The Best Books of the Moment

So many books, so little time… Who hasn’t heard about it before? We, the digital booksellers of 24symbols, have made it our mission to make sure will not miss those books that everybody is talking about. However, this is more than just a bestseller list. We also want to point out hidden gems that have caught our special attention. Have a look at our list of the best books of the moment and find your next read. We made sure to include something for everyone’s taste:

Red Birds

Mohammed Hanif

Say hi to Major Ellie, a US pilot whose plane crashes in the desert and who finds shelter in the refugee camp he should have bombed. This awkward beginning already hints at the dark cynicism that sets the tone for RED BIRDS, a sharp-witted, sarcastic criticism of US military interventions in the Middle East. 

Told from alternating perspectives, the observations are utterly comic until the brutal truth hits you and the laughter gets stuck in your throat. Add a good dose of absurdity and you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a post war zone where the missing are haunting the living and no-one can be sure to trust in what they see. Thankfully there’s a philosophical dog whose analysis of the situation puts things into perspective.

Read Red Birds, by Mohammed Hanif

For readers in the UK and Ireland

Read Red Birds, by Mohammed Hanif

For readers in the USA

The Lives of Others

Theo Panayides

A wonderful collection of portraits that shows how colorful the world is. When Panayides started this project for the Cypris Mail newspaper, the idea was to present a different celebrity each week. However, it turned out that it’s not the famous peoples’ stories that are most interesting, quite the contrary. This mosaic of (extra-)ordinary lives allows us to meet all kinds of people ranging from an aging circus clown over a street sweeper to a survivor of the Turkish Invasion (highly recommended). As all people are tied to Cyprus in one way or another, the collection also serves as a portrait of the Greek island with all its problems and joys.

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Inside

D.M. Siciliano

This debut novel by D.M. Siciliano is not for the faint hearted. A peculiar opening, INSIDE tells the story of a haunted house that bears a century-old secret. Nobody seems to know what exactly happened but everybody knows not to go near the house or ever talk about its gruesome past. Until one day a group of five teenagers decides to enter the house. Things get surreal when the one-room house suddenly reveals doors, stairs, basements and hidden corridors that give way to familiar places. Suddenly the five friends find themselves trapped and hunted down by a horrible shadow creature. Will they ever be able to escape? Find out if you dare but be careful not to lose yourself in this mad horror labyrinth. A perfect read for anybody who likes getting freaked out!

Read Inside, by D.M. Siciliano

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At the Jerusalem

Paul Bailey

Mrs Gadny has just arrived at “The Jerusalem”, a home for the elderly, but she is not happy with her new domicile and retrieves more and more to her memories. As she clearly prefers her past to the present, she starts paying more attention to the voices in her head than to the real people that try to engross her in conversation. Bailey shows an extraordinary sensibility in portraying the strains of aging and presenting the comic side of the Jerusalem’s monotony without mocking it. First published in 1967 at the age of thirty, this new edition features an insightful introduction by the Irish author Colm Tóibín which you might want to leave for the end.

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Poemsia

Lang Leav

For those who like modern poetry, i.e. #instapoetry, this is a perfect glimpse behind the scenes. Meet Verity, a 19-year-old introverted girl that suddenly becomes a social media star with her poetry. What might sound like a dream come true turns out to be quite a challenge. Being an international bestselling poet, Lang Leav knows what she is talking about when describing the dark side of celebrity and fandom. After all, Verity has to deal with the same problems of finding her place in the world as any other young adult. A heartfelt novel about love, friendship and emotional complications that will have you cheering for Verity from page one.

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The Jewel

Neil Hegarty

At the heart of this novel is a strange painting which stirs up the lives of three different people when an obsessed art collector decides to have it stolen. The thief, the curator of the gallery where the painting was exposed and the man whose job it is to recover the stolen piece are all struggling with their own demons and need to overcome their past. Just as the painting was created in an act of reclamation, each protagonist has to reclaim his life and take charge again. A novel about hope and finding a place where you belong.

The JEWEL is Neil Hegarty’s second novel and we look forward to reading more of this upcoming author.

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Ithaca Forever – Penelope Speaks

Luigi Malerba

We all know the story of Odysseus but this retelling of the Greek Epic puts the whole narrative into a new perspective. ITHACA FOREVER concentrates on the last part of the Odyssey, the reunion of Odysseus and his wife Penelope. Whereas Homer’s version leaves many questions unanswered, Malerba explores Penelope’s perspective and presents us her version of the happenings. Even though she recognizes Odysseus the moment she sets eyes on him (in the original it is not quite clear at what point she identifies him as her husband), she pretends not to know who he is in order to take revenge for his mistrust of her. What follows is a hilarious culmination of events which presents Penelope as a strong and reflected woman. A highly entertaining drama that can be read by itself or, for those who want to refresh their memories and make the most of Malerba’s intertextual references, in combination with the original.

