Sunday, June 29, 2014

Now out in paperback...

So, for readers who were wondering about these "shelf talker" reviews I mentioned in my last post, shelf talkers are the little signs you've probably seen written by bookstore employees recommending their favorite titles.  As a one-time top 100 book reviewer on, I write a lot of them.  Bookstores really like when the staff write these things, but one day I asked my manager, "Am I writing too many shelf talkers?"  And he was like, "If you have to ask the question..."  I am undeterred.

Several books I reviewed last year (and a few I never got around to) have recently come out in paperback, including some that made my top 10 list for the year.  Those books are noted by an asterix (*).  Here for your browsing pleasure is a selection of recent paperback releases:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Gaiman, Neil (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Neil Gaiman’s first novel for adults in 8 years is a heady combination of fantasy, horror, nostalgia, and coming-of-age tale. Like all of Mr. Gaiman's work, there is much subtext to be mined. One could discuss the fascinating Hempstock women at length--their mythic origins and their relationship to other Hempstocks in the author's catalog. Or, you could concentrate on how the author examines adulthood from a child's perspective and childhood from an adult's perspective. Or, you could identify the influences of numerous other writers on this work, and explore the importance of literature in our lives and the power of story within the tale. What I'm saying is, that while The Ocean at the End of the Lane may be short on page count, it's quite long on substance. This one’s fantastic--in every sense of the word!

Bad Monkey
by Hiaasen, Carl (Grand Central Publishing)
As I read the opening pages of Bad Monkey, I was hit by an overwhelming sense of Hiaasen-ness. More than anything, it was the protagonist
that won me over. That would be police detective (demoted to restaurant inspector) Andrew Yancy. He’s determined to solve a case involving a disembodied arm and get reinstated. Mr. Hiaasen has constructed an enjoyable mystery and a fun police procedural. But of course, added to the mix are all the wackiness of both Hiaasen and South Florida. Possibly they are one in the same. There are fraud perpetrators, real estate speculation, voodoo priestesses, truly filthy restaurants, and, yes, a really bad monkey. Bad Monkey will go down smooth with an umbrella drink on the beach. And if you can’t have the umbrella drink or the beach, it just might be your consolation.

& Sons *
by Gilbert, David (Random House Trade Paperbacks)
This novel opens at the funeral of Charles Topping and is narrated by his youngest son, Philip, whose life is a mess. Attending the funeral is Charlie's oldest friend, the legendary, reclusive novelist A.N. Dyer. Women are very much secondary in the story. It is about the complicated and sometimes fraught relationships of men, especially fathers and sons. Mr. Gilbert is the most delightful sort of prose stylist--smart, sophisticated, inventive. As I read, I reflected that for whatever reason, there are few novels that examine, in depth, the internal lives and relationships of men. Mr. Gilbert has a great sensitivity for nuance, and has created some endearingly flawed and fallible characters. This novel was truly a joy to read and one which it's a pleasure to recommend.

The People in the Trees *
by Yanagihara, Hanya (Anchor)
“Never had men gotten closer to eternal life than they did with Norton's discovery. And yet never had such a wonderful promise slipped away so quickly: a secret found, a secret lost, all within the space of a decade." The People in the Trees opens with a bang, in the form of news articles describing the arrest and conviction of a Nobel Laureate scientist for the rape of one of his 43 adopted children! The bulk of the book comprises Norton’s prison memoir (punctuated with asides from his best friend) recounting the 1950’s expedition that made his career. They traveled to a remote Micronesian Island and discovered a “lost tribe” with astonishing longevity. This is an extraordinary tale, beautifully written, and perfect for readers who don’t mind a rather unlikeable protagonist.

by Leotta, Allison (Touchstone)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis has been looking for a high-profile case to boost her career, but this may be a little more than she bargained for. A beautiful young woman has been pushed from the balcony adjacent to Congressman Emmett Lionel's hideaway office in the U.S. Capitol building. Anointed “the female John Grisham,” this is Allison Leotta’s second Anna Curtis thriller, and it is a fine entry point for the series. Anna is a terrific character to build a series around. She’s very human, and her personal life is as compelling as her cases. Additionally, Leotta has built a fine cast of well-drawn secondary characters. The author is intimately familiar with the novels’ DC setting, and does the town full justice. Ultimately, mysteries come down to their plotting. The plotting here was both smart and tight. I stayed up far too late reading. Just one warning—this novel’s ending will leave readers clamoring for the next book in the series!

