The Best Books I Read in 2019

Because I read more books this year than I had in any recent year, paring down my list of the year’s favorites was much harder than usual. I always try to reduce the list of 10 best and 5 honorable mentions, but this year I couldn’t decide which should be the final title to get moved from best to honorable mention. I therefore present 11 best and 4 honorable mentions, although the differences between the two groups are indeed very slight.

As always, these are the best books I read this year, regardless of when they were published. They’re listed alphabetically by author’s last name.

Best

Crouch, Blake. Recursion: A Novel

Franklin, Ruth. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

Harper, Jane. The Lost Man

Kim, Angie. Miracle Creek

Lippman, Laura. Lady in the Lake

Michaelides, Alex. The Silent Patient

Obama, Michelle. Becoming

Quinn, Kate. The Alice Network

Reid, Taylor Jenkins. Daisy Jones & The Six

Turton, Stuart. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad

Honorable Mention

Berney, Lou. November Road

Dugoni, Robert. My Sister’s Grave

Kushner, Rachel. The Mars Room

McTiernan, Dervla. The Ruin


You can find links to lists of the best books I read each year from 1996 to 2019 on the Year’s Best Books page.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Literary Links

How a Twitter war in 2010 helped change the way we talk about women’s writing

A look at how the 2010 dust-up between writers Jennifer Weiner and Jonathan Franzen engendered a decade-long pop culture discussion over two basic questions: “What kinds of stories do we consider to be worthy of respect? And to whom do those stories belong?”

7 OF THE BEST BOOKS ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS FROM 2019

“One of the most practical ways to combat stigma around mental illness is to raise awareness in society about it, and what better way to do that than through books.”

This article discusses these 7 books from 2019:

  • THE HEARTLAND BY NATHAN FILER (FABER)
  • MIND ON FIRE BY ARNOLD THOMAS FANNING (PENGUIN)
  • NOTES MADE WHILE FALLING BY JENN ASHWORTH (GOLDSMITHS PRESS)
  • THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS BY ESMÉ WEIJUN WANG (PENGUIN)
  • BIPOLAR DISORDER – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE BY SARAH OWEN & AMANDA SAUNDERS (ONEWORLD)
  • WHERE REASONS END BY YIYUN LI (HAMISH HAMILTON)
  • DORA: A HEADCASE BY LIDIA YUKNAVITCH (CANONGATE)

Gone Boys

Hillary Kelly writes in Vulture that during the past decade women have replaced men as important authors:

Where once a passel of middle-ish-aged men — Jeffrey Eugenides, Michael Chabon, the rest of the Jonathans (Lethem, Safran Foer) — dominated the scene with their big, important distillations of the world, the voices that now stand out, the ones that drive the conversation around fiction, largely belong to women.

The Top Twenty-Five New Yorker Stories of 2019

The New Yorker lists its top stories of the year in terms of how much they influenced readers to subscribe to the magazine. These are the stories most relevant to the literary world:

5. “What If We Stopped Pretending?,” by Jonathan Franzen

“The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.”

8. “A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions,” by Ian Parker

“Dan Mallory, who writes under the name A. J. Finn, went to No. 1 with his début thriller, “The Woman in the Window.” His life contains even stranger twists.”

10. “The Art of Decision-Making,” by Joshua Rothman

“Your life choices aren’t just about what you want to do; they’re about who you want to be.”

13. “The Lingering of Loss,” by Jill Lepore

“My best friend left her laptop to me in her will. Twenty years later, I turned it on and began my inquest.”

17. “Father Time,” by David Sedaris

I can’t predict what’s waiting for us, lurking on the other side of our late middle age, but I know it can’t be good.

“Little Women” and the Marmee Problem

“The anger of Marmee, the mother of the March sisters, is central to Louisa May Alcott’s novel, and yet it’s hidden in plain sight.”

Is Sentimentality in Writing Really That Bad?

Poet and essayist Elisa Gabbert discusses the difference between sentiment and sentimentality in writing.

In these new audiobooks, great tales are matched with great narrators

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but I don’t talk much about them in terms of their distinctive format. Here, Katherine A. Powers recommends three new audiobooks with “great narrators.”

The Long Tail of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’

In The New York Times, Alexandra Alter discusses Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, published in summer 2018:

A year and a half later, the novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing,” an absorbing, atmospheric tale about a lonely girl’s coming-of-age in the marshes of North Carolina, has sold more than four and a half million copies. It’s an astonishing trajectory for any debut novelist, much less for a reclusive, 70-year-old scientist, whose previous published works chronicled the decades she spent in the deserts and valleys of Botswana and Zambia, where she studied hyenas, lions and elephants.


© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Did I Fulfill My Reading Plan for 2019?

Earlier this month I posted about 10 Reading Regrets of 2019, a list of 10 particular books that I’m sorry I didn’t get to this year.

But how did I do in terms of my overall reading plan for 2019, which I composed back in January?

Let’s take a look. Here are the sections of my plan, with my summary comments highlighted in purple.

fancy scroll

First, because I read so many books last year, I’m boldly going to increase my annual Goodreads challenge to 50 books for 2019.

I’ve already exceeded that goal. Since I still may finish another book or two, I’ll wait and include the exact number in my 2019 year-in-reading wrap-up.


Second, I’m going to avoid any other particular reading challenges and instead just encourage myself to read in the following categories:

1. translations

I didn’t do as well as I had hoped in this category.

  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu  
  • A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

2. science fiction

I’m satisfied with this number, though it’s really nothing to brag about.

  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu   
  • The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton   
  • Recursion by Blake Crouch

3. speculative fiction

Again, I’m satisfied here.

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams 
  • The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton   

4. memoir

I had hoped to read a lot more in this category, some of which have been on my TBR shelf for years.

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama 
  • Darkness Visible by William Styron

5. biography

Really? Only one?

  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

6. general nonfiction

This result qualifies as an epic failure.

  • The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

7. plays

I think I should just give up on this category. I honestly don’t enjoy reading plays anymore.

  • The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill    

8. poetry

Ditto.

9. books by local authors

I can live with this result.

  • The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni
  • No Exit by Taylor Adams 
  • My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni 
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple  
  • The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni  
  • The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison 

10. books by people of color or about other cultures

This is another epic failure.

  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu   
  • A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Third, I’m going to make the effort to cross off at least four titles from my Classics Club list.

I just made my minimum.

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams 
  • The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill  
  • Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing by May Sarton
  • Darkness Visible by William Styron

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

More Best Books of 2019 Lists

Best Books of 2019

I put this Goodreads list at the very top of this entry because it’s “the only major book awards decided by readers.” Check out the winners in a whole bunch of categories.

The Ultimate Best Books of 2019 List

And here’s the list made up from other lists. Literary Hub editor Emily Temple collected every “best books of the year” lists she could find, “tallied up their recommendations, and figured out which books were most often included.”

What writers are reading: The Irish Times books of the year 2019

The 10 Best Books of 2019

From The New York Times: “The editors of The Times Book Review choose the best fiction and nonfiction titles this year.”

Best Books 2019

This is the portal for entering Library Journal’s lists of best books in the following categories:

  • crime fiction  
  • horror  
  • literary fiction  
  • pop fiction  
  • romance  
  • science fiction/fantasy  
  • short stories  
  • world literature  
  • arts  
  • biography & memoir  
  • cooking & food  
  • poetry  
  • religion & spirituality  
  • science & technology  
  • social sciences  
  • wellness  
  • graphic novels 

AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2019

The year’s best audiobooks in all the major categories.

The best books of 2019 – picked by the year’s best writers

From The Guardian comes this list: “the winners and runners-up of this year’s most coveted literary awards pick their three favourite titles of 2019.”

The Best Books of 2019

From Katy Waldman, staff writer at The New Yorker

The Best Books of 2019

Book Riot’s choices from all the genres

The Best Books We Read in 2019

The staff of Bookish list the best books they read in 2019.

NPR’s Book Concierge

The portal for entry into NPR’s book recommendations from 2019 all the way back through 2013.

The Best Books of 2019

From GQ

The 10 Best Books of 2019

“According to Slate’s books editor.” At the bottom of this list is a link to “the best books of 2019 according to Slate’s book critic.”

The Best Books of 2019

From Molly Young, Vulture literary critic

Our 50 Favorite Books of the Year

“Highlights From a Year in Reading by the Literary Hub Staff”

Our Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2019

From The New Yorker

55 of the Best Queer Books of 2019

A list of “gorgeous graphic memoirs, epic fantasy tales, twisty thrillers, swoony romances, exceptional essay collections, and more!”

The 44 Best-Selling Books of 2019 That You Don’t Want to Miss

An exhortation from Good Housekeeping: “Crack open one of these best-sellers to find out what everyone’s talking about.”