Read Ithaca Forever, by Luigi Malerba

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The Barney Conroy Trilogy

Guy Sigley

If you are looking for a good laugh, we have the right book for you! Meet Barney Conroy, the slightly nerdy but charming hero of Guy Sigley’s Comedy Trilogy. Barney is the sum of all the confusion, cluelessness and humiliation you can imagine. There is a little bit of us all in this socially awkward guy who is just trying to get order into his life. This is what makes the book so great, you not only literally laugh out loud while reading but also cannot help to identify yourself with this hilarious hero. It is hard not to warm up to Barney, so be prepared for a new best friend and for a loooong session of non-stop reading because you just cannot get enough of his mishaps.

Read The Barney Conroy Trilogy, by Guy Sigley

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The River Twice

Kathleen Graber

An associate professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Kathleen Graber is well known in professional circles. Her previous poetry collection THE ETERNAL CITY  talked about our relation to objects and technology and came in as finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In THE RIVER TWICE, Graber once again takes up big topics and contemplates the fluid character of life, opening the book with the popular reference to Heraclitus: “You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing on.” Maybe this is more relevant than ever, considering the fast pace of today’s world.

Inspired by the news that surround us, Graber takes us on a mind-spinning journey as we race along with her quick-witted thoughts that effortlessly move from one image to another. Even if you are not into poetry, do have a look at this collection and you will be swept away by the universal validity of her poems.

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The Bad Place

M.K. Hill

A promising new crime series has found its way into our bookshelf! Meet DI Sasha Dawson who is confronted with an abduction case that seems to be linked to the very first case of her career when six children were held hostage for two weeks. Five of the children escaped and meet every year to remember their friend who died during the night of the flight. No-one ever speaks about what happened but it is clear that there is an underlying truth waiting to be told. Will Sasha uncover the secret in time to save the new missing girl? 

M.K. Hill is an experienced crime writer who skillfully jumps back and forth from past to present, thus slowly unravelling the horrendous story of the original kidnapping without giving away too much information. You will be be kept in the dark until the very end, so prepare for a grand finale.

Read The Bad Place, by M.K. Hill

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Friends of the library

Susan Cushman

A book that takes us on a library tour around the US state of Mississippi and into the lives of ten very special people. As the author Adele Covington is promoting a book in her home state, she connects to her readers and tells in each chapter how reading can affect a person’s life. At the same time she shows how writers and readers develop a special relationship even if they never meet and how both depend on each other. In other words, a declaration of love for all readers and book enthusiasts that are out there.

By the way, this is not the first time that Susan Cushman has written about her love for her profession. She also edited and participated in a collection of short stories about WRITING. But first, if you love books, do take a moment to discover FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY:

Read Friends of the Library, by Susan Cushman

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Skin

E.M. Reapy

In her eagerly awaited second novel, the Irish writer Elizabeth Reapy explores the self-destructive relationship many women (and some men) have with their bodies. Natalie does not feel comfortable in her skin and seeks comfort in binge eating. In order to break this vicious cycle she embarks on a journey that takes her around the world and to the depth of her inner self. A wonderful novel that reveals the cruel and unnecessary beauty obsession of today’s western society.

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Hopeful Monsters

Roger McKnight

This collection of short stories depicts global problems from a local point of view. Expect to be transported to a whole new place when reading this book. The author’s love for detail not only makes you feel as if you were walking alongside the protagonists but also creates an instant connection. Whether they are struggling with poverty, racial or social problems, you’ll be surprised how universal the struggles are. In the end, reading these stories almost feels like talking to a long-time friend.

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The Papaya King

Adam Pelzman

In his second novel Pelzman offers us a sharp social study of our times. His protagonist Bobby Walser is a young introverted writer who seems to have sprung out of a Russian novel (Pelzman himself studied Russian literature) and is oddly out of place on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. While trying to find his feet as a writer he clashes with reality and clings to his romantic penmanship with Rose – an mysterious woman who might not even exist…

When he discovers a new sculpture that confronts him with everything he despises about the 21st century, he realizes that it is time to man up and fight for his values. What on first sight may appear old-fashioned is really the core principle of civilization: mutual respect. A great novel to rethink today’s tendency for self-indulgence and social detachment.

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Trust Me I’m Dead

Sherryl Clark

Shortlisted for the DWA Debut Dagger 18, Trust Me I’m Dead is the first book of a new mystery series. Meet Judi Westerholme, a tough woman who doesn’t take no for an answer and tries to unravel the truth behind the mysterious death of her brother. Andy was killed in a drug deal shooting even though he had left his drug addiction behind and was living a perfectly normal life. While looking for answers, Judi is confronted with having to look out for Andy’s two-year-old daughter and cleaning up the mess her brother has left behind. Set in Australia, this intriguing crime novel is must on your summer reading list!

