Top Long-Running Series to Binge Read (If You Haven’t Already)

There’s nothing quite like delving into a novel when you know you can count on several more volumes to hold your attention. The idea of getting know a character – or characters – over the course of not only multiple novels, but multiple years makes for a unique reading experience. Picking up a new novel in a beloved series is like meeting up with some old friends – there’s a kind of well-worn familiarity that can’t be replicated. Luckily, if you too have the urge to dive into a long-running series, we have a few favorites to get you started.

Bones Never Lie (with bonus novella Swamp Bones) Book Cover PictureBones Never Lie
You likely know Temperance Brennan from the long running TV series, “Bones.” If that is your only exposure to the brilliant forensic anthropologist, do yourself a favor and pick up one of the novels that inspired the series. With eighteen novels and counting, Kathy Reichs has more than proven that she knows her way around a suspenseful plot.Add in an engaging cast of characters and one of the best protagonists in thrillers fiction and you’ve got a recipe for success.

The Cold Dish Book Cover PictureThe Cold Dish
Walt Longmire is one of my favorite fictional detectives; he’s a laconic and tortured cowboy with a stiff moral code and a weathered view of the world around him. Craig Johnson has carved out an interesting niche that combines classic Old West and cowboy tropes with hard-boiled noir. It’s an interesting combination that sets the Longmire Mystery series apart from the wealth of other crime fiction crowding the shelves.

Storm Front Book Cover PictureStorm Front
There’s been real boom in quality urban fantasy the last few years, but Jim Butcher’s wizard-turned-private-investigator will always be my go-to. With Harry Dresden, Butcher puts a fantastical spin on the classic hard-boiled detective mystery. Dresden finds himself caught up in all facets of murder and mayhem in his beloved Chicago — supernatural and otherwise — and his wisecracking, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style has kept me entertained across fifteen novels as well as various short stories.

Her Royal Spyness Book Cover PictureHer Royal Spyness
Rhys Bowen’s A Royal Spyness Mystery series is one of my favorites and at twelve novels, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. Set during the 1930s, the mysteries center around a Lady Georgiana, who is 34th in line for the English throne with a penchant for finding herself in inexplicable situations.

Killing Floor Book Cover PictureKilling Floor
Jack Reacher might just be the most badass, no-nonsense hero in suspense fiction at the moment and Lee Child’s lean and visceral thrillers are truly edge-of-your seat affairs. Reacher is an ex-military policeman turned drifter with a very particular and dangerous sort of skills. He makes his way around the country like a sort of modern-day knight, always finding someone in dire need of his help.

Pietr the Latvian Book Cover PicturePietr the Latvian
When it comes to long-running series, Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret is difficult to top. With seventy-five novels featuring the genius Parisian sleuth, there’s plenty of mystery to be enjoyed.Maigret is a dogged and occasionally misanthropic detective who navigates the underbelly of a Paris that seems to be set in a state of perpetual gloom. These tightly woven, densely plotted mysteries are well worth digging into.

The Bone Collector Book Cover PictureThe Bone Collector
Lincoln Rhymes is one of the more interesting characters in recent thriller fiction. He’s an extraordinary forensic scientist and criminologist who also happens to be a quadriplegic with control of only one finger. Rhymes makes his way through the often startling grisly crime scenes with a host of high tech gadgetry. His investigations always prove to be just the sort of high-wire suspense that all-night reading sessions require.

Y is for Yesterday Book Cover PictureY is for Yesterday
It’s hard to top Sue Grafton’s dogged ingenuity. The twenty-five novels in her Kinsey Milhone/Alphabet series are a master class in sustained suspense and clever plotting. Grafton created one of the all-time great literary detectives in Kinsey Milhone — a hard edged and resourceful private investigator who Grafton insisted on thrusting into ever more dangerous situations.