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells * 
by Greer, Andrew Sean (Ecco)
 I read 225 books last year and this one was my favorite! The eponymous Greta opens the tale with, “The
impossible happens once to each of us.” She should know. Having sought out electroshock therapy in 1985 due to depression, Greta awakens in 1918 in a different version of her life. From that time, another therapy has her awakening in 1941 in yet a different version of her life, surrounded by loved ones both familiar and unfamiliar. Throughout the novel she cycles through these three versions of her life, trying to decide which is best. Is any life perfect? Greer get so much right with his fantastic tale! I was fascinated with the juxtaposition of the beginning of one war with the end of another, with the Spanish flu and the plague of AIDS. Mr. Greer has surprising insight into the lives of women, and his language is simply beautiful. I love this book!

The Cuckoo's Calling
by Rowling, J. K. (Mulholland Books)
I was not a fan of J.K. Rowling’s adult debut, therefore I didn’t rush to read The Cuckoo’s Calling when she was revealed to be the author. My loss. When I finally got around to it, it proved to be a real favorite. For me, the difference was in the characters. In short, I fell in love with wounded, down-on-his-luck private detective Cormoran Strike and his new office temp Robin Ellacott. The case they’re investigating involves the death of a supermodel, widely accepted as a suicide, but her brother, an old acquaintance of Cormoran’s, insists it cannot be. “Galbraith” crafts a perfectly credible mystery that will keep you guessing to the end. Still, for me, the success is all about the central characters. No one was more delighted than I to hear there’d be an on-going series. As someone once said, this could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

by Barry, Max (Penguin Books)
In fantasies, words—spells—have the power of magic. But what if you could be taught through science and
psychology to be “good with words?” What if your words could profoundly influence the people around you? What if words could kill? What might that be worth? These are a few of the provocative ideas explored in this speculative, thrilling, and darkly funny novel by Max Barry. I won’t lie, this is a strange, and at times challenging novel. The telling is highly non-linear, and you have to pay close attention to the timeline. But this thriller is utterly unique, fast-paced, and you’ll never guess the ending. Are you ready for something completely different? This novel wowed me!

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
by Jansma, Kristopher (Penguin Books)
This tale begins in the form of a (fictional) author's note. It launches, "I've lost every book I've ever written." And ends,"These stories all are true, but only somewhere else." The novel's first-person narrator seems earnest enough, but be prepared for sleight of hand--or whatever the literary equivalent might be. The storytelling here is unconventional, it's meta-fictional, it's challenging, it's non-linear, it's literary, and, oh yes, it is always interesting. His writing is fantastic! It's read-aloud, eminently quotable, just a pleasure to absorb. Everything about this novel is stylish, stylized, and sophisticated. It's also very funny. It's gonzo, romantic, clever, and the sort of book to remind readers and writers both why they do what they do. In short, this is an exhilarating debut novel.

The Interestings * 
by Wolitzer, Meg (Riverhead Trade)
So, I’ll start by saying that I read all 538 pages of this book in a single day, so consumed was I by this tale of six friends. They meet in 1974 as teenagers at a summer camp for the arts, and the story follows their con- tinuing (or interrupted) relationships for the next several decades as one by one they either “make it” or resign themselves to more ordinary lives. Wow, did I relate to these characters! They’re not too much older than me, and the events and references of their lives, so carefully observed by Ms. Wolitzer, mirror my own. Each of these six, as well as a supporting cast, is a fully-fleshed and rather fascinating character. Artsy people are endlessly entertaining, and even more so in the hands of this talented writer with a deep understanding of people. Additionally, she has a true gift for language that is as accessible as it is elegant.

So, let me know how this format works for you,  Look for posts on new fiction, non-fiction, thrillers, speculative fiction, juvenile fiction, and more in the near future.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What's your problem?

Okay, I haven't posted in six months, so I think it's reasonable to ask, "What's your problem?"  Readers of my last post will recall that I started a new job in January.  I'm a full-time independent bookseller.  Well, more than full-time.  I'm regularly working six and occasionally even seven days a week.  Naturally, there was a period of adjustment.  I haven't worked retail in decades.  I haven't stood for 8-9 hours a day for decades.  And, of course, there was a learning curve, as this is my first bookstore experience. 

Happily, I was well-trained by my generous employers and co-workers.  And, let's face it--I bring a little industry knowledge to the job.  So, the transition was fast-tracked and not too stressful.  Still, I don't have the free time I once had.  The store is open long hours, so I work days, nights, weekends, whatever.  Thank goodness I love my work!  (Was there really any doubt?)  I get to hang out and talk about books all day!

