In 1935, Allen Lane had a revolutionary idea to offer affordable, quality paperback books through outlets like railway stations and newsagents as well as bookshops. Lane launched his new line of books on July 30, 1935, with ten inexpensive paperbacks. Within a year, Penguin had sold three million copies. Now eighty years later, Penguin Books has continued to expand. From paperback editions of block-buster bestsellers to trailblazing paperback originals, from Penguin Classics to gift books, Penguin continues its mission of bringing intelligent, accessible books to readers who know that what you read matters.

In celebration of the 80th anniversary of Penguin Books, we have compiled the a list of 80 Penguin Books bestsellers and we want to know, how many have you read?

Download a Printable Copy and start crossing off the books that you have read. Show off how many you’ve read by taking a picture and tweeting @penguinusa or tagging @penguinusa on Instagram with the hashtag #penguin80. Challenge yourself!


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In celebration of Father’s Day we have a special gift for you, read an Excerpt from Dave Barry’s Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons And Other Ravings From Dave Barry in which he writes a letter to his daughter Sophie on her 16th birthday in preparation of her starting to drive.

Dad’s everywhere are sure to get a kick out this!



Dear Sophie—

So you’re about to start driving! How exciting! I’m going to kill myself.

Sorry, I’m flashing back to when your big brother, Rob, started driving. You and I both love Rob very much, and he has matured into a thoughtful and responsible person. But when he turned sixteen and got his driver’s license, he had a marked tendency to—there is no diplomatic way to put this—drive into things.

This was never his fault. I know this because whenever he drove the car into something, which was every few days, he would call me, and the conversation would go like this:

ME: Hello?

ROB: Dad, it wasn’t my fault.

Usually what he had driven into through no fault of his own was the rear end of another car. Cars were always stopping unexpectedly in front of Rob for no reason whatsoever. Or possibly—we cannot rule it out—these cars were suddenly materializing from hyperspace directly in front of Rob, leaving him with no option but to run into them. Whatever the cause, it stopped happening when he got older and more experienced and started buying his own insurance.

My point, Sophie, is that just because the State of Florida thinks you can drive a car, that doesn’t mean you actually can drive a car. As far as I can tell, after three decades on the roads of Florida, there isn’t anybody that the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t think can drive a car. I cannot imagine what you would have to do to fail the driving test here.

DMV OFFICER: OK, make a left turn here.


DMV OFFICER: (Writes something on clipboard.)

TEST TAKER: Does that mean I fail the test?

DMV OFFICER: Nah, she’s getting back up. You just clipped her.

You may think I’m exaggerating the badness of the drivers down here, Sophie, but that’s because you haven’t been at the wheel of a car on the Palmetto Expressway going
60 miles per hour, traveling forward—which, as you will learn, is considered to be the traditional direction for vehicular traffic on expressways—only to encounter a vehicle, undoubtedly operated by a licensed Florida driver, going backward. And not on the shoulder, either. In your lane. This has happened to me more than once; it’s how some Miami drivers handle the baffling problem of what to do when you miss an exit. When ESPN shows a NASCAR highlight in which drivers collide at 150 miles per hour and a dozen cars spin out in a whirling mass of flaming wreckage, my reaction is: “Big deal. They were all going the same direction. Let’s see them attempt to drive on the Palmetto Expressway.”

The State of Florida also does not seem to have a problem issuing licenses to drivers who are very elderly.

Q. How elderly are they?
A. Their first vehicle was a chariot.

I once had an eye exam during which the ophthalmologist was telling me about some of his older patients, who according to him were basically blind. He said: “I ask them, ‘How did you get here?’ And they tell me they drove. And I tell them, ‘You can’t drive. You can’t see.’ And they say, ‘How else am I supposed to get here?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know, but you can’t drive, because you can’t see.’ And then they drive home.”

I believe him. I once had a short but terrifying ride on the streets of South Florida in the backseat of a car driven by an elderly man. He was a perfectly nice person, but he had basically the same level of visual acuity as a corn dog. So he outsourced the actual seeing part of driving to his wife, who sat in the passenger seat and did her best to keep him posted on what was going on out there in the mysterious region beyond the windshield.