Best Books of 2019: Young Adult

A list from BookPage

The Best Books of 2019 (So Far)

From Thrillist. There are 39 books on this list, a lot of which are translations from writers outside of the U.S.

The Best Science Books of 2019

Recommendations from Barbara Kiser, Books & Arts Editor at Nature. This page also includes, along the right side, links to many other “best books” in science-related areas.

Books of the Year 2019

Australian Book Review has compiled this list from suggestions by their critics and writers.

The Best of 2019

Amazon’s audiobook giant Audible offers a top-ten list, plus additional lists in a whole bunch of categories such as fiction, memoir, mysteries & thrillers, true crime, young adult, and kids’ audiobooks.

THE BEST BOOK COVERS OF 2019

From Book Riot

The Best Cookbooks of 2019

From The New Yorker

THE BEST CRIME NOVELS OF 2019

From the folks at CrimeReads, who explain they are “starting here with our choices for best novels from the big “crime” umbrella of crime, mystery, and thrillers. We’ll be back soon with our selections for the best new International Crime Fiction, True Crime, Noir, Psychological Thrillers, Espionage Fiction, and more.”

THE BEST EPIGRAPHS OF 2019

Those short quotations you often find at the front of books are called epigraphs. Here Ashley Holstrom lists her favorites for the year. “Sometimes the epigraphs are related to content or tone, or just something pretty the writer wants to share along with their work.”

Reflecting on the memoirs of 2019 and the elasticity of the genre

From the Chicago Tribune. Not exactly a “best of” list, but interesting nevertheless.

The New York Public Library’s Most Checked-Out Books of the Year

Electric Lit’s 15 Best Novels of 2019

Compiled by the staff and contributors of Electric Literature

Electric Lit’s 15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2019

“Staff and contributors recommend memoirs, essays, and reported work”

Best books of 2019: What Ronan Farrow, Susan Orlean and more writers we love couldn’t put down

From the Los Angeles Times

The best books of 2019 for people who love travel

Editors’ Picks: Notable Books of 2019

A list of both fiction and nonfiction, from Cal Flyn, deputy editor at Five Books

The 10 Best Book Reviews of 2019

From Literary Hub

Rabih Alameddine: The Oddest Books I Read This Year

“The Author of The Angel of History Alternative to theEndless ‘Best of’ Lists”

fancy scroll

Best Books of the Decade

26 Books From the Last Decade that More People Should Read

From Literary Hub: “Our Favorite Writers Recommend Some Underappreciated Gems.”

10 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Must-Reads From the 2010s

From fiction writer and editor Leah Schnelbach, for Literary Hub

The Best Psychological Thrillers of the Decade, Ranked

Analysis by BookBub of 17 thrillers

20 of the Best Book Club Books of the Decade

“In this list, we’re showcasing two of the best books from each year — all titles that book clubs loved.” From BookBub

Here are EW’s top 10 nonfiction books of the decade

From Entertainment Weekly. At the bottom you’ll find links to the top 10 fiction books of the decade, the best fantasy of the decade, and the best book series of the decade.

The 10 Best Literary TV Adaptations of the Decade

From Emily Temple of Literary Hub: “we didn’t base our decisions on fidelity to, or creativity of departure from, the original text. We just wanted to pick the best television experiences.”

The 10 Best Literary Film Adaptations of the Decade

Also from Literary Hub

How reading has changed in the 2010s

From the BBC: “Erica Wagner picks the most important book trends of the past decade.”

The 10 Best Debut Novels of the Decade

A list by For Reading Addicts

The Decade in Young Adult Fiction

From Laura Miller at Slate

100 Books That Defined the Decade

From Emily Temple for Literary Hub: “This is a list of books that, whether bad or good, were in one way or another defining for the last decade in American culture.”

The Best Memoirs of the Decade (2010-2019)

A list by For Reading Addicts

The Best Memoirs of the Decade

BookBub’s list

Best of the Decade: What Books Will We Still Be Reading in 10 Years?

“And You Thought Best of the Year Lists Were Intense?”

Emily Temple of Literary Hub: “I proposed a staff poll, of sorts: I asked each of my colleagues in the Literary Hub office to make a list of the ten books from the last ten years that they thought we’d still be reading—for good or ill—ten years from now, circa 2030.”


© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

2020 Book Blog Discussion Challenge Sign-Up

In an effort to motivate myself to produce more substantive posts next year, I’ve decided to sign up for the 2020 Book Blog Discussion Challenge.

2020 Discussion Challenge

This challenge is hosted by two book bloggers:

Thanks to Nicole and Shannon for running this annual challenge, which they’ve been doing for several years now.

