The Best Books of the Moment

The Best Books of the Moment

So many books, so little time… We, the digital booksellers of 24symbols, are set on helping you make the best of your time. This is why each week we present you a book that has caught our special attention. This may be a book that everybody is talking about, the debut novel from an author one should look out for or a hidden gem that we were lucky enough to bring to light. Check out the best books of the moment and find your next read. We made sure to include something for everyone’s taste:

Unseen City

Amy Shearn

As librarians, we could not help but drool over this clever, well-researched ode to New York City, with a self-declared spinster librarian as heroine. Meg Rhys is forty, single and lives happily with her books and her cat in a rent-controlled flat in Brooklyn. Oh, and of course there is also her dead sister’s ghost…

Giving a voice to the dead allows Shearn to shed light on the city’s history. Switching between past and present, we learn about Weeksville, a settlement of free African Americans that was founded before the Civil War in what is now Brooklyn and which is of special interest to library patron Ellis. With Meg’s help he researches the history of Weeksville in order to understand whether his family home might be one of the original buildings of the settlement. Together they unravel an astonishing past.

This is a book about never-ending change, a contemplation about gentrification, nostalgia, loss and, above all mourning. Lost souls, dead and alive, roam these pages and remind us of the forgotten stories our homes have to tell. Shearn’s observations are as funny as they are accurate and you will find yourself wanting to mark a sentence on every page.

Read Unseen City by Amy Shearn

Read the book

Animal Wife 

Lara Ehrlich

We all know that you should not judge a book by its cover but there is nothing wrong with starting to read a book BECAUSE of its cover. ANIMAL WIFE certainly is one of those books you cannot pass without taking a closer look. And rightly so, for this debut short story collection will take you into a fairytale-esque universe that explores the different stages of womanhood – from childhood over adolescence to motherhood – in a magical way.

Ehrlich blends fantastic and mystical elements with very human (female) problems and thus softens the edges of reality. A girl is looking for her swan mother, a woman trying to become a deer and another one living with a bear, all of them are trying to escape from society’s expectations and learning to believe in themselves. Most of the characters portrayed in the stories have to pay a hight price for this identification process but that is just reality kicking back in… Beautiful, original and thought-provoking!

Read Animal Wife by Lara Ehrlich

Read the book

Under an Outlaw Moon

Dietrich Kalteis

Inspired by the lives of depression-era gangsters Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson, the acclaimed crime writer Dietrich Kalteis blends historical facts and fiction in this captivating cat and mouse story. There is a strong and undeniable parallel to Bonnie and Clyde but that only adds to the reading fun. Actually the famous bank robber couple is mentioned several times, for Bennie and Stella commit their heists only four years after the violent deaths of Bonnie and Clyde and their fate hangs like a dark shadow over the protagonists’ lives.

Once Bennie and Stella cross the state line for their robberies, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover declares them public enemies number one and two and the manhunt begins. Mainly written in dialogue and from the perspectives of Bennie, Stella and Hoover, the plot moves along fast and keeps us right in the middle of the events. But ultimately this is a love story about two young and fearless people who are hoping for a brighter future and make terrible choices in order to get there faster.

Read Under an Outlaw Moon by Dietrich Kalteis

Read the book

Coming Home

Patricia Dixon

The perfect read to get you in the mood for the holidays! COMING HOME is a heartwarming family drama about a mother and her three grown-up daughters who all have their problems and secrets that they wish to share with each other – but not until after Christmas…

The story eloquently jumps back and forth between past and present time, so we not only get to know each woman’s secret, but we also learn how it has arisen and turned into a real threat for them. It is a novel about homecoming in every sense of the word, a fantastic gift for the holiday season – whether as a treat for yourself or for one of your loved ones. Best to be enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate 🙂

Read Coming Home by Patricia Dixon

Read the book

Afterlives

Abdulrazak Gurnah

The latest novel of this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah, has just hit our shelves! Gurnah received the prestigious literary award for

“his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”.

Press release. NobelPrize.org.

The Nobel laureate processes his own experiences and memories in his writings. At 18, he had to flee his home country Zanzibar and emigrate to England where he still resides. A fate that has marked the author’s worldview and has led him to contemplate the consequences of displacement and exile. His prose eloquently captures the feeling of having no place to call home, of never quite belonging. 

