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How to Get Inspired by Dreadful Movies: An Octavia Butler Origin Story
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on June 22, 2017



Greatness doesn't always beget greatness. Octavia Butler, who was born on this day 70 years ago, credited her remarkable, influential literary career to one sci-fi train wreck.


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When she was 12 years old, Butler turned on the television and stumbled across a movie called Devil Girl From Mars. The basic plot was about a man-obsessed Martian and her mission to find humans to mate with. The movie was…not good. Critics called it "delightfuly bad" at best and "undeniably awful" at worst.

Butler could've turned the channel. Instead she watched the entire campy thing from start to finish.

"It changed my life," Butler confessed years later in an essay about why she started writing science fiction. "As I was watching this film, I had a series of revelations. The first was that 'Geez, I can write a better story than that.' And then I thought, 'Gee, anybody can write a better story than that.' And my third thought was the clincher: 'Somebody got paid for writing that awful story.' So I was off and writing, and a year later I was busy submitting terrible pieces of fiction to innocent magazines."

She was being modest, of course. Those "terrible pieces" became the foundation of Wild Seed and the rest of her beloved Patternist series. Butler was the first science fiction writer to receive the presigious MacArthur Fellowship (nicknamed the "Genius Grant"), and her books won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards.

So next time you're watching an awful movie, think of Butler. She turned one terrible film-watching experience into an award-winning writing career. What could you do?


Kindred
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Parable of the Sower
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The Unseen
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Fledgling
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Mind of My Mind
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Bloodchild and Other Stories
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Discover more of Octavia Butler's books and quotes here. And share your thoughts on Butler, bad movies, or both in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
June's 8 Hottest New Memoirs
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves Today
Crime Writer Don Winslow's Love for Libraries
June's 8 Hottest New Memoirs
Posted by Cybil on June 21, 2017

June has been an excellent month for readers who love memoirs.

The hottest book of the month, in any genre, is Roxane Gay's Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. The feminist writer focuses on the connection between her struggles with her body and the violence she experienced in her childhood. Not only is it the most popular book of the month, more than 29,000 readers have added it to their Want to Read shelves and it has a rating of 4.54 stars from the Goodreads community.

The next most-popular memoir of the month is novelist and poet Sherman Alexie's You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. After his mother's death, Alexie coped by writing a memoir about his relationship with his troubled mother and his hardscrabble childhood on an Indian reservation. This book has been added to Want to Read shelves more than 7,700 times, and it has a 4.38 rating from readers.

Below you'll find this month's eight hottest new memoirs according to Goodreads' readers. For this list, we looked at the data including both early reader reviews (all of these books have at least a 4-star rating from readers) as well as how many times these new titles have been added to readers' Want to Read shelves.

Add your favorite suggestions to your Want to Read list. And tell us what memoirs you'd recommend this month.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir
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I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons
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Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening
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The Bright Hour
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Called to Rise
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Mean Dads for a Better America
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Books for Living
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Share your memoir recommendations in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
Crime Writer Don Winslow's Love for Libraries
6 Famous Books That Almost Ended Very Differently
7 New Books Hitting Shelves This Week

7 Great Books Hitting Shelves Today
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on June 20, 2017

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got seven! Bulk up your Want to Read shelf with these brand-new standalone titles.


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The Silent Corner
by Dean Koontz

You should read this book if you like: Thrillers, vengeful widows, deadly conspiracies, fugitives, not being deterred by murderous enemies

Check out the interview with Koontz here.


