Category: books

The top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2021 –

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CBC Books is counting down the top 10 bestselling Canadian titles of 2021, using data from close to 300 independent Canadian bookstores, courtesy of Bookmanager

You can listen to the countdown special hosted by Ali Hassan below or keep scrolling to see which books made the cut! 

CBC Books51:09The CBC Books Holiday Radio Special: The top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2021

Canada Reads host Ali Hassan counts down the top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2021 using data from nearly 300 independent Canadian bookstores, courtesy of Bookmanager.

“Indian” in the Cabinet is a book by Jody Wilson-Raybould. (HarperCollins Canada, Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Based in Vancouver, Jody Wilson-Raybould is the former justice minister for Trudeau’s Liberal parliament. She writes about how her optimism to make meaningful political change was eroded by issues of “inclusivity, deficiencies of political will and concerns about adherence to core principles of our democracy.” She shared her story in the nonfiction book Indian in the Cabinet.

Indian in the Cabinet was a finalist for the 2021 Balsillie Prize for best Canadian public policy book.

Based in Vancouver, Wilson-Raybould is the former justice minister for Trudeau’s Liberal parliament. Wilson-Raybould resigned from the cabinet after the months-long SNC-Lavalin affair. She is also the author of From Where I Stand.

The Current19:26Jody Wilson-Raybould talks about reconciliation, her time in government, and her new book about speaking truth to power

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she’s well aware of the importance of symbolism as Canada marks its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. But she said that symbols and words alone will not be enough to push forward true reconciliation. In an interview with Matt Galloway, she talks about the day, her time in government, and her new book, Indian in the Cabinet, Speaking Truth to Power.

Francesca Ekwuyasi is the author of Butter Honey Pig Bread. (Submitted by Francesca Ekwuyasi/CBC)

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she is a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.

Butter Honey Pig Bread was championed by Roger Mooking on Canada Reads 2021. It was also on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Prize for fiction.

Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in the Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey PrizeButter Honey Pig Bread is her first book. She currently lives in Halifax.

Canada Reads 2021: Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

1 year ago

Duration 1:12

Roger Mooking is championing Butter Honey Pig Bread on Canada Reads 2021.

Fight Night is the latest novel by Canadian author Miriam Toews. (Knopf Canada, Carol Loewen)

In Fight Night, nine-year-old Swiv lives in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma gives Swiv the task of writing to her absent father about what life is like in the house during her mother’s final trimester. In turn, Swiv tells Grandma to write a letter to her unborn grandchild. 

Fight Night was on the shortlist for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Miriam Toews is the Toronto-based author of seven novels, including Women TalkingAll My Puny SorrowsA Complicated Kindness and The Flying Troutmans. Her 2018 novel, Women Talkingwas a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction

A Complicated Kindness won Canada Reads in 2006, when it was defended by John K. Samson. Toews lives in Toronto. Her other award wins include the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Writers’ Trust Engel Findley Award.

16:27Miriam Toews on Fight Night

Miriam Toews talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest novel, Fight Night.

Cherie Dimaline is the author of The Marrow Thieves. (Peter Power/CBC, Dancing Cat Books)

​In the dystopian world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, climate change has ravaged the Earth and a continent-wide hunt and slaughter of Indigenous people is underway. Wanted for their bone marrow, which contains the lost ability to dream, a group of Indigenous people seek refuge in the old lands. 

In 2017, The Marrow Thieves won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young people’s literature — text and the Kirkus Prize for young readers’ literature. It is currently being adapted for television. The sequel, Hunting by Starswas released in 2021.

The Marrow Thieves was defended by Jully Black on Canada Reads 2018.

Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor. Her other books include Red RoomsThe Girl Who Grew a GalaxyA Gentle Habit and Empire of WildThe Marrow Thieves was named one of Time magazine’s top 100 YA novels of all time

Dimaline won the 2021 Writers’ Trust Engel Findley Award. The $25,000 recognizes the accomplishments of a fiction writer in the middle of her career.

The Marrow Thieves Trailer

4 years ago

Duration 0:50

Canada Reads trailer for Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves.

State of Terror is a novel by Louise Penny, left, and Hillary Clinton, right. (Jean-Francois Berube, Simon & Schuster, Joe McNally)

State of Terror is a thriller co-written by Canadian writer Louise Penny and former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton. The president of a newly sworn in administration has chosen Ellen Adams, a political enemy, as his secretary of state. As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with the secretary in attendance, a young foreign service officer receives a baffling text. The terrorist attacks that follows is revealed to involve the volatile politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, the Russian mob and an American government weakened on the world stage. Now, it’s up to Adams and her team to defeat it.

Penny is the author of the bestselling series of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She’s won numerous prestigious literary awards focused on mystery fiction. In 2017, she received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture.

Clinton served as the 67th U.S. secretary of state and was the first woman in United States history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She has been in public service for nearly four decades advocating for children and families as an attorney, first lady and senator.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny on their political thriller, State of Terror

8 months ago

Duration 2:44

Good friends Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny talk about their first novel together, State of Terror, which follows newly appointed U.S. secretary of state Ellen Adams and her race to stop a series of international terrorist attacks.

Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead. (Submitted by Joshua Whitehead/CBC, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Jonny Appleseed is a novel about a two-spirit Indigiqueer young man who has left the reserve and becomes a cybersex worker in the city to make ends meet. But he must reckon with his past when he returns home to attend his stepfather’s funeral. 

Jonny Appleseed won Canada Reads 2021, when it was championed by actor Devery Jacobs.

The novel was on the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the shortlist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and was a finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It also won the Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction and has been optioned for a screen adaptation.

Joshua Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation, currently pursuing his PhD. He is also the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer and is the editor of the anthology Love after the EndJonny Appleseed is his first novel.

q12:39Canada Reads champions Devery Jacobs and Joshua Whitehead reflect on their big win

Canada Reads champions Devery Jacobs and Joshua Whitehead joined Tom Power to talk about winning this year’s battle of the books with Whitehead’s debut novel Jonny Appleseed.

The Madness of Crowds is a novel by Louise Penny. (Raincoast Books, Jean-Francois Berube)

The Madness of Crowds is the latest book in Louise Penny’s popular Armand Gamache series. This time, the Chief Inspector’s family holiday is interrupted by a simple request. He’s asked to provide security for a visiting professor of statistics who will be giving a lecture at a nearby university. But he soon discovers the professor’s agenda, one so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture, to no avail. They accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, the professor’s views start seeping into conversations and it becomes nearly impossible to tell truth, reality and delusion apart.