“You have a green arrow,” she’d say. “Go. Go. I said GO! No! Wait! Stop! STOP!!”

I believe this Seeing Eye wife arrangement is not uncommon among elderly couples on the roads of South Florida. And if you’re wondering why, if the wife can see, she doesn’t just drive, the answer is: The man drives.

So to summarize, Sophie: Many people who lack the judgment and/or physical skills needed to safely microwave a burrito are deemed qualified by the State of Florida to operate a motor vehicle. When you get out on the road, you will be surrounded by terrible drivers. And guess what? You will be one of them. Yes, Sophie: You will be a bad driver, and not because you’re careless or irresponsible, but because you’re teenager, and it is a physiological fact that at your stage of brain development, you are—to use the term preferred by researchers in the field of neurological science—“stupid.”

There is no shame in this. All humans start out stupid, then gradually become more intelligent as they get older (with a few setbacks along the way) until they reach a certain age, after which they start becoming stupider again.
Here’s a scientific chart illustrating this phenomenon:

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.41.33 AM

What does this chart tell us, Sophie? It tells us that according to science, even dead people are smarter than teenagers. Teenagers are barely capable of forming sentences. Allowing them to drive—especially if they are males—is insane.

But Dad, you’re thinking, didn’t you drive when you were a teenage male?

Yes I did. I got my New York State driver’s license in 1963, at age sixteen, and I spent many hours cruising on the highways and byways and occasionally the lawns in and around Armonk, N.Y. But that was different, Sophie, because I drove safely. I don’t mean “safely” in the sense of “carefully.” I was definitely your standard male teenage idiot. But I was a safe idiot, because I was driving the safest vehicle ever built: my mom’s 1961 Plymouth Valiant station wagon. It did not have modern safety features such as seat belts, air bags, antilock brakes or a computerized collision-avoidance system. What the Valiant had, which was better than any modern technology, was: Inertia. I would stomp violently down on the accelerator and basically nothing would happen for several lunar cycles, because the Valiant was no more capable of acceleration than a fire hydrant. This was the only car ever manufactured that traveled faster on the assembly line than under its own power.

You could not hit anything in a Valiant. Fully mature trees moved quickly enough to get out of its way. So it couldn’t do any damage even with me at the wheel. If I were in charge, today’s teenagers would be permitted to drive only if they drove Plymouth Valiant station wagons. Also I would require these teenagers to tune the Valiant’s AM radio to New York station WINS and listen to the late Murray the K play hit 1963 tunes such as “Da Doo Ron Ron” because THAT WAS MUSIC, DAMMIT.

Unfortunately, Sophie, I am not in charge, which means you’re going to be driving on roads teeming with modern high-speed automobiles operated by incompetent idiots such as (no offense) yourself. To prove that you’re qualified to do this, the State of Florida will make you take a test based on the information found in the official Florida Driver’s Handbook. For example, the test may ask you to identify the Florida “standard” speed in business or residential areas. According to the Handbook, the “correct” answer, the one you should mark on your test, is 30 miles per hour.

But listen very carefully, Sophie: If you’re driving in Miami and do not wish to be the target of small-arms fire, IN THE NAME OF GOD DO NOT GO AT A “STANDARD” SPEED OF 30 MILES PER HOUR. Miami drivers go faster than that in a car wash. Likewise the Driver’s Handbook will tell you that if you’re approaching a traffic light as it turns yellow, you should attempt to stop. But in Miami, doing that would cause your car to be instantly converted into a large sheet-metal origami sculpture by the seventeen cars immediately behind you.

My point, Sophie, is that there’s a big difference between how the Florida Driver’s Handbook says you should drive and how actual humans drive in Florida, especially South Florida. So to help you understand the mindset you will encounter on the roads here, I’ve prepared this:


Q. If I arrive at an intersection at the same time as another motorist, who goes first?
A. You do.

Q. But what if . . .
A. There IS no “what if.” YOU GO FIRST.

Q. Florida law strictly prohibits texting while driving. Does this law apply to me?
A. Ha-ha! Of course not.

Q. If I stop at a red light, how will I know when it turns green?
A. You will hear honking behind you. This is your cue to start wrapping up your current text, unless of course it is important.