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Two Roads from Here
by Teddy Steinkellner

You should read this book if you like: YA fiction, high school seniors, getting to experience two potential outcomes of a life-altering decision



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The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
by Theodora Goss

You should read this book if you like: Fantasy, mad scientists and feral children, London murder mysteries, classic literary monsters, adventure


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Another Kind of Madness
A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness

by Stephen P. Henshaw

You should read this book if you like: Memoirs, poignant family narratives, inspiration and hope, debunking the stigma behind mental illness


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Tycoon
by Katy Evans

You should read this book if you like: Romance, ruthless businessmen who are also hot and wealthy, second-chance love stories, startups


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A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting
by Joe Ballarini

You should read this book if you like: Middle-grade fantasy, secret societies, monsters that really do live under beds, butt-kicking babysitters


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Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud:
The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman

by Anne Helen Petersen

You should read this book if you like: Nonfiction, pop culture analysis and gossip, examining why society loves to love (and loathe) non-conforming women



BONUS: The wait is over—check out three of the buzziest sequels coming out today!

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Black and Green
by C.L. Stone

The eleventh book in The Ghost Bird YA contemporary series
(Start off the series with Introductions)



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Trap the Devil
by Ben Coes

The seventh book in the Dewey Andreas thriller series
(Start off the series with Power Down)



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Salvaged
by Jay Crownover

The fourth book in the Saints of Denver romance books
(Start off the series with Built)





What are you reading this week? Let's talk books in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
Crime Writer Don Winslow's Love for Libraries
6 Famous Books That Almost Ended Very Differently
W. Bruce Cameron: Parenting Teens Makes You Appreciate Your Dad

Crime Writer Don Winslow's Love for Libraries
Posted by Cybil on June 19, 2017



When you think of acclaimed crime writer Don Winslow, you think about cartels, corruption, and suspense. His new novel, The Force, centers on a highly decorated (and, it turns out, dirty) NYPD squad leader. Winslow's written more than 20 earlier novels, including The Kings of Cool, Savages, The Power of the Dog, and The Cartel. Along the way he's also become one of the world's foremost authorities on organized drug crime in North America. So, when Goodreads asked Winslow if he'd write an essay, we were surprised when he picked a topic close to our hearts: His love for libraries. Turns out this tough guy is the son of a librarian and credits his career to growing up in the stacks:



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My mother was a librarian.

The Robert Beverly Hale Library—in the little Rhode Island town of Matunuck, Rhode Island where I grew up—wasn't your 'ssshhhh' kind of place. From time to time the head librarian would hook her pet husky up to the book cart and we would ride it around the aisles. A cat slept on the check-out counter, near the stone fireplace that glowed throughout the cold, foggy, New England winter.

The library's three rooms were my ticket to the whole world. From there I first went to Africa, to England, to Rome. I could travel across space and time—from those rooms I journeyed back to Hastings, Gettysburg and Guadalcanal. I could check out any book I wanted, no one ever told me that I wasn't old enough to read this or that, and it was from that library that I first read Huckleberry Finn, the Nick Adams stories and Michener's Hawaii.

I knew at the time that the library opened up the past to me, I didn't know that it also opened up my future. I dreamed of going to the places that I read about, and I did—that small library was the launching pad for my travels to Africa, Europe, China and the South Pacific. And it was in that library I first conceived my desire to be a writer.

Flash forward several decades to another small town, this one in the rural southern California hills where I live now. The town itself is a just a few streets—no stoplight—a small tourist destination and stopping point for people going down to the desert. Only about three thousand people live in the area, which is mostly ranches, orchards and state and national parks. But we needed a library—the town had an old, tiny facility and the high school library was inadequate.

So the town—often a fractious place of vastly differing political opinions—came together to build one. Rock-ribbed Republican ranchers, left-wing neo-hippies, artists, merchants, students sat together through the torturous and tedious 'grant' process, we held bake-sales, silent auctions and other fundraisers until we raised the money we needed for a new 'joint-use' library for the school and the town. It took years. But, finally, construction started.

Then the fires came.

A catastrophic wildfire swept through our area. Our beautiful forests were burned down. People were killed. We lost a third of our homes. Many people couldn't afford to rebuild and moved away. The rest of us lived in a charred landscape seemingly draped in the black of mourning. One of my tasks was to help obtain potable water, and I finished one of my novels while sitting on crates of bottled water in the relief center. It was sad time. A time of loss. Winter settled in as if to freeze us in our desolation.

