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  • BN Editors 4:01 am on 2019/06/17 Permalink
    Tags: , harry potter,   

    LEGO® Harry Potter™ Sets Are Coming! 

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    Build the magic & relive the adventure! Bring Harry Potter moments to life with these new LEGO® sets, exclusively at Barnes & Noble July 1st through July 31st!

    LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hungarian Horntail Triwizard Challenge
    The time has come for the onerous first task in the Triwizard Tournament from the fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This 265-piece LEGO set recreates the exciting and nerve-racking scene in which Harry is forced to face off against the dangerous fire-breathing Hungarian Horntail dragon to retrieve a golden egg with only his wand to aid him. Also included in the set are Harry’s fellow Triwizard Champions—Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour, and Cedric Diggory, all armed with wands—and the tent in which the champions await their turn in the tournament.

    LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hagrid’s Hut: Buckbeak’s Rescue
    Fans can step into the pages of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to help Harry, Hermione, and Ron rescue Buckbeak the Hippogriff before he can be put to death by the Minister of Magic and his executioner. LEGO lovers ages 8 and up will love immersing themselves in the story as they put together the 496-piece set, which includes Hagrid’s hut with its detailed interior—there’s even a Chocolate Frog and a Daily Prophet newspaper—and pumpkin patch where the kids hide to pull off the escape plan. Additionally, Harry, Hermione, and Ron have their own wands, while Hagrid clutches his trusty pink umbrella.

    LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Clock Tower
    Visit the wizarding world in LEGO form with this 922-piece set that depicts important locations from books three and four, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Harry Potter fans can visit Albus Dumbledore’s office, go on a Time-Turning adventure in the clock tower, swing by the hospital wing and the prefects’ bathroom, and attend a Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Kids can even go to the Yule Ball with its icy decorations and “dancing” function. The set also includes eight minifigures—Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fleur, Cedric, Viktor, Dumbledore, and Madame Maxime—all decked out in their Yule Ball costumes.

    LEGO® Harry Potter™ The Knight Bus™
    Hop aboard this 403-piece Knight Bus set to recreate scenes with Harry’s infamous form of transportation in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry Potter fans and LEGO enthusiasts are in for a wild ride on this purple triple-decker bus as it races, swerves, and bumps wherever the witches and wizards on board need to go—as the sign says, “All destinations (nothing underwater).” With the bus’s hinged side panel and removable roof, kids will be able to see everything going on inside as the bus cruises along, including the bed sliding around and the chandelier swinging just like in the story. Minifigures Harry, Stan Shunpike, and Ernie Prang—plus the shrunken head—are all along for the ride.

    The post LEGO® Harry Potter™ Sets Are Coming! appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2019/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , harry potter, , , , love medicine series, , , , thank you mom, , the house of the spirits, , , the rules of magic   

    The 10 Best Moms in Fiction 

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    There are lots of lists out there about literature’s worst mothers. The Mrs. Bennets of the world seem to suck up all the oxygen. (Something with which Elizabeth Bennet likely would agree.) But what of fiction’s fine motherly figures? What of those who try their best to do right by their children—whether they gave birth to them or not? The following ten characters, while never perfect, prove the virtues of motherhood in all its messy, complicated, astounding glory.

    Molly Weasley
    Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

    Where else to start but with the harried matriarch of the unruly Weasley brood? A mother of seven and the wife of a moony Muggle enthusiast, Molly keeps her household running and her children awash in fine knitwear—and she still takes time to lavish the same maternal affection (and sometimes consternation) on her children’s wayward friends. She’s the unsung hero of the Order of the Phoenix whose bravery caused me (and all of you) to cheer aloud when she faced off with Bellatrix Lestrange.

