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Riot Round-Up: The Best Books We Read In July

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Jessi Lewis

Staff Writer

Jessi Lewis has her MFA in fiction and an MA in Writing and Rhetoric. She was one of the founding editors of Cheat River Review and now works to bring her own fiction, poetry and essays to eyes each month.     Twitter: @jessiwrit

We asked our contributors to share the best book they read this month. We’ve got fiction, nonfiction, YA, and much, much more- there are book recommendations for everyone here! Some are old, some are new, and some aren’t even out yet. Enjoy and tell us about the highlight of your reading month in the comments.


astonish meAstonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

I will admit that when my book club chose Astonish Me, I was unhappy. I thought it was going to be just another book about rich white East/West coasters and their “problems.” Well, shame on me for literally judging this book by its cover. Astonish Me is a multi-generational story about ballet dancers in New York, California, and Europe, and while I liked the story, what drew me into this book was Shipstead’s transcendent writing. Somehow, this book was able to be fairly light on the dance descriptions but still make me feel like I was dancing. There was a lightness, a ballon if you’ll forgive me, to the writing that lifted up even the most unpleasant situations. It was an excellent reminder that I don’t have to like anyone in the book to love the book itself. — Jesse Doogan

between the world and meBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I have always admired Ta-Nehisi Coates’ writing for The Atlantic and I picked this up right as the buzz about it was reaching an apex, so I had extremely high expectations. Right from the beginning it took my breath away with this line: “But race is the child of racism, not the father.” The entire book, line-by-line, absolutely floored me. Written in the form of a letter from Coates to his son on the topic of being black in America, it is memoir and history and manifesto and survival guide all rolled into one. It is raw and personal and brilliant and I want to force it on everyone I know or see. Toni Morrison called this book “required reading,” so really need I say more? — Valerie Michael

The Body Where I Was Born by Guadalupe NettelThe Body Where I Was Born by Guadalupe Nettel, transl. J.T. Lichtenstein

If you shoved Elena Ferrante and Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man together and then changed it to be about a Mexican girl, this is the book you’d get…sort of. Our narrator is telling the story of her childhood to her therapist, beginning with when she was born with a deformity in her eye (and her parents’ never-ending attempts to fix it), up through her adolescence. We follow this world-wise young kid through her childhood home in Mexico City to the south of France and to America and back again as she learns to live in her body and with her artistic self. If you’ve been waiting for a coming-of-age writer’s novel from a woman’s perspective, your wait is over. — Amanda Nelson

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley

As is his wont, Walter Mosley jumps across genres in this fantastic romp of a read. I could not get enough of Debbie, a porn star who quits the endless loop just in time for her “producer” husband to die not only in his mistress’ arms but in a pile of debt. This book is snarky, sexy, and as unstoppable as its main character. — Hannah Depp

an ember in the ashesAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I put this one on my list after seeing it on Book Riot’s Recommended Summer Reading list and I am not sorry. You know the wild and tortured noises people make at the television while watching sports? That’s how I sounded while reading this gripping story about a slave and a military student living the Damn the Man lifestyle. I was absolutely on edge. I’m thrilled that I don’t live in the iron grip of the Martial Empire where torture elicits cheers and your face is a mask, but I’m also glad Tahir brought this fictional world to life and imbued it with magic. The story of a scholar girl turned slave risking it all to save her brother and a military student fighting the destiny of violence he was born into, this young adult fantasy is all about sacrifice. If you’re looking for suspense, romance, and dark waters, this is your book. — S. Zainab Williams

The English Spy by Daniel SilvaThe English Spy by Daniel Silva

The fifteenth in Silva’s spy/thriller series, this novel is as good as anything Silva’s ever written. As Gabriel Allon prepares for the birth of twins and his new job as director of Israeli Intelligence, an old friend from MI6 asks for one last favor: find the assassin who killed a British princess (obviously modeled on Princess Di). There are hints of Allon’s typical enemies working in the background, namely Iran and Russia, but the heart of the story focuses on a former IRA bomber and it takes Allon into new territory and locations. It’s difficult to breathe new life into such a long-running series, but Silva did it with this book. Instead of using Allon’s extensive history as a crutch, it only enhances the characters and background of the novel. I also loved the interplay between Allon and his sidekick, of sorts, Christopher Keller. The story is super-intense from the beginning, with a clever villain who’s more than a match for Allon. The only question now is, where will the series go once Allon is promoted? As Graham Seymour said, they write novels about spies, not spy directors. Will Keller take over as the books’ main character? Personally I can’t wait to find out! — Tasha Brandstatter