Q. I have noticed that some roads have more than one lane. What is the purpose of the extra lanes?
A. To provide a place for you to swerve into while texting.

Q. When I come to a stop sign, do I need to stop?
A. You personally?

Q. Yes.
A. No.

Q. How is the turn signal used in Florida?
A. It is used to indicate to other motorists that you do not realize your turn signal is blinking.

Q. Could it also be used to signal your intention to turn or change lanes?
A. Interesting! Nobody has ever tried that.

Q. What is the best kind of food to eat while driving?
A. Any food—such as a sandwich, turkey leg, oyster or Ding Dong—that can be eaten one-handed, so you still have a hand free for texting.

Q. What if an emergency situation arises that might require me to operate the steering wheel?
A. Use your forehead to honk the horn until the emergency has passed.

Q. My car’s engine seems to have stopped and I hear a “burbling” noise. What could be causing this?
A. Are you a senior citizen?

Q. Yes.
A. You have driven into a swimming pool.

Q. I am a young male idiot who prefers to drive at a high rate of speed in densely populated areas while texting. How loud should my sound system be?
A. It should emit individual bass notes capable of killing a dog at 50 yards.

Q. I’m a middle-aged male, and I like to put on skintight, junk-displaying Lycra® cycling shorts and a skintight Lycra® cycling jersey covered with logos for corporations that don’t actually pay me anything, then ride around with a large clot of other middle-aged pretend racers screwing up traffic. I don’t have a question about driving, but I HAVE JUST AS MUCH RIGHT TO BE IN THIS Q & A AS ANYONE ELSE.
A. Everyone hates you.

Q. I’ve had a few drinks. How can I tell if I should drive?
A. Take this simple test: Are you wearing your underpants on your head?

Q. Not MY underpants, no.
A. Then you are good to go.

Q. What is all that shouting?
A. Are you a senior citizen?

Q. Yes.
A. You have struck a pedestrian.

Sophie, I know you think your old man is just kidding. I am not. Ask anybody who drives here: This Q & A reflects the actual situation on the roads of Florida far more accurately than the so-called Florida Driver’s Handbook. But I didn’t write this letter to make you nervous about driving here. I wrote it to make you terrified about driving here. Because I love you a lot, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. I will do everything I can to make sure you’re really ready to drive. I’m going to keep coaching you until the day you finally get your license and are allowed to drive alone. Even then, as you leave our driveway, I’ll be standing next to the car, giving you last-minute instructions. When you finally drive away, solo at last, you’re going to feel as if I’m still right there next to you, guiding you.

In fact I will be right there next to you, walking at a leisurely pace alongside your car.

Your 1961 Valiant.




The perfect book for Dad’s looking for a good laugh! During the course of living (mumble, mumble) years, Dave Barry has learned much of wisdom,* (*actual wisdom not guaranteed) and he is eager to pass it on—to the next generation, the generation after that, and to those idiots who make driving to the grocery store in Florida a death-defying experience. By the end, if you do not feel wiser, richer in knowledge, more attuned to the universe . . . we wouldn’t be at all surprised. But you’ll have had a lot to laugh about!

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Kristen O’Connell is the Sr. Director of Consumer Marketing and Social Media for Penguin Random House. In her free time you can catch her watching or playing tennis, working on her really old house, and spending time with her husband, son and dog.

When I think about my dad and books, I think about my childhood summers and the reading lists he’d assign to me in addition to what my school required. I clearly remember having to reach page 100 in my Little House on the Prairie book before I could join my friends at the pool. It’s not always easy hanging with a teacher on summer vacation when you’re 10, but I thank him for it now! When it comes to books for dad, sports bios and thrillers are always a hit—with the occasional twist thrown in for good measure.

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Tom Clancy Under Fire by Grant Blackwood

Jack Ryan Jr? Check. Political intrigue? Check. A wildly thrilling read from a beloved voice? Check. A no-brainer for dad!






The Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski 

There’s a review of this riveting story of triumph in sports from the Raleigh News and Observer praising the book as “The Friday Night Lights of Hoops.” There’s no truer statement about this riveting examination of a season following Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony’s High School basketball team. “Clear eyes, full hearts!”