    Mrs. Murry
    A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

    Mr. Murry often gets the credit for being brilliant, but Katherine Murry is an accomplished microbiologist whose professional accomplishments do not get her sucked through the space-time continuum. With her husband gone missing for years, Mrs. Murry keeps her family together, even the strange genius who is her youngest son. Meg leaves her mother behind as she goes on her tesseract adventures, but my secret hope always has been there’s an unwritten epilogue out there where Kate Murry gets to go on a vacation.

    Lulu Nanapush
    Love Medicine series, by Louise Erdrich

    Lulu is not a perfect woman or mother, but life hasn’t exactly treated her, or the Ojibwe reservation she calls home, with the utmost kindness. She encapsulates the challenges of both mother- and womanhood. We’re introduced to her in Love Medicine, in which she’s entangled in a decades-long love triangle with the man she’s always loved and the woman he married. In a story, and series, that spans generations, we see Lulu move on to other relationships and amass a family of nine children in the process. All the while, she’s remarkably unabashed in her strength and independence.

    Lisa Carter
    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

    The Carters are a modern fictional family, and Lisa is the glue that holds them together. Lisa got pregnant as a teenager and dealt with her mother’s rejection. A nurse, she raised her children, Starr and Sekani, to be strong and well-aware of the racial injustice of their neighborhood and the world they live in. She’s forged a strong marriage despite her husband’s incarceration and affair, and she treats Seven, the product of that affair, with love. The Hate U Give is a story of strength in the face of adversity, and Lisa is one of the strongest characters in Garden Heights.

    Margaret March
    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

    Raising four daughters on your own in the middle of the Civil War and your own dire financial situation would be enough to crumple anybody’s spirits. But Marmee not only carries on, she does so with aplomb. The anti-Mrs. Bennet, Marmee puts her focus on treating her daughters with love and kindness and providing an example of how they should apply those same qualities to their own interactions with others. She’s no shallow perfect character either; her charity and compassion ring true, even 150 years later.

    Miss Honey
    Matilda, by Roald Dahl

    Look, mothers come in all packages, and Jennifer Honey proves to be more of a mom to whiz-kid Matilda than her biological mother ever was. As Matilda’s teacher, she’s the first person truly to recognize the unbelievable talents of a small, neglected girl. Not only does she encourage her, Miss Honey fights for her, too. (And Matilda returns the favor in spades thanks to her telekinesis, the oldest trick in the book.) Their shared happy ending makes them an adoptive family, but Miss Honey was a mother to Matilda way before those final pages.

    Suyuan Woo, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-Ying St. Clair
    The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

    The relationships between mothers and daughters are never simple and rarely conflict-free. The beauty is in the way those bonds, when strong, are able to mend any tear. The four Chinese immigrants who get together each week to play mahjong in this novel, and the four daughters they raise, are perfect examples of this simultaneous tenderness and turbulence. In a story spanning 40 years, we see it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And still there is mahjong, and gossip, and storytelling, and the stitching together of generations.

    Lilith Iyapo
    Dawn, by Octavia Butler

    Lilith did have a biological son before the start of this novel, but her place on this list is because of a slightly different role she’s tasked with playing: mother to a new species. You see, Lilith is one of the few survivors of an Earth apocalypse, one human saved from extinction by an alien species. For centuries, Lilith and the other remaining humans have been asleep and their rescuers have worked to rehab Earth. Now, the Oankali, a, let’s say, tentacle-forward race, are ready to repopulate the planet … together … with humans. (You know.)

    Clara del Valle Trueba
    The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

    In a sweeping story of family history, Clara is an otherworldly focal point. Her innate clairvoyance blossoms into broader abilities as she matures, abilities intimately tied to the fate of her family through the decades. In a story aswirl with chaos and trauma, Clara is a calming center, protective of her children, particularly when it comes to her volatile husband. Her presence imbues every aspect of the life of the Truebas, even after her death. Sometimes her powers make her dreamy and distanced, but her heart’s in the right place and she grows into her starring role.

