Here is what the Rioters are reading today (as in literally today). This is what’s on their bedside table (or the floor, work bag, desk, whatevskis). See a Rioter who is reading your favorite book? I’ve included the link that will take you to their author archives (meaning, that magical place that organizes what they’ve written for the site). Gird your loins – this list combined with all of those archived posts will make your TBR list EXPLODE.
We’ve shown you ours, now show us yours; let us know what you’re reading (right this very moment) in the comment section below!
Firstborn (Descendants of the House of Bathory) by Tosca Lee (Howard Books, May 2): Binge-watching all three seasons of Penny Dreadful last week has made me nostalgic for all the historical murder I read about as a ghoulish teen. (Is ‘ghoulish teen’ redundant?) Reading up on recent books about Countess Elizabeth Báthory led me to this series, about one of her descendants. This is the second book – I inhaled the first one earlier in the day. (e-galley)
The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel: See the Penny Dreadful excuse above. Give me all your historical murder book recommendations, please and thank you. (hardcover)
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (Coffee House Press, June 6): I’m willing to bet that this book’s cover ends up being my favorite cover of 2017. I can’t stop staring at it. I hear the book is amazing, too. (galley)
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal (Picador, May 2): Also in love with this cover. (I am a Henry Sene Yee fangirl.) The description of the book had me at “Reminiscent of Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House, Ayad Akhtar’s American Dervish, and Jade Chang’s The Wangs vs. the World.” (galley)
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: I’m not sure how I didn’t read this sooner. I think I wasn’t in the mood for something this heavy. Now I’m crying while listening to it at the gym. (audiobook)
Glaxo by Hernan Ronsino, translated by Samuel Rutter (Melville House, January 2017): Gotta get those small press reader copies in for January, and this Latin American mystery caught my eye. (e-galley)
The Gloaming by Melanie Finn: I had tucked a copy of this away earlier this year and somehow tucked it away so well I didn’t ever read it–rectifying that now, since it’s from my fave small press, Two Dollar Radio. (trade paperback)
Shrill by Lindy West: West is so fascinating, funny, and talented– I can see why her book is earning so much praise. I wish I could listen to this book for the first time again. And again. (audiobook)
The Mothers by Britt Bennett: This book didn’t initially jump out at me. However, I was at my favorite bookstore last week and an employee recommended it so fervently I walked out with a copy. She was so right. I think about the characters throughout the day and look forward to returning to them each evening. (hardcover)
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: This one I originally heard about from a rave, thoughtful, smart review of it by Casey Plett. (Spoilers abound though, in that review, so beware). The audiobook has won me over, and has already made me cry twice. (audiobook)
The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett: The last of Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books, the last of the Discworld series, and the last of Pratchett’s remarkable life. I’m sad and humbled reading this book, and I’m sure to be teary by the end.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Picked this up after my #pitchwars co-mentor said it was a comp title for the book we had chosen to mentor this year. I had trouble paying attention when it first started, but it picks up about halfway through. (Library audiobook)
Fairest by Marissa Meyer: Decided to read this primarily so I can figure out how Levana became the absolutely terrible person she is in the rest of the series. I just keep thinking how fortuitous it is that Cinder also didn’t grow up there (yes, like she’s a real person). (audiobook)
What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang: This has been on my Overdrive “wishlist” for so long and I finally felt in the mood for it! (Library Audiobook)
Girls made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust: I’m currently reading Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, a feminist reimagining of “Snow White” that won’t hit shelves for quite a while. It’s definitely the sort of book you sink into slowly rather than one that grabs you from the first page, but I’ve been fascinated with the character choices so far. It tells the tale of both the Snow White character and the stepmother character, their ambitions, and their choices in romance – including, for Snow White, falling for the lady surgeon that moves to her castle. Give me queer fairy tale retellings any day of the week. (advanced reader’s copy, Flatiron Books, September 5 2017)
The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand: My reread of all the Laura Florand books continues! (ebook)
Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L Sayers: I feel somewhat guilty for only ever having read one Sayers book, so I’m trying to correct that. (audiobook)
But First, Champagne by David White: I mean, champagne. (hardcover)
Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M. M. Blume. I’ve read Sun three times now, and have always been mystified why Hemingway left his wife Hadley out of this highly autobiographical novel. Hope this book solves that mystery.
Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman, which I find absolutely riveting, even though I’m an atheist. Friedman’s textual analysis is a brilliantly deduced extension of the documentary hypothesis that began its evolution in the 18th century. I keep trying to read The Old Testament, which scholars call the Hebrew bible, but always bog down in the sections everyone traditionally finds boring. Friedman has made these tedious parts significant, and exciting, by explaining who wrote them and why. The Bible is far more compelling when you believe humans wrote it, rather than it being the word of God.
Love in Lower Case by Francesc Miralles, transl. Julie Wark — I’ve been curious about this book for a while about a lonely languages professor for a while and when I spotted it on a table during the Politics and Prose member sale I took the plunge. It’s charming so far. (Paperback)
Beyond Clueless by Linas Alsenas: Was looking for a lighthearted contemporary YA book at the library and decided to give this a try! (hardcover)
A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin: I read both Shirley Jackson’s memoirs early this year and have thus become slightly obsessive about the author. Franklin’s biography is a thorough and fascinating look at not only Jackson, but also her husband, the writer Stanley Edgar Hyman, and the historical and social context in which they lived and wrote. (audiobook)
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics Books, Feb 14): My partner read this book and described it as Harriet the Spy meets Maus steeped in pulp horror imagery. How could you not pick that up? (paperback)
All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey (Grand Central, Feb 7): It’s a collection of essays about female figures – Sylvia Plath, Winona Ryder, Gwyneth Paltrow, Courtney Love, and more – and how their lives and crafted images collide with female reality. I wanted to read it because I’m a big pop culture junkie. I’m loving it. (galley)
Abandon Me: Memoirs by Melissa Febos (Bloomsbury, Feb): I’m interviewing her for a literary site, and having read her first memoir, Whip Smart, I was eager to read more of her razor-sharp corporeal writing. (galley)
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (Harper, April 18): Her writing will rip the breath from your lungs and slowly siphon it back to you, resuscitating things you never knew you could feel. (galley)
Kindred by Octavia Butler: A fellow Book Rioter recommended this book when I was putting together a post on books that should be made into movies. The premise intrigued me. And my mom just bought me a copy for Christmas! (Paperback)
Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein: I really enjoyed Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter, but I held off on reading her latest because I worried it played into alarmist attitudes about teen sexuality. But the book became such a cultural phenomenon that, as someone who writes about female sexuality for a living, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t give it a go. (Ebook)
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick: A fan of her Twitter life, I was excited to read Anna Kendrick’s memoir with the biting, quick-witted humor she seems to bring to everything. Kendrick was very open about some intimate moments in her life, taking the book from traditional celebrity memoir to an opportunity to gain self-awareness for her readers. Her wide-eyed surprise at where her life has taken her is endearing and serves to make her story relatable. (audiobook)
Flying Lessons edited by Ellen Oh: I am a huge fan of the We Need Diverse Books organization, so I was thrilled to receive an early copy. With short story contributions by Kwame Alexander, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Matt de la Pena, and many others, this collection adds breadth and color to the world of children’s literature.
When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin: I was smart enough to take Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with me to finish while on holiday travel. I was not smart enough to bring my copy of When the Sea Turned to Silver with me as well so that I could start it immediately after finishing Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and re-immerse myself in Lin’s deep and engaging stories. Luckily, I had something to look forward to at the end of my vacation. (Hardcover)
Walking Back to Happiness by Lucy Dillon: Fellow Rioter Jen Sherman turned me on to Dillon in a conversation we had about romantic comedy, and now I’m hooked: finishing Dillon’s Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts almost kept me from Christmas Eve dinner. Thankfully, now that the holidays are over, I should be able to work my way through Dillon’s whole backlist unimpeded by familial obligation. (ebook)
The X-Files Origins, Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia: When I found out there were going to be YA takes on The X-Files, introducing readers to teenage Scully and teenage Mulder, my inner teenager let out a serious scream. And now that I’m halfway through Kami Garcia’s book, which tells Mulder’s story, I can definitely say this is the book I’ve been waiting for since I was a kid. Full of mystery and suspense, with a brooding, tortured main character, it’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for. (Hardcover, January 2017, Imprint
D’Arc (War With No Name #2) by Robert Repino: I definitely talked about Robert Repino’s debut novel, Morte, on here quite a bit, and haven’t shut up about it since it came out. The story of mankind’s war against giant ants and the animals they’ve made sentient, it’s one hell of an apocalyptic Animal Farm… and there’s a sequel. A killer is on the loose at the end of the war, and Morte has to rise to the task once again. It’s just as imaginative and intense as the first book. (ARC, May 2017, Soho)
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton: Just started reading this one. I adored Hamilton’s first book in this series, Rebel of the Sands, and I’m excited to see where she goes with book two… especially since it’s almost twice as long as the first one! (ARC, March 2017, Viking)
Changeless by Gail Carriger: My partner has been wanting me to read this series for months. When I finished the first book, he was very disappointed to realize that the character he was thinking of when recommending it to me doesn’t appear until the second book. I can definitely see why he thought I’d like Madame Lefoux. I also love the steampunk underpinnings and the writing style that blends Victorian sensibilities with modern humor. (Paperback)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore: I have been hearing about this book for years as a Tamora Pierce readalike. Truthfully, I’ve been recommending it in the kids’ section for years, but this is my first time reading it. Unfortunately… I’m not loving it? It might be just not agreeing with me in audiobook format, but it’s not clicking at the moment, partly because I wasn’t prepared for the gruesome villain (trigger warnings for violence, animal abuse, and implied pedophilia). It also seemed like every other page was revealing a new ability that the main character has. I understand that her grace incorporates a lot, and that these graces are an essential part of the world building, but when you’re 2/3 of the way through a book and still discovering more magical abilities the protagonist has, it feels a little over the top. (Audiobook)
Windwitch by Susan Dennard: I loved Truthwitch last year, and I’m excited to return to Iseult and Safi’s adventures in this sequel. It promises to expand the intricate world and mythos that Dennard’s created, giving us new character perspectives to mull over. (ARC)
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess: I started reading this fantasy novel a few months ago, and while I liked the first few chapters, I never did quite manage to finish it. (Hardcover)
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: In Lee’s newest novel, we follow a Korean family through the last hundred years of history, seeing each generation. I haven’t read a historical novel in a little while, and this book might be just what I need. (ARC)
The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill: for my mystery book group. I think opinions will be very divided in book group discussion, but at about three-quarters of the way through, I’m enjoying this. (Paperback)
A Greater Music by Bae Suah (translated by Deborah Smith): I hope to read more books in translation in 2017 and also more books from small presses, and this book hits both those goals. (ebook)
Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild: This text is from the 1950s, about two girls who get shuttled off to their aunt’s dancing school after their mother dies. Hilary was already adopted, but Rachel takes after their mother and vows to make sure she becomes a dancer. So far the prose is enjoyable, and speaks of a different time. The dancing, and the realities of the times make for different world, when clothes were still handmade and a child could become a star in the movies without drug abuse.
The Space Opera Renaissance edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer – My beta reader said that the story I had brainstormed wasn’t space opera. This rankled me for a few days. I’ve decided to absorb all I can from this short story collection, so that I can learn how to write it.