Read Trust me, I'm Deas, by Sherryl Clark

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Inhabitation

for our readers in the USA and Canada

Teru Miyamoto

Published in Japanese in 1984, Inhabitation (original title: Haru no YumeSpring Dream) is now available in English for the first time. Miyamoto is an award winning, bestselling author in Japan but little known abroad, he writes about timeless themes of life and death. In Inhabatation, the protagonist Tetsuyuki deals with financial and romantic problems and tries to figure out how to grow up after his father’s death. This would not be a Japanese novel if it didn’t include philosophical monologues and absurd situations. Night after night Tetsuyuki laments to a lizard, which he accidentally nailed to the wall on his first night in the apartment. A profound coming-of-age story that takes you to Japan’s 1970s and will question your reality on one or the other occasion.

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Putney

Sofka Zinovieff

A troubling, contemporary Lolita novel told from three different perspectives. Ralph is 30 when he first meets 9-year-old Daphne. What starts as an innocent friendship, grows into a sexual relationship. According to Ralph, a true and honest love affair but at this point of the story Daphne is still in her early teens. She herself believes that there was mutual consent and only starts questioning the events as an adult. Giving a voice to Ralph and Daphne, as well as Daphne’s childhood friend Jane; Zinovieff presents us a highly problematic theme without being apologetic or accusing.  A novel that will stir you up and keep you thinking long after you’ve finished the last page.

Read Putney, by Sofka Zinovieff

For readers in the UK and Ireland

Read Putney, by Sofka Zinovieff

For readers in the USA

The Boy with Blue Trousers

Carol Jones

This historic fiction novel takes us to the goldfields of 19th century Australia, a promise for a better future for immigrants from all over the world. Among them 17-year-old Little Cat from China who escaped (disguised as a boy) from a muddle-headed family affair and 25-year-old Violet who emigrated from England seeking for a fresh start in Australia. Even though the two women come from extremely different cultures, they are both self-determined and energetic and will have you rooting for them in a heartbeat.

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Stay a Little Longer

Dawn Lanuza

Can strangers become lovers during a car ride? This is not a love at first sight story but the story of two people who instantly connect, who dare to have an honest and open conversation and realize that what started as a by-chance meeting might develop into something more. A light, fast-paced novel that you won’t put down until you’ve reached the last page and that encourages you to seize the moment. Perfect for your holiday reading list!

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In the Shadows of Wolves

Alvydas Šlepikas

We’ll be honest upfront: This is a tough, heartbreaking read but it also sheds light on a dark part of European history that deserves to be acknowledged in public memory. Toward the end of WWII, a group of German refugees tries to reach the Lithuanian border hoping for easier conditions. The journey is dreadful to say the least and mothers have to take decisions that no parent should have to take. Luckily, Slepikas tells their fate in a respectful and clear language rather than lapsing into a pitiful or voyeuristic portrayal.

Interesting: Slepikas is a renowned actor and producer and originally wanted to turn the story into a movie. We’re happy we got to read the book first 🙂

Read In the shadow of wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas

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Deadpool – Paws

Stefan Petrucha

A comic turned into a novel? Stefan Petrucha has done a wonderful job! Deadpool is the narrator of his own story and is aware that he is in a book, which allows him to interact with the reader and creates a whole different reading experience. Plus, he has a lot of voices in his head that are fighting to be heard present us with hilarious dialogues. Deadpool’s humor is not for everyone but if you like crazy sarcasm and are a fan of the Marvel universe, you will definitively enjoy this book.

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The Man They Wanted Me to Be

Jared Yates Sexton

A thorough analysis of toxic masculinity throughout history and its impacts on our society spiked with the author’s personal experiences of growing up in a typical white male dominated environment in Indiana. This allows the reader to connect with Jared Sexton and most likely recognize the one or other situation even if they are not white, male or Christian. The result is an eye-opening book about the consequences of hardship, suppression of feelings and holding on to power that applies to much more than just white men in America.

Read The Man They Wanted Me to Be, by Jared Yates Sexton

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The Mueller Report

Everybody is talking about the Mueller Report and everybody has their own interpretation. This is why the best thing you can do is to have a look at this omnipresent report yourself. Nobody expects you to read the whole document (but nobody will keep you from doing so either), the beauty of reading the paper online is that you can jump easily from one chapter to another, highlighting and commenting the parts that are most important for you. Whether you want to know more about the role of Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner’s meeting with Sergey Gorkov or the use of Wikileaks, check the facts yourself and start reading the Mueller Report:

Read The Mueller Report online

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Wakenhyrst

Michelle Paver

Even if you do not typically read thrillers, this is a masterpiece cannot miss. Michelle Paver is best known for her children’s fantasy series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness but her ghost stories for adults are just as powerful. With Wakenhyrst she has now written a true Gothic thriller which will keep you up all night. Rather than “in-your-face-horror” she masters the art of suspense. From the very first pages we know that there was a murder and who the murderer is. But the question beneath the cruel crime is why did it happen? Was it sheer madness or do the demons that the murderer painted with such obsession really exist?

Read online Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

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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 keep reading and feel free to tell us about your favourite book!