    The Aunts
    Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

    Again, circumstances beyond biology can forge some of the greatest mothers. The Owens family is decidedly non-traditional: two aunts raising two nieces, all witches. Also, there’s that whole family curse that spells doom for the unfortunate man who might fall in love with any Owens woman. While the hijinks that occur in Practical Magic may make you wonder about supervision Sally and Gillian’s aunts provide, their enduring encouragement to embrace the weird and witchy—and to give zero flips about what anyone else thinks—is an inspiration.

    The post The 10 Best Moms in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2019/02/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , brideshead revisited, , carry on, , , , , , harry potter, , , , , , , soon i will be invincible, , , the dresden files, , the name of the wind, , the paper magician, the shades of magic series, v.e. schwab   

    Your Reading List for the Return of The Magicians 

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    It’s official: Lev Grossman’s fantastic book series The Magicians has inspired one of the best adaptations on television. The series based on Grossman’s books has managed the trickiest of all balancing acts, both honoring its source material and going beyond it in satisfying, intriguing ways. Grossman’s books are aggressively meta, a brilliant deconstruction of fantasy books that merrily wears the deconstruction on its sleeve—the brilliance of Quentin Coldwater discovering that magic is as tedious, difficult, and dense as advanced physics or maths is balanced with the childlike joy Grossman manages to convey concerning the actual use of it, and the discovery of a very real Narnia-esque portal world. Overall it’s a childhood fantasy pushed through an adult lens, and there’s no better way to celebrate the show’s return than by diving into some other fantasy worlds.

    The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis & The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
    Let’s get these out of the way: if you somehow haven’t read the Narnia books, which are the inspiration for Fillory and the ur-portal fantasy of a billion childhoods, or the Potter books (which, seriously, how?), you’re not only missing some of the fundamental building blocks of Grossman’s universe, you’re likely missing something fundamental from your reading life. These two series are how The Magicians came to be—even if you have read them, reading them again—or, you know, for a fifth or sixteenth time—is never a bad idea.

    Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
    Grossman cited this stone-cold classic as one of the most important books in his life, and aside from its general greatness (seriously, read this book) it’s easy to see where it’s folded into the foundations of The Magicians, as it’s primarily a story of college grads and their fates after school. Lyrical, beautiful, sad, and somehow existing in a unique fictional universe despite being a realistic novel, there are grace notes of Waugh throughout Grossman’s books that you’ll suddenly see after you read this.

    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
    Grossman himself recommends Clarke’s neo-classic when people ask what they should read after The Magicians. A thousand-page riff on Victorian literature and fairy tales, it’s set in a 19th century world where magic has recently returned after a long absence. A fateful rivalry develops between stuffy, bookish magician Mr. Norrell and showy upstart Jonathan Strange, with world-changing consequences. It is one of the most unusual works of fantasy you’ll ever read, filled with epic detail and a writing style that brings names like Dickens and Austen to mind. It’s a masterpiece, and nothing short of remarkable, and it is a perfect companion piece to Grossman’s books, exploring the theme of what happens when magic is discovered to be real in a totally different but complementary way that Grossman fans will appreciate.

    The Paper Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg
    The story kicks off after young Ceony graduates from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined and is assigned to her apprenticeship—in paper magic, about as far from her desired specialty, metal, as she can get. But just as Simon finds that the hard work and late nights required to master magic in his universe are worth it, Ceony finds that putting the work in with her charming mentor, Emery Thane, yields amazing results. But there’s forbidden magic in this world, blood magic that operates on flesh and bone, and Ceony is forced to rely on her imperfect mastery to save Thane, and possibly the world. It’s a perfect series for fans of Grossman’s books.

    The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher
    It’s pretty simple math: while they’re different beasts in terms of tone and plot devices, the fact is that folks who love The Magicians will probably love Jim Butcher’s detective-cum-wizard Harry Dresden, who brings a hard-boiled edge to his investigations of paranormal and magical events and crimes. It’s easy to imagine someone graduating Watford and slowly evolving into Harry; although the magic systems are completely different, the tone matches up well, making this an ideal series to dive into when you need a new adventure that combines magic, sass, and plenty of great plot twists.

    Soon I Will be Invincible, by Austin Grossman
    Superheros instead of magicians, but Lev’s twin brother Austin has written one of the most fun and enjoyable comic-book subversions ever. As Doctor Impossible plots his escape from prison and questions his life choices, the league of heroes known as The Champions patrol the world against wrongdoers and struggle with their own existential crises and personal failings as they deal with the disappearance of their greatest member. It’s hilarious, and captures the tone of comic books with pitch-perfect skill while offering an augmented view of the world that will appeal to fans of The Magicians.

    The Shades of Magic Series, by V.E. Schwab
    If part of what appeals to you about The Magicians is the idea that magic is hidden—but could be around any corner—than Schwab’s fantastic Shades of Magic is required reading. The story spans four alternate Londons—White London, soaked in and consumed by magic, Red London, where magic is used reasonably and intelligently, Grey London (our world) where magic has been all but forgotten, and Black London, where magic has crushed the life out of everything. Its elemental magic system isn’t very similar to Grossman’s realistically arcane discipline, but the dense storytelling and joy of magic is right in line and the perfect way to prime your imagination for the TV show.

    The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
    Dreamy, lush, and romantic, at first glance this might not seem like it has much in common with Grossman’s story. The crucial link, again, is the way magic is presented as hidden in plain view—the Night Circus is truly magical, but obscures its nature simply by performing its spells for people’s entertainment, as part of the circus act. This allows the two rival magicians traveling with it to wage a proxy war of magic right in front of amazed audiences, who never suspect what they’re actually seeing even as they rave about the trick. It’s ultimately concerned with the human heart, and is exactly the sort of book that Simon would have read and loved.

    The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
    Rothfuss’s modern classic is very different in tone from Grossman’s work, and is set in an epic fantasy universe instead of an urban one. That said, it’s a modern classic for reasons, not the least of which is that the whole “school of magic” aspect is just one part of the story—the legendary warrior, bard, and magician Kvothe’s life story is already pretty epic by the time he sets his sights on gaining admission to the University. This is one of those stories where the destination is the journey, and not only will it serve as a great alternative flavor in stories about people learning the secrets of the universe, it will also addict you to a whole book series.

    Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell
    If it’s the meta-ness of The Magicians that you groove on, it simply doesn’t get more meta than Rowell’s first foray into fantasy literature. The story of Simon Snow, the Chosen One finishing his final year at Watford School of Magicks and his roommate (or maybe more) Baz Grimm-Pitch began life as a fictional book series modeled on Harry Potter in Rowell’s Fangirl, seen largely through a slash fan-fic being written by a character in that book. So this is the real novel based on the fan-fic based on the fictional novels in the fictional world of a totally separate novel. Got that? Doesn’t matter—it’s actually a fun, bouncy riff on the whole ‛kids in magician school’ trope that offers a wonderful accent to your Magicians meal prep.

    The post Your Reading List for the Return of <i>The Magicians</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2017/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: , harry potter, read it or i will weep,   

    How to Sell Your Favorite Book to Someone Who Doesn’t Read 

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    As Gary Coleman once taught us, it takes different strokes to move this world, and that means that people who love to read must work hand-in-hand with people who regard reading as the worst way to spend any amount of free time. In fact, you might even be close friends with (or related to) someone who never, ever reads a book, which means your relationship is limited by the fact that you can’t talk about books endlessly. In some cases, you can get close if there’s a film or TV adaptation they’ve watched, but it’s not exactly the same thing. The ideal would be to convince them to read your favorite books so you can pull them into your insidious Reading Circle.

    But how can you do that if they regard reading as a chore (as if)? It’s not going to easy, but it can be done. Here’s five steps you can take to convince your non-book nerd friend to read your favorite book.