Readers are also aware that I read, shall we say, more than the average citizen.  I figured last year's 225 books would never be equaled.  I was right.  We're a smidge less than half-way through the year, and I passed the 150 book mark this week.  And in case you're wondering, no, I don't ever read at the store.  Television, however, is a thing of the past.  One of the things I discovered was how much reading time I lost writing all those darn book reviews.  They never came easily.  It wasn't uncommon to work two or three hours on one.  Not to mention the blog posting.  Time-consuming!  Apparently, I can read a good chunk of another book in the time it took to sweat out a detailed book review and post it.  And reading all the books in the store is so helpful with work. 

Obviously, I'll never read them all, but I make a fairly impressive dent in the high-profile releases weekly.  I am NOT a speed reader, but I do read a bit faster than average.  More to the point, I'm good at multi-tasking, i.e. reading while: commuting, grocery shopping, getting a pedicure, laundry, cooking dinner, etc.  Also, I've got stamina.  If you have, say, 16 hours on your day off, you can finish three not-excessively-long novels.  Trust me, you can.

Of course, I haven't given up reviewing entirely.  Now instead of creating free content for the increasingly Evil Empire (Amazon), I write brief shelf-talkers for the bookstore.  Brevity does not come naturally!  Each review is a about a paragraph long.  It occurs to me that there's no reason why I shouldn't share these shorter reviews here in batches, along with the occasional longer piece, video I still shoot, and other random cool bookish stuff.  It's really sad...  I spend almost every waking moment in a bookstore.  When I have time off, what do I do?  Visit other bookstores.

Oh, and sometimes I travel to bookish events.  Back in May, I attended the Nebula Awards Weekend, and I'm off to Thrillerfest in New York for the ninth year running.  Oy.  So, I guess what I'm saying is, stay tuned.  I took a break, but I'm going to try to do better.

Is anyone still out there?  Please feel free to say "hi" in the comments. 



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An amateur no more...

 So, this past week, I realized a life-long dream.  After years of working the amateur circuit, I have become a professional bookseller.  What's an amateur bookseller, you may be asking?  Well, I've had a pretty fierce case of bookseller-envy going, and it wasn't at all uncommon for me to loiter in a bookstore for hours, hand-selling favorite titles to random customers, answering questions... possibly moving friends' books to more advantageous shelf positions.
I am delighted to announce that I've been hired by Bookshop West Portal, one of San Francisco's
finest independent booksellers.  (Thank you Neal, Kevin, & Richard!)  I've been shopping at Bookshop West Portal for years.  They've also hosted some of my favorite author events: Ann Patchett, Gary Shteyngart, Jonathan Tropper, my pal Matt Richtel, and so many more.  My new co-workers are people I want as friends.  Take my word for it, it's a really good place!
It was kind of fun to announce this new job to friends and the world.  There was a widespread cry of "You're perfect for it!"  And I was tickled by the number of best-selling authors who took the time to congratulate me.  I spend so much time with writers; I can't wait to see a friend show up in the shop to sign stock.  And I've already started hand-selling my favorite books.  Please don't tell my new bosses, but this feels a bit like being paid (albeit modestly) to do what I normally do:
  • Follow the publishing industry
  • Read a bunch of books
  • Talk to people about them
Best. Job. Ever.

So, yes, it's business as usual around here, but now when I read the PW Daily, I can feel noble.  "This is for work," I say.  Peruse reviews in the New York Times--for work.  Earlier tonight I was schmoozing with a Pulitzer Prize winner and a National Book Award winner--for work.  And I'm reading more than ever, which, as you know, is saying something.

I fear that my television viewing--already well below the national average--is going to suffer.  As these things go, I've probably read more new titles than the average bookseller.  My iPhone tells me that I read an average of 4.3 books a week last year.  But surely I can up that number?  I would really like to read at least 5 books a week this year.  250 books in 2014 sounds like a reasonable goal.  After just a few days in the store, it's become incredibly obvious just how much easier it is to (a) sell a book, and (b) help a customer, if you've actually read every book in the store.  Happily, I was able to compare and contrast The Goldfinch and The Luminaries for a customer this week.  (That's 1,600 pages right there.)  I was able to give my personal seal of approval to Lisa O'Donnell's debut novel, The Death of Bees to a nervous book club reader.  I was able to recommend Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Ernie Cline's Ready Player One for the woman looking for something light to bring a sick friend.

Oh, can we talk gifts?  I wrapped a lot of gifts this week!  (This is actually pathetic.  My family will attest that my gift-wrapping skills are remedial at best.  So much to learn.)  But the subject of gifts reminds me of the best thing I saw this week, and it happened on my very first day.  It was the best omen imaginable.

