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  • Joel Cunningham 8:18 pm on 2014/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , charles duhigg, , , diana setterfield, how to be a woman, , , , , , , , , , the shining girls, the thirteenth tale, , walter michael, , , zoo city   

    What to Read Next If You Liked Broken Monsters, Voyager, The Marshmallow Test, The Paying Guests, or Not That Kind of Girl 

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    IMG_8572Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes, is the second creepy serial killer thriller from the author after her breakout success last year, The Shining Girls. And while she does this kind of thing—creepy murder tableaus, cynical investigating officers, a dash of the supernatural—very well, I don’t want anyone to discount where she got her start: the sci-fi & fantasy aisle. Her 2010 urban fantasy Zoo City, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, is one of the best books I’ve ever read, if judged on a scale pitting the outlandishness of the premise (a murder mystery set in an alternate South Africa where criminals’ guilt is outwardly manifested by the sudden appearance of spirit animals they must carry with them) against the author’s ability to sell you on it.

    With the Outlander TV series in full swing, newcomers to the Diana Gabaldon phenomenon have probably had enough time to sink a little deeper into the novels. If you’ve made it as far as, oh, Voyager and are looking for a breather that’s still in the same wheelhouse, try Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier. Inspired by a Celtic myth, this historical fantasy mixes romance, a touch of magic, and an immersive setting into a meal that will satisfy any fan of Jamie and Claire.

    The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control, by Walter Michael, unpacks the famous experiment monitoring children’s ability to delay gratification in the face of greater reward to explain how our brains react when we want something, and how to better control them. For another fascinating book that explores the weird ways we’re wired, pick up The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.

    The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters, is the latest nouveau-Victorian masterpiece from the British author, blending the tropes of murder mystery and romance novels with Dickensian characters and rich prose. For another literary mystery that harks back to an earlier era in the life of the novel, read The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. The one-more-chapter-before-bed plot involves a tight-lipped novelist, a snooping biographer, and a whole closet full of skeletons.

    Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham, the creator of HBO’s Girls, promises to be one of the frankest, funniest, and most talked about books of the year. While you wait for its release, try reading How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran, a British newspaper columnist whose hilarious, unfiltered musings have earned her comparisons to everyone from Tina Fey to, yes, Lena Dunham.

    Have you read any of these books?

  • Joel Cunningham 6:00 pm on 2014/06/12 Permalink
    Tags: china dolls, congratulations by the way: some thoughts on kindness, dresden files, , frog music, , here we stand: 600 inspiring messages from the world's best commencement addresses, hounded, , iron druid chroniclaes, , , , , , side effects may very, skin game, , , , the shining girls, ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked The Fault in Our Stars, Skin Game, Mr. Mercedes, China Dolls,or Congratulations, By the Way 

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    IMG_6440What’s that? You’ve cried your eyes sandpaper dry and rent all your garments reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars then watching the movie and then reading it again and filling a bathtub with your tears, and you’re still looking for a book that will give you all the feels? Try Side Effects May Vary, by Julie Murphy. It doesn’t reproduce the exact cocktail of love, angst, and bittersweet parting of Green’s beloved book, but it’s a worthy readalike: a 16-year-old girl discovers she’s dying and creates a bucket list of revenge, enlisting her lovesick friendzoned pal to help her carry it out, but is thrown for a loop (and forced to reevaluate her unexpectedly continuing life) when her cancer goes into remission.

    If Charlaine Harris is the queen of urban fantasy, then Jim Butcher is king: his mega-popular Dresden Files series just hit the top spot on the best-seller lists again with book 15, Skin Game. If you’re all caught up on the adventures of that supernatural detective from Chicago, take a look at Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, starting with Hounded. The series is a fast-moving blend of fantasy tropes and Irish folklore starring Atticus O’Sullivan, a 2,000-year-old druid living on the down low as a bookshop owner (swoon!) and occasionally running afoul of one grumpy deity or another.

    With Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King ramps down his penchant for the supernatural to focus on a more mundane evil, resulting in a detective novel that is all the more terrifying for the plausible banality of the murderous fiend at its center. If you’re looking for another great read that takes you much too far inside the mind of a killer, The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes, should fit the bill; King himself praised it for its clever prose and spunky heroine in The Times U.K., and not just because he hoped it would increase accidental sales of The Shining.

    China Dolls, by Lisa See, takes readers behind the curtain at Forbidden City, an all-Chinese cabaret operating in San Francisco in the 1930s, and tells the story of three of its desirable dancing girls, each with her own troubled, fascinating history. Though at its core a much bleaker story of murder and revenge, Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue, offers a similarly engrossing journey into the past, with another strong female character at its center—Blanche Buenon, a French burlesque dancer determined to bring her friend’s killers to justice.

    In the brief Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, award-winning author George Saunders offers a few reflections on how living a better life means living a kinder life. His remarks, originally delivered in a graduation address at Syracuse University, were published in the New York Times and went viral. If you’re looking for more nuggets of wisdom from some great speakers for the recent grad in your life, Here We Stand: 600 Inspiring Messages from the World’s Best Commencement Addresses has you covered, with speeches by everyone from J.K. Rowling to Dr. Ruth.

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