    Shape Your Pitch
    First of all, know your audience. Why are they so resistant? Do they think Harry Potter is for kids, or do they think any story that incorporates magic is silly? Are they contrarians who just refuse to consider anything that’s popular? Start with their reasons for resisting, and shape your pitch for the book to be the equal and opposite force. If they think stories about boy wizards aren’t worth their time, focus on the depth of the characters and the emotional resonance of their travails. If they refuse to read anything popular, point out how many classics were once wildly popular bestsellers.

    Remove the Pressure
    The hard sell won’t work here. You have to keep in mind that the easiest thing in the world is to not do something, and if you push too hard for your book the non-reader will probably just dig in their heels. And if you do manage to pressure or guilt them into reading the book they’ll do so with a surly, negative attitude, and there’s a real risk they’ll decide they don’t like it just because they resent being pushed into reading it. The key is going to be taking a step back and arguing positively for the book experience instead of trying to force the issue.

    Make a Deal
    You’re asking someone to take it on faith that their time will be well spent on this book, and time is the one thing they’re not making more of. Instead of just imperiously insisting that the book will change their lives and they must read it, start a negotiation and offer to experience something they insist is great but you can’t get excited about. Whether it’s a movie they’ve always insisted you should see, or a lifestyle choice you just don’t understand (ugh, jogging, amiright?), or a night at the opera or something, put it on the table: you’ll do theirs if they do yours. That puts skin in the game and makes it a partnership instead of putting your taste above theirs.

    Find Famous Allies
    If you get the sense they’re simply not taking your arguments seriously, it might be time to find some celebrity endorsements to aid your cause. Think about their favorite musicians, actors, or other famous types and see if you can find some that have publicly endorsed the books in question. This doesn’t have to be internationally famous people, either—maybe there are folks in your social circles that your friend respects and looks up to who could be recruited for the cause. In short, swallow your pride and seek reinforcements.

    Get in There
    Okay, you love this book, so you’ve read it sixty-four times and can quote it at length and frequently have entire conversations that are just quotes from it. If your friend still refuses to read it, it might be because you’ve made it feel like a school assignment. Get in there and make it into a more Book Club feel by offering to re-read the book with them, instantly turning a solitary experience (which might be one reason they don’t like to read in the first place) into a shared experience. If you know other superfans who are just as besotted with the books, recruit them to re-read it too, and meet up on a regular basis (like, over cocktails or a fun dinner) to discuss it, making it into a must-attend social event. That’ll make it something they desperately want to be a part of instead of a chore they want to avoid.

    Finally, accept the outcome. If you try everything in your power to convince them to read that book and they still refuse, back off—it’s not worth ruining a friendship over. And, most importantly, if they do give in and read the book and don’t like it, accept that verdict. They did their part and gave it a chance, and it’s totally legit for them to simply not like it the way you do. Sure, they’re clearly wrong, but that’s their right.

    What book do you constantly try to convince people to read?

    Shop all fiction >

    The post How to Sell Your Favorite Book to Someone Who Doesn’t Read appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Lauren Passell 1:30 pm on 2017/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , harry potter, , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    DO NOT READ THIS POST: The 10 Biggest Book Spoilers, Ever 

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    Warning: if you like to be surprised, stop reading right now. Get a glass of water or look at Buzzfeed or start working on your memoir.

    But if you’re curious about these books and their kick-to-the-stomach endings, then by all means, read on. (Because I’m not completely cruel, I’ve whited out the spoilers—just highlight the empty space to see the hidden words.)

    Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

    The Sinner, by Petra Hammesfahr
    One of the best examples of a “whydunnit” in recent years, German author Hammesfahr’s twisty novel (soon to air as a miniseries on USA starring Jessica Biel) is largely told in flashback after Cora Bender, a seemingly normal mother and housewife, inexplicably stabs a man to death while on a beach picnic with her family. Cora confesses readily and claims to have no idea why she just committed homicide—but a patient policeman thinks there’s more to the story, and slowly susses out the truth—Cora’s younger sister was born extremely ill, and her mother became obsessed with caring for her, forcing her father to share a room with Cora, resulting in a creepily close relationship between the two that comes as close to abuse as possible without crossing that final line. Her sister Magdalena isn’t as innocent as she seems—despite her frailty, she manipulates Cora and also has an intensely, inappropriately intimate relationship with her. When Cora is 19, she takes Magdalena with her to meet a boy and his friends, not realizing that Magdalena is near death and wishes to die. Two of the boys rape Cora while the third has sex with Magdalena—who dies during the act, a specific piece of music playing on the radio. When Cora freaks out, one of the boys hits her in the head with an ashtray, and to cover up the crime, they hold Cora captive for six months. Years later, when the music plays again at the beach, Cora snaps, and strikes out with a knife.

    Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
    In Ender’s Game, the survival of the human race depends on Ender Wiggin, the child genius recruited for military training by the government… But while you (and Ender) believe he is fighting in mind simulation, in truth, he’s been  manipulated into fighting a real war, and actually killing the enemies, called buggers. He moves to a new colony planet with his sister, where he discovers that the buggers have created a space just for him. They didn’t know humans had intelligence, and they want to communicate with him. They show him what the war looked like from their point of view, and Ender and the buggers meet a point of understanding. He vows to live with them in peace, starts a new kind of religion, and writes a Bible-like book about the buggers, signing it Speaker For The Dead, which is a perfect segue into the Ender’s Game sequel.

    Atonement, by Ian McEwan
    Atonement is about misinterpretation and its repercussions. Briony observes her big sister Cecilia and Cecilia’s friend Robbie flirting and assumes something shameful has happened between them. She accuses Robbie of rape, and Robbie goes to jail. The story then follows Cecilia and Robbie as they go to war, fall in love, and wind up together forever. But at the end of the novel, you discover that Briony is actually the book’s narrator—and she’s been lying to you, too. She did accuse Robbie of rape, and he was jailed, but C & R didn’t live happily ever after together, after all. They both died in the war. Briony just wrote a happy ending for them to atone for her sins. That’s what she says, anyway. I’m not sure I believe anything she says anymore.

    And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
    Most Agatha Christie novels leave you gobsmacked (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, anyone?) But And Then There Were None is an absolute masterpiece of the whodunnit? formula. People invited to a party in a mansion keep on being murdered, but by whom? Well, if you’re sure you want to know…it was Judge Wargrave! Swaddled in a red curtain, he fakes his own death so that you, the reader, assume the murderer is someone else. But in a written confession at the end of the novel, you learn that he invited people to a desolate island in order to kill them one by one as punishment for the terrible things they’d done (and thought they got away with). Agatha, you sneak!

    Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
    In Gone Girl, husband and wife Nick and Amy tell the story of their tumultuous marriage. We read what we think is Amy’s diary, and it condemns Nick as a violent jerk. We start to believe that Nick is responsible for Amy’s disappearance and possible death. But in a series of twists, the truth is revealed—Amy and Nick are both liars. Nick was having an affair, and Amy has been alive all along, on the lam, trying to frame Nick for her death. What we thought was her diary is actually a cunning trap: it’s a piece of fiction Amy wrote for the police to find. Amy kills a friend and returns to Nick, pregnant with his child, claiming she was kidnapped. Nick takes her back even though he knows the truth. In the end, Amy says she’s getting ready to become a mom by writing her abduction story. She should hang out with Briony.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
    Rebecca begins with one of the most mesmerizing first lines in literature—“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Things only get more interesting from there. The unnamed protagonist marries Maxim de Winter and moves into his home, called Manderley. She struggles to live up to the legend of Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca, who was seemingly perfect. Mrs. Danvers, the maid, almost gets the protagonist to kill herself in despair. But one day, divers find a sunken sailboat that belonged to Rebecca, revealing that Rebecca was murdered. Maxim then tells the truth: Rebecca was a wretched woman who had multiple affairs—one, with her cousin, resulted in her pregnancy. When Maxim found out, he killed her. In yet another twist, we find out that Rebecca was lying to Maxim—she wasn’t pregnant, but was actually dying of a terminal illness. In the end Old Danvers burns the joint down and disappears. As for Maxim and the protagonist? Happily ever after.