Bookshop West Portal is tremendously valued by the local community.  It's so incredibly obvious.   Any number of customers mentioned how important it was to support their local independent bookstore as I rang them up.  And there's a terrific core of super-friendly regulars.  They're greeted by name, as I am in so many bookstores across the city.  I was warmly welcomed by all that I met.  That first day I met a customer that I'll simply refer to as "the Hungarian Gentleman."  He came by to pick up a special order that included hardback copies of Wildwood and Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy (which are already out in paperback).  "How many copies of these books do you think I buy?" he asked my colleague.  His guess of "a dozen" was a little low.  Apparently, it was more like 30 copies of each book.  This lovely man, this Hungarian Gentleman, buys these beautiful books to hand out to random young people that he meets as he goes through his daily life.  He'll stop and gift them to a kid on the street and go on his way. 

The Hungarian Gentleman had to feed his meter.  He dropped off the books in his car and came back.  While he was browsing, a teenage girl came in looking for a copy of Veronica Roth's latest, Allegiant.  I didn't witness this interaction, but he must have approached her.  He wound up buying her copies of both Meloy books, as well as her copy of Allegiant.  It was a not inconsiderable total, and he was so clearly happy to do it.  This Hungarian Gentleman is a literary Santa Claus!  (I'm not kidding; I've heard he sometimes takes poor booksellers out for meals.  Amazing.)  This man is doing everything possible to foster a love of reading in these young people, no strings attached.  I didn't know people like this existed.  I mean, I've been a Bookcrosser for years, but this is taking the  Random Act of Literary Kindness (RALK) to a whole new level.  And I get to work in a store where such people congregate.

I've only been on the job for a week.  I haven't had to schlep boxes of books until my back aches.  I haven't had a customer give me grief over a bad recommendation.  I haven't had the slightest negative experience.  I'm not an idiot.  Shiny, new jobs fade, and bad days are a part of life.  But, you know what?  Everyone who knows me knows that I was born to be a bookseller.  I already have been a bookseller.  I think that this is going to be a good fit.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

“Art stands on the shoulders of craft…”

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is a writer I’ve come late to. Everyone raved about Bel Canto, but opera-lover that I am, have I read it yet? Nope. Still, her most recent novel, State of Wonder, made my annual top 10 list, and seeing her speak inspired a blog post entitled, “No one ever told me Ann Patchett was so charismatic.” So, even though I read relatively little non-fiction, I was well-primed for this collection of essays, penned over the course of many years. Allow me to cut to the chase and tell you that I loved this book from start to finish.

After a brief introduction meditating on the differences in writing fiction and non-fiction, Patchett launches into writings on craft. And I thought to myself, I could read her thoughts on this subject all day! At one point, she writes, “If you’ve read this far, you must be pretty interested in writing yourself.” On the contrary, I’m the furthest thing from a writer and I was utterly captivated. And while I don’t write, there were plenty of underlined quotes to share with writing friends.

Ms. Patchett truly charmed me in these pages. I found her reflections on her most influential teachers
both generous and winning. Likewise, I was utterly enchanted by her essay on attending the Met’s simulcast at the local multiplex. Ms. Patchett writes on subjects that resonate with me—her love of her dog; ups and downs with her husband; on becoming an independent bookseller, and the importance of bookstores in our communities; on her relationship with her elderly grandmother. An unexpected, but terrific, story recounts her efforts to get into the LAPD Police Academy. There’s great diversity in the collection.

Ms. Patchett, as always, writes beautifully. And as so much of the writing is frankly autobiographical, her voice and personality come shining through in each entry. They paint the portrait of an artist whose work—whether fiction or non-fiction—I intend to get to know better. And they portray an interesting and accomplished woman with whom it was a true pleasure to spend time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

“A legend can be made, it turns out, one crude stroke at a time.”

