Max Reid works in Penguin Books Editorial, where he can be found talking at length about how much he loves New York.

 

 

 

 

ceremony

Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko

I first read Ceremony for a Native American Religion course my freshman year of college.  I expected bows and arrows and trips to the museum- I didn’t think for a second we might actually be talking about Native Americans today. Ceremony focuses on the loss of identity so many Native Americans have experienced in the 21st century, and shows better than anything else I’ve read that Native American culture is not just history.

 

 

 

we

We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin

As a citizen of the world I’m happy to report I had a healthy phase of dystopian fiction that sufficiently scared the hell out of me.  This one hits particularly hard – a nation built entirely of glass, allowing secret police to watch your every move. Yeah. 1984 and it’s many protégés find their way to most school reading lists, but if you haven’t read We, you’re missing out – Zamyatin was a dissident in the early Soviet Union, so he knows what he’s talking about.

 

 

 

chocolate

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl 

You’re not going to find a bigger fan of the Gene Wilder / Mel Stuart film adaptation, but really, if you haven’t read Roald Dahl’s masterpiece (one of many, in my opinion) you’re missing out on a trip through a world even more vibrant than Technicolor could offer. Try as you might, Tim Burton, but there’s just no replicating Roald Dahl’s imagination.

 

 

 

 

whitenoise

White Noise, by Don DeLillo

After 100 pages of living with the Gladney family, you’re part of it too, whether you like it or not.  DeLillo is sneaky about it – you may not even realize you love these characters until things start to unravel, as they always do.  DeLillo looks behind the façade of the modern American family, and finds the fears we all share.

 

 

 

 

different

On Being Different, by Merle Miller

Clocking in at 96 pages (that’s with the introduction and afterword), this is one of the most eye opening and powerful books I’ve read.  Merle recounts his experience growing up homosexual in a world that wasn’t welcoming, to say the least.  It’s heartbreaking, and unsettling that some of what he recounts was happening on a large scale only a few short decades ago.  I’d love to see this on more high school reading lists.

 

 

 

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Linda Cowen staff pick photoI’ve been a publishing lawyer for over 20 years, and at Penguin since 2008. I love to taunt other lawyers by saying things like, “Why yes, I do get paid to read novels all day.” Actually most of my novel reading gets done after hours, on the LIRR. Here are some recent faves:

 

 

 

9780143125242MLena Finkle’s Magic Barrel, by Anya Ulinich

Who says graphic novels have to be about super heroes (although some of us may regard Lena Finkle as one)? This wonderfully immersive story lets you experience what Lena’s life just as she does—saying one thing out loud and thinking something else at the same time. In this age of multi-media, it’s a pleasant surprise to see how “interactive” two dimensions can be. Best enjoyed in paper.

 

 

 

 

theoryA Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins

Did you like the movie “Her?” Do you worry about whether/how much we can be replaced by robots? Do you believe in reincarnation? If you ponder any of these questions, this book is for you. It juxtaposes our most human hopes and fears alongside the possibility of the most advanced technology. Technology marches inexorably toward us, but the human heart beats on.

 

 

 

 

9780142180822MWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler

If you can, get someone to rip the cover off this book before you read it (or advance your ereader past the cover page) and don’t read a single thing about it. I read this after it was announced as the winner of the 2014 Pen/Faulkner Award with no other knowledge about it. At first I thought I’d “gotten” it right away. Then it took a turn I didn’t see coming and I had to take a break and send copies to my two best friends so that they would read it along with me.

 

 

 

shirleyShirley: A Novel, by Susan Scarf Merrell

Who among us lovers of literary fiction has not imagined what it would have been like to hang around with our favorite authors of the mid-20th Century? You know, when authors were revered, and their lives were private. Susan Scarf Merrell took it one step further. After mining archives including letters and journals, she re-creates the world of author Shirley Jackson and her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman, inserting a fictional couple into their life.  Step inside this novel and see what happens when a writer asks herself “what if…”

 

 

 

9781594205712MEverything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

Where can a book that begins with tragedy go?  A teenage girl is dead; it’s not a place I really want to visit. And yet Celeste Ng captivates page by page. She’s never maudlin or melodramatic. Instead she unfolds this sad story in such a way that makes us appreciate her characters and want to see how they will make sense of what’s happened. Even though you know the ending won’t change the beginning—this isn’t a book about miracles—you will not want to abandon this family.