The Italians by John Hooper

John Hooper’s insightful and often funny look at what makes the people of Italy tick is a wonderful read for Italian-Americans and travel enthusiasts alike. If you grew up watching soccer on the RAI channel like I did, you know Dad will love it.

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You Cannot Be Serious by John McEnroe and James Kaplan

The two most important things my father taught me about tennis was to never be afraid to go to the net (like his beloved Johnny Mac) and don’t loose your temper (like his beloved Johnny Mac). On the court, I’ve often failed on both fronts, but this fantastic memoir from one of the most beloved and reviled characters in American sport is a must-read for fans of the game.


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Susan Loomis_credit Francis Hammond

All of the sudden, it’s summer. That’s northern France for you.  Wind whistles, grass is covered with frost, flowers have that slightly frozen etch around their petals until very late in the spring then BAM! The sun is out, the air is a warm caress, and rose is in the fridge, chilling for supper.

Tomorrow is the farmers’ market in my town of Louviers, and I’m so eager to see what’s there that I can hardly wait.  You wouldn’t think much would change from one week to the next, but it does. We’ve been through asparagus season, the very early harbinger of spring, but it’s taken an age for anything else to come along.  Now, though, with this burst of warmth which has summer woven all through it, there is likely to be shiny zucchini ready to steam and cover with minced garlic and parsley, and melons will finally send their alluring aroma through the air, begging for a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of peppers and diced shallot, for a pre-meal salad. There may be a few early tomatoes, and strawberries will at long last lend their warm, almost syrupy flavor to a tart, a fruit salad, or a glass of red wine.

As for seafood, well, the sardines are jumping into the fishers’ nets, and I will dredge some in flour, cover them with minced sage and garlic, and bathe them in olive oil and vinegar for a summery escabeche.  I’m doing a big dinner and skate wing, straight from the English Channel, is on the menu.  I will serve it with a capery sauce atop crushed new potatoes that I’ve sprinkled with tiny strips of fresh basil and dabbed with fresh farm butter.  For a real nod to summer, I’ll add a mound of freshly boiled peas that are so sweet they belie their vegetable status and almost taste like dessert.

market picnic

Tomorrow I just know I will also find bunches of new onions, tiny beets, blushing young shallots, juicy cloves of new garlic, and carrots as thin as a pinky.  Anticipating this, I’ve made aioli to serve alongside this summer wealth, for a market picnic. I’ll follow with the sardines and a crisp baguette (for sopping up the sauce). Dessert?  A bowl of cherries in ice water.

For dinner, we’ll have the skate wing with potatoes and peas, a big crisp salad in a delicate vinaigrette, and a chocolate tart covered with sliced strawberries and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Oh summer, how happy we are that you are here!

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Explore Susan Herrmann Loomis’ new book In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France for everyday tips, secrets, and eighty-five recipes that allow you to turn every meal into a sumptuous occasion.

In a French Kitchen by Susan Herrmann Loomis is a delightful celebration of French life and the cooks who turn even the simplest meals into an occasion.

Start Reading an Excerpt!



photoBria Sandford is an associate editor for Portfolio, Sentinel, and Current. In her spare time she reads about the Puritans and talks about New Hampshire.


excellent-women-by-barbara-pym 2Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

At a glance, you might think the story of Mildred Lathbury, a young single woman in post-war London, would be a cozy little read and nothing more, but you’d be wrong. Under the surface of this rather conventional story of romantic near-misses, there’s an undercurrent of wry self-deprecation and bitter resignation that’s quite bracing. Pym’s heroine is an “excellent woman,” who lives a quiet life, does what needs to be done, is aware that she’s constantly overlooked, and copes with humor, grace, and just the tiniest touch of despair. I picked this up a couple of years ago when I was looking for a relaxing but smart weekend read, and it nearly threw me into a quarter-life crisis. I’ve not been able to get enough of Barbara Pym since. (I also can’t stop recommending her; while writing this I got a text from a friend saying, “Mildred is driving me crazy!”)

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The Sagas of the Icelanders by Various

Come for the largely historically accurate prose histories of Icelandic society, stay for the battles with magicians protected by armies of cats. Most interesting to me were the stories of Icelandic women, who seemed to retain more influence than their European sisters did. Be sure to read about Unn the Deep-Minded, who in old age captained her own ship and moved her family to Iceland, where she freed all of her slaves and spread her Christian faith.