44 Scotland Street Book Cover Picture44 Scotland Street
You likely know the prolific Alexander McCall Smith for his bestselling No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and while we most definitely recommend that one as well, 44 Scotland Street is another long-running series that is well worth your time. Set in McCall Smith’s beloved Edinburgh, the series centers on the residents of 44 Scotland Streetand their assorted love triangles, mishaps, mysteries, and various goings-on. And i’s all told with McCall Smith’s characteristic warmth, wit, and keen perception.

By Keith Rice, September 12, 2018, first appearing on Signature Reads

10 CROCKPOT COOKBOOKS TO UP YOUR SLOW COOKER GAME

All hail the mighty crockpot. Within this humble appliance bounties of chilis, soups, stews, and roasts slowly cook to feed batch cookers and kitchen newbies alike. You may have already seen our roundups of great books for the air frying and instant potting contingents, so if you’re looking for your next appliance-centered boost, look no further than these fantastic crockpot cookbooks.

10 crock pot cookbooks to up your slow cooker game. Make some delicious new recipes. book lists | cookbooks | cookbooks to read | slow cooker cookbooks | crockpot cookbooks | crock pot cookbooks

CROCK POT: 1001 BEST CROCK POT RECIPES OF ALL TIME BY EMMA KATIE

Crock Pot 1001 Best Crock Pot Recipes of All Time by Emma Katie coverLet’s start with this massive collection. Emma Katie’s work is the de facto epic of crockpot cookbooks, and in a just universe would be regarded similarly to the works of Shakespeare and Homer. Katie’s recipes are concise and no-nonsense, and several of them appear per page. Anything from appetizers, soups, and sides, all the way to the main course can be found here, and in spades.

 

THE NEW INDIAN SLOW COOKER BY NEELA PANIZ

The New Indian Slow Cooker by Neela Paniz coverPaniz admits in the introduction to this cookbook that she had some skepticism about how well one could make Indian food in a slow cooker. “The slow cooker would be a new route to a crucial destination,” she writes. “I didn’t know if it could be done.” Thankfully, she pulled it off, as this cookbook is a great resource for homemade Indian cuisine. As it turns out, chutneys, curries, and dals are all achievable using your crockpot.

 

THE SUPER EASY VEGAN SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK: 100 EASY, HEALTHY RECIPES THAT ARE READY WHEN YOU ARE BY TONI OKAMOTO

The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker by Toni Okamoto coverVegan food rules. Don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise, even if you’re not vegan yourself. In this cookbook, Okamoto addresses two criticisms often lobbed at vegan eating: making vegan food is time consuming and expensive. Starting with vegan basics like how to perfectly cook beans, the book evolves to include more complex dishes. It is also a handy reference guide for smart choices at the grocery store and slow cooker care. The recipes it contains will certainly satisfy anyone who tries them, regardless of their meat-eating status.

 

THE MEAT LOVER’S SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK BY JENNIFER OLVERA

And now a counterpoint. If you’re a meat eater, this collection of slow cooker recipes is indispensable. Olvera’s tome has serious meat on its bones, offering instructions on many dishes, from stew to brisket. Whether you’re cooking beef, pork, lamb, poultry, or seafood, you’ll find something delicious here. (There’re even a few vegetable recipes!) Look, life is about balance, so I think this cookbook is a great companion to Okamoto’s vegan dishes.

 

THE FRENCH SLOW COOKER BY MICHELE SCICOLONE

The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone coverScicolone’s The Italian Slow Cooker and The Mediterranean Slow Cooker are two of the best crockpot cookbooks, but The French Slow Cooker is my personal favorite. Despite French cuisine’s notoriously challenging reputation, here you will find simple and accessible ways to prepare many of the cuisine’s mainstays.

 

 

FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT BAKING WITH YOUR SLOW COOKER BY PHYLLIS GOOD

Fix-It and Forget-It Baking With Your Slow Cooker by Phyllis Good coverBaking purists may scoff at the idea of baking in a crockpot. But for those of us not quite up to Paul Hollywood standards in the kitchen, there’s something undeniable about the idea of baking cake this easily. Good’s series of crockpot cookbooks also includes diabetic friendly recipes and a five-ingredient collection.

 

 

THE ASIAN SLOW COOKER BY KELLY KWOK

The Asian Slow Cooker by Kelly Kwok coverKelly Kwok, founder of Life Made Sweeter, endeavors to empower her readers to make quality dishes Asian themselves, forsaking the old pastime of ordering takeout. Whether it’s noodles, rice, beef, chicken, or soups, Kwok provides great crockpot recipes spanning Chinese, Korean, and Thai cuisines. Note that not every recipe in this book involves a slow cooker, though the ones that don’t are single-pot meals.

 

50 SIMPLE SOUPS FOR THE SLOW COOKER BY LYNN ALLEY

50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley coverIt’s okay that winter is pretty much over. Soup is always great. Find me sipping clam chowder at the height of summer. For any time of year, this is a great collection of soups you can batch cook in your crockpot. The enchilada soup is delicious, and there are no fewer than three different ways to prepare black bean. Dive in, and bring a ladle.

 

 

THE TEX-MEX SLOW COOKER BY VIANNEY RODRIGUEZ

Tex-Mex Slow Cooker by Vianney Rodriguez coverTex-Mex is a singular cuisine, and Vianney Rodriguez wants to help people make it as easily as possible. This collection puts the crockpot into high gear, churning out pico de gallo, mole, tequila-spiked queso, and more. Coupled with personal anecdotes from the author about some of the dishes, this is as engaging a read as it is a useful one.

 

 

SLOW COOKER REVOLUTION BY AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN

Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen coverAmerica’s Test Kitchen is simply delightful. Whether it’s their public access TV show, YouTube channel, or oeuvre of cookbooks, ATK is entertaining and informative for aspiring kitchen savants. In Slow Cooker Revolution, they offer their contribution to the world of crockpot cookbooks. You may use it as a guide to everything from sauces to pork loin to marmalade.

 

 

It can’t be overstated: the crockpot is a beautiful invention. By simply dropping some ingredients into it and returning a few hours later, one has an entire culinary world they can access, with little to no advanced kitchen knowledge. All hail!

By , March 

15 CELEBRITY BOOK CLUBS AND BOOKISH CELEBRITIES TO FOLLOW IN 2019

If you’re struggling to decide what to read next, or can’t join an actual book club, celebrity book clubs just might be what you’re looking for. And they’re growing in popularity. Once this was a field dominated by Oprah (the queen of celebrity book clubs), but more and more famous people are interested in telling us what to read.

Some celebrities have official book clubs you can participate in through Goodreads or Facebook, and some just post what they’re reading on Instagram. Either way, celebrity book clubs are a great source of inspiration for what to read next. I’ve rounded up some of the best actual celebrity book clubs plus bookish celebrities to follow on social.

Great bookish celebrities and celebrity book clubs to follow in 2019. book clubs | bookish celebrities | celebrities who love booksActual Celebrity Book Clubs

Oprah

The original celebrity book club! Oprah’s Book Club was originally a segment on her talk show where she’d pick a book and discuss it with her audience. Oprah’s seal of approval helped many of these books become bestsellers. But after a few controversies (the infamous James Frey incidentJonathan Franzen being annoyed that Oprah was getting women to read his books), Oprah switched to reading a lot of classic novels. I guess dead authors can’t be annoying. These days, Oprah’s Book Club has moved online. Her most recent pick is Michelle Obama’s Becoming.

(By the way, don’t listen to Franzen—Oprah has great taste!)

Reese Witherspoon

Elevating female voices is the stated goal of Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine. Witherspoon announces a new pick each month and you can participate in the discussion on Facebook and Instagram, or just read along at home. Her latest pick is The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory.

Emma Watson

Emma Watson’s feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf, has an active presence on Goodreads. Participants can discuss their reading with one another and take part in all kinds of bookish discussions. This winter, they’re reading The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. Watson’s club seems to make a real effort to be intersectional, which is great to see.

Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss run Belletrist, a book club that also highlights independent bookstores (which is super cool). Before launching the club, Roberts got her start in the book influencing game by posting her latest reads on Instagram. Their January 2019 pick was The Dreamers by Karen Walker Thompson, the latest in a list of (I think) smart picks that showcase compelling nonfiction and buzzy fiction by women.

Sarah Jessica Parker

SJP has her own imprint with Hogarth Press, where she publishes titles that reflect her interests as a reader. She has also partnered with the American Library Association’s Book Club Central to create SJP’s Picks. The most recent SJP pick is Heartland by Sarah Smarsh.

Andrew Luck

NFL star Andrew Luck’s book club offers picks for either “Rookies” (for kids) and “Veterans” (for older readers)—adorable! This month’s choices are Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon and James S.A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes.

Florence Welch

This is my personal favorite celebrity book club because I want to grow up to be Florence Welch. Yes, the woman behind Florence and the Machine has her own book club! It seems to have grown organically from Florence’s personal love of reading, so it’s less slickly curated than some of the other ones on this list but is not run by Florence herself (though the books are recommended by her). New recommendations are posted to Facebook and Instagram, where anyone can read along and chime in with their thoughts. The most recent picks are two poetry collections by Hera Lindsay Bird called Hera Lindsay Bird and Pamper Me to Hell & Back.

Jimmy Fallon

In June 2018, Fallon launched a Tonight Show summer book club. We’ll see if it happens again this summer, but the first pick was pretty great: Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.

Felicia Day

Actor and writer Felicia Day, along with Veronica Belmont, Kiala Kazebee and Bonnie Burton, runs the book club Vaginal Fantasy to discuss “romance genre books with strong female lead characters.” I’m here for a romance book club! You can join in the discussion on Goodreads, where they are currently reading Bittenby Kelley Armstrong.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Everyone’s favorite vampire slayer posts her reads on Facebook and Twitter, usually using the hashtag #SMGbookclub. This book club isn’t as formal as the others here—it seems to be a way for SMG to share what she’s reading with her followers.

Bookish Celebrities

Unfortunately, the world of official celebrity book clubs is pretty white so far. But there are plenty of celebrities of color who share what they’re reading on social, so you can create your own book club by doing a read-along. Here they are!

Shonda Rhimes

We know Rhimes has excellent taste in books because she optioned Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, which is currently in development (hurry, please?), among a few other literary adaptations she’s producing for Netflix. Rhimes has also expanded into online content with the Shondaland website, which has great books coverage. And she’s also been known to share what she’s reading on Instagram.

Mindy Kaling

Kaling has written two books herself, so we know she likes books…and she often shares her picks on Instagram.

Roxane Gay

Gay is one of our foremost cultural critics and essayists, in addition to being a kickass fiction writer, so you can trust her opinions. She periodically posts lists of recommended books on Medium or her Tumblr, and you can also follow her onGoodreads, where she writes detailed and thoughtful reviews of what she’s reading.

Barack Obama

Ah, remember when we could be confident that the president could read? Obama used to share his yearly book picks during his presidency and has continued the tradition now that he’s no longer in the White House. Follow him on Facebook to see the lists. (And check out Book Riot’s guide to reading like Barack!)

Michelle Obama

Like her husband, Michelle Obama is a reader (and now an author). She’s been known to recommend books in interviewsBook Riot has a list of a few of her past recommendations.

By , February 

10 ENGAGING NOVELS ABOUT WORLD WAR II

I have put together a list of ten engaging fictional books about World War II. These books focus more on the civilians of the war, rather than the soldiers themselves (with some very notable exceptions). This list ranges from YA to adult fiction and even journeys through the world from U.S., Western Europe, and even China. Enjoy!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

There aren’t many books that had me bawling on a bus. This one about a little girl named Liesel who is evacuated to a small German town during WWII. She deals with the horror of the time by stealing books, first a gravedigger’s book, then others. It’s an astonishing book about friendship and resistance in the littlest of ways. The movie was okay—Geoffrey Rush is awesome but the book is definitely better.

 

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

What other book captures the absurdity of war so well? For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, the book tells the tale of a group of soldiers in WWII, focusing on Captain John Yossarian. But there’s the famous Major Major Major as well. Biting and sardonic, it’s a WWII novel unlike any other.

 

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Most people know of the book from the movie, but it is well-written and worth checking out. The writing is top-notch while the story hurts. It is the story of four people who come together in an Italian villa in WWII: a Canadian nurse, a Canadian thief, a Sikh British army sapper, and the famous unknown patient. A love story in the chaos of war.

 

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

Some people might wonder why I elected to choose a lesser known Vonnegut book in lieu of a more famous one. And that’s because Mother Night is the better book. It is the story of Howard W. Campbell Jr, an American who ends up being a Nazi propagandist in WWII. He’s managed to escape his fate and is living in the U.S. until forces beyond his control pull him out of hiding. A real tour de force.

 

Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis

This classic work by the master Martin Amis is one of the more unusual books you’ll read. It’s the life of a doctor with a dark past leading into the Holocaust but told completely backwards. Well, the dialog quickly becomes legible. But it’s a fascinating piece of fiction that hits you upside of the head.

 

Blackout by Connie Willis

Connie Willis has written several sci-fi/fantasy novels with the basic premise that humans discovered time travel but only historians use it to study the past. There are rules—the system won’t let you change events and can push you forward or backward in time from your intended drop zone. Blackout and its sequel All Cleartake place in the Blitz. A group of historians go back in time to understand the era better but find themselves stuck in London amidst the carnage.

 

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

While the other books on this list follow the war in the Western front, this one takes place in Shanghai. Christopher Banks is born and raised in Shanghai but when his parents mysteriously disappear, he is sent to England. He returns to China 20 years later as a detective and tries to uncover the fate of his parents…as the Japanese take the city.

 

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

This tale focuses largely on the childhood of Framboise Dartigen in occupied France. Told as an old woman, Framboise has returned to the small town where she grew up under a pseudonym due to the hatred for her mother. She recounts her problematic relationship with her mother as a little girl and the terrible decisions she made that she carries. I am particularly fond of books that tackle the issue of collaboration.

 

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka

Told from five different points of view, this story explores the lives of Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during WWII. Sadly, a story that needs to be repeated and remembered before we make more mistakes today.

 

All the Light We Cannot See by  Anthony Doerr

This 2015 Pulitzer Prize–winning book is about a blind French girl and a German boy in occupied France. Marie-Laurie and her father flee Paris from the Nazis and end up in Saint-Malo while Werner Pfennig discovers a radio and learns the news happening around him and his sister. He learns how to fix and create radios himself. Beautifully written, it’s well worth checking out.

By , September 

BOOKS WITH STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS OVER 50

I have just celebrated my 50th birthday. I know many women would not find this to be a happy development. We have all heard “Never ask a woman her age,” as if the natural aging process is something to hide or fear. But I don’t feel that way at all. While there are definitely some adjustments to be made as middle age disappears in the rearview mirror—health issues, empty nest, menopause, retirement—I am finding a lot of freedom and excitement in my life at this age. I worry less about what other people think of me, am more confident in my own opinions, enjoy more time to invest in friendships, and continue to discover new passions and pursuits.

Society and the publishing industry are not so comfortable with aging women. Older women are often dismissed, seen as less vital, and pushed to go to great lengths to preserve their youth. And books with strong female characters over 50 are less than plentiful. But I have been enjoying some wonderful books lately about older women having a great second act in life. These are stories about women in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s who are finding freedom, power, and joy as they age with grace and courage in a variety of circumstances. They are reinventing careers, finding hidden strengths, embarking on new love, and embracing change. Enjoy! And be sure to post your favorite books about amazing older women in the comments.

Great books with strong female characters over the age of 50. book lists | older characters | books with older characters | strong female characters

STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS BY ANNA QUINDLEN

Rebecca Winter has spent years living in New York City as a successful and well-known photographer. But her career has passed its peak, and her funds are dwindling as she helps support her adult son and her aging mother. She decides to rent out her apartment in the city and move to a cottage in a small town. There she finds an entirely new life, full of strange experiences and interesting people, including Jim, a much younger local roofer. Quindlen imbues this charming, feel-good story with her trademark wit and thoughtful observations on aging, creativity, and identity.

BRING ON THE BLESSINGS BY BEVERLY JENKINS

Two days after their 30th wedding anniversary, and right before her 52nd birthday, Bernadine Brown catches her husband cheating with his secretary. After the divorce, she walks away with a few vacation homes, a $275 million settlement, and a longing to resurrect her career in social work. Henry Adams, Kansas, is one of the last surviving townships founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. When Bernadine hears it is failing and up for sale, she buys it. With the mayor’s help, she sets out to get the town back on its feet, create a place for foster children to join the community, and preserve the town’s unique history.

I ALMOST FORGOT ABOUT YOU BY TERRY MCMILLAN

McMillan has always been skilled at creating relatable female characters who are grappling with real-life problems and searching for fulfillment. If you loved Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, you watched McMillan’s characters walk through their 30s and 40s. But in her most recent book, McMillan’s main character has aged along with you and is starting down the post-middle-age path. This book follows Dr. Georgia Young as she closes in on her 55th birthday. Her kids are grown, her career is a success, and she is single after a divorce. But Georgia feels stuck, like it is time for change. So she embarks on a new season by quitting her job, moving house, and opening herself up again for the possibility of love.

THE WRITING CLASS AND AMY FALLS DOWN BY JINCY WILLETT

Author Amy Gallup enjoyed a celebrated debut when she was published at 22, but was never again able to replicate her early success. Now, over 35 years later, she is a reclusive widow living with a moody basset hound and teaching a weekly writing class at a local university. But when one of her students is murdered, Amy is forced out of her insular existence to help track down the killer. In a follow-up book, Amy Falls Down, she is suddenly thrust back into the spotlight following a freak accident, with various situations conspiring to push her fully back into public life again. Willett’s incisive prose makes these books such a treat. The clever characters and deliciously snarky humor are elevated by unexpected moments of keen insight and reflection. Each book works as a standalone, but together they create an especially transformative arc about an older woman finding joy in life again.

 

OUR SOULS AT NIGHT BY KENT HARUF

This is such a lovely, quiet book. Louis and Addie are in their 70s and live in the small town of Holt, Colorado. They have known each other for years, but not well. Both are lonely, their spouses having died years earlier, until one night, when Addie decides to pay Louis a visit. The two begin an unconventional friendship, surprised by the gift of companionship and comfort in their later years. Their children and fellow townsfolk challenge a relationship they don’t understand. It is a brief story, told in Haruf’s simple yet affecting style, that will stick with you long after you turn the last page.

LIKE A MULE BRINGING ICE CREAM TO THE SUN BY SARAH LADIPO MANYIKA

Morayo Da Silva is preparing to celebrate her 75th birthday. She has bought a gorgeous new pair of shoes and is contemplating the best spot for her new tattoo. She lives alone in a cluttered, cozy apartment filled with beloved books and memories of a well-lived, well-traveled life. She wanders through her day, recalling old lovers, indulging current desires, and remembering her days as an English professor. When a sudden fall sends her to the hospital, she must confront the reality of aging and the constraints that come with it, but she is determined to enjoy life every moment as long as she can.

TWO OLD WOMEN: AN ALASKAN LEGEND OF BETRAYAL, COURAGE AND SURVIVAL BY VELMA WALLIS

Wallis recounts an ancient Athabascan Indian legend that was passed down through generations to her mother, who then passed it down to her. The legend tells of two elderly women, Ch’idzigyaak and Sa’, who are abandoned by their tribe due to a devastating famine. Stunned and freezing, but full of determination, Sa’ turns to the other woman and says, “They think that we are too old and useless. They forget that we, too, have earned the right to live! So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting.” What follows is a moving story of burgeoning friendship and remarkable resilience as the two women survive the harsh year ahead.

By , September 

Books to Film: Spring(?) Edition

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

6419887The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.jpgMovie: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
When it comes out: March 1
What the book is about: William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.

 

Transit by Anna Seghers

15823471Transit (2018 film).pngMovie: Transit
When it comes out: March 1
What the book is about: Having escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Germany in 1937, and later a camp in Rouen, the nameless twenty-seven-year-old German narrator of Seghers’s multilayered masterpiece ends up in the dusty seaport of Marseille. Along the way he is asked to deliver a letter to a man named Weidel in Paris and discovers Weidel has committed suicide, leaving behind a suitcase containing letters and the manuscript of a novel.

 

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincot


39939417Five Feet Apart (2019 poster).pngMovie:
Five Feet Apart
When it comes out: March 15
What the book is about: Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions. The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals. Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

 

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

15823419The Aftermath (2019 film) poster.jpg

Movie: The Aftermath
When it comes out: March 15
What the book is about: Hamburg, 1946. Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, Colonel Lewis Morgan is requisitioned a fine house on the banks of the Elbe, where he will be joined by his grieving wife, Rachael, and only remaining son, Edmund. But rather than force its owners, a German widower and his traumatized daughter, to leave their home, Lewis insists that the two families live together.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

13526165Where'd You Go Bernadette (film poster).pngMovie: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
When it comes out:
March 22
What the book is about:
Bernadette Fox has vanished. When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades.

 

The Dirt by Mötley Crüe & Neil Strauss

The Dirt.jpgThe Dirt movie posterMovie: The Dirt
When it comes out:
March 22
What the book is about:
Whiskey and porn stars, hot reds and car crashes, black leather and high heels, overdoses and death. This is the life of Mötley Crüe, the heaviest drinking, hardest fighting, most oversexed and arrogant band in the world. Their unbelievable exploits are the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll legend. They nailed the hottest chicks, started the bloodiest fights, partied with the biggest drug dealers, and got to know the inside of every jail cell from California to Japan. They have dedicated an entire career to living life to its extreme, from the greatest fantasies to the darkest tragedies. Tommy married two international sex symbols; Vince killed a man and lost a daughter to cancer; Nikki overdosed, rose from the dead, and then OD’d again the next day; and Mick shot a woman and tried to hang his own brother. But that’s just the beginning.

 

The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud

24791985Image result for wounds 2019 filmMovie: Wounds
When it comes out:
March 29
What the book is about:
When Will discovers a cell phone after a violent brawl his life descends into a nightmare. Affable, charismatic and a little shallow, he’s been skating across the surface of life in a state of carefully maintained contentment. He decides to keep the cell phone just until the owner returns and everything changes. Then the messages begin. Will’s discovered something unspeakable and it’s crawling slowly into the light.

 

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

9640038Unplanned movie posterMovie: Unplanned
When it comes out:
March 29
What the book is about:
Abby Johnson quit her job in October 2009. That simple act became a national news story because Abby was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who, after participating in her first actual abortion procedure, walked across the road to join the Coalition for Life. “Unplanned” is a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation that speaks hope and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds this issue.

 

 

10 HEARTWARMING ANIMAL BOOKS

Animals are an integral part of my reading life. Yes, of course, I can read without my cat flicking her fluffy tail to cover the exact line of my book that my eye is about to fall on. Maybe it’s easier to read without arguing over whether my hand should be turning the page or scratching her belly, but is it as pleasant? Is it as soul-feeding?

Is there, then, any better reason to stop reading than because my parents’ dog has gotten tired of watching me sit still, and would very much like to go once around the block, or maybe just chase the ball for a minute, please. What better way to take some time to reflect back on what I’m reading then to do it with a little dog who doesn’t really care what I’m telling her about, but who is very happy to be included in the conversation.

So, since animals are such an important part of my reading life, and my non-reading life, to be clear, I thought it would be fun to round up some books that tell the true stories of some amazing animal and human friendships.

until tuesdayUNTIL TUESDAY BY LUIS CARLOS MONTALVAN

Luis suffered from crippling PTSD and horrible physical wounds after two tours in Iraq. Tuesday was a trained service dog who had trouble connecting with adult humans. When they finally find each other, they teach each other how to heal.