 

 

 

 

goodlordThe Good Lord Bird, by James McBride

I want to make a special plug for the audio version of this one. This book is full of outrageous characters speaking in dialect circa the 1850s, and hearing it brings it to life in a way that most of us can’t possibly create in our 21st Century minds. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that there can be a new way to tell an oft-told tale, but this narrator tells us story of John Brown’s fight against slavery in a way that makes the whole story completely fresh and new. This is neither middle school social studies nor “costume drama” historical fiction—it is vital, moving, thought provoking and raucous. Listen to it and you will see the story unfold in your mind’s eye as if you were watching the year’s Best Picture.

 

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photo 3

Stephen Morrow, Executive Editor at Dutton

 

 

 

 

 

denaliDenali’s Howl, by Andy Hall

It was 1967, the summer of love, and while Haight-Ashbury was dancing to White Rabbit and the Beatles were dropping acid, twelve sober young men climbed into the worst storm ever to hit the summit of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley or Denali as the locals call it. Only five made it back.  Andy Hall, the son of the Mt. McKinley National Park superintendent at the time, was five years old. Denali’s Howl is his telling of what befell those on the mountain and those at its foot trying to help.  It is also a study in how we think of our past, how such tragedies can become embedded in the meaning of our lives, our unwritten autobiographies, and yet remain mysterious.

 

 

mindThe Organized Mind, by Daniel J. Levitin

Could good old conscientious organization really be the secret to navigating the modern world’s flood of details?  As Daniel Levitin shows, the latest neuroscience says yes.  From how to deal with your kitchen junk drawer (what are those keys in there for anyway?) to how to organize your thoughts for the most important decisions of all, The Organized Mind is a book that brings together the ordinary everyday experience of making your life work better with Levitin’s expert insight into how attention and memory function. This isn’t just a book about being neater, it is about clearing a space in which you (and your kids) can be resoundingly creative.

 

 

superstormSuperstorm, by Kathryn Miles

We had just had our Halloween party back in 2012 at 375 Hudson Street when New Yorkers started to realize the big bad hurricane was coming to get us.  As she was working on Superstorm Kathryn Miles said the storm was like the shark in Jaws–only this monster ate its way up from Jamaica to the Great Lakes, with New York City as its main course.  Her story of forecasters and their science unable to make sense of this unprecedented system as it played out day by day, of the seamen whose traditional knowledge didn’t help, and of the people whose lives it destroyed is all about the unforgiving, fearsome power of nature—just when we thought we had it beat.

 

 

doessantaexistDoes Santa Exist?, by Eric Kaplan

Ok, so Does Santa Exist? is the most profound and funny book I’ve ever worked on and probably ever will.  I am pretty much unhinged about it.  Eric Kaplan has a job as a brilliant comic writer on America’s  most popular sit com and is finishing his Ph.D. at Berkeley, but I’m just hoping he starts a cult so I can join it.  How could such a simple, childish question lead to such a dazzling, exuberant flight across the deepest questions of human existence?  You will learn a bunch of philosophy, and the point of it all too.  As Matt Groening said, “It is the funniest book of philosophy since… well, ever.”  Just the thing for the gift giving season!

 

 

 

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JillSantopoloThe concept of love is universal. And the idea of being free to love whomever you choose has been battled for centuries in many different countries on many different platforms. At its heart, that’s what Atia Abawi’s The Secret Sky is about—the freedom to love.