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Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

This Scandinavian epic traces the entire life of a woman in medieval Norway, from her childhood through her years as a wife and mother to her eventual entry into a convent shortly before her death. A group of my friends badgered me for months before I actually gave in and started the enormous tome, and I wish I’d caved sooner. Undset’s theologically and psychologically rich treatment of the themes of love, sin, and grace were life-changing, and her characters will be with me for a long time to come.

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Selected Stories by E.M. Forster

I’ve picked this Forster collection solely because it includes “The Machine Stops.” The story describes a dystopian world where everyone has abandoned the surface of the earth to live underground in “the Machine.” In the Machine, people live in climate-controlled pods, where the Machine makes life easy. They communicate with friends and family virtually. No one ventures outside, because “ideas” are more important and interesting than the boring and dangerous outside world–and because the Machine will kill you if you do. For a story written in 1903, it’s a terrifyingly accurate depiction of life in the age of the Internet. If you read it, beware: you may have to delete your Facebook account when you’re done.

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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I hate reading or watching horror, but I love Shirley Jackson. The terror in her stories builds slowly and in an understated way. There are supernatural figures in her stories, but the really unsettling characters are ordinary people with ordinary motives. And she turns a phrase like no one else–who wouldn’t want to read a book that begins, “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”                 

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Mary Allen is a foreign rights assistant for Avery, Portfolio, and Putnam. She is originally from Nashville, TN, but she calls Greenpoint home these days. Strawberries, old books, people-watching on the subway, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and her birthday are some of her favorite parts of life.

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I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam

With only 168 hours in a week, I’ve often bought in to the idea that you have to choose between a fulfilling personal life and pursuing ambitious professional goals. And even if you managed to find time for both of those, well then, it’s because you’ve surely sacrificed your social life, your hobbies, your sleep…Time management expert and breakout author Laura Vanderkam is here to counter this notion in her new book, I Know How She Does It. Drawing on research gathered from the time-logs of 1,001 days in the lives of highly-successful women, Vanderkam shows that women are indeed achieving the impossible–making time for both family and career. Vanderkam provides us with strategies for balancing the many demands of the office, the home, and the soul. If you haven’t given up on “having it all,” then this book is right up your alley.


The Plantpower Way by Rich Roll & Julie Piatt

This is a cookbook in a league of its own. Equal parts recipe book, roadmap to a health,  manifesto of the plant-based lifestyle, The Plantpower Way testifies to the fact that you can raise a family, run an ultramarathon, eat like a king, and help save both the planet and your health using nothing but plants. As a Tennessee-born loyal barbecue-eater of 24 years, I had my doubts about the merits of a vegan plate, but within 20 pages, authors Rich Roll and Julie Piatt had me convinced. And after I tasted their Potato-Quinoa Wraps with Brazil Nut Cream, they had me converted. The recipes are simple, delicious and probably the surest way to live to the glorious age of 100. This is a vegan cookbook with a joyful cause, and it deserves space in every kitchen.

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The Anxiety Toolkit by Alice Boyes, Ph.D

In our ever-accelerating 21st century, anxiety has become as ubiquitous as smartphones and iced chai. If your morning commute, your news headlines, and your email inbox look anything like mine, then this book is your new saving grace. Dr. Alice Boyes masterfully distills her years of clinical practice and research into this tidy handbook to manage and master anxiety. As each chapter opens with a self-assessment quiz, Boyes helps us identify the nature of our anxiety and the mechanism by which it undercuts our lives. She then provides insightful, actionable strategies to conquer it. True to its name, The Anxiety Toolkit is a practical and powerful tool for anyone trying to break free of his or her modern angst.

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The 22-Day Revolution by Marco Borges

Beyoncé, in her infinite wisdom, has really put this book on the map, but The 22-Day Revolution by trainer and health expert Marco Borges was destined to start a movement with or without buzz from the Queen Bey. In this book, Borges shares the vegan, plant-based lifestyle program that has been keeping his clients (celebrity and plebeian alike) in the best health of their lives. For anyone looking to lose weight, reverse disease, or even to reduce their carbon footprint—in short, for anyone seeking permanent change—this is the ultimate handbook. It takes 21 days to break a bad habit, so Borges provides strategies, motivation, and delicious recipes to usher readers through to the 22nd day and into a happier state of body and mind—the inevitable benefits plant-based living.

