So many books, so little time… Who hasn’t heard this before? We, the digital booksellers of 24symbols, are set on helping you make the best of your time and presenting you 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. Check out the best books of the moment and find your next read. We made sure to include something for everyone’s taste:
The Dutch House
Prize-winning author Ann Patchett is a heavyweight among contemporary American writers and as soon as one of her books hits our shelves we cannot wait to start reading. In THE DUTCH HOUSE (finalist of this year’s Pulitzer Prize) she continues to study the drama that comes with family, especially when a family is struck by the cruel fate of destiny. The siblings Danny and Maeve are extremely close, as their mother left them when Danny was only three and Maeve ten years old. Life is still good but then their introverted father remarries and their happy childhood comes to an abrupt end.
It is a slow story told by Danny who jumps forth and back in his memories as he and Maeve mourn the life they have lost. The Dutch House becomes an obsession for the two that keeps them tied to the past. This is a heartwarming story of compassion and forgiveness, of new beginnings and repeating patterns, of time as the healer of all wounds. A compelling read that will find its way straight to your heart.
A fascinating art thriller that pulls you in from the first page. As a child, Jess has a near-death experience which years later she seeks to recreate in her art. Set in the seventies, the story jumps back and forth between the events that lead up to a catastrophic police operation at one of her artworks and the novel’s present, roughly two years after the incident. The happenings have crushed Jess, she feels responsible for the pain her art has provoked and has withdrawn from the world.
We do not learn what exactly happened at the scene until we are well into the novel and what starts as an unsettling feeling turns into a powerful showdown as Jess confronts not only her own emotions but also connects with the people that experience her art, be it in a good or bad way. Inspired by the work of first-class artists such as Agnes Martin and Marina Abramovic, the novel raises interesting questions about the artist’s responsibility for the impact his or her art has on the viewer.
Love Me Like You Do
A wonderful feel-good romance to forget the pains of the real world for a moment. Meet runaway bride Parker and Liam, a charming Southerner who has a broken heart of his own. Not much unlike WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, the two keep bumping into each other (in a much smaller time span) and even though Parker is determined to keep romance out of her life, it is not as easy as she thinks. Told alternatively by Parker and Liam, we get to know and love them both and root for them to make the right decisions while they are trying to heal and move on.
If you love the exhilaration that lies in every beginning of a love story, the tension of what will come next, while secretly knowing that those two are just MFEO, this book is for you. And if you do not know what MFEO means, you have just one more reason to start reading LOVE ME LIKE YOU DO!
It took Rapoport 26 years to write this novel and you can tell by its perfectly trimmed sentences and clean plot structure. In less than 200 pages, Rapoport contemplates the universal themes of love, sisterhood, life-choices, loss and grief. The result is an intriguing, often darkly humorous, modern tale that will give you a lot to think about.
After the death of her sister Tam, Eve returns to her home town to sit Shiva with her family, a Jewish tradition for first-degree relatives to mourn the departed. Tam and Eve had always been opposites, Tam being the responsible, ambitious daughter and Eve the free-spirited one, who feels no rush to settle down. Through her sister’s death, Eve is confronted with her past (in the physical presence of her teenage boyfriend as well as in form of her childhood memories) and with her role as the “bohemian” daughter, especially as she discovers that Tam had not been living up to her own standards. A fascinating book that you will not be able to put down until you have reached the last page.
In his latest novel, New York Times bestselling author of THE 13th VALLEY surprises with a deeply emotional novel about the dangers of division and polarization of society but also about the importance of family, trust and friendship.
DEMISE is the story of John Pazunio, a man about to turn fifty who, in the time span of roughly 100 days, loses control of his seemingly perfect suburban life. Parallel to his personal downfall, we witness the decline of his neighborhood, as it is shaken by the economic consequences of a big corporate buyout as well as the emotional aftermath of a horrific accident that killed several teenagers. The dramatic events in John’s and his friends’ and family’s lives alternate with John’s childhood memories and his “last thoughts” which hint at his imminent suicide. Del Vecchio does a great job capturing John’s different selves, from little Johnny-Panni, to grown up John and ultimately his suicidal self.
Even though the book deals with personal and societal traumas that are frankly frightening (even more so because they are very real and present in today’s society), it is an uplifting read that stresses the importance of unity and trust and leaves you with a good feeling.
Vampires of Portlandia
This is not the typical Vampire story you may have in mind… Inspired by Filipino aswang lore, Jason Tanamor presents a fresh take on vampire fiction. Aswang refers to all kind of shapeshifting evil spirits, including vampires, werebeasts, witches, etc. but you will find that the aswang vampires are quite different from their Western cousins. Marcella Leones, head of an aswang vampire clan, has moved with her family from the Philippines to Portland. In order to maintain peace, she instructs her family to blend in as well as they can but after her death, the orders are broken and suddenly Portland’s murder rates increase dramatically. Marcella’s grandson Percival vows to find out what is going on.
Not only does this novel give fantastic (by all means) insight into Filipino mythology but also offers a close look on immigration and assimilation. If you are interested in vampires or folklore or if you are simply looking for an entertaining and original read, this book is for you!
The Psychology of Money
It is not often that a non-fiction book finds its way in our list of the Best Books of the Moment but this one is a jewel that we simply cannot ignore. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MONEY offers a clear vision of capitalism, giving us a sight behind the curtains of Wall Street. Housel intersperses his findings with anecdotes of the usual suspects (Rockefeller, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates) but also of less known people such as janitor Ronald Read or those who could have done great if life hadn’t had other plans for them. These insertions make the book an entertaining read that will teach and delight you even if you tend to skip the financial section of your newspaper.
The twenty chapters about wealth, greed and happiness can be read consecutively or individually. Especially interesting is Housel’s personal approach to building wealth, and we should point out that wealth is not reduced to financial wealth in his understanding, at the end of the book and a final chapter on how the American consumers got to where they are today.
All the Right Mistakes
This is the story about five women in their early forties who managed to stay friends since college. All of them are mothers and each has found her own way of juggling motherhood and work. When Heather, the most successful of the five in her career, publishes a book that analyses the key life “mistakes” of her friends, the friendship is at risk and the women start questioning their choices.
As the title suggests, this book considers mistakes not as something generally bad, instead it argues that mistakes are necessary to find out who we are. How do we deal with the obstacles that we are faced with? There is no perfect plan to architect your life, no straight road to success. Told alternatively by Heather’s friends, interspersed with tweets and emails by Heather, we get to know four different approaches to motherhood and work-life balance. Even though the author tends to explain too much, this is a great take on the different ways life can work out for you. A genuinely uplifting novel.
High as the Waters Rise
This astonishing debut novel by young German poet Anja Kampmann was one of the most celebrated novels in Germany after its publication in 2018 and is on the longlist for the National Book Award for translated literature 2020.
HIGH AS THE WATERS RISE is a modern odyssey of an oil rig worker who travels from Morocco to Hungary, Malta, Italy and Western Germany after losing his friend to the sea at a work accident. It is a journey back to the roots, his friend’s as well as his own, only to discover that twelve years of moving from one oil platform to another has estranged him from the settled lives of the people he cares about. Kampmann captures this alienation in beautiful images that will stick with you long after finishing the novel. Just as remarkable as the metaphorical language are the bits and pieces that are kept in the dark, thus emphasizing the man’s isolation, loss and sorrow.
Something Worth Doing
As bestselling author of more than thirty books, Jane Kirkpatrick is known for portraying fascinating historical women in her novels and SOMETHING WORTH DOING is yet another proof of her ability to make history come to life in fiction.
Abigail Scott was an impressive woman who gave up her teaching job to marry young and have six children but ended up being the provider of the family and a selfless fighter of women’s rights. The novel is well researched and one learns a lot about the suffrage movement of the second half of the 19th century in Oregon, as Kirkpatrick masterfully recreates the atmosphere of what it meant to be a working woman in the 1850s. If nowadays it is difficult to combine career and family, imagine how it must have been 170 years ago (with six children!). It is thanks to women like Abigail Scott Duniway and the sacrifices they have made that women today can vote, own property, businesses, etc. A wonderful read that rightfully remembers and honours an inspiring woman.
Hold onto your seats because you are in for a treat. Even if you are not into science fiction, SPACESIDE should be on your reading list. The novel is a perfect mix of sci-fi, suspense and action. Colonel Carl Butler may be known to some of you from Mammay’s debut novel PLANETSIDE, a book that was meant to be a stand-alone but has now evolved into a captivating series. Even though SPACESIDE is a great read by itself, you might want to read PLANETSIDE first to get the full picture.
Butler is an ex-military who thought he had found a calm and quiet retirement job at a high-tech military company but his peaceful days come to an abrupt end when one of the firm’s competitors is hacked. Asked to investigate the attack, he is thrown into a mysterious war that requires his military mastermind. A dangerous task he quite enjoys…
Do Her No Harm
When Annabelle’s best friend Tabitha mysteriously disappears after a night out, everybody believes she was murdered but no murderer is ever found. Annabelle is determined to get to the bottom of the truth and when she is contacted five years after the incident by a journalist who specializes in unsolved crime cases, dark secrets are being uncovered.
This thriller may be a bit slow in the beginning but things get moving once Annabelle teams up with the journalist and she realizes that Tabitha might not have been the person she thought her to be. It is a story about different life visions, betrayal, loss and never-ending friendship. As the events are told from different perspectives, we get deep insight into the characters thoughts and feelings, even though none of them turns out to be especially trustworthy. This just adds to the twists and turns of the book and builds up to a shocking ending – find out yourself!
What Happens at Night
There is a certain fascination about hotels in faraway countries. Cameron plays masterfully with the concept of home which never can be home. A childless couple travels an unknown country in the North to adopt a baby. Their journey is troublesome and both are exhausted, especially the woman, who suffers from a cancer in final stage. Still, they are determined to go through with the adoption to become a family and to give life continuity.
The man and woman remain nameless throughout the whole novel which adds to the general distance between the characters. They passively endure bizarre encounters and conversations, as well as the well-minded meddling of locals in their affairs. Even though the atmosphere of the story is slightly eery and mystic, there are lots of comic moments and beautiful observations, as the protagonists battle with disease, loneliness and grief.
It is not often that a book from North Korea hits our shelves and obviously we were very intrigued by the arrival of Paek’s FRIEND. Originally published in 1988, the novel is now available in English and allows us a view behind the curtain of the DPRK. The North Korean bestseller is not a propaganda text as one might expect. Rather than focusing on the political, the novel investigates the personal, which makes it easier for the reader to connect to the characters.
On her 10th wedding anniversary, Chae Sun Hee pleads for divorce. The judge she turns to, decides to investigate the case to better understand the failing of this marriage. A quite questionable approach but as everything is allowed in fiction, the judge’s meddling paves the way for a general reflection on love, marriage and individual identity. As he delves into the couple’s past, he compares their situation to his own marital life and that of other couples he knows. The result is a well-drawn study of a society that is shut-off from the Western world but whose emotional troubles are universal.
A moving comedy about what happens after the kids leave the house. Three suburban mothers feel neglected by their grown-up sons and reject the idea of being downgraded from “mother” to “other”. In an act of impulse they drive to New York to revive their mother-son relationships. Needless to say the sons are not overly delighted by this intervention and hence begins a hilarious and heartrending tale about family, growing up and letting go. Sutcliffe is a master in portraying his characters which makes it easy to relate to the sons, who are still trying to find their place in the world, as well as to the empty nester moms, who you cannot help but love with all their flaws and imperfections.
First published as Whatever Makes You Happy, OTHERHOOD is now a Netflix movie. Whether you have seen the movie or not, the book is a must read!
The Interpreter from Java
Awarded with the Libris Literature Prize, the Netherlands’ premier literary award, and the Henriëtte Roland Holst Prize, THE INTERPRETER FROM JAVA is an extraordinary story of a father-son relationship that gives insight into a dark chapter of Dutch history.
Arto Nolan was a war criminal in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and fled to the Netherlands to avoid being executed as a traitor. In Holland, he married a Dutch woman, had five children and went on to abuse them nonstop. When his son Alan finds Arto’s memoirs, he discovers a horrible past he did not know about. Will he be able to find answers for his father’s violent outbursts? At first he is sceptic of his father’s account but his acid comments become less frequent as the novel develops. A fascinating book that will keep you on the hook from the very first page.
The Desert Sky Before Us
In her second novel, award-winning author Anne Valente takes us on a road trip through the American West. Two estranged sisters, Rhiannon and Billie, drive from Illinois to Utah to their mother’s funeral. On the way they need to complete a scavenger hunt their mother designed for them before her death. A journey which takes them on an unexpected emotional roller coaster, as each stop reveals a new secret. In the middle of the desert the two sisters start reflecting not only on the loss of their mother but also on lost relations-ships, careers, hobbies and time. The novel does not only explore the personal drama of Rhiannon and Billie, it also takes the reader through an immense field of topics ranging from paleontology to NASCAR and falconry. The book is over 400 pages but Valente keeps the story a great pace, turning it into a fast and captivating read.
The Perfect Fraud
Claire is a psychic, just as her mother and grandmother, but truth is that Claire is faking her supernatural powers. This changes when she has a heart-opening talk with her mother after her father’s death. On her way back home she meets Rena, who is distressed about her daughter’s mysterious stomach problems that no doctor has an explanation for. Can Claire help?
The story is told alternatively by both women, which allows you to get a thorough understanding of what each of them is going through. While Claire is trying to cope with her new-found powers, Rena is willing to try every medical and supernatural healing method to help her daughter. As each chapter reveals new details, tension is sure kept high throughout the whole novel. A page-turner with mystical edges that will blow your mind.
Love in the Time of Affluenza
A rom-com satire about Mumbai’s high society, Shroff’s debut novel is a delightful read that will take your mind off your daily routine. Get a glimpse into the drama of the super rich after the happily-ever-after moment has worn off. Natasha and Trisha have both been married for over a decade and their marital love life leaves a lot to be desired. While Natasha plays her role as wife and mother of three without complaining, Trisha feels neglected and has thrown herself into an affair. Even though Natasha is shocked at first, she begins questioning her own situation. Shroff examines the role of women before and after marriage/motherhood and raises questions about individual fulfillment and the right balance of family and career. Her observations are painfully accurate and utterly funny at the same time, making the book a perfect choice for your vacation.
The Cutting Room
The writing duo Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper, aka Ashley Dyer, has published its second novel in the Lake/Carver detective series. With Murphy being a prize-winning novelist and Pepper a policing and forensics expert, the series is a must for those who like to get into the specifics of police procedurals and who do not mind if things get bloody.
In this gripping crime story the murderer kills men (interesting alternative to the usual serial killers of young women) to display their brains in a self-arranged art exhibition on a public street. Being told by the changing perspectives of the detectives Lake and Carver, as well as the so-called Ferryman, the book offers you a great insight of the characters’ motivations and perceptions. This is especially interesting in the case of the Ferryman who considers himself an artist whose art is destroyed by police investigation. As his fanbase grows on social media, his fans begin to sabotage the investigation in order to preserve the killer’s art. A truly enticing thriller that is fun and disturbing at the same time.
Lifting Belly – An Erotic Poem
Gertrude Stein’s erotic poem is considered a lesbian classic among literary critics and has been reprinted by Counterpoint in honor of Pride Month. Stein wrote the almost 50-page poem for her life partner Alice B. Toklas between 1915 and 1917. At this time, the Great War was at its peak and the two women were on a constant move. So it is not surprising that LIFTING BELLY not only celebrates lesbian love but also examines the influence of war on love. LIFTING BELLY is an inspiring read for everybody, regardless of your sexual orientation!
This well researched historical novel by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini sheds light on a brave group of young women who risked everything to fight for justice and freedom in Nazi Germany. The so called Harnack cell has long been overlooked because they were thought to be communist sympathizers, as most of their information came from Soviet sources.
Chiaverini mixes historical figures such as the main heroine Mildred Harnack and her friends Greta Kuckhoff and Martha Dodd with fictive characters, the most important one being Sara Weitz, a Jewish student of American Literature. By adding the Jewish perspective, the story gains complexity and allows Chiaverini to intersperse different experiences. A thrilling read that will captivate you and that honours the courage of all those who are defending liberty in times of suppression.
Only the River
Anne Raeff is known for diving deep into the stories of her characters and ONLY THE RIVER is no exception. 13-year old Pepa escapes Vienna in 1938 and arrives with her family in El Castillo, Nicaragua, where her parents (both doctors) fight the yellow fever. While her parents long for winter and culture, Pepa connects with the jungle and falls in love with a boy from the village. However, she is uprooted again as the family moves to New York. Several decades later her daughter travels back to Nicaragua to look for answers to her brother’s death, who fought with the Sandinistas in the Nicaraguan Revolution. Raeff entangles many different lives and backgrounds into a beautiful and multilayered story about flight, war and the need to move on and especially, as one of the minor characters puts it, about the unanswerable questions of life. An engrossing read that will stay with you for a long time after you have reached the final page.
Sansei and Sensibility
This collection of short stories combines work of fiction and nonfiction, resulting in a fascinating portrayal of the Sansei community (third generation of Japanese immigrants in the Americas). In the first part of the book, Yamashita introduces the reader to historical, cultural and social aspects of Japanese American life. The second part consists of a Japanese American retelling of Jane Austen’s novels. What may sound like literary Kamikaze actually turns out to be hilarious thanks to Yamashita’s witty parallels between the British gentry of the late 18th century and Sansei upbringings in the suburbs of L.A.
Just as Jane Austen, Yamashita knows how to disclose society’s flaws and peculiarities, as is clearly demonstrated by Candy Yuasa in The Dentist and the Dental Hygienist or the biting letter exchange in Omaki-san (inspired by Jane Austen’s Lady Susan). An absolutely intriguing and fun read we cannot recommend enough!
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.
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If you are looking for books that have been previously presented in this article, have a look at our digital bookshelf 24symbols RECOMMENDS.