This book was inspired by many real events, but the reason it exists is because of a New York Times article published in July of 2011 called “In Afghanistan, Rage at Young Lovers.”  The article is about two teenagers from different ethnic groups who met in an ice cream factory and whose romance incited a riot of three hundred people that called for the teens’ death by stoning. Michael Green, Philomel’s publisher, came into my office with that article and said, “Have you read this?” (I had.) Then he said, “I think there’s a novel here. Do you know anyone who could write us a forbidden teen romance set in Afghanistan?” I figured the ideal person to write this kind of story was someone who was Afghan and who had spent a considerable amount of time in Afghanistan, but also grew up speaking English. And, of course, was a professional writer. Not necessarily the easiest person to find. I went through my mental rolodex and landed on Nick, a college friend who was then living in Islamabad and Kabul, reporting for ABC News. I thought perhaps he might know someone, so I sent him an email. He, in turn, sent an email to Atia Abawi. She was an Afghan-American journalist living in Kabul, reporting for NBC, and had been wanting to write a novel based on her experiences. Nick had found my ideal author for this project.

He connected me with Atia, and the result was The Secret Sky, inspired, in part, by the Times piece, but mostly inspired by the people and the villages that Atia visited during her five years reporting from Afghanistan. The story, which follows Fatima, a Hazara girl, and Samiullah, a Pashtun boy, as they fight their families, their village’s traditions, and the local Taliban to stay together, is not real, but it could have been. In fact, this past year, in March, The New York Times ran another article about forbidden love in Afghanistan, this one called “2 Star-Crossed Afghans Cling to Love, Even at Risk of Death,” which details a very similar story: two young people from a rural village whose declaration of love put them—and their families—in grave danger. 

What is most powerful about The Secret Sky is that it is so real. It captures, in beautiful, raw prose, what’s happening today, a fourteen-hour plane ride from New York City.  I’ve been editing books for the past decade, and I think Atia Abawi’s The Secret Sky is the one that has most changed me. It made me think—really think—about the privileges I take for granted every day and about how different my life would be if I had been born in a rural Afghan village.

I know this is a book about teenagers, written with a teenage audience in mind, but I think it will appeal to readers of all ages. As of the writing of this piece, The Secret Sky has already received a starred review pre-publication from Publishers Weekly and advanced praise from journalists and AtiaAbawi_TheSecretSkynovelists alike.  The power in Atia’s words has touched so many readers already. I’ll leave you with one of those reactions, from Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent and anchor of Andrea Mitchell Reports. She said:

The Secret Sky brilliantly captures the magic and the heartbreak of Afghanistan as only someone rooted in its mystery can….This first novel by a top foreign correspondent has the authenticity of raw journalism and the poetry of a gifted writer.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Start Reading The Secret Sky here!


Jessica Brock pic

Jessica works with romance titles from Berkley and NAL and is also a self-proclaimed YA enthusiast. She lives in Washington Heights and is a huge fan of Supernatural, all things Joss Whedon, and live music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

virginVirgin, by Radhika Sanghani

OMG EVERYONE HAS TO READ VIRGIN BY RADHIKA SANGHANI RIGHT NOW. Are you convinced? Not yet? Well how about I tell you that this book had me giggling like an idiot on the subway. Seriously, I haven’t laughed so hard at a book in years and it wasn’t just because it was funny. It’s incredibly poignant, especially to this generation of females. What we go through growing up, trying to understand boys, being afraid to ask real questions and this whole myriad of things that you might discuss with your closest friends is now written, and fantastically so, in this book.

I challenge any woman who reads this NOT to find at least one part of Ellie’s story that you don’t completely relate to, because I believe it is truly impossible.

 

enemyMy Beautiful Enemy, by Sherry Thomas

I’m still new to reading historical romances but MY BEAUTIFUL ENEMY by Sherry Thomas is just a wonderful addition to this genre. Not only does Thomas write intelligent heroines, but this story has off-the-charts chemistry and an action-packed mystery to boot. There’s something to be said for the sexual tension in historicals because things can be a little more buttoned up, but Thomas balances heat with emotion that can’t be missed.

 

 

 

 

boundtodangerBound to Danger, by Katie Reus

So I love action movies. Like really and truly thoroughly enjoy them. So when that gets combined with a steamy romance plot? Perfection! And so is BOUND TO DANGER by Katie Reus. Being on the run from terrorists and a person of interest to the NSA are some seriously high stakes and it’s those kinds of situations that rev up emotions to warp speed. It can’t be helped and I can’t help but love it. What’s different about this series so far is that our heroes and heroines have a past with each other which makes their connection so much more believable and for me, more enjoyable.