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HeadshotNatalie Maester is a production assistant at Berkley. Born and raised as a European nomad, Natalie considers travelling as important as breathing. Graduating with a BA in English, she hopes one day to obtain a PhD in military history and revolutionary studies.

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Lucrezia Borgia by Sarah Bradford

The first topic that got me interested in history was the femme fatale: women of unparalleled power, will and persuasion that tore through the epicenter of male dominion. But their stories have always been clouded in mysticism since they deviated so far from norms, they could not be “normal women”.

One of many illegitimate children of Pope Alexander VI (aka Rodrigo Borgia) but by far his favorite, Lucrezia Borgia has been labeled by history as a succubus, a jezebel, and a schemer. But how did she get there? Used by her father as a pun to increase his sphere of power and influence, she was married 3 times by the time she was 22 years old. Divorced from her first husband due to allegations of impotence, her second husband was killed by her own brother, the power-hungry Duc of Valentinois, Cesare Borgia. Bred to obey in a family that did everything but, Lucrezia remained powerless to refuse her father’s wishes yet fiercely loyal and protective of him. In this latest biography of her life, Bradford attempts to uncover lifelong intrigues, shifting family alliances and a fight for survival that characterized most of Lucrezia’s life. As a result, she became a calculating woman, focused on gains and prospects, casting aside emotional, peaceful and love-seeking image so often expected of women. Lucrezia Borgia is, like all femme fatale, a complicated story but a fun one to try and piece together.

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Churchill and the King by Kenneth Weisbrode

At first glance, they can’t be any different: a king and a prime minister. The first, a sickly spare, who never fit in, shy and seemingly insecure, he became a king after his brother’s shocking abdication. The second, a rowdy troublemaker with swaying alliances and beliefs, he could not stay in one political party for long yet eventually made leader of a nation. Born of a different social stock and decades apart, both men developed skills and backbones to stand up and stand strong during England’s greatest crisis. Despite the apparent differences, George VI and Churchill had similar struggles and challenges: childhoods with strict fathers whom they both feared and adored, outcastes each in his own way, they shared a love of the sea and the navy, facing off against their enemy when war broke out in 1914. When they took command of England’s defense in 1940, they were a perfect yin and yang. Weisbrode side by side comparison is a unique look into lives otherwise completely unrelated of two of 20th century leading men.

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Army of Evil by Adrian Weale

Being a military history junky, I have learned that one of the biggest faux pas committed by people is group labeling. People are by far more complicated in their intentions and decision making processes than checking off a male or a female box on a driver’s license app. In this in-depth study of the SS or Schutzstaffeln, Weale separates the horrible deeds of the Holocaust from the men that perpetrated them in order to attempt to understand what drove their actions. First created as an elite group of Aryans with black uniforms, knee-high boots and SS style ruins pinned to the shirt collars, the SS quickly became symbols of terror and certain end. Compromised of Einsatzgruppen (killing squads), camp guards, police patrol and spies, they were the deadly muscle of the Third Reich. Yet the majority of these men were a bit more than civilians, playing soldiers in military-style clothes, without criminal records, with wives and children at home. How could so many go so wrong? Weale introduces many potential reasons for their willingness such as the introduction of dangerous convicted criminals to lead the units and train their men to kill, to alcohol induced killing parties, to severe brainwashing combined with centuries of racism. Whatever reason each of us leans towards, it is an important lesson to study, learn and prevent.

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Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll

Sometimes the most interesting stories come wrapped in scandal, rebellion and shame. And this is a Leslie Carroll specialty: focusing on the stuff not taught in schools. Charming, witty and straight to the point, Carroll introduces us to little known royal characters whose titles implied anonymity and irrelevance yet influenced the course of history. Inglorious Royal Marriages showcases the likes of Margaret Tudor, sister of the famous Henry VIII, whose descendants occupy the thrown of England today. After the death of her husband King James IV of Scots, she secretly married two noble, both of whom stole her money and left Margaret for their mistresses, while she died penniless from a stroke. The double life of Monsieur Philippe of France, younger brother of the Sun King Louis XIV, is also a fascinating read. Married twice to two princesses, he was fond of dressing up as a woman (jewels and all), which his mother fully supported as he was growing up. Great at commanding an army, he never wore hats on expeditions because they would have ruined his hair. Whatever scandalous pleasure makes you smile on the train, Inglorious Royal Marriage is a quick and fun read that teaches interesting tidbits of peculiar characters so far ignore by major history.