On Such a Full Sea
by Chang-rae Lee

On Such a Full Sea is the story of Fan. Not just the story… The myth! The legend! It is being narrated—unusually—by the collective, first-person plural voice of the citizens of B-Mor, once Baltimore. (“The nation has collapsed. Once, we had a country of federated states. Now we have charter villages for the rich, and settlements for the not-so-rich. In between are open counties, places of anarchy with no corporate or government protection. We don’t know exactly what happened to our planet, but it’s easy to imagine.”). The tale is being recounted from an indeterminate point in the mid-future. Not so near and not so far. In the world imagined by master craftsman Chang-rae Lee, things are very different and yet disturbingly familiar, all at once. Speak the narrators:
“Whenever we tell the story of Fan, details are apt to change. You don’t mean to alter anything, in fact your intention is the very opposite, you want nothing more than to be an echo of the previous speaker, who, you decide, did a perfectly super job. And try as you might to match the very tone of the telling, the bellow of certain episodes and the half-breathed whisper of others, isn’t it the truth that despite your fealty to the story, a moment will arise that compels a freelancing, perhaps even rebellious, urge?”
Fan, it seems, knows from freelancing, even rebellious, urges. At 16, as a skilled diver and citizen of the protected workers facility of B-Mor, her life is far better than most. In sheltered B-Mor, spitting is among the community’s worst crimes. (Though, at one point the narrators ask, “Don’t sanctuaries become prisons and vice versa, foremost in the mind?”) When Fan’s boyfriend, Reg, is called to the Directorate and never comes back, Fan impulsively leaves the safety of B-Mor and strikes out in search of him.
“If she possessed a genius, and a growing number of us think she did, it was a capacity for understanding and trusting the improvisational nature of her will. This might seem a contradictory state, and for most of us it would be. We have hopes and make plans, and if they are dashed or waylaid, we naturally rationalize and redraw the map to locate ourselves anew. Or else we brood and too firmly root. Very few can step forward again and again in what amounts to veritable leaps into the void, where there are no ready holds, where little is familiar, where you constantly get stuck in the thickets of your uncertainties and fears. Fan was different.”
And so Fan embarks on what proves to be a picaresque journey. (“What perverse episode lay ahead for her now?”) Perverse, indeed! What Fan encounters in the open counties is immediately alarming and becomes increasingly shocking along the way. Mr. Lee avails himself of some genre tropes, but his imagination doesn’t stop there. My jaw LITERALLY dropped open at least once while reading. There is plenty of plot here for readers to sink their teeth into.

Character, on the other hand, it trickier in this novel. Readers never get into the head of Fan. She’s a
quiet and somewhat opaque individual. And this makes sense because Fan is, essentially, a fiction. Fan is not a real person, but rather the composite that the citizen-narrators have created. (“Why, in the life of a community, does a certain happening or person become the stuff of lore?”) Furthermore, there’s no clear way that these interested parties can know the details of what actually occurred to Fan after she left. The entire tale is suspect.

In discussing this novel’s collective voice, comparisons have been made to works by Jeffrey Eugenides, Joshua, Ferris, and everyone in between. But the book that immediately came to my mind was Hannah Pittard’s underrated The Fates Will Find Their Way. It, coincidentally, is also the collectively-voiced imaginings of a community in the wake of a 16-year-old girl’s disappearance. You know what they say, there are only so many stories. And while that may be true, there are an infinite number of ideas, and this novel is chock-full of insightful observations not only about Fan’s world, but our own. Mr. Lee has not built his world of whole cloth. Rather, he’s paid careful attention to the (mis)direction in which we are heading. There is sly commentary on the environment, government, immigration, healthcare, privilege, race, and so much more.

Beyond plot, character, and ideas, there is language, and here Mr. Lee is pure genius! The language spans from colloquial to eloquent and reading it was a joy from start to finish. I found myself truly savoring passages. And so it is, I’ll leave the final word on this book to Mr. Lee and his narrators:
“The funny thing about the tale of Fan is that much of what happened to her happened to her. She showed plenty of her own volition. Really, more than any of us could ever dream up. And yet at the same time, her tale demonstrates how those who met her, often took it upon themselves to help her, without, really, any hesitation. Without always a ready self-interest. Every once in a while there are figures who draw such attention. Even when they aren’t especially charismatic, or visionary, or subtly, cleverly aggressive in insinuating an agenda into the larger imagination. For some reason, we want to see them succeed. We want them to flourish. Even if that flourishing is something we’ll never personally witness. They draw our energy so steadily and thoroughly, that only toward the finish of events can we recognize the extent of our exertions, and how those exertions, in some, might have taken the form of a movement.”

Sunday, January 12, 2014

VIDEO: Helene Wecker & Andrew Sean Greer in conversation

Quickly, before my Best of 2013 Week is over, I wanted to share something very cool I've been hanging on to since the fall.

Yes, I know that everyone is sick of me promoting Helene Wecker's debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni, and Andrew Sean Greer's latest, The Impossible Lives of Greta WellsI can't help it.  They were my two favorite novels of the 225 I read last year

And by a staggering coincidence, the two of them were teamed up for a Litquake event last October at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum.  The video quality is mediocre, but the conversation between these two is fascinating, substantive, and completely charming!  I'm so happy to share it with you.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What DID Susan read in 2013?