 

 

 

guardedGuarded, by Mary Behre

GUARDED by Mary Behre is such a unique paranormal romance. I fell in love with this world in the first novel, Spirited, last spring and loved going back. This time, the “crift” is Shelley’s, and her curse/gift is the ability to communicate with animals. ← SOLD. When she realizes animals are being kidnapped from her local zoo, she contacts an old flame who not only knows her secret, but also happens to be a detective. Fun, fast-paced, plus animals!

 

 

 

 

unbrokenUnbroken, by Maisey Yates

Maisey Yates has grown a stellar reputation for writing the perfect balance of humor, emotion, and sexual chemistry. In UNBROKEN two of my all-time favorite romance tropes are used: pretend relationship that turns very real and the friends-to-lovers. Cade is Amber’s best friend that always seems to be rescuing her (which she hates) and he does it again this time by pretending to be her live-in boyfriend with plans to fix up her grandfather’s failing ranch. But they have to keep the charade going because of course Amber’s grandfather loves the idea of them together. It’s just that kind of situation that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling as you watch two people realize their true feelings for each other.

 

 

takeoverTakeover, by Anna Zabo

Last, but not least at all, is TAKEOVER by Anna Zabo. First, two hot dudes in hot suits, with super-hot feelings. And secondly… wait, is there supposed to be more? Well if you need more than those reasons to check out this M/M romance, then how about because it’s not only damn sexy (yes lady readers, don’t let the slash scare you!) but the emotions that Michael and Sam have to deal while in an office setting, not to mention Sam is Michael’s boss, give this story a dose of reality. Also, did I mention 2 HOT GUYS IN SUITS?

 

 

 

Those are my August romance recs for you, so happy reading!

Find more books on the Romance page!

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Rebecca

Rebecca Brewer is an editorial assistant/professional geek at Ace and Roc. When not working she can be found attending a show, at band practice, and forcing her favorite books onto friends and loved ones.

 

 

 

dark

Dark Currents, by Jacqueline Carey

I knew from reading her previous books that Jacqueline Carey’s urban fantasy series would be good, but I didn’t realize how much fun it was! The small resort town where the series takes place effortlessly blends many different paranormal creatures who make up the tight community.  With action, romance, and Carey’s imagination, this is the start to an amazing series.

 

 

 

 

night

Night Owls, by Lauren M. Roy

When I read Night Owls, a fantastic ensemble urban fantasy about a vampire who owns a bookstore and her group of friends, I knew I had to have it. If you’re looking for characters as vivid as those in Game of Thrones, and a new take on paranormal creatures, you have to read Night Owls.

 

 

 

 

 

midnight

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris is one of the best authors at combining genres, and this just cements her place as the master. This is a perfect blend of mystery and urban fantasy, with a fantastic setting that makes me nostalgic for my small town Texas home, though it’s just a bit more mysterious.

 

 

 

 

 

maplecroft

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

I’ve been counting down the days until this book is released and I can discuss it with others. In this perfectly atmospheric historical fantasy, Lizzie Border (with her axe) is fighting against something monstrous attacking people in Fall River. This is a perfect novel for those who love the Lovecraft mythos.

 

 

 

 

black wings

Black Wings, by Christina Henry

If a personable Agent of Death who guides soul to the afterlife isn’t enough to convince you to read this book, perhaps a very attractive (and potentially troublesome) neighbor will, along with a hilarious gargoyle with a penchant for junk food. The action packed plot and the fantastic voice will make any urban fantasy fan happy.

 

 

 

 

bloodring

Bloodring, by Faith Hunter

Most people encounter Faith Hunter’s work through her Jane Yellowrock series, but I fell in love with her book Bloodring first. It’s the first in her Rogue Mage series where Seraphs and Demons fight battle while the remaining humans must use their wits and our main character, a mage, fights for the ones she loves. Dark, exciting, and passionate, with an overarching mystery and an upcoming battle on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

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Marissa

Marissa Grossman is an Editorial Assistant at Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. Like any self-respecting pop culture addict, she watches far too much television and loves all things social media. You can find her on Twitter @marissagrossman.

 

 

 

 

The Law of Loving OthersThe Law of Loving Others, by Kate Axelrod

I might be cheating a little, since this book won’t be available until 2015, but I can’t imagine leaving it off my list. The Law of Loving Others tells the story of Emma, who returns home from boarding school to find that her mother is in the middle of a schizophrenic break. Debut author Kate Axelrod’s stunning, emotional novel takes us inside Emma’s mind as she struggles with the shocking news of her mother’s condition and the questions it raises about her own mental health. Are Emma’s moments of anxiety and distant feelings toward her boyfriend a normal reaction to something so stressful, or could they be a precursor to her own battle with schizophrenia? Can she handle such upheaval in her family, or is she just too fragile? Even if you’ve never had to deal with mental illness in your own life, you’ll definitely relate to Emma’s heart-wrenching journey as she learns what it means to love others–and herself–unconditionally.

spudSpud, by John van de Ruit

Somehow, this South African import has remained a mostly undiscovered gem. Sharing Catcher in the Rye’s wit and prep-school setting, Spud is a rollicking update on Salinger’s classic. The novel takes place in 1990 South Africa, just as Nelson Mandela is being released from prison and the country is beginning its march toward the end of apartheid. It’s a seminal moment in South Africa’s–and the world’s–history, but it’s seen through the eyes of 13-year-old John “Spud” Milton, who’s just trying to get through his first  year at boarding school. Though the novel’s setting may be specific, the coming-of-age themes are universal. Spud deals with mischievous roommates, a hilariously eccentric family, his first crush, feelings of alienation, and even death. This novel is filled with moments of intense heartbreak and unbridled joy; it’s cathartic, relatable, and uplifting. If you’re a fan of grounded YA, this one’s for you.

ladybughalloween

Ladybug Girl series, by Jacky Davis and David Soman

So here’s the thing: if you had seen my three-year-old cousin dressed up as Ladybug Girl for Halloween, you’d adore this series too. Lulu/Ladybug Girl is spunky, fearless, and imaginative. She’s basically everything you could ask for in a children’s book character. And the fact that she has a basset hound named Bingo? Well that’s just icing on the cake.

 

 

 

zodiac

Zodiac, by Romina Russell

Ok, this is another one that isn’t available quite yet, but I promise it’s worth the wait. Do you love astrology? Great! Do you know little-to-nothing about astrology? Same here! While Zodiac’s premise may revolve around the astrological signs, it’s really the perfect novel for anyone who loves thrilling adventures, epic worlds, and compelling characters. Romina Russell’s world-building is magnificent, reimagining the Zodiac as 12 different solar systems, each populated with characters who personify the traits of their respective signs. The protagonist, Rho, is a sci-fi Katniss Everdeen: a badass leader with just the right mix of snark and empathy. You’ll fall in love with Rho, a protective and loving Cancer, and you’ll definitely have trouble deciding which of the men in her life you like best: the brooding, sensitive Mathias (a Cancer like Rho), or Hysan, the charming, confident Libra. No matter which sign you are, you’ll adore this jaw-dropping blockbuster of a book.

 

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Ali

Ali Cardia is an Assistant Editor at Riverhead Books. She acquires and edits narrative nonfiction and memoir, like Jen Doll’s hilarious and insightful memoir Save the Date.

 

 

 

 

wanderingThe Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad

Fiction has this incredible ability to transport us to places we’ve never been, and really good fiction can open up the world.  This brilliant novel about the tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan follows Tor Baz, a young boy descended from both chiefs and outlaws, as he becomes the Wandering Falcon, travelling the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. This book is notable for a number of reasons: it offers a glimpse at a world that remains foreign and mysterious to many American readers; it’s heartbreakingly beautiful; and, amazingly, it was author Jamil Ahmad’s debut—published when he was 80-years-old. Ahmad passed away recently, and I’ve been thinking about how much I love this book, and how much I hope others will pick it up and fall in love with it, too. (Bonus points: it remains one of my favorite book jackets.)

9781594632334How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

This book left me speechless. And then, when I found speech again, the first thing I did was tell everyone in my immediate vicinity that they must read it immediately. RIGHT NOW. The book takes the form of a business self-help book—each chapter is a “lesson”—and follows a man from impoverished child to water mogul. But at its heart, this is a love story, and who doesn’t love those? This book hooks you and it does not let go—and at only 220 pages, it’s ok, because you don’t have to put it down! Just find some hours and go, go, go.

 

 

 

we are allWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler

If you like novels that are: fun, clever, unexpected, funny, tragic, and full of useful new vocab words (the narrator tells us right at the start that she loved words as a young girl: “When you think of two things to say, pick your favorite and only say that, my mother suggested once, as a tip to polite social behavior, and the rule was later modified to one in three.” Genius.), then We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is for you! Bring this book on vacation; it is a pure joy.

 

 

 

ForgottenForgotten Country, by Catherine Chung

Catherine Chung is the real deal. Her writing is smart, striking, and hits at a deep, emotional place. This book is about sisters—there is a more-than-good chance you will love this book if you have one of those—and also about family, history, tradition and loyalty.  Cheryl Strayed felt similarly and said this book had her “spellbound from page one,” so maybe I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

 

 

 

chang-rae 2On Such a Full Sea, by Chang-rae Lee

This book is creepy—you should know that going in—but it’s weird and unsettling in the best possible way (it’s written by the phenomenal, award-winning Chang-rae Lee, after all). The novel is set in a dystopian America, and the story follows a kick-ass young woman, Fan, who becomes a legend in her own time when she does the unthinkable: set off on her own to find her boyfriend, who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Lee is an amazing story-teller, and there are so many great stories from Fan’s journey, ones that stick with you long after you’ve finished reading the book.

 

 

 

 

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JTM

John Mercun works as the Consumer Engagement Manager for Penguin Random House’s Consumer Marketing Group and is known as “the funniest guy in the office”, mainly because no one else is editing this bio.  In his spare time, John is a police dispatcher, volunteer EMT, fantasy football fanatic and, when time permits, an avid reader.

 

 

 

taken

Taken, by Robert Crais

One of the great pleasures of working in publishing is being able to watch an author get more and more popular every year that they publish.  This is no truer than in the case of Robert Crais, who has made a name for himself as a terrific mystery writer.  Elvis Cole is easily one of my favorite literary characters, mainly because he always has a glib comment in the best or worst of times. Partnered with the strong but silent Joe Pike, together they take on a missing persons case that puts both of them up against more than they bargained for.

 

 

 

Cold Dish

The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson

If you’ve never seen A&E’s hit show LONGMIRE, you should first pick up The Cold Dish, the first novel in the series. We meet Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire for the first time as he is looking back on twenty-five years as sheriff and hoping to finish his tenure in peace.  When a high school boy is found dead, however, Walt’s hopes for a quiet finish to his career are dashed. Capturing the American West with great feel and authenticity, author Craig Johnson gives readers a mystery that they will keep reading well into the night.

 

 

 

Terminal City

Terminal City, by Linda Fairstein

In the two decades as the chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office of Manhattan, Linda Fairstein spent most of her time solving crimes.  Now she spends most of her time writing about people who solve crimes. Terminal City reunites readers with Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper who find themselves hunting for an elusive killer whose only signature is carving a carefully drawn symbol into his victims’ bodies. This thrill ride takes readers into the darkest heart of one of New York’s most iconic structures – Grand Central Terminal.

 

 

MarcoEffect

The Marco Effect, by Jussi Adler-Olsen

I’ve always appreciated the smart and surly police detective who walks to the beat of his own drum while getting the job done.  And no one fits that bill more than Carl Mørck, the deeply flawed head of Copenhagen’s unsolved crime unit known as “Department Q”.  With a few years left until retirement,  Mørck hopes to quietly whittle the time away in the basement of police headquarters. Unfortunately, that plan has yet to work out. This time, he’s chasing down a fifteen year old gypsy boy on the run and a mystery that extends from Denmark to Africa, from embezzlers to child soldiers, from seemingly petty crime rings to the very darkest of cover-ups. Coming this September!