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Tyler Fields is the publicity assistant for Tarcher & Perigee. He is from Texas, has lived in Indiana, and is glad finally to call NYC home.  @TD_Fields


Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

To begin, allow me to recall Porochista Khakpour’s (author of the stunning novel, The Last Illusion) New York Times review of Oyeyemi’s inimitable Boy, Snow, Bird in which she references both Kanye West’s infamous “Bound 2” music video and Freud’s notion of the uncanny in the first paragraph. If this doesn’t absolutely sell you – as it did me – then here’s more: Oyeyemi’s fifth novel contorts itself through myriad genres as it investigates, comments upon, and criticizes the complexities of race, identity, gender, and so much more in the modern age.

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Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya

What point to highlight first? Akhtiorskaya’s beautiful and swift prose? That this is my favorite emigrate-to-America novel since Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex (2002)? Or that such a brilliant novel could possibly be a debut? Regardless of why you choose to begin this searing novel, you’ll finish wondering why you hadn’t yet devoured the cross-cultural portrait of hope, ambition, and discovery in the first place.

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Frog by Mo Yan

Nobel-laureate Mo Yan’s eleventh novel, Frog is about a woman called Gugu whose staunch attempts to prove her alliance to China’s Communist Party and its one-child policy lead her to performing compulsory IUDs, vasectomies, and late-term abortions. It is about loyalty, allegiance, and the fine line between the two. And above all, Yan’s epic is a pointed commentary about political, economic, and social behavior under which women continue to suffer at the hands of reckless male politicians and son-fixated husbands.

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Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

For those of you reading this before September 15, 2015, delight in this preview to what is sure to be one of the most widely talked about and highly acclaimed novels of the year.

For those of you reading this post-publication, delight in the knowledge that Groff’s unforgettable novel is available to read at this very moment.

Personally, I will glean joy in remembering how a galley described to me only as “an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception,” stunned me with penetrating, surprising prose and a unique, wholly original narrative. This book is not about the aforementioned aspects, it is an immersive experience with them.

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Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah

To my mind, by and far the most striking element of Farah’s novel is his uncanny ability to utilize the narrative of a woman’s journey to Nairobi as a mirroring device from which he reflects upon the instability of the region wherein the novel is set. Absolutely, Farah is a gifted writer, but more importantly, he is able to highlight beautifully the consequences of displacement – both as it affects a single woman, but also as it applies to an entire population.

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BONUS because this is, as far as I can tell, not the second, but the third time the following title has been recommended.

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The potential energy wrapped into the opening of Ng’s novel, “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet,” is tantamount to the zenith of a rising object – all that’s left is to fall. Everything I Never Told You is the story of a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio, forced to confront and live with the death of a child. Poignant, profound, and deeply moving, this novel is the portrait of a family and its individual members whose lives come crashing from a highest height.

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photo (1)Hope Ellis is a Managing Editorial Assistant with Berkley. She likes candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach, and—oh sorry, is this not a reality dating TV show? In addition to telling not-super-funny jokes, Hope can usually be found reading books with strong female heroines, watching bad TV, and painting random animal portraits (ask her about the pigeon, if you dare).



Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Perhaps my favorite author on this list, Patricia Briggs writes paranormal urban fantasy at its most realistic. Mercy Thompson, mechanic by day and coyote by night, is one of my favorite characters, an unlikely hero with a trickster’s sense of humor. Patricia Briggs doesn’t shy away from dark subjects in this series, and she incorporates both the most loveable characters and the best plot twists. Her Mercy Thompson series is one of my favorites to read and reread.


