new, serious, light, something in between. Content-wise, I tend to go for sweltering settings or themes, but that’s personal. There can be no bad beach books because, thank Poseidon, books don’t need charging or batteries.

    Some for Summer 2017:

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, with an Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld, chaser
    Like beaches, Jane Austen is a place to escape from the news. Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern take is pure fun, an inside joke for the outdoors.

    Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami
    Short stories work well on the beach, particularly ones that tend toward the spare and philosophical. Between stories you can take a swim or stare out to sea wondering why Murakami used a Hemingway title, whether the men in the book could be weirder, and ultimately what it all means.

    The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery
    If you haven’t heard, octopuses are in. And no, it’s not octopi, as you’ll learn if you read this. Includes many other fascinating insights into these intelligent, emotional beings.

    The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers
    “It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old. This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world. Frankie had become an unjoined person who hung around in doorways, and she was afraid.”

    Endless Love, by Scott Spencer
    I haven’t looked at this novel in decades but nor have I forgotten it. And I just recounted to verify….yes, the sex scene is 36 pages long! Definitely high time to revisit.

    The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
    Psychological thrillers do not get better than this. Exciting and intelligent and set in fabulous sometimes beachy locales (the Ligurian coast). Never will you find yourself more fervently rooting for a sociopath.

    Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed
    Lie on the sand on a big soft towel and listen to your daughters (or friends) take turns reading advice aloud. This book, culled from columns originally run in the Rumpus, written by the once anonymous and shockingly wise Cheryl Strayed, is a guaranteed conversation starter. When and if you gather the will to finally take a walk, there’s also a handy spinoff podcast with the wonderful Steve Almond.

    Sea Grapes, by Derek Walcott
    Poetry on the beach is essential. Because, as Walcott himself writes in the title poem of his most famous collection, “The classics can console. But not enough.”

    The post Swell Author Jill Eisenstadt Shares Her Picks for Essential Summer Reading appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 4:30 pm on 2017/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read, , ,   

    5 Things You Need to Know about the New Oprah’s Book Club Selection, Behold the Dreamers 

    When you’re living in an age of Peak Entertainment, there’s one big problem: choice. Having too many fantastic books to read is a much better problem than having too few, but it also means deciding what to spend your time on can be difficult. Thank goodness, then, for Oprah’s Book Club, which has once again descended from the literary heavens to help us choose.

    The latest pick for Oprah Book Club, announced today, is perhaps the perfect novel for this moment in time. Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers is a tale of the immigrant experience in America, a novel concerning the 1%, income inequality, and the housing bubble and Wall Street’s culpability in it, and it showcases a broad range of human relationships. It has been hailed as perhaps the first great 21st-century American novel, and in our current political environment it might be the most necessary piece of fiction you’ll read this year.

    If (as if) Oprah’s imprimatur isn’t enough to convince you, here are five things you need to know about Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers.

    1. Mbue writes from experience
    Behold the Dreamers is about Jende Jonga and his wife, Neni, who move from Cameroon to the United States in 2007, seeking what all immigrants once sought in this country: a better life. Jende parlays intelligence, enthusiasm, and liberal doses of self-hype into a job as a chauffeur to Clark Edwards, a high-level executive at Lehman Brothers. The Edwards also find work for Neni, and it seems like the Jonga family has a firm foothold in the American Dream. And then, of course, the economic crash of 2008 hits, and in short order the American economy is in chaos—and Lehman Brothers ceases to exist, sending Jende and Neni into a panic over their jobs.

    Mbue, herself a native of Cameroon, came to the U.S. in 1998 in order to attend school. Taking night courses, she earned a Masters degree in education and psychology at Columbia University while working a series of jobs: receptionist at a dental office, bank teller, dishwasher, lingerie saleswoman at Nordstrom, and door-to-door vacuum-cleaner saleswoman. Once out of school she found a job doing market research, and when the economy went bad in 2009 she decided not to give up that job to pursue a Ph.D.—only to be laid off.

    2. The book has been big news since before its publication
    Behold the Dreamers first made headlines back in 2014, when it sold to Random House for seven figures—and then sold film rights to TriStar. Back then it was titled The Longings of Jende Jonga, and it was already one of those novels people in publishing circles whispered about.

    Of course, plenty of books that get talked about fail to live up to the hype—but Behold the Dreamers has. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award, was named a New York Times Notable Book, was longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award, and made it onto many “best of” lists.

    3. It’s more complicated than the summary makes it sound
    While the book focuses on two recent immigrants and their pursuit of the American Dream, this is a quintessentially American story. If you’re imagining a two-dimensional 1% vs. 99% story in which the Clarks—rich, white, complicit—are villains and the Jongas are unalloyed heroes, prepare yourself for a much subtler, more nuanced book. Mbue manages to make her characters human. The Clarks, often painfully unaware of their privilege and their blind spots, are depicted as decent people battling their own demons, trying in their way to do good. The Jongas are hardworking, good-hearted people—who nevertheless struggle with their own frailties and shortcomings. Mbue isn’t offering a simplistic story, but rather a deep investigation into what it means to be American today.

    4. It offers a necessary perspective on class
    Many celebrated novels that deal in class in America are told from the perspective of relatively affluent people, but Mbue tells hers from the point of view of the Jongas, who live in a small, dark, roach-infested Harlem apartment. For the Jongas the economic downturn isn’t a distantly threatening event, but a clear and present danger that may destroy everything they’ve worked for, underscoring how little security and safety immigrants have in this country—a situation that is steadily getting worse.