Even though the literary scene has long praised Gurnah’s talent to turn historical events into captivating stories, he is still relatively unknown to the wider public. This is why readers from the US will have to wait until August 2022 for a US publication of AFTERLIVES. But no worries, until then you can start by reading Gurnah’s previous books on his digital bookshelf. For all others we highly recommend:

Read Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Read the book

Cracked Pots

Heather Tucker

It is a dire world that Heather Tucker describes in her sequel to THE CLAY GIRL. It is the 60s in Toronto and child neglect, drug abuse and deprivation in general are part of Ari’s everyday life. But so are her imaginary spirit seahorse and a bunch of loving people. When Ari’s friend Natasha goes missing, the whole community pulls together to find her. It is a story about solidarity, kindness and positivity that will stay with you, long after you have finished it.

Tucker has found a language that depicts the misery with hope and resilience without belittling it. Her writing is lyrical, empathetic and smart and the idea of creating something beautiful from something broken resonates throughout the entire book. Even though this is a sequel, it can perfectly stand by its own.

Read Cracked Pots by Heather Tucker

Read the book

The Perils of Sanity

Paul Sayer

An astonishing study of old age, death and the significance of belonging. As a former psychiatric nurse, Paul Sayer excels at giving insight into his characters’ inner conflicts: Olivia is 73 years old and feels every year of it. Being a widow and mother to a son who lives abroad with his family, she has grown lonely and bitter. When meeting a young homeless man, her life becomes meaningful again. Olivia thrives with the company but not everybody is happy about this questionable friendship. Slowly but surely we understand why Olivia feels the urge to rebel against her friends and family. A novel that goes deep and challenges our materialistic world view as well as our sense of justice. This can be at times disturbing but should not keep you from reading the novel to make up your own mind.

Read The Perils of Sanity by Paul Sayer

Read the book

Beijing Smog

Ian Williams

Having reported on China for more than twenty years, the award-winning journalist Ian Williams knows what he is talking about in his debut BEIJING SMOG. The thriller is a biting commentary on contemporary topics such as cybercrime and fake news, mixed with your classic corruption and espionage ploys.

An image goes viral in China and turns into a threat not only for the blogger who posted it but also for the whole nation and the ruling Communist Party. Williams brilliantly describes his characters and gives them each a unique, if slightly overdrawn, personality that makes the book very entertaining. Sarcastic and wry, this is not only a thrilling read but one that will make you laugh, too.

Read Beijing Smoke by Ian Williams

Read the book

Iola Leroy – Or Shadows Uplifted

Frances E. W. Harper

It is always a joy when a classic work of literature is reissued as ebook. Frances E. W. Harper was one of the first African American women to have her work published in the United States and IOLA LEROY was her most important novel.

Even though this is a fictional story, Harper provides deep insight into the situation of black and mixed-race women during the times of the American Civil War and the following years. She exposes the absurdity of trying to define a person by his or her color and shows the effect of the one-drop-rule on individual lives. Iola’s privileged life as daughter of a wealthy Mississippi planter and a mixed-race freed slave comes abruptly to an end when her father dies and her uncle sells her, along with her brother and mother, off to a slave trader. An unsettling read with an inspiring heroine that sheds light on a dark part of history.

Read Iola Leroy by Frances E. W. Harper

Read the book

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery

Amanda Cox

The second novel by Amanda Cox is a heartfelt story about three generations of women whose secrets have shaped their lives in unexpected ways. Told through the perspectives of Sarah, her mother Rosemary and her grandmother Glory Ann, we get to know a line of feisty women who all try to shelter each other from life’s hardship. By doing so however, they end up weaving a tale of secrets that turns out to be a cobweb rather than a safety net.

Switching between past and present, Amanda Cox delights us with a carefully developed story and complex characters. Little by little we learn how Glory Ann’s biggest secret has not only shaped Rosemary’s but also Sarah’s life. The biggest challenge for any parent is to find the right balance between protecting their children and at the same time allowing them to make their own experiences. Amanda Cox makes clear that it is always best to stick to the truth, even if it is difficult to digest.