Penny is the author of the bestselling Armand Gamache mystery novels. She’s won two Arthur Ellis Awards, seven Agatha Awards, five Anthony Awards and three Macavity Awards. In 2017, she received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture. Penny lives in Knowlton, Que., a small village outside of Montreal.

14:22Louise Penny on The Madness of Crowds

Louise Penny talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest book, The Madness of Crowds.

Finding the Mother Tree is a memoir by Suzanne Simard. (Bill Heath, Allen Lane)

Biologist Suzanne Simard discovered the reality of the interconnection and intelligence of the forest. She’s been able to find out that the trees are indeed whispering to each other — communicating not through the wind, but through the soil. Her new scientific memoir, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, describes her life and research. 

Finding the Mother Tree was the grand prize winner for the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Competition and a category winner for the mountain environment and natural history award.

Simard is a B.C.-based author and academic who grew up in Canadian forests as a descendant of loggers. She is a professor in the department of forest and conservation sciences at the University of British Columbia. 

19:37Suzanne Simard on Finding the Mother Tree

Suzanne Simard talks to Shelagh Rogers about her book, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest.

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph is a guide to understanding the Indian Act, created in 1876, and its ongoing impact on Indigenous people in Canada. (

Based on a viral article, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act is the essential guide to understanding the 1876 Indian Act and its repercussions on generations of Indigenous Peoples. It also explores how the legal document’s legacy has shaped the lives of Indigenous people from 1876 until now.

Bob Joseph is a member of the Gwawaenuk Nation and is an initiated member of the Hamatsa Society. He is the founder of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. and is the author of several books about Indigenous history and relations, including Indigenous Relations and Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples.

On The Island9:07Talking Reconciliation with Bob Joseph

Gregor Craigie spoke with Bob Joseph, author of “21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act,” about the history, and ongoing work, of reconciliation.

Five Little Indians is a novel by Michelle Good. (Harper Perennial, Candice Camille)

In Five Little Indians, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie were taken from their families and sent to a residential school when they were very small. Barely out of childhood, they are released and left to contend with the seedy world of eastside Vancouver. Fuelled by the trauma of their childhood, the five friends cross paths over the decades and struggle with the weight of their shared past. 

Five Little Indians won the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It was also on the 2020 Writers’s Trust Fiction Prize shortlist and the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

Michelle Good is a Cree writer and retired lawyer, as well as a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Good holds an MFA and a law degree from the University of British Columbia and, as a lawyer, advocated for residential school survivors. Five Little Indians is her first book. CBC Books named her a writer to watch in 2020.

20:31Michelle Good on Five Little Indians

Michelle Good talks to Shelagh Rogers about her fictional book Five Little Indians.

Categories: books

Our Writers Pick 20 Books About Art and the Art World to Keep You Reading Well Into the New Year – artnet News

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One of the best parts of a holiday vacation is finally getting to curl up with a good book (perhaps that one that’s been waiting patiently on your nightstand for months!).

Below, we’ve selected 20 novels, memoirs, biographies and other books all themed around art or the art world. Happy reading!

1. Far From Respectable: Dave Hickey and his Art by Daniel Oppenheimer (2021)

From From Respectable: Dave Hickey and his Art by Daniel Oppenheimer. Courtesy University of Texas Press.

From From Respectable: Dave Hickey and His Art by Daniel Oppenheimer. Courtesy University of Texas Press.

The late art critic and iconoclast Dave Hickey rose to fame with his cult classic book from 1993 The Invisible Dragon. “Bad taste is real taste, of course, and good taste is the residue of someone else’s privilege,” he famously wrote. His writings are a contentious takedown of the art establishment and they encourage us to rethink out relationship to beauty. David Oppenheimer’s new book traces the history of this unique mind and his impact on art and writing.

Find it at: University of Texas Press.

—Kate Brown

2. The Gilded Edge: Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle That Shook America by Catherine Prendergast (2021)

The Gilded Edge Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle That Shook America by Catherine Prendergast. Courtesy of Penguin Random House.

The Gilded Edge: Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle That Shook America by Catherine Prendergast. Courtesy of Penguin Random House.

In this Gilded Age tale of a bohemian fairy tale gone wrong, Catherine Predergast delves into the history of the Carmel-by-the-Sea artist colony on California’s Monterey Peninsula—and how a tumultuous love triangle turned deadly. It stars a talented female poet, Nora May French, who has been unfairly forgotten in U.S. literary history. 

Find it at: Penguin Random House

—Sarah Cascone

3. My New Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh (2021)

Ottessa Moshfegh, “My New Novel” / Issy Wood, “The down payment” (New York: Picture Books | Gagosian, 2021)

Ottessa Moshfegh, My New Novel and Issy Wood, The down payment (New York: Picture Books | Gagosian, 2021) 

Although it never directly targets the art world, Moshfegh’s standalone story nevertheless implicates some of its most exhausting characters by mercilessly satirizing the creative process (or what passes for it, at least) of a man with more resources than talent, vision, or commitment. But the best contemporary-art connection lives outside the pages; as the inaugural entry in Gagosian’s new “Picture Books” series, which pairs celebrated authors with celebrated artists, every copy of My New Novel comes with a limited-edition poster of a painting made by Issy Wood that was made in response to Moshfegh’s story. 

Find it at: The Gagosian Shop.

Tim Schneider

4. The Ultimate Art Museum by Ferren Gipson (2021) 

<em>The Ultimate Art Museum</em> by Ferren Gipson (2021). Photo courtesy of Phaidon.” width=”600″ height=”545″ srcset=” 600w, 300w,×45.jpg 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”></p>
<p id=The Ultimate Art Museum by Ferren Gipson (2021). Photo courtesy of Phaidon.

Ferren Gipson’s fascinating book offers a curated collection of global art in the form of an imaginary museum for children ages eight to 14. Gipson is a museum tour guide, walking the reader through 40,000 years of art, ranging from prehistoric caves to contemporary paintings across three wings, 18 galleries, and 129 rooms. There are also interactive elements such as “detective” boxes and fold out-maps. 

