August 2021: Emily C
Emily is a bookseller as well as a scholar and perpetual student. She holds a master’s degree in English literature from NCSU and a bachelor’s degree in English and history from Meredith College. There is a home video of her at her first birthday ignoring the cake and all her toys to look at picture books, and that correctly foreshadowed the rest of her life as a book lover and inveterate reader. Currently she is reading mostly fantasy and speculative fiction, including The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien and A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
I try not to insist on people reading classics, but Jane Austen in general and Pride & Prejudice is not good or readable because it’s a classic, it’s a classic because it is excellent, funny, and eminently readable. If you enjoy romance, anything set in the Regency or Victorian era, and/or witty banter, give Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy a chance.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Come for the hobbits and elves, stay for the gorgeous descriptions and beautiful character interactions. Tolkien’s masterful worldbuilding is quite literally the stuff of legend, and this book will leave you feeling as if Middle-earth is as real as any geographical location. Having written both my undergraduate and graduate level theses on this book/series, it’s safe to say I love Tolkien.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
In my reading life there is a “before The Kite Runner” and “after The Kite Runner.” I loved books in the “before” period, but I didn’t truly understand how they could move you emotionally and teach you about the world until reading this story of friendship, love, loss, and hope set in Afghanistan at the beginning of the Taliban’s rule.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
This lovely novel is written in letters between the various characters, and I was hooked on it from the first one. The characters are so well-written, and the whimsical energy of the book is infectious.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
In this quirky novel that always seems to be on the verge of magical realism, Clay Jannon takes a job at a 24-hour bookstore and quickly discovers that Something Else is going on. Populated by eccentric old folks, Google employees, knitting museums, fake perfect typography, a many-layered mystery, and a few very good friends, this book is a delight.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
I have never read a Jasper Fforde book I didn’t love, and this initial book in the Thursday Next series is a perennial favorite. Thursday is a relatable and thoughtful heroine, and the series’ parallel universe and fiction-jumping combines with literary in-jokes and hilarious asides to make a genuinely fun read.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
“Do you blame Shakespeare for any of it?” “I blame him for all of it…. You can justify anything if you do it poetically enough.” Dark academia meets Shakespeare meets mystery meets artistic musings.
Educated by Tara Westover
This is the only memoir or biography I have ever reread—several times now. Westover’s journey outside of her sheltered, doomsday-prepping existence into academia mirrors her internal journey from her parents’ version of her to her own self.
Upstream by Mary Oliver
I adore all of Oliver’s poetry, but I especially enjoyed this prose essay collection, which gives her a chance to expound on her poetic themes in longer thoughts. Her musings on nature only improve as they lengthen.
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations by Toni Morrison
I love Morrison’s fiction, but she is undervalued as a nonfiction writer, particularly her thoughts on literature itself. “Unspeakable Things Unspoken” changed the entire way I approach literature, especially the canon. Morrison is both insightful and a fantastic wordsmith.
Austen's most popular novel, the unforgettable story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy
Immerse yourself in Middle-earth with J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic masterpieces behind the films...
Soon to be a major Broadway stage production. Coming July 2022!
The #1 New York Times bestselling novel beloved by millions of readers the world over.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A NETFLIX FILM • A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.
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The New York Times Bestseller
A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle
Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend
Jasper Fforde’s beloved New York Times bestselling novel introduces literary detective Thursday Next and her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England—from the author of The Constant Rabbit
“Much like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, M. L. Rio’s sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession...will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments.”
—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest
"Nerdily (and winningly) in love with Shakespeare…Readable, smart.”
#1 NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER • One of the most acclaimed books of our time: an unforgettable memoir about a young woman who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University
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The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver.
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations (Vintage International) (Paperback)
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Here is the Nobel Prize winner in her own words: a rich gathering of her most important essays and speeches, spanning four decades that "speaks to today’s social and political moment as directly as this morning’s headlines” (NPR).
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