Read The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Read the book

Outraged – Why Everyone is Shouting and No One is Talking

Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles

A short but powerful book that takes a critical stand on activism in the times of social media. When not only every tweet but also every newspaper article aims to score as many clicks as possible, provocation and exaggeration are a daily occurrence and hate spreads faster than a virus. While Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles is not per se against outrage, she does want the reader to use it wisely. Outrage has been the driving force for numerous social rights movements but is now being used so lavishly that its impact is being diminished.

Charles’ writing is witty and insightful, in OUTRAGED she presents a wonderful mix of research, anecdotes, personal insights and interviews that will certainly give you food for thought. It is the perfect book to distance yourself for a moment from today’s social media frenzy and reflect on clickbaiting strategies, cancel culture and cultural appropriation.As the author says herself, a book “for anyone who has been outraged or suffered at the hands of it.”

UK edition

US edition

Sincerely Yours

Charlotte Barnes

There are those who say that the most important sentence of a book is the first one. If you share the feeling and are into psychological thrillers, this is the book you have been looking for! Charlotte Barnes sure knows how to create tension, she pulls you in right from the start and makes sure that you will be glued to the pages until the very end.

Sarah is 17 when she witnesses the murder of her mother in their own house. The killer is never caught and Sarah moves on as best as she can, turning into a true crime reporter. With her life dedicated to crime, she publishes a book about her mother’s murder and suddenly the killer reaches out to her with an odd apology. An intriguing cat and mouse game takes its course…

Read Sincerely Yours by Charlotte Barnes

Read the book

Artifact

Arlene Heyman

After publishing the collection of short stories SCARY OLD SEX, the psychoanalyst Arlene Heyman returns to the literary scene with another intense account about the passions and sorrows of life. Seldom do you come across such a powerful heroine as the one presented to us in ARTIFACT: Lottie is a fierce, intelligent and highly sensual woman who is determined to find out everything about the world and her body, a born scientist.

Just as Lottie, the narrator is a perfect observer and descriptor. Neither of them shies away from giving detailed insight into sex scenes. Whether Lottie gives a scientific account of rats’ oral sex or we witness her own sex life, the pages steam with heat and passion. Yet, we meet Lottie at a point in her life where she has become frustrated by her professional and domestic burdens. What follows is an engrossing tale of her life that shows us how she has come to be the woman that she is now.

UK edition

US edition

Love Death & Rare Books

Robert Hellenga

Robert Hellenga is known for his love for detail. With LOVE DEATH & RARE BOOKS he once more excelled at the description of his characters, especially the portray of the bookselling profession and the peculiar life of the printed book. Hellenga reminds us of some of the most valued pieces of literature of all time and of the passions (and hate) they can evoke.

Gabe’s life has been shaped by books. His father passed on the family’s love for literature and rare books while his mother left him and his father because she wanted to “live life, not read about it”. Gabe continues the business of the family’s bookstore but has to struggle with the rapid changes in the book market. A homage to the power of literature and the printed book full of notable anecdotes that is a must for all booklovers.

Read Love Death & Rare Books by Robert Hellenga

Read the book

Hell Hath No Fury

Michelle Morgan

If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller full of twists and turns, you will love this new thriller by Michelle Morgan.

Meet Charlotte, a single mom who is raising her nine-year-old son Tom – fruit of her affair with Simon, a married man who disappeared from Charlotte’s life after leaving her at the abortion clinic – without the father ever suspecting about his parenthood.

Ten years later Charlotte meets her old lover again and does everything in her power to prevent him from meeting his son. Suddenly Charlotte is being sabotaged, somebody else knows her secret and takes advantage of her situation. Luckily Charlotte’s very likeable neighbor Zach helps her keep her cool throughout this whole emotional chaos. Then things happen very fast and while there are many hidden connections, everything is resolved in the last chapter. Prepare yourself for an unpredictable and fulminating showdown!

Read Hell Hath No Fury by Michelle Morgan

Read the book

Old Lovegood Girls

Gail Goodwin

When a novel by the grand dame of women’s fiction Gail Goodwin hits our shelves we know that we are in for a treat. OLD LOVEGOOD GIRLS is no exception, an intelligent novel that reminds us of the genre’s complexity even though many have come to consider women’s fiction as light entertainment.

Merry and Feron meet at Lovegood Junior College and instantly connect. While Merry has had a stable and happy childhood and spreads good energy wherever she goes, Feron is surrounded by a gloomy aura. No wonder, considering that she fled from her abusive stepfather who possibly beat her alcoholic mother to death. Nevertheless, the two complement and inspire each other in ways they did not expect and their friendship is to last for decades. It is a peculiar type of friendship with long intervals of silence – letters never sent, phone calls never made – but still, each is constantly present in the other’s thoughts, dreams and heart. Both women are aspiring writers and there is an underlying rivalry and an ongoing question of who is allowed to tell whose stories that makes the novel a compelling read.

Read Old Lovegood Girls by Gail Goodwin

Read the book

Masque of Honor 

Sharon Virts

Love, politics and a family feud that escalates into a duel on a chilly winter day are promising ingredients for this historical novel by Sharon Virts. Armistead Mason and Jack McCarty are both descendants of founding father George Madison and have followed his footsteps but could not be more opposed in their political opinions. While Armistead is an absolute advocate of Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic Republican party of Virginia, Jack is a loyal Federalist. 

Sharon Virts proves herself as a skillful storyteller with this debut novel. By opening the book with the duel between the two Virginian gentlemen, she creates a tense atmosphere that immediately intrigues the reader to learn more about the two duelists. Let yourself be transported 200 years into the past and get to know two men that are united by family ties but divided by politics. A perfect mix of historical facts and fiction.

Read Masque of Honor by Sharon Virts

Read the book

Nothing Can Hurt You

Nicola Maye Goldberg

This original debut by Nicola Maye Goldberg was inspired by a true crime story but is so much more than a thriller. On the one hand this is because we know almost right away who is the killer (and the victim), on the other, Goldberg chose a peculiar structure for this novel: In twelve chapters she offers twelve different perspectives on the crime. Each story makes sense on its own but it is the whole that creates an impressive understanding of how a crime affects the people that are connected to the victim or the killer.

However, Goldberg does not only concentrate on the big crimes that make the news and cause a collective outcry. She shows a bitter reality in which gender crimes are shrugged off as an annoying but inevitable part of life. An intense and fascinating psychological study that will haunt you long after you have finished reading the last page. If on top of a captivating story and unique characters you like conceptual novelties, this is the perfect book for you!

UK edition

US edition

In Praise of Retreat

Kirsteen MacLeod

The perfect read for all those who are aching to get away from the noise and buzz of the city, or who are in need of a break from work, social media or society in general. Kirsteen MacLeod dives into the history of retreat and shares the findings of her rigorous research in this insightful book. Mixing personal essays with entertaining stories about well-known hermits such as Thoreau or Emily Carr, MacLeod asks herself why people retreat and what they hope to find in their solitude. She looks at the philosophical, religious, cultural and spiritual aspects of sanctuaries throughout history, contemplates Western as well as Eastern traditions and explains how monasteries are adapting to the 21st century and our need for digital detox. If you cannot afford to seclude yourself entirely, this is the best next thing.

Read In Praise of Retreat by Kirsteen MacLeod

Read the book

Every City Is Every Other City

John McFetridge

The master of crime fiction, John McFetridge, has just started a new promising book series: Gordon Stewart is a movie location scout, as well as a licensed private detective. Two jobs that complement each other wonderfully not only because of Gordon’s sense of direction but also because of his constant references to movie scripts and their incompatibility with real life.

Gordon leads an unspectacular life but is happy just the way it is. This changes when he accepts to help the movie production manager and starts looking for her missing uncle. Thanks to his connections in the private security sector, Gordon does get useful information on the uncle but in return he has to do some favors and is suddenly involved in a major sexual assault investigation. Just not on the side he would like to be on.

A witty novel with likeable characters and unexpected turns that explores serious topics such as depression, suicide and the #MeToo movement. We are sure looking forward to read more about Gordon Stewart. Or is it Stewart Gordon?