    The Dinner, by Herman Koch
    In Howard Koch’s The Dinner, two brothers and their wives sit down for a meal to discuss the horrific crime committed by their sons. The cousins have been caught on camera attacking a sleeping homeless woman in an ATM, throwing trash and a container of gasoline at her, and then burning her to death. Koch makes it clear that the family is bonded by a common sociopathology. The family argues over what to do. Serge, a politician, wants to come clean about the boys’ crime. Enraged by Serge’s stance, his sister-in-law Claire attacks him, disfiguring his face. Claire urges her nephews to “take care” of Beau, Serge and Babette’s adopted son, who witnessed the crime and is blackmailing the boys by threatening to reveal what they did. At the end of the novel, Beau is missing, and one of the cousins comes home covered in blood and mud. Wonder what happened to him?

    Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows, by J.K. Rowling
    In J.K. Rowling’s seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series, it’s revealed that Harry is a Horcrux, and must be killed before Voldemort can be. Viewing Snape’s memories in the Pensieve, Harry sees Snape talking to Dumbledore and finds out that Snape’s been his protector all this time. Snape loved Harry’s mother, Lily Potter, and spent his entire life spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore. Meanwhile, Dumbledore had been steering Harry to sacrifice himself for the larger good. Good and evil are blurred once again when Harry survives and learns that Dumbledore loved him, even if he expected him to sacrifice himself. Ms. Rowling, you’ve tricked us again.

    Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk
    This novel is an oral biography of protagonist Buster Landru “Rant” Casey, who has died. The reader gathers that Rant lived in a dystopian future where lower class citizens, called “nighttimers,” engaged in an activity called “Party Crashing,” a demolition derby where the crashers slam into each other in cars. The catch: if you crash in the right mental state, you’ll travel backwards in time. Rant disappears during Party Crashing, so his friends assume he’s time traveling. It takes some piecing together to figure out that Rant has been traveling back through time, raping his ancestors every thirteen years in an effort to become a superhuman. He isn’t one character; he is many. You can’t make this stuff up, but I guess Palahniuk did.

    Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
    Anna Karenina is about a lot of stuff, but the heart of the story lies with Anna and her downward spiral from captivating spitfire to insecure shell of a woman. The book is beautifully written. Much of its pleasure comes from the character studies and quiet plotting. Then, in one of the most shocking moments in literature, Anna throws herself under a train and dies and you are stupefied. One of my friends always says, of Anna Karenina, “if you only read one ‘old’ book in your whole life, have it be this one.” Agreed.

    Something Happened, by Joseph Heller
    You’ll spend more than 400 pages reading about not much happening, rolling around in the protagonist’s brain as he goes to work, cares for his son, and fantasizes about the secretary. I can’t tell you what happens, though. That would ruin the book completely. 

    Kidding, obviously. The whole point, here, is to ruin your enjoyment of surprising books!

    Slocum’s son is a weakling because Slocum never made him go to gym class. This son gets hit by a car. In sadness and despair, Slocum hugs him to death. I mean that very literally, not the new kind of “literally.” Slocum hugs his son until he dies from squeezing. 

    Even with the surprises spoiled, reading these books is still a worthwhile endeavor. You’re going to read all of them, right? What’s the best book twist you’ve ever read?

    The post DO NOT READ THIS POST: The 10 Biggest Book Spoilers, Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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