December means a lot of things. Our normally latent shopping gene starts itching like crazy, mint-flavored coffee starts sounding like a good idea, and every single media outlet (ourselves included) puts up their “best of” everything lists. Well, ’tis the season. In an effort to distill all those year’s end book round-ups — and let’s face it, be a little meta — we looked at 16 lists from 14 media organizations and counted up the books that tickled the most critics this year. Turns out, they had quite a few differing opinions — on those 16 lists alone, we noted more than 150 unique titles — but also agreed across the board on a few knock-outs. After the jump, feast your eyes on the most popular books of the 2012 best book list season — and let us know if you agree with consensus or think the world’s gone mad in the comments. … Read More
This weekend marks the official start of summer, which brings us visions of lying on sandy beaches, an umbrella-topped drink in one hand, and of course, a book in the other. Now, picking beach reading can be difficult — at least if you’re a book geek in your non-bathing suit clad hours. You don’t want to waste your time on something trashy, but you also don’t want to tackle Ulysses in the midst of all that sun and surf. Well, not to worry — we’ve got you covered like SPF 80 with some great books that will transition perfectly from desk to pool and back again. Last summer, we gave you a rundown of a few of our favorite highbrow beach reads from years past, so this year we’re focusing on new books (or to be precise, books that have come out since last summer) that will captivate you on the beach and still make you look smart when you get back to the city. Click through to check out our list of new highbrow books that are still beach-appropriate, and if we’ve missed your own favorite, be sure to add to our list in the… Read More
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and everyone should be thinking of ways to make the lady that gave birth to them smile. We’ve already given you a heads up on some last-minute Mother’s Day gifts that don’t suck, but if what your Mommy dearest really craves is a good book, well, we’ve got you covered there as well. We’ve limited ourselves to recommending books that have come out since last Mother’s Day (since we’re sure last year you picked the perfect book), so click through to see our picks of what books to give every kind of mom this weekend. And we know, we know — your mom probably fits into a number of these categories. Looks like you’ll just have to pick her up a whole pile of books, then. She’s worth it. … Read More
We’ve been a little obsessed with Lauren Groff since we first read her short story “L. DeBard and Aliette,” a re-telling of the love story of Abelard and Heloise set against the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918. Her debut novel, The Monsters of Templeton, demonstrates her spectacular flair for using history to embroider her fiction. Templeton is a “slantwise version” of Cooperstown, borrowed from another novelist from the area, James Fenimore Cooper, and Templeton’s history is populated with characters from Fenimore Cooper’s novels. The result is a charming and sometimes heartbreaking pastiche of faux historical documents that dips just slightly into the stuff of fairy tales.
Fairy tales, and Templeton itself, appear again in her new short story collection, Delicate Edible Birds. In the opening story, a modern Templeton teenager watches her town fall apart after a scandal, and finds solace in the metaphorical morality of folk tales and myths. After that, though, we are unmoored from Templeton, and we’re following Groff through time and space: Argentina in the ’60’s; Paris as the Nazis descend; an unspecified banana republic at what might be the turn of the century or might be yesterday. Groff is a skillful and inventive tour guide, and recently she gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of her work. Highlights from our conversation appear after the… Read More
When Stephen King compares your debut novel to the Harry Potter series in Entertainment Weekly, it’s almost like getting a free pass. Not like Lauren Groff, the talented young writer behind The Monsters of Templeton, needed one. Her juicy first novel — which is both a critical darling and a New York Times bestseller — explores a family’s dark secrets in a small town that’s plagued by a monster.
If you live in New York, head to McNally Jackson Bookstore for cocktails and a discussion with Groff tomorrow night courtesy of the Marie Claire Book Club. After the jump, read on to discover this young writer’s rather surprising favorite read.
Hint: It’s an oldie but a goodie that was published in 1667. … Read More