I promised to post the complete list of books I read this year.  Here, without further ado, it is.  Oh, and for those who assume I'm some kind of speed reader--I'm really not.  While I read faster than average, mostly, I just spend a lot of time reading.  As many books as I read, I still wish there were time for more!

Lit List 2013:

1.      The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells—Andrew Sean Greer ★★★★★

2.      Frances and Bernard—Carlene Bauer★★★★★

3.      Vampires in the Lemon Grove—Karen Russell★★★★★

4.      Frozen Solid—James Tabor★★★★

5.      Delirium—Lauren Oliver★★★

6.      Sailor Twain: Or, The Mermaid in the Hudson—Mark Siegel★★★★

7.      The Fifth Assassin—Brad Meltzer★★★★

8.      14—Peter Clines★★★★★

9.      Buzz Books 2013

10.  Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde— Rebecca Dana★★★

11.  The Devotion of Suspect X—Keigo Higashino★★★★★

12.  Garden of Stones—Sophie Littlefield★★★★

13.  Truth in Advertising—John Kenney★★★★

14.  The Cloud—Matt Richtel★★★★★

15.  We Live in Water—Jess Walter★★★★★

16.  The Sliver Star—Jeannette Walls★★★

17.  Big Girl Panties—Stephanie Evanovich★★★★

18.  Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different than Our Own—David Toomey★★★★★

19.  The Demonologist—Andrew Pyper★★★★

20.  Ghostman—Roger Hodgeson★★★★★

21.  Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, The Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm—Monte Reel★★★★★

22.  Double Feature—Owen King★★★★

23.  The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards—Kristopher Jansma ★★★★★

24.  Life After Life—Kate Atkinson★★★★

25.  Lexicon—Max Barry★★★★★

26.  Indiscretion—Charles Dubow★★★★

27.  Someday, Someday Maybe—Lauren Graham★★★★★

28.  The Mermaid of Brooklyn—Amy Shearn★★★★★

29.  The House at the End of Hope Street—Menna van Praag★★

30.  Code White—Scott Britz-Cunningham★★★★

31.  The Hit—David Baldacci★★★★

32.  The Golem and the Jinni—Helene Wecker ★★★★★

33.  Strangelets—Michelle Gagnon★★★★

34.  Maya’s Notebook—Isabel Allende★★★★

35.  Soon I Will Be Invincible—Austin Grossman★★★★★

36.  You—Austin Grossman★★★

37.  The Rosie Project—Graeme Simsion★★★★

38.  Bad Monkey—Carl Hiaasen★★★★

39.  The Loch Ness Legacy—Boyd Morrison★★★★★

40.  Radium Baby—St. John Karp★★★★

41.  Insane City—Dave Barry★★★★

42.  Tenth of December—George Saunders ★★★★★

43.  Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles—Ron Currie★★★

44.  Labyrinth—Mark Sullivan★★

45.  Love in the Afternoon—Alison Packard★★

46.  The Princess Bride—William Goldman★★★★★

47.  Big Fish—Daniel Wallace★★★★★

48.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower—Stephen Chbosky★★★

49.  Nemesis—Philip Roth★★★★★

50.  The Tin Horse—Janice Steinberg★★★

51.  Suddenly a Knock at the Door—Edgar Keret★★★★★

52.  The Rock Star in Seat 3A—Jill Kargman★★★★

53.  A Hole in Texas—Herman Wouk★★★★★

54.  The Fun Parts—Sam Lipsyte★★★

55.  Pandemonium—Warren Fahy★★★★★

56.  What the Family Needed—Steven Amsterdam★★★

57.  Island 731—Jeremy Robinson★★★★

58.  The Last Policeman—Ben H. Winters★★★★★

59.  Prophet of Bones—Ted Kosmatka★★★★

60.  Syrup—Max Barry★★★★

61.  NOS4A2—Joe Hill★★★★

62.  The Interestings—Meg Wolitzer ★★★★★

63.  The Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared—Jonas Jonasson★★★

64.  Woke Up Lonely—Fiona Maazel★★★

65.  Marathon Man—William Goldman★★★★

66.  The Kings and Queens of Roam—Daniel Wallace★★★★

67.  The Great Gatsby—F. Scott Fitzgerald★★★★★

68.  Gorgeous—Paul Rudnick★★★★

69.  Murder as a Fine Art—David Morrell★★★★

70.  Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction—Annalee Newitz★★★★