My goal for the challenge is to write at least one discussion post a month.

I look forward to reading everyone else’s posts. I expect to come across a whole lot of interesting topics that I haven’t thought of yet but will enjoy thinking about next year!

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Literary Links

CANDID PORTRAITS OR GHOSTWRITTEN FLUFF: THE HISTORY OF THE CELEBRITY BOOK

Jeffrey Davies looks at the history of the celebrity book, whether it be “a memoir, an essay collection, a cookbook, a book of poetry, or a self-help book.” He discusses the rise of the ghostwriter, what happens when celebrity culture and science clash (for example, Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks and health books), and whether celebrity books make it harder for other books to get published.

Reflecting on the memoirs of 2019 and the elasticity of the genre

From the Chicago Tribune:

The memoir, at once literary and fact-based, js a shape-shifter, a container for a diverse array of voices, stories and narrative techniques. A sampling of this year’s entries exemplify the genre’s elasticity. In eclectic formats, they speak of trauma and healing, family dysfunction, the limitations of medical science, and the forging of identity in the face of social and cultural obstacles.

A year of literary prizes and surprises in 2019

In an article summarizing the ups and downs of this past year’s literary prizes worldwide, Somak Ghoshal concludes:

The reality of judging a prize is complicated by a multitude of conflicting factors. The impulse to do right by being aware of the conditions in which a writer or an artist produces their work often clashes with the duty to uphold aesthetic merit above all else. But these days, the solution seems to come from the contenders themselves. In August, writer Olivia Laing shared the James Tait Black prize for fiction with her fellow nominees because “competition has no place in art”. More recently, the four shortlisted artists for the Turner Prize, one of Britain’s most prestigious awards for the arts, requested the jury to divide the prize equally among them. If this trend continues, it will soon become unfashionable to run for competitions, or to win any.

The Classics That Invented These Thriller Tropes

I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, and I often talk about the use of genre tropes in these books. Here Diane Zhang describes several of those tropes and discusses both the origin and recent examples of each.

Peter Pan’s dark side emerges with release of original manuscript

This article in The Guardian examines how J.M. Barrie “toned down Peter Pan’s character to suit audiences in 1911” as he edited his manuscript for publication. 

Barrie’s original manuscript, entitled Peter Pan and Wendy, was published earlier this month. 

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

10 Reading Regrets of 2019

Yesterday I came across the article Readers’ Regrets: The Books We Wish We Read in 2019. It prompted me to take a look at my own shelves for the books I regret not having read in 2019. Here are 10 of them, listed in no particular order.

(Links that describe the book are to either Goodreads, Amazon, or the book’s publisher.)

Normal People by Sally Rooney

cover: Normal People

The description of the author’s “brilliant psychological acuity” drew me so quickly to this book that I bought a hardcover copy soon after its publication. 

Alas, that book still stands on my shelf, expectantly.


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

cover: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Although I’m not—nor have I ever wanted to be—a therapist, I’m interested in psychology. I even went back to school at age 57 and got a Ph.D. in general psychology. I bought a copy of this book because it promises to scratch two of my itches: (1) a look at psychology that can inform my study of literature (fiction), and (2) an effort to read more nonfiction. The book still has a prominent place on my nonfiction TBR shelf.


In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado

cover: In the Dream House

This book was published only recently (November 5, 2019), so I don’t have a copy and don’t feel too guilty about not having read it yet. Although my first literary love is fiction, my second-favorite type of book to read is memoir (nonfiction). (My focus of study in my Ph.D. program was life stories.) This story of Carmen Maria Machado’s experiences in “an abusive same-sex relationship” has gotten consistently good reviews, so I hope to read it soon.


Circe by Madeline Miller

cover: Circe

As a college classics major, I was immediately drawn to this novel featuring a figure from classical Greek mythology. I ordered a copy from Book of the Month Club when this title was chosen as BOTM book of the year for 2018. It still sits on my BOTM shelf along with a few others as yet unread.


The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin

cover: The Fifth Season

This book, originally published in 2015, recently drew my attention when I decided that I should at least try to read and appreciate some fantasy. For the record, I have read and loved Lord of the Rings twice and all of the Harry Potter books. This novel consistently appears on lists of good fantasy, so I’ll start here. I put it on the Christmas book wishlist that my daughter, who LOVES fantasy, requested, so it my show up at my house soon. 