Falling In Love with Hominids by Nalo HopkinsonFalling In Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

After I finished this book, I wanted to just hug it to my chest and sigh contentedly. Falling In Love With Hominids hooked me from the introduction. Every story feels like a perfectly formed separate entity, but pulling them together is the effortless blending of the fantastic and the mundane. These are exactly the kind of stories that I love: rooted in reality without being restricted by it, populated by dynamic and compelling diverse characters, and varying in subject and tone throughout. Expect horror happily sidling up to a cozy domestic narrative about a missing chicken. Nalo Hopkinson’s brief introductions to each story just added more interest to each, and added her to my list of authors that I want to bump into at a coffee shop. Despite my bewilderment at reading The Chaos, this collection plus The Salt Roads has solidified my need to read through her entire backlist. – Danika Ellis

fates and furiesFates and Furies by Lauren Groff

I didn’t read many books in July, but I think even if I’d read as many as usual Fates and Furies would still be at the top of my list. Fates and Furies is the story of a marriage between Lotto, an artist, and his wife, Mathilde, and follows their lives together beginning when they meet in college. When I started reading the book I didn’t realize that the structure was more complicated that it seemed. At first it seems to be this rather straightforward story of an artistic man and the woman who throws herself to support him. But of course Groff is a more nuanced and interesting writer than that – by the end, the book surprised me with when it had gone in the best possible way. I don’t want to say more than that because I want everyone to experience this book for themselves. I personally can’t wait to pick this one up again when it comes out in September. — Kim Ukura

the-fifth-season-coverThe Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is one hell of a storyteller. For anyone who’s read her other work, either in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series or her Dreamblood duology, I sound like Captain Obvious right now. She knows how to deftly juggle complicated, fiercely interesting characters and their even more complicated relationships, against backdrops of magic, godhood, betrayal, love, friendship and beyond. She doesn’t shy from anything; she fearlessly plumbs our greatest fears, histories, and tragedies: losing someone you love, enslavement, disenfranchisement, hate, war, injury, loss of faith, and more.

With her latest novel, Jemisin takes all of her strengths and makes something brand new that I think may be one of her greatest books yet. An unstable planet prone to terrible tectonics and warfare is broken by a madman and plunged into cataclysm, as volcanos erupt, continents split, and the sky grows heavy with ash. In this disaster, a woman comes home to find her son dead, beaten to death by his father, her husband, because he was an orogene: one who can control and absorb the energy of the earth beneath them, and so much more. Reeling, she goes to find her remaining daughter, and save her; if she kills her husband, too, all the better. Jemisin uses her journey and two other POVs to paint a beautiful, harrowing, tragic world, where there are mysteries miles deep in every direction, characters who must fight for even the idea of personhood in a society that hates them, and ultimately learn to survive on a world that wants to kill them, by any means possible. There’s just so, so, SO much more I want to say, but this book is so awesome, I don’t want to give a single thing up. Read this, please, and I hope you’re as blown away as I was. — Martin Cahill

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

We at Book Riot are all kind of stumped how to talk about the awesomeness of this Lit-Fic book about boyhood. The best I can do is: Read this. It has Mortal Kombat and evil river spirits, and it will break your heart. — Rachel Smalter Hall