“I think it’s good for people of any age to share their thoughts and opinions on art, and to feel encouraged that there are no wrong or bad opinions,” Gipson told Artnet News. “There are so many ways to approach an artwork, from how it makes you feel, to the symbolism within the piece, and beyond. I think one of the most important things to do is to make sure people know their opinions are welcome and valid.” 

Find it at: Phaidon

—Eileen Kinsella

5. Walking Through Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller (1990)

Cookie Mueller, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, new edition: Collected Stories (1990). (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents).

Cookie Mueller, a member of John Waters’s legion of weirdos known as the “Dreamlanders,”  writes prolifically about her life as an outsider, scoundrel, druggie, and glamour hound throughout 40 years of hard-lived life. Mueller’s prose might trick you into thinking you’re reading simple drinking stories, but really she’s presenting ideas about mortality, loss, joie de vivre, and the how the hippie generation permanently changed American culture. The book is one of the most popular books published by Semiotext(e), the art book publisher founded by Sylvère Lotringer, who died earlier this year. Best enjoyed with a hard drink in a dimly lit dive bar. 

Find it at: Semiotext(e), Mast Books

—Annie Armstrong

6. The Lost Notebook of Édouard Manet: A Novel by Maureen Gibbon (2021)

The Lost Notebook of Édouard Manet: A Novel by Maureen Gibbon. Courtesy of Norton.

The Lost Notebook of Édouard Manet: A Novel by Maureen Gibbon. Courtesy of Norton.

This work of historical fiction transports the viewer to 19th-century Paris, where Édouard Manet, ravaged by syphilis, manages to paint his final masterpiece, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. Author Maureen Gibbon explores the artist’s inspirations in his final years, including Manet’s mysterious muse, Suzon.

Find it at: W.W. Norton

—Sarah Cascone

7. 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir by Ai Weiwei (2021)

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei. Photo Courtesy Penguin Random House

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei. Photo Courtesy Penguin Random House

This highly anticipated memoir by one of the world’s most famous Chinese artists is more than just a personal tale, but a story that mirrors the evolution of China from over the past century. It’s told through the experiences of three generations of Ai’s family: the artist’s father, Ai Qing, a famous poet, Ai Weiwei himself, and his son Lao. This English version of the book offers Western audiences a glimpse into the life and trauma that was endured by generations in the country. 

Find it at: Bookshop.orgPenguin Random House 

—Vivienne Chow

8. Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari (2021)

Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari. Courtesy of Source Books.

Dark Things I Adore by Katie Lattari. Courtesy of Source Books.

This suspenseful novel starts out at an art school in 2018, with a talented young student setting up a studio visit in Maine with her mentor, a professor who didn’t quite make good on his early artistic promise but still commands a certain amount of respect. The narrative is soon complicated by flashbacks to the events of 30 years earlier at a Maine artist colony and a slowly unraveling mystery takes a dark turn thanks to one of the character’s long-simmering desire for revenge. 

Find it at: Sourcebooks

—Sarah Cascone 

9. Belonging and Betrayal: How Jews Made the Art World Modern by Charles Dellheim (2021)

Belonging and Betrayal: How Jews Made the Art World Modern by Charles Dellheim. Courtesy of Brandeis University Press.

Belonging and Betrayal: How Jews Made the Art World Modern by Charles Dellheim. Courtesy of Brandeis University Press.

As restitution cases related to artworks looted or sold under duress to Nazis in the 1930s and ‘40s continue to make their way through the courts, Charles Dellheim investigates the unanswered question of how so many Jews came to own such important works of art in the first place, despite being an outsider group. 

Find it at: Brandeis University Press

—Sarah Cascone

10. The Art Fair Story: A Rollercoaster Ride by Melanie Gerlis (2021)

Melanie Gerlis, The Art Fair Story (2021).

Seasoned art market reporter and Financial Times columnist Melanie Gerlis has done a deep dive into the art fair, the trade shows that have been going on for half a century and are now part of the fabric of the art industry. In a scintillating read, Gerlis charts the rise of these platforms from their postwar origins to the globalized mega-events they have become today—and raises important questions about their uncertain future in a transformed world. 

Find it at: Lund Humphries

Naomi Rea

11. Dark Mirrors by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa (2021)

Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa's Dark Mirrors (2021). Courtesy of MACK.

Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa’s Dark Mirrors (2021). Courtesy of MACK.

Wolukau-Wanambwa covers a great deal of ground in the 16 contemplative essays of Dark Mirrors, touching on the practices of image-makers like Deana Lawson, Arthur Jafa, Rosalind Fox Solomon, and Paul Pfeiffer along the way. If there’s anything that unites them all it’s an interest in the shifting ways images shape contemporary dialectics—especially around race—and how artists observe, probe, and unpack that process. 

Find it at: MACK Books

Taylor Dafoe

12. Creatives on Creativity by Steve Brouwers (2021)

Creatives on Creativity by Steve Brouwers. Courtesy of ACC Art Books.

Creatives on Creativity by Steve Brouwers. Courtesy of ACC Art Books.

Steve Brouwers, a Belgian creative director, presents a series of interviews with 44 successful makers of all stripes—including Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert, artist Ryan Gander, and illustrator Maira Kalman—sharing their thoughts on the creative process and their inspirations, fears, and failures. 

Find it at: ACC Art Books 

—Sarah Cascone

13. Still Life by Sarah Winman, (2021)

Image courtesy Putnam Publishers

Image courtesy Putnam Publishers.

This art-centric piece of historical fiction spans four decades, kicking off in Tuscany in 1944 as Allied troops are advancing. Ulysses Temper is a young English solider who accidentally meets Evelyn Skinner, an older art historian who is in the country to try to salvage an important painting. Their initial spark of connection touches off a course of events that shapes Ulysses’s life for the next 40 years, including an unexpected inheritance that prompts his return to the hills of Tuscany. Winman has garnered much-deserved praise for her sweeping poetic prose in a rich narrative that weaves together love, war, art, the ghost of E.M. Forster, and an epic flood. 

Find it at: Penguin Random House

Eileen Kinsella

14. Luisa Roldán by Catherine Hall-van den Elsen (2021)

Catherine Hall-van den Elsen, Luisa Roldán. Courtesy of Getty Books.

The first book in the new series “Illuminating Women Artists” is dedicated to the Spanish Baroque artist Luisa Roldán (1652–1706), known as La Roldana. (A second, about Artsemisia Gentileschi, is due out in February.) In addition to highlighting her considerable skill in sculpting polychrome wood and terracotta sculptures, Catherine Hall-van den Elsen delves into 17th-century Spanish society, painting a picture of what life would have been like for a woman of the era, and the challenges faced by women artists in particular.   

Find it at: The Getty Shop

—Sarah Cascone

15. Writings on Art 2006–2021 by Robert Storr (2021)

Writings on Art 2006-2021 by Robert Storr. Courtesy HENI Publishing.

Writings on Art 2006-2021 by Robert Storr. Courtesy HENI Publishing.

This new compilation of writing, published last month, pulls together 51 of Storr’s most captivating articles, essays, and other texts from the past 15 years. The esteemed critic writes passionately and intelligently about 45 international artists, including El Anatsui, Francesco Clemente, and David Hammons—sometimes in texts published in English for the first time. The book is the follow-up to Storr’s essential volume one, titled Writings on Art 1980-2005, which was also edited by Francesca Pietropaolo. 

Find it at: HENI Publishing

Kate Brown

16. Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts by Jed Perl (2022) 

Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts, by Jed Perl (2022), Courtesy of Penguin Randomhouse.

Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts by Jed Perl (2022), Courtesy of Penguin Random House.

This forthcoming book is written by former New Republic art critic Jed Perl, who is the author of eight books, including a two-volume biography of Alexander Calder. Perl’s new tome tackles, in the words of Guillaume Apollinaire, a “long quarrel between tradition and invention.” Analyzing the work and lives of creative geniuses in a variety of disciplesfrom Mozart and Michelangelo to Picasso and Aretha FranklinPerl argues that authority and freedom are the “lifeblood of the arts.”

Find it at: Penguin Random House

Katya Kazakina

17. Magritte: A Life by Alex Danchev (2021)

Magritte: A Life by Alex Danchev. Courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Magritte: A Life by Alex Danchev. Courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Believe it or not, this is the first major biography of the renowned Surrealist René Magritte. Author Alex Danchev argues that the Belgian artist is one of the most important image makers of the 20th century, having influenced such disparate figures as Jasper Johns and Beyoncé. Beyond illuminating lesser-known details of the artist’s life and career, the book includes 50 color illustrations as well as more than 160 black and white images, including legendary works as The Treachery of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) and Man in a Bowler Hat

Find it at: Penguin Random House

—Sarah Cascone

18. How to See: Looking, Talking and Thinking About Art by David Salle (2016) 

David Salle’s How to See (2016). Courtesy of W.W. Norton.

David Salle’s criticism reads like a conversation with an artist, because, well, it basically is. Each essay in the painter’s first book of critical essays (we hear another one is in the works) offers cerebral ruminations on art that can challenge your sensibilities, make you laugh out loud, and, of course, teach you how to see art as an artist does. 

Find it at: W.W. Norton

—Annie Armstrong

19. The Boy Who Drew Auschwitz: A Powerful True Story of Hope and Survival by Thomas Geve (2021)

The Boy Who Drew Auschwitz: A Powerful True Story of Hope and Survival by Thomas Geve. Courtesy of Harper Collins.

The Boy Who Drew Auschwitz: A Powerful True Story of Hope and Survival by Thomas Geve. Courtesy of Harper Collins.

For 22 months, 13-year-old Thomas Geve survived the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the Allies freed the prisoners, he was initially too weak to leave. He spent his two months of recovery making over 80 drawings, 56 of which are published here with a revised version of Geve’s first-hand account of life in the camp. “These stories,” he wrote, “give voice to my comrades who did not get to see the day of liberation. My world was their world as well. My words would give their personalities and dreams, which had perished so unfairly and too soon, eternal life.” 

Find it at: Harper Collins

—Sarah Cascone 

20. Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age by Annalee Newitz (2021)

Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age by Annalee Newitz. Courtesy of Norton.

Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age by Annalee Newitz. Courtesy of Norton.

Archaeology fans will be fascinated to learn more about the rise and fall of four ancient cities: Rome’s Pompeii in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius; Cambodia’s stone temples at Angkor Watt; the massive mounds of Cahokia near modern-day St. Louis, and the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey. Annalee Newitz visited all four sites and was able to identify the environmental changes and political turmoil that helped lead to the demise of these once-thriving settlements—and she considers what lessons about urban life contemporary society can draw from ancient history. 

Find it at: W.W. Norton

—Sarah Cascone

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Categories: books

34 Great Books to Read Right Now for Any Mood or Interest – Real Simple

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When we’re looking for good books to read, we browse bestseller lists, click around Goodreads and Instagram, and ask friends for their recommendations. But the usual blanket categories and genres can be a bit too broad, and often, we’ve found that we get the best recommendations when we choose books based on our mood or our interests.

If you’re looking for interesting books to read, we’ve compiled a list of 34 super-specific recommendations you won’t be able to put down. This list has you covered, no matter how you’re feeling.

RELATED: The Best Books of 2021

Categories: books

[#RapplerReads] Self-improvement books to read for the New Year, a new you – Rappler

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Editor’s note: #RapplerReads is a project by the BrandRap team. We earn a commission every time you shop through the affiliate links below.

Do you still make New Year’s resolutions or have you decided to shun this practice? Whichever side you’re on, it’s still good to set some goals you want to achieve. You can do it anytime, but doing it as we enter a new year just makes it a little bit symbolic, a fresh start.

If you’re tired of the usual resolutions like losing weight or spending less, why not try something that may seem less grand but could be more impactful in the long run? Maybe simple goals like becoming 1% better every day or learning how to react to negative situations? 

For our January #RapplerReads, we are sharing with you some of the books that helped us become better people. Self-help books may not be for everyone but we hope you find something that you can read as you welcome the New Year and a new you.

(READ: [OPINION] In defense of reading self-help books)

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

The Daily Stoic is a daily book that you can read either one page a day for 365 days or all at once if you like. This book about the ideals and attitudes of ancient stoics like Marcus Aurelius completely changed how I view life. The lessons on managing emotions like anger and pleasure, focusing only on things that I can control have been helping me react to things – both good and bad – in a way that’s not self-damaging. Since reading this book, I’ve been able to step back and take the quickest route to solving a problem whenever I’m faced with one, whether that’s at work, at home, or in situations that would really test even the most patient person like dealing with aggressive drivers on the road or poor customer service. 

The public has polarizing views about this book and its author – stoicism has even become a butt of online jokes – because that’s what happens when a book goes mainstream. But if we take these lessons with a discerning mind, the results are going to be truly beneficial. 

– Marj Handog, BrandRap editor

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum 

I read this book in high school, a time when I was concerned with getting good grades so I could get into the best universities in the country. So I was skeptical: How could I already know everything I would need to know about life? In this book, Fulghum expands on lessons we were taught in kindergarten. Learnings like sharing everything, playing fair, taking a nap every afternoon are recontextualized in many different ways. 

My favorite kindergarten advice is one I try to follow daily. “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.” When I was younger, I was more concerned with getting ahead of everyone in pursuit of my goals. But this advice reminds me that it will always be better to take a moment to breathe and look at my surroundings, check who I can help, and cross the finish line with other people like my family, friends, or coworkers. This book, above everything, grounds me. I’m not the smartest or the best person in the room, but I don’t need to be. I know everything I need to know, and I learned it all in kindergarten.

– Raven Lingat, Senior BrandRap producer and GoodRap lead

DK Atlases

This is the original book I had, but it’s out of print so this would do 🙂

I was never a reader growing up, and the earliest memory I have of owning a book is getting an estranged parent to buy the “Ultimate Pocket World Atlas” for me. It opened up my fascination with geography, world history (mostly contemporary), linguistics (in an amateurish kind of way), and basically, looking at maps. In fourth grade, I tried to memorize capitals and even made an Excel sheet of which territories remained under the possession of colonial powers (France has Réunion beside Madagascar, for example, and they still do!), while other kids pored over fantasy books, video games, and the like. 

I thought it was just a childhood fancy, but growing older, I found myself drawn to world news and features on other cultures. (Check my YouTube watch history.) Even if I didn’t have the physical means, I wandered. The vastness of the world amazes me. I can drift away to any other reality when my own dissatisfies me. It’s not the healthiest of coping mechanisms, but it got me through adolescence and now, adulthood. Any other kid or person can also get by knowing that the world is big enough for all of our dreams and ambitions.

– Jaco Joves, Senior BrandRap producer and #CheckThisOut lead

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a compact philosophical text with practical life advice. Funny enough, I found this recommendation from another book, Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson, who famously integrated zen practices like meditation into his professional coaching. As with many of us remote workers, I have adopted meditation and breathing exercises into my daily routine, but it took years for me to get truly comfortable. For those like me, who need help finding a natural rhythm with their breathing, this book suggests to think of the throat as “a swinging door,” where air merely passes in and out. 

Shinryu Suzuki’s book, which dons a modern, secular view on zazen meditation, encourages readers to let go of dualistic thinking — you and I, this and that, good and bad. Thus, when we breathe, we are not necessarily inhaling air into our bodies, then exhaling it out to the world, we are simply letting the air pass through this one world, which our bodies are a part of. Among its other practical benefits, the book reminds us to always maintain good posture. When you keep yourself in order, you keep the world in order.

– Pawi Bitanga, BrandRap Producer and host of Inside the Industry podcast

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

The book received a lot of praise when it first came out but has since then been receiving mixed reactions from readers. Some are praising the book for making an impact in people’s lives, others call it crude and unnecessarily vulgar with not a lot of substance going on. On a personal note, however, it was a good reminder not to give so many f*cks about what other people think. 

When I first read the book, I was at a point in my life when I lost sight of my own aspirations and was beginning to follow career trajectories that other people had laid before me. I was also a serial people pleaser who couldn’t say no or had trouble telling people how I truly felt. I felt overworked and miserable, and reading the book reminded me that I had my own path to follow. It was an eyeopener, especially for someone whose mind needed a break from too much seriousness in life. Online critics don’t give Mark Manson a lot of credit, especially since he used to be a dating coach. But his words did teach me that living life according to someone else’s definition of success isn’t a life worth living.

– Julian Cirineo, Senior BrandRap producer and CommuniCart lead

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

James Clear’s Atomic Habits says what other self-development books won’t tell you: goals suck. You hit one; you pine for another. You fail at one; you quit. And while goals have a function, I’m sure it’s not a weapon for being unkind to your future self. It’s not sustainable. What is sustainable is slowly but surely turning yourself into the person you want to become. Forget about reading 50 books a year. Start reading five pages every day. Then, when five pages become easy, move up to ten, fifteen, and so on. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to hit 50 books, but it will turn you into a better reader than you were yesterday. 

Applying this to other areas of life yields actually fulfilling results, from becoming smarter with money to building stronger relationships with loved ones. A life-changing read for me.

– Armando dela Cruz, Senior Content Strategist and host of Play of the Week

How about you? Got any self-help books you highly recommend? –

Categories: books

Katie Couric Likes Books on Paper, and Articles Onscreen – The New York Times

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“Sometimes I read my iPad in the bathtub, which is probably not a great idea,” says the broadcast journalist Katie Couric, whose new memoir is “Going There.”

What books are on your night stand?

Sally Rooney’s “Beautiful World, Where Are You” and Jean Hanff Korelitz’s “The Plot” are both on my night stand. “The Vanishing Half” is nearby; I still haven’t had a chance to read it, but I’ve heard Brit Bennett is brilliant. I also bought “Oh, William!” I have read every book Elizabeth Strout has written, so I’m excited when I can stop thinking and talking about my own book and start reading others.

What’s the last great book you read?

I recently read “Becoming Duchess Goldblatt” for the second time — it’s a memoir, written by anonymous, about a working woman in the throes of motherhood and divorce who takes on an online persona named “Duchess Goldblatt” and develops a special relationship with … Lyle Lovett. The book is quirky and moving and Duchess has become a wise, comforting voice on Twitter that provides an excellent counterbalance to all the vitriol.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

“Things Fall Apart,” by Chinua Achebe. My daughters both read it in high school and I finally caught up. I loved the lilting lyricism of the prose.

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

I love reading newsletters and articles in the morning when I wake up. I spend about an hour reading the news and saving pieces that are too long and would keep me from ever getting out of bed. At night, I dig into them on my iPad. I love The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Time, Medium and so many other great publications. These pieces always restore my faith in journalism and thoughtful, nuanced writing. Sometimes I read my iPad in the bathtub, which is probably not a great idea.