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

cover: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

This book hits two of my sweet spots: it’s a novel about life stories:

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

This book is also on just about everybody’s list of the best books of 2019, which makes it call my name even more loudly.


All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg

cover: All This Could Be Yours

All This Could Be Yours is a timely, piercing exploration of what it means to be caught in the web of a toxic man who abused his power; it shows how those webs can tangle a family for generations and what it takes to—maybe, hopefully—break free.

A dysfunctional family with hidden secrets: how could I resist? I recently bought the Kindle edition when it was on sale.


Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

cover: Ask Again, Yes

This is another title that comes up on almost all the best books of 2019 lists:

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next 40 years. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while haunted by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.


The Need by Helen Phillips

cover: The Need

This promises to be a psychological thriller that deals in suspense and features family secrets along with an examination of the meaning of motherhood: “The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives.”


 Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

cover: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

I had this novel, translated from Polish, on my radar even before it received the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

A deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? it asks. Who is worthy of a voice?

I bought a hardcover copy soon after the English translation was published in August 2019, and it still has a place of honor right at the end of my TBR shelf.


© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Classics Club Spin #22

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin, #22.

Here’s how it works: I post a numbered list of 20 titles from my Classics Club list. On December 22 the Classics Club curators will post a number from 1 through 20. I then have to read whatever title has that number on my list by January 31, 2020. 

Every year I have very good intentions of reading several selections from my Classics Club list, but, to tell the truth, I usually don’t remember to consult that list when I pick up my next book to read. Therefore, these periodic Spins help me stay on track to read at least a few of those books during any given year.

Here, then, is my list for Spin #22:

  1. Jackson, Shirley. Just an Ordinary Day: Stories    
  2. Highsmith, Patricia. The Tremor of Forgery   
  3. Fowles, John. The French Lieutenant’s Woman   
  4. Cather, Willa. O Pioneers!  
  5. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment   
  6. McEwan, Ian. Atonement   
  7. Rendell, Ruth. The Crocodile Bird   
  8. Nabokov, Vladimir. Pale Fire  
  9. Agee, James. A Death in the Family  
  10. Vonnegut, Kurt. Cat’s Cradle   
  11. Baker, Nicholson. The Mezzanine  
  12. Howard, Elizabeth Jane. The Long View   
  13. Brookner, Anita. Hotel Du Lac   
  14. Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time   
  15. Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!   
  16. Connell, Evan S. Mr. Bridge   
  17. James, Henry. The Beast in the Jungle  
  18. Wharton, Edith. Ghost Stories   
  19. Jewett, Sarah Orne. The Country of the Pointed Firs   
  20. Hardy, Thomas. Far From the Madding Crowd

And now, I eagerly anticipate December 22.

Update

And the winner is . . . lucky #13. So I will be reading Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner.

Literary Links

Romance Is a Billion-Dollar Literary Industry. So Why Is It Still So Overlooked?

Samantha Leach writes in Glamour that romance novels have evolved from the steamy bodice-rippers of the early 1970s to mid 1980s into works that deal meaningfully with “whatever is happening to women or marginalized people.”

ON FAILING THE GOODREADS CHALLENGE

P.N. Hinton discusses 2017, the year she failed miserably in meeting her Goodreads Challenge number of books. She concludes, “When you make reading a task that you have to do, then it stops being fun. And when it stops being fun, you don’t do it at all anymore.”

 Out of Bethlehem: The radicalization of Joan Didion.

Louis Menand writes in The New Yorker:

Didion interprets the political text of American life according to a set of beliefs about disparities of wealth and class. She arrived at those assumptions worthily: by analyzing her own education and experience. And that’s what she sees when she reads the newspaper or follows a campaign. She is never less than amazed by the willingness of everyone in the press to pretend, in the name of keeping the show going, that American life is really not about money and power.

How William Gibson Keeps His Science Fiction Real

In apparent support of the assertion that science fiction is not about the future but the present, Joshua Rothman profiles William Gibson, “the writer who, for four decades, has imagined the near future more convincingly than anyone else.”

The unreliable narrator is the biggest book trend of the decade

From Leah Greenblatt for Entertainment Weekly. Here are some of the books she references: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

These books—and their narrators—Greenblatt writes, “open a Pandora’s box too long unexplored — a well of real and sometimes deeply ugly feelings that are no less universal for coming in the inconvenient or uncomfortable form of xx chromosomes.”

THE ELEMENTS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE: A PRIMER

Mystery novelist Emily Littlejohn describes the basic elements of a haunted-house thriller and offers a list of enticing examples.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown