Paperback Picks – July

Summer really is the season of paperbacks isn’t it? Some of my favorite titles have been/are being released in paperback this summer, so if you haven’t read these, I highly recommend the following:

Gone GirlGone Girl, Gillian Flynn

I find it difficult to review this book without giving the whole thing away, but with all the buzz around the novel and the upcoming film adaptation, I’m pretty sure there are few people left who haven’t heard about this book. I chose it for my list because Flynn’s talent for storytelling has forced me to completely re-examine my belief that I’m not a fan of thrillers. Flynn investigates the bonds of marriage, obsession and identity in the modern world. She uses language to expertly pull her characters apart and put them back together.

“It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless amount of characters.”

The Cuckoo's CallingThe Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J.K. Rowling

Another thriller that is well-written, well-crafted, surprising and engaging! I wouldn’t have guessed it was Rowling, but in retrospect it has the same depth of character and setting I’ve felt in her Harry Potter novels. Just a terrific mystery. And now, with the release of The Silkworm, is the perfect time to get hooked on this series. (Just a side note: the hardcover edition’s cover was so much better than the cheesy paperback cover. Don’t let that distract you.)

“But the lies she told were woven into the fabric of her being, her life; so that to live with her and love her was to become slowly enmeshed by them, to wrestle her for the truth, to struggle to maintains foothold in reality.”

And the Mountains EchoedAnd the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini writes with such agonizing beauty that I could have stopped every few pages to copy his words, pull apart sentences and admire his gifted storytelling. Using the complicated politics, displacement and fractured lives in Afghanistan, he manages to both expand the setting to Europe and America and make it more intimate by so closely examining the lives of his characters. At its core, this is a book about family. Who are they? What are the bonds that tie? What does it mean to love someone?

“Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”

The LowlandThe Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri has such a light touch in her books, it’s almost as if you forget there’s an author behind the story. She treats her characters delicately, simply placing them in front of the reader without judgment and seemingly without premeditation to get them from the beginning of the plot to the end. Nothing ever seems forced or contrived in her books. She also evokes setting better than almost anyone I’ve read. Her sketches of Calcutta and Rhode Island were so real to me that I feel I’ve been to both places. My one criticism is that I never fell in love with any of the characters. I felt for them, but not as deeply as I hoped.

“The future haunted but kept her alive; it remained her sustenance and also her predator.”

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19 thoughts on “Paperback Picks – July

  1. I am so excited that And The Mountains Echoed is finally in paperback! You totally just captured what it is about Jhumpa Lahiri’s work that seems to hold people off from falling in love with her. She presents her characters to you without judgement, daring you to judge their foibles, knowing that you, the reader, are totally guilty of the same. You don’t feel deeply for them but you recognize parts of yourself – I think it makes people uncomfortable but they make for incredible reads.

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    • That’s an interesting perspective. It didn’t occur to me that what makes me love Lahiri’s work is exactly what turns other readers away. I would say that, almost without fail, I prefer books where authors leave me to do some of the work.

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    • That’s hard. Kite Runner is singularly brilliant. A Thousand Splendid Suns moved me emotionally. Mountains is much quieter, but the writing is masterful. If you care about women’s rights issues and want to understand the complexities of Islamic culture, Suns should definitely be your next Hosseini.

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  2. Wow I feel like Gone Girl was in hardback forever before finally being released in paperback! I haven’t gotten around to The Cuckoo’s Calling yet, but I’ve been seeing more about it recently, so maybe I’ll swoop in and find it in paperback now that it’s out!

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    • I’m sure since Gone Girl stayed on the best seller list so long, the publisher held out on releasing a less expensive version. I wonder if the timing also has something to do with the movie release. I hope you’ll enjoy Cuckoo’s Calling. I was surprised how much I liked it. Thanks so much for coming by Amy.

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  3. Oooh, I’m excited about your comments on Flynn. I caved and bought Gone Girl a little while ago because I was intrigued by all the comments about the twist/comes out of nowhere ending but I don’t usually get on with thrillers. It’s good to know that you enjoyed it even though you don’t normally like them either!

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    • Hi Becky. It’s true I’m very late to the thriller genre. This still ranks as one of the best, probably helped by the fact that I read it early (Advanced Reader Copy) before I even knew there was a twist.
      But since then I’ve come to appreciate how a really good author can build suspense without sacrificing character development or quality writing. That’s why I admire Flynn so much. Hope you enjoy.

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  4. These are awesome choices! I have heard so much about Gone Girl, have to give that a shot. Love Cuckoo’s calling, really kept me on the edge of my seat and it was so nice to read something by J.K.Rowling as I love her writing. It’s crazy that you recommended Jhumpa Lahiri, as we studied her in one of the English Literature classes, particularly her Short Stories that were excellent. I still remember Sexy, one the short stories in her compilation. Awesome choices :)

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