Read Every City Is Every Other City by John McFetridge

Read the book

The Willow Wren

Philipp Schott

A WWII novel told from a very intimate perspective. The author himself states that this book is a memory of memories, a fictional account of his father’s life embellished with the writer’s imagination and power of observation.

Told in hindsight by the author’s father Ludwig, THE WILLOW WREN describes the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Ludwig was only ten at the peak of the war and thus his perception is often quite naïve. However, this is what makes the narrative stand out, especially as Ludwig adds his grown-up point of view to his childhood memories. Son of a senior Nazi, Ludwig does not care for the war and seeks refuge in books and nature. While this makes him an outsider during his time at the Hitler Youth, his knowledge comes in handy later on.

Through Ludwig’s memories we learn about life in Germany during the years before, during and after WWII. But above all, this is a book about how war affects individual citizens and about a small boy who has to grow up from one day to another in order to protect his family.

Read The Willow Wren by Philipp Schott

Read the book

Apartment

Teddy Wayne

A brilliant novel set in the 90s about two aspiring writers from very different backgrounds struggling to make their way in New York. Despite their differences they bond and our nameless narrator invites his newfound friend to move into his apartment. Insecure and “invisibly damaged” he finds himself surprisingly at ease with Billy. However, there is a sense of doom in the air as economic and social differences clearly outweigh the two guys’ bonding over common fears.

Wayne skillfully creates tension between the two and intersperses clues that in the end trigger an emotional tsunami with severe consequences. A truly spellbinding read which explores the universal fears of loneliness and failure and shows that while privilege is certainly a career booster, it does not entitle you to success.

Read Apartment by Teddy Wayne

Read the book

All That We Carried 

Erin Bartels

The forest has always been a place worshipped for its beauty and peace. Especially in today’s hectic everyday life, it has become a much sought-after retreat where one can find inner calmness among the whispers of the trees.

So it seems like a good idea that Melanie suggests a hike in order to reconnect with her sister Olivia. The two have hardly spoken since the fatal accident of their parents ten years ago. Alone in the wilderness Melanie hopes to address a few important topics. But the forest is not only a place of tranquility, it also bears many dangers. Faced with nature’s unpredictability, the different characters of the two sisters emerge even more and it looks like the hiking trip is turning into a disaster. Each interprets the different events in her own way and, how could it be otherwise, their perspectives clash completely.

Bartels uses these differences to raise many questions about life that will give you food for thought. It is a story about loss, belief and forgiveness with complex characters and a beautiful ending which leaves room for interpretation.

Read All that we carried by Erin Bartels

Read the book

The Play’s the Thing

Jessica Barksdale Inclán

When thinking of romance, one cannot help but thinking of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The play, as well as the playwright, have inspired countless lovers, songwriters and, of course, other authors. Jessica Barksdale Inclán offers us a very different take on Shakespeare and his work. The result is an absolutely delightful novel that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, while traveling in time and place.

English professor and Shakespeare scholar Jessica Randall suddenly finds herself in the chambers of the one and only William Shakespeare. She is not the only one who is baffled, the poet is just as perplex and together they try to adapt to the situation while giving their best not to fall in love. The result is extremely funny and sexy at the same time, especially if you have a thing for Shakespeare 🙂

Read The Play's the Thing by Jessica Barksdale Inclán

Read the book

Every day we receive thousands of new books and we carefully select the ones that we believe will interest you most. Our recipe? A great book should give food for thought, it should move, educate and fascinate the reader. A book is a door to another world, and it is while reading how we discover different perspectives and widen our horizon. A book can change a person but be no fool, because just as Edmund Wilson said, “no two persons ever read the same book.” That is another beauty of books. There is always room for interpretation, imagination and discussion. That is why we invite you to comment the books you read, recommend them to your friends and discuss them with fellow digital readers on 24symbols.

Whether you like thrillers, romance, contemporary novels or any other genre, there is always time for a good book! So what are you waiting for? If haven not yet signed up as a Premium Member on 24symbols, subscribe now and discover a world of books!

Subscribe

…or surprise your friends with the best gift ever:

Give the gift of reading

If you are looking for books that have been previously presented in this article, have a look at our digital bookshelf 24symbols RECOMMENDS.