What should you read next? Here are October’s top-rated books ‹ Literary Hub
Celeste Ng Our missing heartsby George Saunders The day of liberationby Paul Newman The extraordinary life of an ordinary manand Annie Ernaux To get lost all are among the highest rated books of the month.
Presented by Bookmarks“Rotten Tomatoes for Books” by Lit Hub.
1. Our missing hearts by Celeste Ng
18 Rave • 3 Positive • 3 Mixed
Listen to an interview with Celeste Ng here
“Amazing… One of Ng’s most poignant tricks in this novel is to bury its central tragedy… in the middle of the action. It elevates the telling of the specific story of a confused boy and his defeated father to a reflection on the universal bond between parents and children… Our missing hearts will land differently for individual readers. One element we shouldn’t miss is Ng’s bold reversal of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. It is the will to conform, the suppression of our glorious cacophony, that will doom us. And it is the expression of individual souls that will save us.
–Bethanne Patrick (The Los Angeles Times)
2. The hero of this book by Elizabeth McCracken
16 Rave • 4 Positive
Listen to an interview with Elizabeth McCracken here
“…moving, melancholic… McCracken skillfully evokes what so many of us feel about our mothers: that they are just there, and always there, and that any indication that they weren’t always there or were never as they are is an affront to the primacy of their bond with their child. Many children will never forget the moment they realized their mother was a special human being who made mistakes. and had flaws and weaknesses of their own, separate from themselves.This existential shock reverberates throughout McCracken’s book, coupled with the shock of that mother who is no longer there…In this vivid composition, McCracken paints the final layer of the portrait of the mother she has so painstakingly drawn in the preceding pages… ‘Don’t trust a writer who gives advice,’ McCracken warns in chapter 1. But the irony is that his words create an exquisite alchemy that makes the reader ready to to follow anywhere, to believe every word she writes. Is this book a novel or is it a memoir? It doesn’t matter at all. With each vital and powerful phrase, McCracken conveys the electric and primal nature of that fundamental first love.
–Janice YK Lee (The New York Times book review)
3. The day of liberation by George Saunders
15 Rave • 3 Positive • 2 Mixed
Read George Saunders on chaotic reading and the power of generous teachers, here
“Extremely relevant… Let’s enjoy this new collection of short stories, which is how many of us first discovered it and where it excels like no other… Saunders’ imaginative capacity is on full display … The day of liberation bears echoes of Saunders’ earlier work, but the ideas in this collection are more complex and nuanced, perhaps reflecting the new complexities of this brave new world of ours. The title story is just one of the few stories in this collection that shows us our collective and personal dilemmas, but reading the issues thus expressed – with compassion and humanity – our spirits are lifted and perhaps healed. Part of Saunders’ elixir is that we feel more empathetic after reading his work.
–Scott Laughlin (The San Francisco Chronicle)
1. The Escape Artist: The Man Who Escaped Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freeland
11 Rave • 1 Positive
“Convincing… We know Auschwitz. We know what happened there. But Freedland, with its strong, clear prose and vivid detail, makes us feel it, and the first half of this book is not an easy read. The chilling and effective mass murder of thousands of people is heartbreaking enough, but Freedland also tells us stories of individual evils that are almost harder to bear… Its neutral tone keeps us reading… The Escape Artist is a compelling story, eloquently written and scrupulously researched. Rosenberg’s brilliance, courage and fortitude are simply amazing.
–Laurie Hertzel (The rostrum of stars)
2. The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man by Paul Newmann
6 Rave • 5 Positive • 2 Mixed
“Newman at his best… The end product… is twice the book one might have dared to hope for, a shrewd, introspective and surprisingly graceful narrative… When we meet our heroes on the page, we want them to have something thoughtful to say – to assert the admiration their outsized performances have earned. Newman still seemed likely to pass that test, with his self-aware personality, storied marriage, and generous charitable endeavours. Yet seeing it come true in this rich book somehow imbues the pain and joy of its characters with a new technicolor.
–Michael O’Donnell (The Wall Street Journal)
3. To get lost by Annie Ernaux
(Seven Story Press)
9 Rave • 2 Postitives • 1 Casserole
“The newspaper is relentless in its presentation of its pain and humiliation, but no less in its effort to dissect what has just happened. It is the same deep search for truth, the same fanatical quest for consciousness of self that is found in all of Ernaux’s work… Like most diaries – and unlike Ernaux’s usual meticulous and concise prose –To get lostcontains its share of platitudes, messy thoughts, inconsistencies and coarse sentences. It’s often repetitive, and the stories of Ernaux’s dreams are no more exciting to hear than anyone else’s. But, to echo James Wood’s observation about reading Karl Ove Knausgaard – another writer engrossed in his own intimate story – even when I was bored I was interested… What is remarkable – and what , to me, what makes his work more engaging than many contemporary autofiction is his ability to appear distant from his first-person narratives, to write objectively about his subjectivity, to achieve transparency and, at the same time, a detachment almost forensic… as a matador writer, Ernaux has always faced bull horns. She is a master of the tight and graceful cape, and, as in any bullfight, it is the demonstration of courage in the face of danger and possible disaster that fascinates the viewer.
– Sigrid Nunez (The New York Times book review)