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.”

WBN – I’m a giver

Did you know Monday, April 23rd is World Book Night. On that evening I will be part of an international effort to give away 1,000,000 books. Successfully launched in the UK last year, readers in the United State will spread the joy for the first time this year. I am extremely proud to be part of the effort to celebrate reading by GIVING AWAY FREE books.

Volunteers were offered a list of 30 titles from which to choose. We requested first and second choices, hopefully of titles we had read so we could share our love of a certain title. WBN worked with publishers to produce 1,000,000 specially designed paperbacks which we will give away in every state.

I picked up the box of books my mom is giving out yesterday and will get mine at the library tomorrow night. The paperbacks are terrific looking. On Monday evening, I’ll be standing at the train station convincing commuters that THE KITE RUNNER is one those modern books everyone should read. http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/wbn2012-the-books/the-kite-runner

And, yes, it’s free.

Cover of "The Kite Runner"

Cover of The Kite Runner

Thanks to upallnightreading for the lovely post on this same topic and for the list of all of this year’s WBN books. http://upallnightreading.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/world-book-night-update/I have read 13 of the 25 books and plan to read a lot more of them. How about you? Which are your favorite.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Wintergirls by Laurie Anderson

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings* by Maya Angelou

Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Little Bee* by Chris Cleve

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Blood Work by Michael Connolly

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Zeitoun* by Dave Eggars

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton

The Kite Runner* by Khaled Hosseini

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The Stand by Stephen King

The Poisonwood Bible* by Barbara Kingsolver

The History of Love* by Nicole Krauss

The Namesake* by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Bel Canto* by Ann Patchett

My Sister’s Keeper*by Jodi Picoult

Housekeeping* by Marilynne Robinson

Lovely Bones* by Alice Sebold

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks* by Rebecca Skloot

Just Kids by Patti Smith

The Glass Castle* by Jeannette Walls

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

See the list of books and cover art at the WBN website here.

* indicates books I’ve read

I would love to hear from any other book givers out there. Where will you be? How do you plan to give away books?