Gentleman’s AgreementGentleman’s Agreement by Laura Z. Hobson

For those still recovering from their clear-eyed views of Atticus Finch: a balm. Hobson’s book was a runaway bestseller once, and received lots of critical acclaim–but that was in the late 1940s, and I’m just getting to it now. The gist is this: Schuyler Green arrives in New York to be a staff writer at a major liberal magazine, and his editor assigns him a series on anti-Semitism. Green is a method writer, though, and resolves to do something a little controversial: he’ll live for a while as a Jewish man, and write the series about prejudice as it is experienced. (This isn’t Dolezal territory, I promise. It’s a little squidgy, but it’s not letting anyone wiggle free from blame, even Schuyler Green.) What he ends up finding is that, while of course he’s offended by those who wear their bigotry on their sleeves, he has a far harder time dealing with the embarrassed complicity of the “nice” people who enjoy their privileges and don’t do much to change the status quo. Even today, these indictments of those who don’t preach prejudice,  but who help it quietly along, ring true. And–though you should read the book first; the book is always better!–the secondary good news is that there’s a movie. A Gregory Peck one. So. Hobson for the win?  — Michelle Anne Schingler

georgeGeorge by Alex Gino (Scholastic, August 25)

All George wants is to play Charlotte in her fourth grade production of Charlotte’s Web; the only problem is Charlotte is a “girl’s” part and everyone sees George as a boy. But in her heart she knows if her classmates, family, and friends could just see her on stage as Charlotte, they would see her as she truly is regardless of how she appears. George introduces transgender as an identity to an age group that has nothing (currently) comparable in fiction. It approaches the subject in a clear, positive, and relatable way, answering questions for cisgender and transgender alike. I am so excited for this book to be available to everyone because I think everyone will benefit from its message. — Emma Nichols

the girl on the trainThe Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

This book kept showing up on my Twitter feed (where I follow a lot of bookish people) so I thought I would give it a go. I knew next to nothing going in but I was immediately hooked as the story twisted and turned into an unexpected ending. For a large chunk of the book there are several theories as to what is going on and who is responsible for it – and the fact that they all seem plausible drove me crazy until the real answer was revealed. This book reminded me of Gone Girl a lot – but it’s a thousand times better! — Nicole Froio

the incarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker (Touchstone, August 18)

I’m glad fellow rioter Derek selected The Library at Mount Char because that made my selection easy. It also made me realize my pick had come down to two deliciously dark books so I guess I can add that to my genre kryptonite… The Incarnations is really a perfect blend of mystery, contemporary fiction, and historical fiction done in a very dark and intense way that I can’t say I’ve read before. The story begins with Wang, a taxi driver who starts to receive letters from someone who must be watching him. TOTALLY normal for a thriller type book–except it’s someone claiming to be Wang’s soulmate and proceeds to tell him, through letters left in frightening ways, about his previous lives and their very different relationships in them. Naturally this starts causing havoc in his current life and on his mental state. Oh, and did I mention this book has eunuchs? It does. Eunuchs. (I just wanted to get to say it a second time.)  — Jamie Canaves

The Heiress Effect by Courtney MilanThe Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

I’m slowly making my way through Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series and the second book in the series doesn’t disappoint. Oliver Marshall is the bastard son of a duke made good, who wants to make his political dreams a reality for the betterment of the English working class; to do that he needs to please the right people, with a demure, appropriate wife by his side. Jane Fairfield is anything but – her beloved little sister’s wellbeing depends on Jane to stick around, meaning Jane has to be as loud, obnoxious and generally unmarriageable as possible. The obstacles facing our hero and heroine are fresh and unique and the tension is, too; Oliver and Jane represent a real meeting of the minds (ahem, among other bits).

One of the things I love about the Brothers Sinister series is the way it celebrates all kinds of love – romantic love, yes, but also familial love and the love of close friends. My sister is my best friend so I am a sucker for any book that pays tribute to that sisterly bond in general. Combine that with socially-conscious nineteenth century historical fiction plus a sexy, passionate and witty romance and I am so hooked. Plus, while all of Courtney Milan’s heroines feel familiar in some way, the too-much, “impossible girl” definitely resonated with me. I can’t wait for the next book! — Maddie Rodriguez