But I still love the feel of holding an actual book in my hands. My favorite place to read is at the beach in the late afternoon. That’s where I read “Fleishman Is in Trouble” (I love Taffy Brodesser-Akner) and reread “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone,” by Lori Gottlieb, because she and I are developing the book into a scripted series.

Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

Amor Towles, Lisa Taddeo, Isabel Wilkerson, Jia Tolentino, Joan Didion, Colson Whitehead, Bob Woodward, Cheryl Strayed, Michael Lewis, Ibram X. Kendi, Curtis Sittenfeld.

Do you have any comfort reads?

My mom’s copy of “The Best Loved Poems of the American People.” My mom loved poetry and when I read “In Flanders Fields” it always makes me think of her.

Has a book ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you?

My sister Clara (Kiki) is a voracious reader. A few years ago, she told me what an impact “The Warmth of Other Suns” had on her. She said it was the most important book she ever read. I read it and thought it was a masterpiece. It prompted several rich and memorable conversations between us. Then, when my husband and I were planning to visit Auschwitz a few years ago, my mother-in-law, Paula, suggested I read Primo Levi’s “If This Is a Man.” The memoir made the experience even more meaningful and made me appreciate Paula even more.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

Sheera Frenkel’s and Cecilia Kang’s brilliant exposé of Facebook, “An Ugly Truth,” revealed the nefarious actions by company executives months before Frances Haugen blew the lid off the whole enterprise. These two should win a Pulitzer Prize.

Even before the pandemic, I’d been interested in exploring the epidemic of loneliness. “Together,” by Vivek Murthy, underscored how loneliness and social isolation damage our emotional and physical health. It’s the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

Sanjay Gupta’s book “Keep Sharp” says that occasionally holding your fork with your less dominant hand helps with brain health. Who knew?

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

There have been so many excellent books written lately about the environment and I’d welcome even more. Recently on my podcast I featured Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, the authors of “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.” My friends Laurie David and Heather Reisman also wrote a book called “Imagine It!” Both books explain in an accessible way our current environmental challenges, but more important, they help us understand what we can do collectively and individually.

Meanwhile, more and more authors are writing honestly about loss and grief, which is something I tried to do in my memoir. “When Breath Becomes Air,” by Paul Kalanithi, “The Light of the World,” by Elizabeth Alexander, and “Notes on Grief,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, helped me metabolize my own experience.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

Beautiful, descriptive sentences that play with language in original, unexpected ways. I know I love a book when I read a passage and it stops me in my tracks and makes me read it again. I did this repeatedly when I read Lisa Taddeo’s book “Three Women” as well as her novel, “Animal.”

Have you ever changed your opinion of a book based on information about the author, or anything else?

Katharine Graham was a mythic, almost unknowable figure for me growing up outside Washington, D.C. Her memoir, “Personal History,” was fascinating. It not only helped me understand some of the issues she wrestled with and the challenges she faced running The Washington Post, but it allowed me to connect with her on a deeply personal level, because she was so forthcoming about every aspect of her life.

How do you organize your books?

Easy answer: I don’t. My daughter Ellie color-coded one of our bookshelves and it looks great, but organizing doesn’t exactly fall within my skill set. Besides, there’s something fun about perusing the spines, not knowing what you’ll stumble upon next.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

“Golf Courses of the U.S. Open,” by David Barrett (obviously, my husband’s), and “Ya Wanna Go?,” by Paul Stewart, an N.H.L. referee.

What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?

A dictionary from my father, inscribed, “To my favorite wordsmith.”

Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?

Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” and Esther in “The Bell Jar.” Antihero: Holden Caulfield, of course.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

When I was little and complained that I was bored, my mom would say, “Go read a book.” I remember sitting in the den, reading our World Books on the lowest shelf of the library. I recently found the paperback copy of “A Patch of Blue” in a box of books from my childhood. I was totally entranced with that book as an adolescent. I loved another book called “Light a Single Candle.” Both were about young blind women. I worked at a camp for blind kids while I was in high school. So that was an interesting theme that ran through my childhood. I also loved anything written by James Thurber. Another favorite was “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” I thought about naming our first daughter Carson, after Carson McCullers. But we decided to name her Elinor instead. I also loved “The Human Comedy,” by William Saroyan and remember being so moved by “Death Be Not Proud,” by John Gunther. Oh, and “In Cold Blood.” That gave me nightmares for weeks.

Have your reading tastes changed over time?

Lately, I’m gravitating to books that help me understand the state of the world. I’m drawn to anything that attempts to explain what’s happening to our country, like “White Working Class,” by Joan Williams, and “Strangers in Their Own Land,” by Arlie Russell Hochschild. I try to use history as my guide as well, which is why I devoured “Eleanor,” by my friend David Michaelis. It’s a stunning character study of someone I deeply admire. It also explains how someone can survive a miserable childhood and go on to do great things.

What book would you recommend for America’s current political moment?

“Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa — a meticulously reported deconstruction of the insane final days of the Trump administration.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

I have to cheat just a bit, and invite four: Edith Wharton, Mary Shelley, Bryan Stevenson and Herman Wouk. Bryan Stevenson is my personal hero, and I’d like to show Edith Wharton how much the world has changed. Mary Shelley would be fascinating to talk to, as her life story is like something out of a novel (whirlwind romance with Percy Bysshe Shelley and all). And Herman Wouk was the most charming, spirited and fun writer I’ve ever met.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” (my daughter Carrie’s favorite book).

What do you plan to read next?

“Both/And,” by Huma Abedin. “The Lyrics,” by Paul McCartney. “The Stranger in the Lifeboat,” by Mitch Albom. I’m treating myself to all three, the minute I come up for air!

Categories: books

A Guide to Joan Didion’s Books – The New York Times

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Ms. Didion was a prolific writer of stylish essays, novels, screenplays and memoirs. Here is an overview of some of her works, as reviewed in The Times.

Didion’s “first collection of nonfiction writing, ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem,’ brings together some of the finest magazine pieces published by anyone in this country in recent years,” wrote our critic, Dan Wakefield.

John Leonard wrote of Didion and this novel, “She writes with a razor, carving her characters out of her perceptions with strokes so swift and economical that each scene ends almost before the reader is aware of it, and yet the characters go on bleeding afterward.”

