Book recommendations from two incredible contemporary authors – John Boyne and Gabriel Tallent

Here are two of today’s best contemporary authors on their book recommendations for the upcoming months.

First, John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and more recently The Heart’s Invisible Furies) searches his own private library of over 3,000 titles to proudly display his top ten (see comments from Mr. Boyne for each title):

John Boyne instagram

  • johnboyne So what if you wandered around your house for a couple of hours, looking at 3,000 books and choosing the best 10 novels – from the top down – that you’d ever read? You might find a couple of surprises in there !
  • johnboyne from the top down it’s the go between, David copperfield, cider house rules, my cousin Rachel, wuthering heights, Anna karenina, a widow for one year, what a carve up, northern clemency, tender

Follow John Boyne on Instagram for awesome pics, funny stories, and more book recommendations: @johnboyne

You can also learn more about John Boyne on his web page: www.johnboyne.com

 

Our second contemporary author is Gabriel Tallent. His debut novel My Absolute Darling came out just last year. Stephen King called it “one shattering, can’t-put-it-down book. Both shocking and tender.” Talent posted a list of some of his upcoming reads to social media just a couple of days ago:

gabrielle talent

Mona Lisa Overdrive – Men Explain Things to Me – Annihilation – Treasure Island – Love Me Back – Bleak House – The Things They Carried – Kidnapped – Idaho – A Double Life – Sorry To Disrupt the Peace – The Burning Girl

The only books that I have personally read from Tallent’s stack are Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell and The Things They Carried, so I have my work cut out for me.

You can follow Gabriel Tallent on Facebook: @Gabriel Tallent

Or on Instagram, where you will mostly find pictures in the outdoors all around the Western U.S. : @gabriel_tallent

 

 

 

 

Colson Whitehead in SLC- Winner of the National Book Award for fiction

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I was excited to hear that one of the hottest authors around is making a stop in Utah this week. There are actually three events that you can catch him at around Salt Lake City. See the schedule below. Whitehead has been around for several years and already has a few books under his belt, but his most recent, The Underground Railroad, really brought him into the national and international spotlight. He has been one of the few figures in the world of fiction that has received attention and praise from both literary critics as well as popular media sources. I am happy to call Salt Lake my home, but we just don’t get that many visits from great writers like this. If you are in the area be sure to catch Colson Whitehead at one of these events!

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Colson Whitehead

– Thursday, March 15, noon Q&A and discussion at the Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South.
– Thursday, March 15, 7 p.m Reading and book signing at the Main Library auditorium. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. The event is free, but space is limited.
– Friday, March 16, 7 p.m. Q&A and discussion at Finch Lane Gallery, 54 Finch Lane, Salt Lake City.

Colson Whitehead at Salt Lake City Library

If you can’t make the event you can check out this video of Whitehead discussing his book The Underground Railroad. – Colson Whitehead with Oprah

 

The Alchemist

It’s late, but I had to finish! The Alchemist was incredible in achieving a profound account of an epic journey through several years of a young man’s life, but all within about 170 pages. I was amazed by the author’s ability to create a vivid setting and rich environment with simple, straightforward description in just a few words. It reads like a parable, but appeals to a wide audience and a variety of beliefs. “Everything is created by the same hand…”

This was a great book to start off the new year!

“Now Read This” Book Club

This book club offers exclusive reviews and history behind some of the best contemporary books around. It’s free and easy to join. You get an entire month to read each selection, and you don’t have to worry about arranging your schedule to make the meetings. Join me and several thousand other new friends in this exciting club! The pick for January is an inspiring, insightful, and haunting work from an awesome author who has won several awards for her work… find out who it is in the links below:

New York Times/PBS book club

Facebook group

New design for our newest bookmarks

We recently changed our bookmarks to create a more durable and finished – looking product. The results have been outstanding. We are so excited for you to try one! We are putting the finishing touches on them now, and they will be available for purchase on our site in about two weeks.