Lady Be Good by Meredith DuranLady Be Good by Meredith Duran

After reading Lady be Good, I have no idea why, despite loving four of Duran’s other historical romances, I haven’t read the first two books in this series (Rules for the Reckless). Duran is known for writing dark, angsty romances and this one doesn’t disappoint. There’s a lot of plot with a former criminal reluctantly pulling off one last heist who crosses paths with a war hero trying to save his family from a madman. But I read Duran mainly for the writing and the characterization. When the hero thinks, “The mystery she posed was no product of his boredom. She deserved his fascination,” I learn about both the hero and heroine. People often associate romance with lightness, sexiness, and joy, and those are present, but Duran is equally adept at writing heartbreak, pain, and fear, all elements of an intense love relationship. Duran is not only one of my personal favorite authors, but one of the best writers in the genre, and with Lady Be Good she is at the top of her game. — Jessica Tripler

the library at mount charThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The first time I started reading Library, a few months ago, I stopped after a couple of pages. The book begins in a somewhat-abstruse, high-fantasy mode that I’m only ever sometimes in the mood for. Sorta gods, weird libraries, special abilities, mysteriousness abounding…stuff like that. But then fellow Riot-er Liberty started singing the book’s praises, and given that we often trade favorites back and forth (see Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen, e.g.), I thought I’d give it one more try. And thank Zeus. Because while The Library at Mount Char begins all high-fantasy, it soon gets a lot richer and more engrossing by leavening its complicated fantasy elements with quirky, funny, off-kilter plot threads and ancillary characters. It’s gory. It’s funny. It’s odd. It’s incredibly engrossing. And there are lions. — Derek Attig

life-changing magic of tidying upThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I was a little late to the KonMari party, but I’ve become a total evangelist for this magical little book! I first picked it up with the intention of giving it to a certain someone else, but eventually I realized that would be an extremely passive-aggressive move on my part. And then it was just sitting there, which annoyed me (I keep a very tidy home) so I decided to leaf through it and then get rid of it. Surely I didn’t need advice on cleaning my house…but at least I could see what all the fuss was about. Well, once again, I find myself picking my favorite read of the month largely on the basis of a book having far exceeded my expectations. Never in a million years did I imagine that reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up would have such an impact on my day-to-day levels of “joy,” as Marie Kondo would phrase it. Just looking at my socks neatly arrayed in their drawer, folded once and stood on end, makes me happy every time I open that drawer. Which is pretty much every day. And every time I open the closet that has been gloriously purged of items I rarely or never wear, a feeling of calm washes over me; I can see my remaining clothes hanging prettily, with a nice sliver of space between each garment instead of all smooshed up together like commuters on the Tokyo subway. Marie Kondo is fond of reminding you that your clothes seek joy, too, and that if you allow them to be their best selves you will feel their appreciation. It sounds corny, but I have to admit: I kinda do. And beyond the practical application of keeping an even tidier home than I already did, I’ve internalized a number of Marie Kondo’s lessons that have further-reaching applications than my bureau drawers. For example, she talks about people who can’t get rid of an item of clothing because they spent a lot of money on it, even though every time they take it out of the closet, they put it right back: it’s too tight, too short, too itchy, etc. She explains that this item of clothing has already fulfilled its purpose and provided value: it has shown you that you don’t look good in horizontal stripes; or that your inseam is really one inch longer; or that no matter how great it looks on a mannequin, that wool tank top is going to drive an actual person with actual skin absolutely crazy. You spent that money to learn those lessons, so you don’t have to feel like it was “wasted” if you want to get rid of the item of clothing. For me, that lesson was a gateway to a whole new way of thinking about lots of things in life, not just my sock drawer. I’m telling you: magic.  — Sarah Knight

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

Locomotion follows eleven-year-old Lonnie on his journey to process his complex emotions into poetry. Through his writing and his words, we learn about his parent’s death, being placed in separate foster care homes from his sister, and navigating tricky school situations and friendships. Woodson’s verse is perfectly done, and it made me want to root for Lonnie, celebrate with him, and hope for his future. I would recommend this book for all middle grade audiences and beyond. — Karina Glaser