 

FLASH BY RACHEL ANN RIDGE

When Flash the donkey showed up in Rachel’s driveway, Rachel was already at the end of her rope, feeling like a failed artist as she and her family struggled to pay their bills. Flash’s appearance felt like a sign from God that everything would be okay. Flash is an unlikely hero, but he was the hero Rachel needed. [full disclosure: I work for the company who produced this book.]

THE CAT WHO COVERED THE WORLD: THE ADVENTURES OF HENRIETTA AND HER FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT BY CHRISTOPHER S. WREN, ILLUSTRATED BY MEILO SO

Follow the adventures of Henrietta the cat and her human family as they travel the world of the course of Henrietta’s 17-year life to places like Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, Ottawa, and Johannesburg. It’s charming, funny, and poignant.

Dewey by Vicki MyronDEWEY: THE SMALL-TOWN LIBRARY CAT WHO TOUCHED THE WORLD BY VICKI MYRON

Speaking of animals who are integral to our reading lives, Dewey was an actual library employee. Abandoned on the coldest night of the year, Dewey was lucky enough to find Vicki Myron, director of the local library, who took him in. Dewey grew to worldwide fame as he touched lives and promoted literacy in his small town.

H IS FOR HAWK BY HELEN MACDONALD

Part memoir, part biography, H is for Hawk is the story of Helen struggling to process through her grief over her father’s death. She goes about this two ways: one, by examining the life of T.H. White, author of The Once and Future King, among other things, and second, by training a very small goshawk, Mabel. It’s gorgeous and literary, and maybe my favorite book on this list.

THE GOOD GOOD PIG: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD BY SY MONTGOMERY

Really, what more do you need to know than that this is a memoir about the life of a pig named Christopher Hogwood? I feel that that is your hook, there you go, go read it. Okay, fine: The Good Good Pig tells the life story of Christopher Hogwood, a gentle philosopher of a pig. Through his boundless zest for life and Sy Montgomery’s beautiful prose, the reader learns to slow down and appreciate the good, green earth.

soul of an octopusTHE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS BY SY MONTGOMERY

It feels like it might be cheating to put two books by the wonderful Sy Montgomery on this list, but how can I not include both Christopher Hogwood and a book about octopuses? I can’t not, that’s what. The Soul of an Octopus is the story of Sy’s years observing octopuses (which is the proper plural form, so you know) at a New England aquarium and traveling the world to get to know these magnificent creatures. She chronicles their behavior in a way that will fill you with wonder and make you laugh. These animals can figure out puzzles, yes, but they also hold grudges.

WESLEY THE OWL: THE REMARKABLE LOVE STORY OF AN OWL AND HIS GIRL BY STACY O’BRIEN

When Stacy adopted a tiny, injured fluff ball of an owl, she had no idea he would become her loving companion for nearly 20 years. Wesley the owl is also Stacy’s coworker of sorts at her bird research facility, which the book describes as a sort of Hogwarts, with owls flying freely from office to office. When Wesley returns the favor and saves Stacy’s life, readers learn about the tremendous bond that can form between animal and human.

A WOLF CALLED ROMEO BY NICK JANS

A Wolf Called Romeo explores the lore and science of wolves as it tells the life story of Romeo, a black wolf that spent ten years interacting with the residents of Juneau, Alaska. Romeo played with their dogs and joined humans on cross-country ski trips. A beautiful, thoughtful book to make you think about the nature of canines.

THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING BY ELISABETH TOVA BAILEY

We’ll end on the very smallest creature on our list: a tiny forest snail. I may be biased, since I spent many hours in my childhood watching my own pet snail (RIP Gregory, I think of you often) chow down on algae pellets, but there is quite a lot to be learned from a tiny mollusk. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a beautiful reflection on the closely observed life of one of our most ignored creatures.

By , September