The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley: I’ve been making my way through Mosley’s very extensive back catalog and I’m kicking myself for never having read this one–I mean the premise alone is so interesting, added with Mosley’s always fantastic characters I’m loving it. (paperback)
A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn: A mystery with an MC I love that keeps making me laugh literally out loud. I don’t want this book to end! (egalley)
Mockingbird, Vol. 1: I Can Explain (Mockingbird (2016) #1) by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk (Illustrations): I have been dying to read this since the “Ask me about my feminist agenda” cover which made getting this as a holiday gift a great treat. (paperback)
My Life with Earth, Wind, & Fire by Maurice White, Herb Powell, Steve Harvey (Introduction), David Foster (Foreword): This is one of those books that you don’t have to be a fan of the band, music, or even author to get sucked in. And as a bonus Dion Graham is a fantastic narrator who is now on my list of he-could-read-me-a-car-manual and I’d be happy. (audiobook)
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. All the talk about Jackson for her 100th birthday last month put me in the mood to read her. I’ve seen the 1963 movie many times, but hadn’t gotten around to the book. (library paperback)
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. I’ve seen lots of recommendations for Jesmyn Ward’s The Fire This Time, but I decided I wanted to start with the book that inspired it before trying the new collection. (library paperback)
The Wangs Vs the World by Jade Chang. I’m reading some of the books that appeal to me from the Tournament of Books (ridiculously long) long list. (library hardcover)
Capability Brown: Designing the English Landscape by John Phibbs: I found this gorgeous thing on a bookstore table and couldn’t put it down- someone who saw me enthralled bought it for me for Christmas and I’ve been picking up a little bit every day since. It’s about how Capability Brown transformed the English gardening movement- but honestly for me it’s more about falling into the gorgeous photographs that fill this book of parkland and forest and misty vistas of rolling hills dotted with sheep and hedged lanes and wildflowers. If you’re needing something to calm you as you start to face the new year, and this sort of landscape porn is your bag, look no further.
The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell: I’ve come to adore Nancy Mitford’s writing (particularly her biographies) over the past several years, and it was only a hop, skip and a jump over to wanting to know more about the rest of her famous sisters. Lovell’s certainly done her research. While she’s clearly fallen a little bit in love with her subject and you should take things with the grain of salt they therefore deserve, it’s not hard to see why that was the case. The words “epic” and “saga” truly apply here. I’m halfway through and enthralled.
City of Stairs: The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett: Every so often I reach out to my bookfriends and ask for what books have absolutely swept them away lately- and this one came up the last time I asked, and was immediately endorsed by a crowd of “me too!”s as soon as its name came up. I’ve just started it, but I can definitely see where they’re coming from so far.
The Brothers Vonnegut by Ginger Strand. So excited about this because Kurt Vonnegut and his brother’s led bizarre parallels in their lives. Christmas present for the win. (hardcover)
Upstream by Mary Oliver. A long-going poet, Oliver’s short essay work reads more like poetry and has a natural rhythm to it that connects well to its natural content. Loving the depth of this. (hardcover).
Fragile Like Us by Sara Barnard: I have been on a good streak with YA after almost a year of only reading a handful throughout 2016, and this British import sounds right up my alley: complicated friendship of teen girls. The blurb says “no one can break your heart like your best friend” and I think there’s a need for contemporary YA that focuses on friendship rather than romance, because for most teens, those are the defining relationships of that time period. (ARC)
The Cool Factor: A Guide to Achieving Effortless Style with Secrets from the Women Who Have It by Andrea Linett: I have always secretly wanted effortless and cool style, but never knew where to start but have never managed to achieve that. I worked for years where I could wear jeans and t-shirts to work and loved it, but now I’m expected to like, dress up, so I’m slowly trying to figure out a way to do that and still be comfortable and not put a lot of work into it. When browsing for a book on the subject that might help me develop a personal style, this one caught my eye because it has a section on black and white.
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