No God But God by Reza AslanNo god But God by Reza Aslan

It’s no secret that I have an intellectual crush on Reza Aslan. I adored Zealot and was charmed by Aslan’s ability to present a complicated history and an important mythology with clarity and precision. In No God But God, Aslan uses the same skilled hand to offer a history not only of the religion of Islam, but how Islam came to be practiced as it is today in all its variety all over the world. You will learn a lot from No God But God, especially about Islamic cultural practices and their Quaranic (or lack of Quaranic) roots. Aslan is clear-eyed about the challenges facing contemporary Islam and offers helpful evidence for dismantling arguments against the faith (useful if, you know, you’re friends with Bill Maher — or just spend a lot of time on the internet). But the real joy is Aslan’s prose. As an academic, I know how distressingly rare it is to find an writer with strong scholarly chops and an accessible writing voice. It’s the way Aslan teaches on the page that I find so endearing. I’ll read anything he cares to write. — Brenna Clarke Gray

out of darknessOut of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez (Carolrhoda LAB, September 1)

This Romeo & Juliet revisioning takes place in 1930s East Texas, and it’s a gut-punch of a novel. Told in alternating viewpoints, this is a story about a Mexican American girl coming to terms with her family’s heritage, a white man’s interest in everything ownership and power, a black man’s interest in being and doing nothing but good things in the world, and so much more. There’s a romance here, and it’s all set atop the historical New London school explosion, the worst school disaster in American history — without having to say much more than that, I suspect you know where the comparison to the most famous star-crossed lovers story earns its place.

What makes this book so powerful is how it looks directly at the lives and stories of immigrant and minorities in American history. There are too few historical novels, let alone YA historical novels, where these voices are given an opportunity to be seen and heard. Though tragic, Perez offers up so much emotional heft and so much compassion for ordinary lives that it’s impossible not to fall in love with these characters, their stories, and feel the weight of history upon them. There is immense sense of place here, too. Powerful, painful, raw, and easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. — Kelly Jensen

Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

The library I frequent has this awesome rotating display near the front with our librarians’ suggested reads, and I spotted Persepolis during a recent visit. I’d heard about it for ages, but I never went out of my way to look for it because I’m always intimidated by reading books that come so strongly recommended. Anyway, Persepolis is a memoir about the author’s childhood in Iran, and it covers her daily life, the political climate she grew up in, happy moments, and sad ones. And more – it’s more than that, and I can’t really describe it all in one paragraph. It’s accessible and funny and sad and an important read about hope and revolution and being pulled in different directions, and having super supportive parents. I read it in one sitting, and you can too. — Kristina Pino

The Serpent King by Jeff ZentnerThe Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Crown, March 8th, 2016)

It’s an odd thing, picking up a book and discovering a character you know you would be best friends with. Just a few chapters into Zenter’s debut and I was in love. The story of the only son of a Pentecostal minister (who handles poisonous rattlesnakes and ends up in prison), The Serpent King immediately introduces you to a trio of quirky characters. The novel shifts perspectives between three friends, Travis, Lydia, and Dill, each with their own memorable, distinctive voice and place in the world. The novel’s focus is on Dill, and the struggles he has with graduation looming, his family’s poverty, and his father’s shattered legacy. But then there is Lydia, the fashionista power-blogger, and Travis, my new fictional BFF, who walks around with a Renaissance fair pewter dragon necklace, a staff, and his favorite fantasy novel everywhere he goes. We would have been inseparable in high school. A moving debut novel of friendship and forgiveness that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it, I’m calling it now… The Serpent King is already one of my favorite books of 2016. – Eric Smith

shadowshaperShadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Actually, Shadowshaper is tied with The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson for my favorite of the month, and these will be two of the books that define my summer 2015 reading. Both are about strong, awesome young women and both take on the power of art for both individuals and society as a whole. Shadowshaper is set in roughly contemporary Brooklyn; The Summer Prince, futuristic Brazil. But Older’s Sierra and Johnson’s June have so very much in common, and I’m so happy I accidentally read these books so close together. They interlace beautifully. Notice I didn’t give anything away, plot-wise? That’s my gift to you. Read them both, back to back if ya nasty. — Jeanette Solomon