This trivia game is a blast. Someone at work showed it to me. It’s almost impossible, but it’s a lot of fun, and free.

27 Books in 2017 – A Visual Book Review

2017 books graphic

I created this graphic to represent the books that I read in 2017. Larger images represent the books that I enjoyed the most, while smaller images are for works that were more difficult to get through.

I should mention that I really liked and would recommend any of these books, with the exception of the two smallest depicted in the lower right area of the graphic. Since those are probably too small to make out the titles, they are: Nightwood by Djuna Barnes and Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. There were two additional titles that didn’t make the graphic because I could not finish them: Moonglow by Michael Chabon and The Girls by Emma Cline. I only made it 50 – 100 pages into each before I moved on to another work. Moonglow never really caught my interest, and The Girls contained graphic depictions of sexual abuse that I found distasteful.

My favorite books of 2017 were Hisham Matar’s The Return and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. These two books transported me through time and space and showed me a way of life that I was not familiar with. I learned lessons from each of these works that will stay with me.

The Return was the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography and a number of other distinguished literary awards. Hisham Matar depicts his journey through a war torn Libya to search for his father, imprisoned for decades under the rule of Qaddafi. Returning to the country of his birth, the author shares his personal story as well as the experiences of several relatives and countrymen who lived under dictatorship and fought for freedom. Use this tool to find The Return at a bookstore near you.

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a classic icon of American literature. The story of early settlers in California’s Salinas Valley revolves around the hardships and turmoil faced by the Trask family. After their mother abandons them, twin boys Caleb and Aron are left to be raised by their father Adam. It is generally considered one of Steinbeck’s greatest novels. After hearing various acquaintances name East of Eden as the best book they have ever read, I decided to give it a try. I discovered a masterpiece written with a sense of purpose and clarity that exceeded my expectations. I was very surprised to finish 600 pages as quickly as I did. You can use the same tool mentioned above to purchase East of Eden at your local bookstore.

Which books did you love in 2017? Were there any that you didn’t care for?

Grief is the Thing With Feathers

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In this short novel by Max Porter, grief comes to a young family in the form of a peculiar and somewhat nasty Raven. He stays with the bereaved father and young children as they face the uncertainty of a future without their mother and wife.

The novel was first published a couple of years ago, but has gained more attention this year. I read it in March, then read it again later in 2017. The analogy of grief as a black, physical, somewhat obnoxious presence is poignant but meaningful.

I read recently that the work will be adapted for the stage in a work starring actor Cillian Murphy set to release in the UK early 2018. Here is an article about the adaptation:

 …the Thing with Feathers adaptation

Grief is the Thing with Feathers was the best use of metaphor that I read in 2017. Find  a local bookstore where you can buy this book:

Buy at a Bookstore near you

How many pages did you read in 2017?

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I have been looking back at the books that I loved (or hated) in 2017, and the list is pretty amazing compared to previous years. I’ve easily read four times as much this year as I have previously, and more importantly I think that I have made reading a habit.

I was even more impressed (by myself) when I counted up the approximate number of pages from this year:

~6,000 pages! 

While that seems like a lot to me, it is probably miniscule compared to some of your tallies. Try it! Estimate the number of pages in each of the books you completed this year then add them all together. (You can even included the pages you read from books that you couldn’t get through. There were a few of those too.)

How many did you get?

Han Solo Book Club

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Presenting the Han Solo Book Club! In partnership with Italic Bookmarks our favorite space pirate anti-hero will be sharing some of his favorite books with his dedicated fans. These selections are a perfect way to spend an evening after completing the Kessel Run in under 12 Parsecs, or between other intergalactic adventures. Each month Captain Solo will help you explore inspiring stories found between the covers of a great book!

His first pick is the outstanding novel by Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, SingClick here to find it at an independent bookstore near you.

While we recognize that his character was officially killed off in the last installment of the STAR WARS series, we simply ignore that part so that Han, like so many of our favorite literary characters, can live on!

If you have a book that you think Han Solo should recommend, leave us a note in the comments below.