As a copywriter for Berkley and NAL, Carly Hoogendyk writes all the words you see on the outside of genre fiction books. In her spare time, she likes to read the insides of literary fiction books. She’s been an employee at Penguin since 2013.
Following a group of friends from their childhood arts summer camp to adulthood in New York City, The Interestings is an insightful story of talent, opportunity, and envy told with equal parts humor and heartbreak. I book-and-wine-clubbed this with a group of old college friends—a perfect choice, since the themes and characters hit close to home with our creatively-inclined friend group. (And not for nothing, that cover is like high book-fashion—a must-have accessory for your next subway ride.)
I’ve heard more than a few recommendations of The Magicians Trilogy that conjure the “grown up Harry Potter” comparison. Here’s why I think that is fair: The last time I tore through a fantasy series with such absorbed, maniacal velocity was when I inhaled six books about everyone’s favorite boy wizard (…and obviously, no regrets). But what Lev Grossman achieves with this series is uniquely marvelous (and for many reasons it merits the “literary fiction” classification). Quentin’s passage from childhood to adulthood is as filled with magical heroics as it is by mordant realism. Because as soon as Quentin graduates from his enchanted boarding school, he faces a life exactly like ours: where the search for adventure and meaning has a FAR lower success rate than in our beloved escapist fiction.
After hearing that the plot drew on “the furthest reaches of quantum physics, forgotten history, and mind-bending art,” I knew I needed to snag an advance reader’s copy (this releases in February 2015). And it turned out to be the most gloriously surreal and imaginative book I read this year—also, I’ll say without trying to brag or scare you off, the one with the most pages. It’s an ambitious novel that only gets better and better as you go—especially if you like novels with storylines that converge satisfyingly despite what at first seems like a too-epic scope.
Nick Hornby is an impeccable storyteller. He writes books that are intellectual yet completely unpretentious—and best of all, he drops effortless one-liners that dependably make me laugh out loud. High Fidelity is the story of a heart-sick slacker with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music re-tracing his romantic steps to determine whether there’s something wrong with him (spoiler: there is). You might remember it as a John Cusack movie, but I lovingly credit Hornby’s canonical masterpiece of “dick lit” with any understanding I will ever have of my boyfriend’s relationship to his vinyl collection. And in case you’ve already read everything by Nick Hornby (good on you!), he’s got another wit-fest of a novel that you can look forward to this summer called Funny Girl.
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