The first sign of life was the library. On the last day of the fire, the firemen had literally lined up in the road in front of the library and stopped it there. Then it started raining. So the site was saved and construction resumed. I wasn't there the day the new library opened—ironically I was on a book tour. But the library was—and is—a symbol that the town had survived. It signified our revival. It's become a gathering place for the community, the kids study there after school. Maybe they journey into the past, maybe they see their futures.

Those two small-town libraries—modest, charming, beautiful—are close to my heart.

Don Winslow's The Force hit stores on Tuesday. Add it to your Want to Read shelf here.

Check out more recent blogs:
20 Reader-Approved New Paperbacks
6 Famous Books That Almost Ended Very Differently
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves This Week

6 Famous Books That Almost Ended Very Differently
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on June 14, 2017

Here be spoilers, dear readers! Our curiosity prompted us to investigate some of the most fascinating cases of alternate endings in fiction…and that meant we had to wade deep into spoiler territory. If that's not for you, no hard feelings. We'll catch you on the next blog.

Specific spoiler alert for Thirteen Reasons Why, A Farewell to Arms, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Great Expectations, The Fault in Our Stars, and Matilda.



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Matilda
by Roald Dahl

The ending you know: Matilda lives happily ever after! On the run from the police, her parents hastily agree that Matilda should live with Miss Honey, her sweet and nurturing kindergarten teacher.

The ending that might have been: Matilda dies. To be fair, the Matilda of this earlier draft was far less charming—she was a wild child fond of mean-spirited pranks. But still, did she deserve to die? Thankfully, Dahl had a change of heart and delivered us the feel-good ending we know today.





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Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens

The ending you know: Pip reunites with the widowed Estella, his first love, and believes they will never part again—or, in his words, "I saw no shadow of another parting from her."

The ending that might have been: In his first draft, Dickens ended his novel with Pip and a remarried Estella meeting, shaking hands, and parting ways with no real hope of a future together. Dickens' friend Edward Buller-Lytton complained this ending was too depressing and that no one would enjoy reading it.





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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J.K. Rowling

The ending you know: The climactic Battle of Hogwarts ends Voldemort's reign, but claims the lives of Lupin, Tonks, Snape, Fred Weasley, and many more.

The ending that might have been: Rowling has teased numerous potential endings to her beloved series (possibly including this strange version that has Voldemort surviving as a "living" statue). In one alternate ending, Lupin and Tonks don't die. Rowling originally planned on killing off Arthur Weasley in the fifth book, but when she spared his life, Lupin and Tonks took his place—albeit two books later.





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A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway

The ending you know: …is bleak. Frederic's lover dies in childbirth, prompting these dismal final lines: "It was like saying goodbye to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain."

The ending that might have been: Hemingway wrote over forty different endings to his novel. Perhaps the biggest departure is this almost upbeat variation: "When I woke the sun was coming in the open window and I smelled the spring morning after the rain and saw the sun on the trees in the courtyard and for that moment it was all the way it had been."





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Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

The ending you know: The tapes Hannah left behind before committing suicide prompt Clay to reach out to a struggling classmate.

The ending that might have been: In the book's 10th anniversary edition, Asher revealed he originally had Hannah survive. This second chance ending for Hannah was scrapped when Asher realized he had a duty to his readers. "With suicide there are no second chances," he told Penguin Teen. "But readers are shown that people can change for the better, even after a tragedy, and that was very important to me."





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The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

The ending you know: Augustus' cancer returns. He dies soon after, leaving Hazel his own sequel to Peter Van Houten's An Imperial Affliction.

The ending that might have been: Brace yourself because even Green admits this alternate ending is "epically terrible." After Augustus dies, the author originally had Hazel and Van Houten team up to kill a drug lord…as a way of honoring Augustus. As if that's not enough, Green also admitted he has another draft where his tearjerker love story ended with Van Houten tying someone to railroad tracks as an exploration of "The Trolley Dilemma," a famous philosophical thought experiment.





Do you ever imagine alternate endings for the books you read? Give us your best "endings that might have been" in the comments.

Check out more recent blogs:
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves Today
In Defense of Happily Ever After: Nalini Singh on Hope, Love, and 'Realistic' Endings
5 Musicals That Give "Inspired by a Book" a Whole New Meaning

W. Bruce Cameron: Parenting Teens Makes You Appreciate Your Dad
Posted by Cybil on June 16, 2017



W. Bruce Cameron is the bestselling author of A Dog's Purpose and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. In his latest work, A Dad's Purpose: One Man's Search for the Reason Nobody is Listening to Him, Cameron focuses on his favorite role: Dad. For this Father's Day, Goodreads asked Cameron to share his thoughts on being a son, father, and imagining the good life of someday being a grandfather:

When I was a teenaged boy, I asked my father if there was anything he wished he had inherited from his parents. He replied, "infertility."

At the time I wasn't precisely sure what he meant, but that was because I couldn't smell myself. I also felt I had won the last debate we'd had, which was something like, "Resolved: I'm sixteen and deserve to drive a sports car." I was confident I'd won all of my debates with him.

"Resolved: Grades are not that important because your generation has ruined the planet anyway."

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"Resolved: I shouldn't have a curfew because I'm no longer a baby, I am an adult and I need my allowance money now."

"Resolved: The second I turn eighteen I am getting my own apartment and moving out of here."

(Oddly, when it came to this last debate, I actually did win, with my father telling me he "couldn't wait for the day." Though when I actually turned eighteen I didn't move anywhere.)

It wasn't until my own son entered the painful, venomous period known as puberty that I fully grasped what my father had been trying to tell me.

"You don't realize," my son seethed at me, "that my generation has it worse than any generation in the history of the world because your generation has ruined the planet."

"Oh my God," I cried in realization, "I was such a jerk to my father!"

Never mind the paradoxical point that by the time you're having conversations with your son about such things as "body spray is no substitute for a shower especially after six days" it's a little late to be wishing for a case of infertility. I'm simply saying that I promise you there isn't a parent in the world who hasn't at some point wistfully wondered what it would be like to be childless.

When there are babies in the house, the lack of sleep makes your eyes feel like they've spent the night rolling in a beach in New Jersey. Remember the movie Contagion, where there's a scene that has hundreds of people lying sick on cots in a high school gymnasium? I saw that part and thought, "they are so lucky, they get to sleep."

Of course, having children in school means you are living a contagion. You'll catch every virus and flu and worse, but will you get to sleep until you feel better? Of course not! Your kids are sick! Get out of bed, one of them just threw up on your face.

Just about the time they start sleeping through the night on a regular basis, they'll get their driver's licenses. And you thought you were having insomnia before. Or your daughters will start dating, which they used to call "courting," as in, "my daughter is courting danger." You think serial killers never went to prom? Of course they did! Your daughter is probably dating a serial killer right now.

This is what it is like to be a dad—you know exactly what is going on, but no one will listen to you except maybe the dog. Certainly your own parents will be no help.

Me: "I left my kids a list of chores to do this weekend while I went to work, and they didn't do a single thing on the list!"

My Dad: [helpless laughter]

My Mom: "What do they want for Christmas?"

Me: "I told them they're grounded, and they all yelled at me and went to their rooms and slammed the door and called their friends to say I'm the meanest man in the world."

My Mom: "They are so cute."

My Dad: [helpless laughter]

A few days later, when I call again, my dad is still laughing.

"All of this," I advise my dog, "is them trying to drive me insane so they can have me committed and then trade in my car for a Jeep."

My dog regards me with wonderfully sympathetic eyes. He seems to understand everything I am saying. Is that crazy? Yes! This is my point. Having kids will make you crazy. In fact, in certain languages, "father" translates to "crazy person." This must be true because my dog says that it is.

So yes, there are times when I suppose I would agree with my father that a little infertility here and there wouldn't have hurt too much. Although, I guess I have to concede that infertility isn't exactly an inheritable trait. Plus, eventually your fertility will show up in your own children. Then they'll be the ones operating on no sleep and two quarts of cold medicine. They'll be the ones who can't get their kids to do chores.

In certain languages, "grandchild" translates to "justice."

W. Bruce Cameron's A Dad's Purpose: One Man's Search for the Reason Nobody is Listening to Him is out now. Add it to your Want to Read shelf here.

Have some great literary father's day advice? Share it in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
20 Reader-Approved New Paperbacks
6 Famous Books That Almost Ended Very Differently
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves This Week

20 Reader-Approved New Paperbacks
Posted by Cybil on June 15, 2017



When it comes to pleasing a book club, catching up on those bestsellers, or basking on the beach, a paperback book is the perfect choice. And there's something great about throwing a paperback into your bag and taking it everywhere with you (just ask author Sarah Dessen).

Another thing to love about paperbacks? By the time they hit the bookstores, your fellow readers have had time to rate them on Goodreads! With this in mind, we combed through recently published paperbacks to find the books that have earned readers' 4-star (and above) ratings.

Which of these books will you add to your Want to Read shelf? Tell us in the comments.


The Nix
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Homegoing
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The Wrong Side of Goodbye
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We are Never Meeting in Real Life.
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The Gene: An Intimate History
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The Romanovs: 1613-1918
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The Boys in the Bunkhouse
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The Alice Network
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Home
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The Last Days of Night
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Precious and Grace (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #17)
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The City of Mirrors
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Blood Vow
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Valiant Ambition
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Hero of the Empire
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Unbroken Brain
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The Salt House
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News of the World
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The View from the Cheap Seats
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Beneath a Scarlet Sky
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Check out more recent blogs:
6 Famous Books That Almost Ended Very Differently
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves This Week
24 Upcoming Books Librarians, Editors, and Booksellers Think You'll Love
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves Today
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on June 13, 2017

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got seven! Bulk up your Want to Read shelf with these brand-new standalone titles.


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Hunger
by Roxane Gay

You should read this book if you like: Powerful memoirs, Bad Feminist, self-care and self-love, stories of vulnerability, heartbreak, and strength


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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
by Matthew Sullivan

You should read this book if you like: Mysteries, plucky booksellers, fiendishly clever clues, skeletons in the closet, hidden messages, secret pasts

Read our interview with Sullivan here.


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Roar
by Cora Carmack

You should read this book if you like: YA fantasy, controlling the weather, storm hunters and young royals in disguise, a black market that sells magic

Read our interview with Carmack here.


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A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution
by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg

You should read this book if you like: Nonfiction, trailblazing biologists, scientific discoveries, genetics, curing cancer, ethical musings


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The Black Elfstone
by Terry Brooks

You should read this book if you like: Epic fantasy, growing evil, unlikely heroes, The Sword of Shannara, scrappy orphans and morally conflicted warriors


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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

You should read this book if you like: Fiction, the glamour and scandal of Old Hollywood, tell-all accounts that span decades, forbidden love

Check out Reid's book recommendations here.



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The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

You should read this book if you like: Science fiction, near-future thrillers, questioning the foundations of the modern world, linguistic experts and military operatives



BONUS: The wait is over—check out three of the buzziest sequels coming out today!

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Our Dark Duet
by Victoria Schwab

The second book in the Monsters of Verity YA fantasy series
(Start off the series with This Savage Song)



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The Bourne Initiative
by Eric Van Lustbader

The fourteenth book in the Jason Bourne thriller series
(Start off the series with The Bourne Identity)



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The Silver Silence
by Nalini Singh

The next "season" of the Psy-Changeling paranormal romance books
(Start off with Slave to Sensation)





What are you reading this week? Let's talk books in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
In Defense of Happily Ever After: Nalini Singh on Hope, Love, and 'Realistic' Endings
5 Musicals That Give "Inspired by a Book" a Whole New Meaning
24 Upcoming Books Librarians, Editors, and Booksellers Think You'll Love

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