“Like her narrator, she has been an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time, a memorable voice, partly eulogistic, partly despairing; always in control.” — Joyce Carol Oates

“All of the essays — even the slightest — manifest not only her intelligence, but an instinct for details that continue to emit pulsations in the reader’s memory and a style that is spare, subtly musical in its phrasing and exact. Add to these her highly vulnerable sense of herself, and the result is a voice like no other in contemporary journalism.” — Robert Towers

“It is difficult to deny that everything she writes grows out of close observation of the social and political landscape of El Salvador. And it is quite impossible to deny the artistic brilliance of her reportage.” — Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

“A new novel by Joan Didion is something of an event. Since her first one, ‘Run River,’ she has gathered a quiet following with her nonfiction pieces that were collected under the title ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ and published to critical enthusiasm in 1968. It was interesting to wonder what sort of fiction Didion’s beautiful writerly skills would now make of her clear-eyed and anguished perception of our time.” — Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

Didion’s “intelligence is as honed as ever; her voice has its familiar ring, and her vision is ice-water clear.” — Hendrik Hertzberg

“But to ‘Political Fictions,’ besides her black conceit, her sonar ear, her radar eye and her ice pick/laser beam/night-scope sniper prose, she brings Tiger Ops assets of temperament.” — John Leonard

“This new book of Didion’s is full of second thoughts: about the Sacramento Valley of her childhood and, finally, the whole history of California.” It is the work of “someone who is even now, arguably, a great American writer.” — Thomas Mallon

“Her manner is deadpan funny, slicing away banality with an air that is ruthless yet meticulous. She uses few adjectives. The unshowy, nearly flat surface of her writing is rippled by patterns of repetition: an understatement that, like Hemingway’s, attains its own kind of drama. Repetition and observation narrate emotion by demonstrating it, so that restraint itself becomes poetic, even operatic.” — Robert Pinsky

“Didion’s heartbreaking new book, ‘Blue Nights,’ is at once a loving portrait of Quintana and a mother’s conflicted effort to grapple with her grief through words: The medium the author has used throughout her life to try to make sense of the senseless. It is a searing inquiry into loss and a melancholy meditation on mortality and time.” — Michiko Kakutani

Categories: books

26 books you should read this summer – University of Sydney

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photo of a book cover with the words The Address Book

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deirdre Mask (2020)  Recommended by Professor Bill Pritchard, geographer and Head of School, Geosciences 

Until reading this book, I never thought to ask the question why addresses exist. But in this book, Deirdre Mask tells the history of how street addresses came into being. Not to plot-spoil the saga too much, but it was part extension of the state (no taxation without a way of sending tax bills), part social climbing (a street address can bring cachet) and part navigation (that place where the bakers are we should call Baker Street). At different points in history, the imposition of street addresses was accompanied by riots, as citizens saw this as their freedoms trampled. But in the final chapters of this book, Mask arcs forward to the present, and asks what it’s like not to have an address. In the slums of Kolkata and the homeless kerbsides of New York, not having an address means not being able to access social services. And in the backwoods of West Virginia, not having an address was seen as a libertarian badge of honour until people found they couldn’t get Amazon deliveries. This is a great geographical journey through the most assumed of commonplace things. 

Categories: books

15 Really, Really Great Books that Got Us Through 2021 – Time Out

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Few sensations beat completing that epic volume that’s been sitting on your shelf for months. And this year – this patchy, patchy year – many of us finally did it. We found ourselves trapped at home, desperate for things to do. And actually, turns out, when it came to it, that book wasn’t so intimidating after all.

But not only did we simply have more time to enjoy stuff like reading, we also went out of our way to do it because we needed an escape. We needed to be transported to new worlds, to open our eyes to new things, to escape the undeniable bleakness of reality. For many us, films, TV shows and books were our lifeline through the roughest of times.

So, as 2021 comes to a close, we asked our editors around the world – literary nerds, one and all – to recommend one book that really resonated with them over the past 12 months. From old classics we really should’ve got round to before to new releases that properly rocked, here are the books that got us through the second (at times nice, but generally godawful) year of the pandemic. We hope you enjoy them, too.

RECOMMENDED: The 20 best films of 2021 and the best TV shows we binged this year

Categories: books

Here are Barack Obama’s top 13 book recommendations of 2021 – CNBC

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Some people relied on TikTok to get through the past year of Covid. Barack Obama relied on books.

On Wednesday, the former U.S. president posted a list of his favorite books of 2021 on Facebook and Twitter, continuing a 2009 tradition he started while in the White House. “Art always sustains and nourishes the soul,” Obama, 60, wrote in his posts. “But for me, music and storytelling felt especially urgent during this pandemic year.”

The 13 books on Obama’s list this year encompass several genres, but are all penned by American authors and revolve around the human experience. In 2015, Obama told the New York Review that he’s long gravitated toward novels that elicit empathy, a trend that continues this year.

Here are his favorite books of 2021:

  • “Matrix” by Lauren Groff
  • “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith
  • “The Final Revival of Opal & Nev” by Dawnie Walton
  • “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles
  • “Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City” by Andrea Elliott
  • “Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead
  • “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr
  • “These Precious Days” by Ann Patchett
  • “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner
  • “Aftershocks” by Nadia Owusu
  • “Crossroads” by Jonathan Franzen
  • “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
  • “Beautiful Country” by Qian Julie Wang

Some of the writers are particularly well acclaimed: Colson Whitehead, for example, has won two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award. Others, like musician Michelle Zauner, are relative debutants as authors.

And many are fiction writers. Dawnie Walton’s “The Final Revival of Opal & Nev,” for example, takes readers through the early 1970s rock scene in New York City through the lens of Opal, an aspiring musician from Detroit.

Decades later, in 2016, Opal’s life is distinctly different — part of a story about music, race and family secrets that NPR called both authentic and emotionally powerful.

The non-fiction on Obama’s list appears to be just as emotionally gripping. Take Andrea Elliott’s “Invisible Child,” which tells the story of Dasani Coates, a child living in a Brooklyn, New York, homeless shelter who appeared on the front page of the New York Times for five consecutive days in 2013.

The book follows Coates through the next eight years of her life, showing how growing up homeless contributed to her continued struggles today.