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Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead has done some amazing post-apocalyptic world building in her Age of X series. I read Gameboard last year on vacation and was hooked, absolutely oblivious to the world, from the minute I started reading. If you’re looking for a complex (but still recognizable) dystopian world, some science-fiction genetics, and a fascinating take on the power of religion, go grab a copy of Gameboard.


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Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Take everything you think you know about the world and twist it upside-down. Daughter of the Blood is a dark, riveting fantasy about power, strength, and survival. It is seriously chilling, with a really great, nuanced portrayal of dark subjects (e.g., slavery, rape, and mental illness). Anne Bishop is a visionary, and while it’s not as evident in Daughter, she has a wicked sense of humor (“humor with a bite, scary with a wink,” as she writes in Tangled Webs).


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Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

If I could be any urban fantasy character, I think I’d want to be Cassie Palmer. Or at least have her powers of premonition, ghostly communication, and time travel. Karen Chance is an author who definitely knows her way around a plot twist, and the world she’s created is suspenseful and fun. Touch the Dark is a to-read for anyone who likes a good paranormal series.



Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

The thing I love most about Charlaine Harris is how very realistic her portraits of daily life in the South are. She grounds the paranormal elements of her Southern Vampire Mysteries (better known to some as “the True Blood series”) with some no-nonsense reflections on budgets, cleaning house, and small-town gossip. Of course, the sexy vampires and weres are no small draw, either. If you haven’t already learned what all the fuss is about—go learn what all the fuss is about!

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Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton

No paranormal book list (of mine, anyway) would be complete without Laurell K. Hamilton. As much a part of the history of vampire books as Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton’s books are always gritty, sexy, thrilling reads. She’s a master genre-bender, combining three of my favorite genres: mysteries, romances, and the Sci-fi/Fantasy/Paranormal conglomerate. (Fun fact: did you know it took her years to publish her first book, Guilty Pleasures, because no one in publishing knew how to market it? I know this because, nerd that I am, I wrote a paper on vampire fiction in college.) This is actually the ninth book in Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, but it’s my personal favorite—lots of action, uncanny vampire powers, and Anita gets to use more of her crime-solving skills than we usually see. She gets bonus points for both blood-and-guts and [slight spoiler alert] a creepy serial-killer stalker in Obsidian Butterfly.


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Briana Woods-Conklin is an Associate Manager of Advertising and Consumer Marketing for Penguin Young Readers. Books are one of her favorite things, and she loves surrounding herself with them. But boy, are they heavy when you’re moving to a new apartment!

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

I remember reading this book in sixth grade. And I remember it so clearly because when I was reading, I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t want to do anything else. Everything just seemed to get in the way. Years later, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is still one of my favorite books, as rich and lovely as ever. A story of family, struggle, and the fight to understand both the world and ourselves, this book is as timeless as it is powerful.


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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The best books are the ones that make me want to read slowly — to linger over the language, to reread that excellent piece of dialogue, to turn the pages just a little bit slower, delaying the end and prolonging my time with the narrative. And this book made me do just that. From the very beginning, I knew this book was special. Giving the reader a look into the lives of often overlooked individuals, Counting by 7s is full of humor, sadness, joy, hope, and that intangible bit of story-magic that makes a book one you want to go back to again and again.

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Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.” I love the way this text sounds aloud! Full of rich artwork and simple but compelling text, Madeline’s grand adventures and misadventures have a special place in my heart (as does Miss Clavel!). There are so many great Madeline books, but this is the one that started it all!


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Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb

An unexpected story where squirrels do “squagic” instead of magic, and magical rats are called “ragicians,” and one seventh grade boy-turned-rat is expected to save the kingdom, Ratscalibur is an action-packed page-turner that will keep you engaged all the way through. With fun character names, new magical terms, and an abundance of wordplay, and this is a great read-aloud. A little bit scary, a little bit gross, and full of danger, Ratscalibur is definitely a whole lot of fun.

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Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Roller Girl! Every time I mention this title, I feel like I need to put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence. Because Roller Girl is just so much fun! This graphic novel tackles the difficulties of friendship and the fear of trying new things through the wonderful setting of the roller derby. Not only is the art fantastic, but the story is great, too. Roller Girl speaks to all of us, who sometimes need a little encouragement to follow our passions and the bravery to be a little bit different from our friends.



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