71.  Eye of God—James Rollins★★★★★

72.  The Order of Odd-Fish—James Kennedy★★★★★

73.  Inferno—Dan Brown★★★

74.  Borrower of the Night—Elizabeth Peters★★★

75.  Oryx & Crake—Margaret Atwood★★★★★

76.  The Year of the Flood—Margaret Atwood★★★★★

77.  MaddAddam—Margaret Atwood ★★★★★

78.  Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger—Beth Harbison★★★

79.  The Book of Secrets—Elizabeth Arnold★★★

80.  The Last Dragonslayer—Jasper Fforde★★★★★

81.  The Song of the Quarkbeast—Jasper Fforde★★★★★

82.  Stay Up With Me—Tom Barbash★★★★★

83.  Japantown—Barry Lancet★★★★

84.  Suspect—Robert Crais★★★★

85.  Equal Rites—Terry Pratchett★★★

86.  Fiction River Anthology: Time Streams★★★

87.  Doctor Sleep—Stephen King★★★★

88.  The Return—Michael Gruber★★★★

89.  The Eyre Affair—Jasper Fforde★★★★★

90.  Fool—Christopher Moore★★★★★

91.  The Serpent of Venice—Christopher Moore ★★★★★

92.  Lightning—Dean Koontz★★★★

93.  Terminal Freeze—Lincoln Child★★★

94.  The Sensory Deception—Ransom Stephens★★★★

95.  Redshirts—John Scalzi★★★★★

96.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie—Alan Bradley★★★★

97.  The Knife of Never Letting Go—Patrick Ness★★★★★

98.  The New Yorkers—Cathleen Schine★★★★★

99.  Grave Peril—Jim Butcher★★★

100.  The Lincoln Lawyer—Michael Connelly★★★★

101.  The Accidental Time Machine—Joe Haldeman★★★

102.  The Roots of the Olive Tree—Courtney Miller Santos★★

103.  Subterranean—James Rollins★★★★★

104.  Relic—Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child★★★★★

105.  The Last Girlfriend on Earth—Simon Rich★★★★★

106.  Six Years—Harlan Coben★★★★★

107.  Code Name Verity—Elizabeth Wein★★★★

108.  The Truth—Michael Palin★★★★

109.  The Long War—Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter★★

110.  Countdown City—Ben H. Winters★★★★★

111.  Pines—Blake Crouch★★★★★

112.  Big Egos—S.G. Browne★★★★

113.  Amy Falls Down—Jincy Willett★★★★

114.  Interrupt—Jeff Carlson★★

115.  Full Ratchett—Mike Cooper★★★★

116.  World War Z—Max Brooks★★★★★

117.  Under the Dome—Stephen King★★★★★

118.  Joyland—Stephen King★★★★★

119.  The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls—Anton DiSclafani★★★★

120.  A Hundred Summers—Beatriz Williams★★★★

121.  Blind Goddess—Anne Holt★★★★

122.  Insurgent—Veronica Roth★★★★★

123.  Crimson—Cosmo Fischer (AKA Warren Fahy) ★★★

124.  The Humans—Matt Haig★★★

125.  Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead—Sheryl Sandburg★★★★★