Obama’s posts also included a list of books he previously recommended earlier in 2021:

  • “At Night All Blood Is Black” by David Diop
  • “Land of Big Numbers” by Te-Ping Chen
  • “Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir
  • “When We Cease to Understand the World” by Benjamín Labatut
  • “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future” by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • “Things We Lost to the Water” by Eric Nguyen
  • “Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam
  • “Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • “The Sweetness of Water” by Nathan Harris
  • “Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura

Notably, two of those books — “Project Hail Mary” and “Klara and the Sun” — also appeared on Bill Gates’ end-of-year list of book recommendations, which the billionaire Microsoft co-founder published in a blog post last month.

Gates declined to offer much detail on “Project Hail Mary,” noting that he didn’t want to give away any of the book’s myriad plot twists. “Klara and the Sun,” he wrote, made him “think about what life with super intelligent robots might look like — and whether we’ll treat these kinds of machines as pieces of technology or as something more.”

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Don’t miss:

Bill Gates has 5 book recommendations for your 2021 holiday season

Why former president Obama picked Joe Biden as his VP: ‘We couldn’t have been more different’

Categories: books

10 Absolutely Gripping Books to Read in the New Year – Book Riot

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Gripping books. Page-turners. Unputdownable reads. We’ve all encountered those gripping books to read that just immediately hook us and don’t let go until the last page. Whether it’s a character that we relate to, a whodunit where we just have to know who did it, or a plot with so many swerves it feels like a Formula 1 track — there’s not much better than finding another book that just scratches the itch for what we’re wanting to read at that moment.

I don’t know about you, but 2020 and most of 2021 have been full of reading slumps. Books that have immediately captured my attention from the very first page have been few and far between. But when those lightning in a bottle moments have happened? Good LORD they’ve been fantastic.

While our specific definitions of “gripping” might differ from person to person, this list is a collection of recent gripping books to read from across different genres, YA to adult, and with diverse casts of characters. These are the kind of books you want to just devour in one sitting, even if that means pulling an all-nighter (you don’t have to, obviously, but the desire is there).

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull cover

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

Realism mixed with fantasy makes for an absolutely captivating social commentary that felt more real than ever these past few years. When Laina learns that her brother has been shot and killed by the Boston PD, everything feels all too familiar — another case of police brutality. But something deeper is happening. Monsters are real, and they’re ready to show themselves to the world. What’s even scarier is that they’re not afraid to take down as many humans as possible.

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine book cover

Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine by Klara Hveberg

Rakel has always been the studious type — more comfortable with numbers than in groups. Her quick but quiet mind attracts the attention of Jakob, an older teacher at her Oslo university. Despite Jakob’s marriage, they become romantically involved. As time goes on, Rakel’s health declines and she’s forced to take a good look at their relationship and what it truly was. When you can make fractal mathematics sound like the most lyrical song — that’s talent.

You've Reached Sam cover

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Get your tissues ready. Julie and her boyfriend, Sam, had their future perfectly mapped out. But their plans are derailed when Sam dies and Julie’s world is turned upside down. Julie calls Sam’s phone in an attempt to hear his voice again through his voicemail. Then someone picks up. That someone is Sam. And he continues to pick up when she calls. As Julie witnesses the pain and grief Sam’s family is going through, she feels guilty about keeping the calls to herself. Will she spill her secret?

Rock Paper Scissors cover

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Set in Britain, Adam and Amelia are a typical married couple — but they’ve been having some difficulties for a while. Adam lives with face blindness and is unable to recognize the people closest to him, including Amelia. When the couple suddenly wins a getaway to the Scottish Highlands, they decide to use it as an attempt to rekindle their marriage and celebrate their tenth anniversary. But there’s something wrong, very wrong. The trip is a setup. And if it’s up to one of them, the other won’t make it back from the trip.

the cover of Blue-Skinned Gods

Blue Skinned Gods by S.J. Sindu

When Kalki is born, he shocks everyone with his vivid blue skin. Believing that Kalki must be an incarnation of the Hindu god, Vishnu, his family begins making a living off of the people who travel great distances just to see him. As Kalki grows up, he goes through tests to prove divinity and although he technically passes, Kalki has his doubts. This leads him on a quest of self-discovery, and where else to find oneself than NYC?

cover of Vita Nostra

Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

Sasha and Farit meet by chance while she is on vacation. Despite the fact that Farit gives off an air of something that she can’t quite nail down, Sasha can’t help but feel drawn to him — going as far as performing a task for him with potentially scandalous consequences. In just a few days, Sasha comes to consider Farit a leader and a mentor, and he convinces her to move to a remote village to attend a boarding school. Even though she barely knows him, there’s something about her connection with Farit that Sasha can’t explain.

crying in h mart book cover

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

One of two nonfiction titles on this list, this book struck a particular chord in me — also being Korean American — but it can be appreciated no matter your background. In her memoir, Michelle talks about her upbringing, from being one of the few Asian kids in school to her parents’ high expectations to her identity as an Asian American.

cover of Guilty Admissions, which shows ivy covering a brick wall

Guilty Admissions: The Bribes, Favors, and Phonies Behind the College Cheating Scandal by Nicole LaPorte

Chances are that you have at least heard of the Varsity Blues scandal, an event that exposed A+ celebrities such as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, and the story spun by a college counselor, Rick Singer. Singer specifically targeted desperate, wealthy families obsessed with keeping perfect images and willing to do anything to get their kids into the best colleges in the country.

cover of Never Saw Me Coming, featuring a close-up of a young woman's face in sepia tones

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

If you’re also absolutely enthralled by true crime, this book reads like one. A college professor and renowned psychologist, who strongly believes that psychopaths are misunderstood in today’s society, creates a clinical study to test the theory. Seven university students who fit the textbook definition of a psychopath are chosen to participate. But things go horribly wrong when one of the students is found dead and the remaining participants look SOL. The only trick is they have no idea who else is involved in the study.

cover image of Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

If you’re here for twists on twists on twists, this is the book for you. Mina is a flight attendant who has recently been chosen to participate in the first-ever nonstop flight from London to Sydney. That’s 20 hours in the air; 20 hours with absolutely nowhere else to go. They’ve prepared for this day — they have a plan if something goes wrong. Well, obviously, something goes wrong. When Mina is slipped a note threatening to kill her family, she makes the decision to help hijackers take over the plane.

Looking for more gripping book recommendations or want something more specific to your reading preferences? TBR is a personalized book subscription service where you are paired with a bibliologist who will recommend books tailored to fit you! Find out more now.

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Categories: books