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

At this point, I’m really about as bandwagon as you can get with this book. Everyone seems to love it and for damn good reason. Station Eleven, loaded with brilliant King Lear references, is probably one of the most creative takes on the post-apocalyptic genre. What’s most remarkable is Mandel’s deft ability to seamlessly weave current technology into the grim, uninhabited expanse. She reveals the generational disconnect created by the remembrance and loss of modernity with ease, making for an addicting and engrossing read. This is the kind of book you lose your lunch break to, as well as any other spare moment you have until reaching the final page. — Aram Mrjoian

Tale of Sand by Jim HensonTale of Sand by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, “as realized by” Ramón K. Pérez

Until I read Tale Of Sand, I’d thought the strangest tales of the American Southwest came from Welcome To Night Vale and peyote. The “lost” screenplay (read: too weird to film, too rare and good to remain in a box forever) was first written in 1967 by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl (Muppet writer), then illustrated into graphic novel form in 2011 by Ramón K. Pérez. Our main character is a young man who winds up being chased through the surrealist desert this side of Tatooine, where light switches in rocks turn off the sun, lions leap out of limousines, and demon-eyed linebackers team up with Arab sheiks to aid the mysterious one-eyed antagonist in his pursuit of our hero. Seriously, this book is a trip, visually and story-wise, and I encourage you to let it wash all over you in tones of Big Bird yellow and Fozzie Bear brown and Aughra’s red dress crimson. — Sean-Patrick Burke

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and BabbageThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua

One part graphic novel, one part biography, Padua takes the lives of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, who are almost universally credited with inventing the first computer…in the mid-19th century. Padua fills each page of wonderful illustrations with amazing anecdotes, celebrity guest appearances, fascinating facts, and enough footnotes to rival David Foster Wallace. She also imagines an alternate reality for the dynamic duo. A much happier one. This book is the most epic of nerdpurrs, and I really, really, really, really hope she does something else like this. — Liberty Hardy

Ubik by Philip K. DickUbik by Philip K. Dick

I read this in preparation for my book club’s discussion next month, the theme of which is science fiction. It’s about a battle between individuals with immense powers called Psi and their foes called the Intertials, people whose sole powers involve canceling out the Psi. I highly suggest keeping yourself in the dark before delving into this book to preserve the subjective nature of the narrative. This book took me by surprise. I knew of Philip K. Dick’s reputation for taking bananapants ideas and turning them up to eleven, but I didn’t know how propulsive his storytelling actually is, missing the expository lag that I have come to expect from science fiction worldbuilding. The book hits the ground running and never looks back.  It’s like the TV show Heroes if it is told against the backdrop of the ’60s–complete with the shag carpeting, ultra-loud synthetic fabrics, and surveillance paranoia. — Kristel Autencio

When The Facts Change- Essays, 1995-2010When The Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010 by Tony Judt

Tony Judt is an intellectual focus puller. This collection of essays from one of the biggest brains of the last few decades cuts through the murky mud-slinging that usually accompanies several huge issues (the War on Terror; Israel/Palestine, how and why Europe and the US diverge) and instead brings a humane clarity to these knotty subjects. Judt, who died in 2010, gives voice and detail to any fuzzy instincts you may have about the situation in the Middle East, the militarisation of the US, and the future of the European Union. Plus, he loves trains. Therefore, I love him. His essays from the 1990s identifying big holes in the centre of the latter subject have, in light of the recent Greek crisis, been acclaimed as prophetic. Judt isn’t the Oracle. He is just an incredibly rigorous and knowledgeable man, equally a student of history as of human fallibility (arguably they are one and the same). He is someone who knows which way the wind is blowing. That makes him someone worth listening to. — Edd McCracken

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth HandWylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

I’m a huge fan of Hand’s writing, and her latest, Wylding Hall, a novella in the style of an oral history about the recording of the greatest album of a folk band that never existed, became one of my favorites of hers as soon as I read it. It’s a haunted story, haunted by the shared pasts of the people telling the bits and pieces of what happened during that summer at Wylding Hall, an ancient house in the isolated British countryside. It’s haunted by music, and poetry, like the verses of Thomas Campion that open the book. And it’s haunted by something darker and stranger and more wonderful and terrible as well. I had literal chills when I finished reading it. This is a book that will be on my best of the year list for sure. – Kat Howard