 

 

Missing YouMissing You, by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is no stranger to the mystery and suspense world.  NYPD Detective Kat Donovan has become an old friend to his readers and, with each book, the friendship grows a little deeper.  Against her will, Kat is placed on an online dating site that at first she thinks is a waste of time.  But when she looks at the accompanying photo to one profile, her world comes crashing down.  Staring back her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, who broke her heart over 18 years ago.  Things are not what they seem, however, and when Kat reaches out to him an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light that Kat is forced to confront and stop.

 

 

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samraim

Sam Raim works in editorial for Penguin Books and Penguin Classics, where he advances his longtime goal of convincing everyone to read Saul Bellow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henderson the Rain King

Henderson the Rain King, by Saul Bellow

One of my favorite parts of working in Penguin Classics is having a row of Saul Bellow novels right above my desk. Bellow’s characters go through struggles relevant to us all and I’ve found his work to be a constant companion regardless of where my life has taken me. I’ll confess that my favorites are Herzog and Collected Stories, but Henderson has a special worth to me as the first Bellow I ever encountered. It’s full of his deeply profound and hilarious (yes, Bellow is funny!) musings on the human condition and I think it makes a perfect starting point for his work.

 

 

On Reading The Grapes of Wrath

On Reading the Grapes of Wrath, by Susan Shillinglaw

I love short, thoughtful books on big classics, like Nathaniel Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick? So in the months leading up to the 75th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath, I devoured Susan Shillinglaw’s concise study of Steinbeck’s classic. It’s a delight to climb into Professor Shillinglaw’s jalopy and let her guide us along the journey taken by both the Joads and John Steinbeck.

 

 

 

 

Dubliners

Dubliners, by James Joyce

Anniversaries are perfect opportunities and excuses to revisit books we haven’t read in far too long. I recently reread Joyce’s short story collection for its hundredth anniversary and found myself amazed by the capacity of its pivotal moments to move me just as strongly they did upon my first reading. The little boy staring up into the darkness at the end of “Araby,” the tragic inability of Eveline to follow her lover, and of course the snow falling “upon all the living and the dead”—these are the literary moments that have stayed with me like few others.

 

 

 

Book of First World War Poetry 2

The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry

2014 marks the centennial of the Great War (last anniversary, I promise!) so I’ve been digging back through the incredible literary output that resulted from what Wilfred Owen called “the pity of war.” The diverse poems in this collection — such horror so masterfully documented — are astonishing. It’s not only great war poetry, but it’s also some of the 20th century’s best poetry. Owen and Sassoon are of course household names, but Isaac Rosenberg and Edward Thomas are two of my favorites. In fact, Thomas’s “Rain” may be my favorite WWI poem.

 

 

 

Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary (translated by Lydia Davis), by Gustave Flaubert

“One had to discount, he thought, exaggerated speeches that concealed commonplace affections; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in the emptiest of metaphors, since none of us can ever express the exact measure of our needs, or our ideas, or our sorrows, and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when we long to inspire pity in the stars.” It shouldn’t take much more than that to convince you that it’s time to read Lydia Davis’s translation of Flaubert.

 

 

The Iliad

The Iliad (translated by Robert Fagles), by Homer

I like to think that the Iliad vs. Odyssey debate is a bit like the literary version of Beatles vs. Stones. Everyone has a side to take and though I love Odysseus’s journey, I can’t help finding myself drawn always to the epic scale of The Iliad. I’ve read this in numerous translations but my money’s on Fagles every time. No one else succeeds as he does in capturing the atmosphere and feeling of the Trojan War, the sheer grandeur of gods and men at battle. By this point, my copy looks as if it’s been through a war of its own.

 

 

 

Jacob's Room

Jacob’s Room, by Virginia Woolf

I’d be remiss if I didn’t end this with my favorite author. Jacob’s Room was Woolf’s attempt to do away with all the material trappings of the Edwardian novel (“no scaffolding; scarcely a brick to be seen,” she said). As the narrator and characters consider the eponymous Jacob, sifting through the people and places that made up his life, Woolf asks essential questions about how we know both the characters in our books and the people in our lives. The first of Woolf’s modernist efforts, Jacob’s Room perhaps lacks the elegance of later masterpieces, but that’s what keeps me coming back time and time again to search through those cracks for signs of Jacob.

 

 

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