126.  & Sons—David Gilbert ★★★★★

127.  Covet—Tracey Garvis Graves★★★★

128.  Dissident Gardens—Jonathan Lethem★★★

129.  Songs of Willow Frost—Jamie Ford★★★★

130.  Enon—Paul Harding★★★★

131.  Night Film—Marisha Pessl★★★★★

132.  A Guide for the Perplexed—Dara Horn★★★★

133.  The Crane Wife—Patrick Ness★★★★★

134.  Never Go Back—Lee Child★★★★

135.  The Bookstore—Deborah Meyler★★★★

136.  Dangerous Curves Ahead—Sugar Jamison★★

137.  The Returned—Jason Mott★★★★★

138.  The Song of Spider-Man—Glen Berger★★★★★

139.  A Bad Day for Romance—Sophie Littlefield★★★★★

140.  The Cure—Douglas Richards★★

141.  Don’t Look Now—Michelle Gagnon★★★★

142.  Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock—Matthew Quick★★★★

143.  Cain’s Blood—Geoffrey Girard★★★★★

144.  The Bone Season—Samantha Shannon – Could not finish

145.  Wayward—Blake Crouch★★★★★

146.  Strong Rain Falling—Jon Land★★★

147.  The People in the Trees—Hanya Yanagihara★★★★★

148.  Bait—J. Kent Messum★★★★

149.  Sea Creatures—Susannah Daniels★★★★★

150.  The Execution of Noa P. Singleton—Elizabeth L. Silver★★★★

151.  Starglass—Phoebe North★★★★

152.  Speak of the Devil—Allison Leotta★★★★★

153.  Chimera—David Wellington★★★★

154.  Help for the Haunted—John Searles★★★★★

155.  The Curiosity—Stephan Kiernan★★★

156.  Parasite—Mira Grant★★★★

157.  Sisterland—Curtis Sittenfield★★★★

158.  The Universe Versus Alex Woods—Gavin Extence★★★

159.  Death of the Demon—Anne Holt★★★★

160.  Killer Ambition—Marcia Clark★★★★★

161.  The Tower—Simon Toyne★★★★

162.  Paranoia—Joseph Finder★★★★★

163.  Bellman & Black—Diane Setterfield★★★

164.  The October List—Jeffrey Deaver★★★★

165.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane—Neil Gaiman★★★★★

166.  Fortunately, the Milk—Neil Gaiman★★★★★

167.  The Signature of All Things—Elizabeth Gilbert★★★★★

168.  The Days of Anna Madrigal—Armisted Maupin★★★★★

169.  Below—Ryan Lockwood★★★★

170.  The Circle—Dave Eggers ★★★★★

171.  The President’s Hat—Antoine Laurain★★★★

172.  We Need New Names—NoViolet Bulawayo★★★★★

173.  The Testament of Mary—Colm Toibin★★★★

174.  The Lowland—Jhumpa Lahiri★★★★

175.  Harvest—Jim Crace★★★★

176.  A Tale for the Time Being—Ruth Ozeki★★★★★

177.  Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy—Helen Fielding★★★★

178.  We Are Water—Wally Lamb★★★★

179.  The Goldfinch—Donna Tartt★★★★★

180.  Allegiant—Veronica Roth★★★

181.  Sycamore Row—John Grisham★★★★★

182.  Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life—J. Craig Venter★★★★

183.  The Fault in Our Stars—John Green★★★★★

184.  White Fire—Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child★★★★

185.  The Abominable—Dan Simmons★★★★

186.  Runner—Patrick Lee★★★★

187.  Lighthouse Island—Paulette Jiles★★★★

188.  This is the Story of a Happy Marriage—Ann Patchett★★★★★

189.  The Game—Anders de la Motte★★★★

190.    The Cuckoo’s Calling—Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling) ★★★★★

191.  And the Mountains Echoed—Khaled Hosseini★★★

192.  Get the Guy: Learn Secrets of the Male Mind to Find the Man You Want and the Love You Deserve—Matthew Hussey★★★★

193.  Schroder—Amity Gaige★★★★★

194.  Fluke, Or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings—Christopher Moore★★★★★

195.  Someone Else’s Love Story—Joshilyn Jackson★★★★

196.  The Adversary—Reece Hirsch            ★★★★★

197.  The Luminaries--Eleanor  Catton★★★★

198.  Dark Rising: Alex Hunter, Book 2--Greig Beck★★★

199.  Shadows of the Midnight Sun—Graham Brown★★★

200.  Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal--Mary Roach★★★★
201. The Colony--F.G. Cottam★★★★

202.  Agent to the Stars--John Scalzi★★★★

203.  The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism--Naoki Higashida & David Mitchell★★★

204.   Burial Rites--Hannah Kent★★★★

205.  Mount Dragon--Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child★★★★

206.  Binary--John Lange (AKA Michael Crichton) ★★★★

207.  The Second Opinion--Michael Palmer★★★★

208.  Flamethrowers--Rachel Kushner★★★★

209.  Stardust--Neil Gaiman★★★★★

210.  Innocence--Dean Koontz★★★

211.  Out of Her Depth--Brenda Hiatt★★★

212.  The First Bird--Greig Beck★★★★

213.  Americanah--Chimamanda Adichie★★★★

214.  Breakthrough--Michael C. Grumley ★★★

215. Making Toast--Roger Rosenblatt★★★★

216.  Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge--Peter Orner★★★★

217.  Submergence--J. M. Ledgard★★★★★

218.  Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death at a Storm-Ravaged Hospital--Sheri Fink★★★★★

219.  Eleanor and Park--Rainbow Rowell★★★★★

220.  The Son--Philip Meyer ★★★★★

221.  Brainrush--Richard Bard ★★★

222.  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena--Anthony Marra ★★★★★

223.  The Man in the Window--Jon Cohen★★★★

224.  Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief--Lawrence Wright★★★★

225.  The Shining Girls--Lauren Beukes★★★★