    5. Jende Jonga is a great and complicated character
    One of Mbue’s sly bits of genius in this book is that Jende, our protagonist, is not a flatly sympathetic hero: he and his wife both engage in dangerous self-deception, as well as plain old deception. On the one hand their regard for America and the opportunity it represents is almost religious, and on the other Jende is a bit of a Don Quixote, puffing up his achievements—he tells people he works “on Wall Street” and struts about with a briefcase, playing the big shot. He’s wonderfully rich and fully developed, warts and all.

    The post 5 Things You Need to Know about the New Oprah’s Book Club Selection, Behold the Dreamers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:30 pm on 2017/06/19 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read, ,   

    A Summer Break Reading Guide for All Ages 

    Summer means different things to different people, depending on their age, their life situation, their life goals—and their reading habits. Some folks read their one book a year over the summer, lazing on a beach. Others sail into June with a reading list arranged alphabetically and by length. Some just like to wander into bookstores all summer long and pick up random books. If you err on the side of planning, here are some recommendations for how to approach your summer reading list, designed for all kinds of people doing all kinds of things.

    For teens fresh out of school
    Are you ready for the summer? Sure, there’s going to be plenty to do as you try to cram a full year of living into a three-month period that must also include Little League, dance class, and camping with the scouts, but there’s always time to read. If you’re into fantasy novels with a kick, check out Royal Bastards, by Andrew Shvarts, which is like Game of Thrones if the kids did more butt-kicking and less suffering. Looking for a great romance to reignite your faith in humanity? Try Once and for All, by Sarah Dessen, in which Louna’s summer job working for her wedding planner mother leads to a second-chance romance. And if you want a period-piece mystery (and who doesn’t?), check out The Pearl Thief, by Elizabeth Wein.

    For older teens heading into college
    This is it, the last summer before the rest of your life, so make the most of it. First, indulge a little and have some fun with Stephen King’s latest, Gwendy’s Button Box. Next, bone up on your life skills with How to Be a Bawse, by Lilly Singh—because you’re gonna need those skills. Finally, burnish your literary side with A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, a perfect novel to get your brain back into a more thoughtful mode.

    For graduates seeking their first job
    It’s time to put away childish things and get a job—or at least designate a single room (or drawer) in your new place where the childish things live. In the meantime, entering into adult life is daunting, so kick it off with The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson, one of the best guides to life you’ll ever read. Then, get practical with Finance for Normal People, by Meir Statman, and get a side hustle going with the help of The Big Life, by Ann Shoket—because you’re gonna need one.

    For parents about to have a houseful of kids on summer break
    You’ve gotten used to being able to sip a cup of tea and listen to a podcast while you plan your day, but that’s all over. Soon you’ll be living in a bouncy house that doesn’t bounce. You’re gonna need an escape, so stock up on smart but thrilling new books like The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware, or a sci-fi adventure like The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., by Neal Stephenson, or a smart retelling of a classic like The One that Got Away, Melissa Pimentel’s take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

    For young professionals still dreaming of long-lost summer vacation
    Sometimes you’re like Jack from Lost and you just want to go back to the island—in this case, the days when you were still a kid and not a world-weary adult. Relive the good old days this summer while commuting to your first real job, with a delightful confection like hilarious diary-style story Confessions of a High School Disaster, by Emma Chastain, coming-of-age classic Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, or, as a reminder of how awful everything was in high school, Carrie, by Stephen King.

    For empty nesters
    Your footfalls echo through the place, and suddenly you have nothing but time. This is the summer you train yourself to read again, with all the books you’ve missed over the last, oh, twenty years, like big art mystery The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, perennial must-read My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, and alt-universe slavery era epic Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead.

    For the newly retired
    You did your bit, you saved your pennies, you raised your kids: you now have the time to read whatever you want—and time means you can start a book series with a few dozen books, because why not? Start off with a classic historical adventure like the Aubrey-Maturin series, by Patrick O’Brian, or an epic fantasy like The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan, or J.D. Robb’s In Death series, kicking off with Naked in Death.

    For folks who don’t read much
    You’ve got one book in you every year, so it has to count. This summer, there are a huge list of wonderful reads to choose from, including what might be this year’s Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena, or The Duchess, the latest from go-to fave Danielle Steel, or what’s sure to be the new hot title in thrillers this year, Rag Doll, by Daniel Cole.

    For folks who read everything
    You’ve spent the first six months of the year reading at a pace that would kill most people, so you don’t really need a summer list, do you? Try to spice it up anyway with indie books you might miss otherwise, like Stephen Florida, by Gabe Habash, the story of a high school athlete unaware of the enormity of his own depression, or Sour Heart, by Jenny Zhang, which captures what HBO’s Girls would be if it accurately represented the demographics of New York City, or a fun nostalgia-soaked horror novel like Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero.

    A can’t-miss, fail-safe choice for everybody
    You have a bunch of books, or you only read one book, or you don’t like to be ruled by lists—fair enough. Take a bit of a stretch and read Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. It’s a little weird, a little literary, and, for some, a little hard to get into over the first few pages. Then something clicks and you adore it, and it makes your summer.

    The post A Summer Break Reading Guide for All Ages appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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