Here's our monthly newsletter from Goodreads—giving you the latest and greatest in our quest to connect people through reading!
Caught in a web of Faerie deception, Kelley and Sonny must tread carefully in Darklight, for each next step could topple the kingdom...or tear them apart.
Movers & Shakers
February may be the shortest month, but it's packed with new titles from all genres. Postmodern icon Don DeLillo
offers a meditation on contemporary experience in his eagerly anticipated new book, Point Omega
; science fiction writer Connie Willis
takes her readers into the future to the year 2060 in the time-traveling Blackout
; or if looking backward is your pleasure, try Dan Simmons
's Black Hills
, a retelling of Custer's Last Stand and the heydays of the American West. Here are some other noteworthy titles that have been racing up our most popular charts this month.
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
by Heidi W. Durrow
Earning comparisons to Toni Morrison
, debut novelist Durrow tells the story of a biracial young woman named Rachel. Following a violent family tragedy, Rachel must adjust to a new life with her strict grandmother in a predominantly black community. Amy
calls it "a story of identity and race and the struggle to find where one belongs in the world. It is both painful and moving to read."
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
In 1951, a doctor took a tissue sample from a dying poor woman named Henrietta Lacks, without her knowledge or consent. The resulting "HeLa cells" became the first cell line to live outside the human body and are still bought and sold today by the billions. Popular Science
editor Skloot researched HeLa's history and ethical corollaries for ten years. Gianna
says, "If you find a better, more interesting, more important nonfiction book in 2010, I will shave my head."
by Kristin Hannah
Meredith and Nina have never felt close to their Russian mother, a woman seemingly devoid of warmth and love. But on his deathbed, their father asks them to care for their mother and give her the chance to tell them a fairy tale—the story of her life in Leningrad during World War II. Tonya
says, "This will be a book that will haunt you for quite a while. The mother/daughter relationships took a twist from the usual. Hannah is a master storyteller!"
by Patti Smith
Before she became the "Godmother of Punk," Patti Smith was just a kid hanging out in Brooklyn with lifelong friend Robert Mapplethorpe, a controversial photographer in the making. Smith writes about her halcyon days with help from her journals, revealing how two dreamers transformed into artists. Greg
says, "Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Andy Warhol—they all appear. And the writing's what you would expect of a poet of Smith's caliber: beautiful, measured, and deeply felt."
by Joe Hill
Hill emerges from the shadow of his father, Stephen King
, with this horror novel. A year after his girlfriend's brutal murder, Ig wakes up with a wicked hangover and horns—actual horns—sprouting from his head. Now everyone he touches tells him their darkest, most evil thoughts. Tina
says, "The prose flows through more twists and turns than a spastic snake. With more layers than an onion from hell, this story truly is the must-read new book of the year."
Dirty Little Secrets
by C.J. Omololu
Debut young adult novelist Omololu relates 24 gritty hours in the life of a teen named Lucy who has always kept her mother's compulsive hoarding habit a carefully guarded secret. She lives a normal high school life by day and comes home to a house reeking of garbage each night. When her mother dies, Lucy is desperate to keep the painful truth from coming out. Nancy
calls the book "fascinatingly disturbing" and asks, "How far would you go to protect your family secrets?"
Do Good with Goodreads
Credit: Adriana Zehbrauskas/Polaris
Each month Goodreads highlights a different charitable foundation that promotes reading, but given the recent devastation in Haiti, we've decided to recommend a group that does more than simply promote literacy. Save the Children
has worked in Haiti since 1978 and has been instrumental in the emergency effort, providing medical attention, safe drinking water, and food distribution to more than 200,000 children and families. Rehabilitation of Haiti's education system is also a key goal. The organization is active in more than 50 nations.
Learn more! Donate »
Incarceron is a prison like no other. It gives life. It deals death. It watches all. Read this masterful new YA novel by Catherine Fisher that the London Times named Book of the Year and Booklist calls "a must have."
View book »
Author Interviews—Goodreads Exclusives
Vermont novelist Chris Bohjalian
tackles complex social issues, often using multiple perspectives to zero in on the source of conflict. His best-known work, Midwives
(an Oprah's Book Club selection), explored the thorny ethical milieu of natural childbirth, which still divides midwives and the medical community to this day. Bohjalian's thirteenth book, Secrets of Eden
, explores the disturbing world of domestic violence. Beginning with an apparent murder-suicide, his story is told through four divergent points of view that become increasingly unreliable. Bohjalian talked with Goodreads about why he felt compelled to write this book.
What led you to write about the difficult topic of domestic violence?
In my little state, Vermont, domestic abuse is our dirty little secret. In 2008, only 15 people were murdered in Vermont. But 11 of them were domestic violence. Back in 1997, I was researching the book that would become The Law of Similars
. I was in a courthouse in Burlington, Vermont, in the office of a victims' rights advocate who counseled a lot of battered women. She opened up a folder and flipped onto the desk between us Polaroid photographs of head indentations in Sheetrock. Can you imagine how hard you have to shove somebody's head to make an indentation in Sheetrock? She told me these photos were part of an ongoing investigation into a battered woman. Only weeks later I would learn it was a murder investigation. The photos stayed with me. That is why I decided to write this novel.
Read the full interview »
Turkish writer Elif Shafak
's first novel, Pinhan
, won the Rumi Prize in 1998. More than a decade later, it's fitting that her newest book, The Forty Rules of Love
, circles back to the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic. Couched in Rumi
's philosophy of love, Shafak's book is a novel within a novel. When Ella, a disillusioned 40-year-old American housewife, reads a manuscript about Rumi, she leaves her unfaithful husband to pursue a new and unexpected love. The most widely read female writer in Turkey talked to Goodreads about how Eastern and Western modes of storytelling can be fused to create something universal.
What about Rumi
and his poetry is special to you?
My interest in Sufism started some 15 years ago. At the time I had no idea why—I did not grow up in a spiritual or religious family, and my lifestyle had nothing in common with the Sufi philosophy. Or so I thought. But there was a part of me that was almost pulled toward Rumi
as if by a magnetic force. At the beginning it was more of an intellectual pursuit. But in time it moved from my mind down into my heart. That is how I started writing this novel. I wrote it from my heart. I wanted to show how the words of a poet and philosopher who lived in the 13th century can resonate with our modern lives in the 21st century. His voice is still heard. That is why I constructed my novel along two parallel time zones and two dimensions, today and yesterday, East and West, spiritual and mundane.
Read the full interview »
BEAT THE REAPER is "just what the doctor ordered...think House meets The Sopranos" (USA Today).
A TIME top 10 novel of 2009. "Completely outrageous...genuinely entertaining" (New York Times).
"Run, don't walk, to pick up BEAT THE REAPER" (BookSlut).
Author Snapshot: Zachary Mason
Each month we seek out a hidden gem from the vast Goodreads catalog, focusing on debut authors, independent publishers, and other literary folk not yet
on the best-seller lists.
Despite its age (nearly 3,000 years old), Homer
's The Odyssey
has never gotten dusty. The epic poem's immeasurable reach has inspired writers ranging from James Joyce
to Arthur C. Clarke
. This February, debut author Zachary Mason
breathes fresh life into Odysseus's intrepid journey with a collection of apocrypha that delves into the unanswered questions and contradictions of Homer's poem. The Lost Books of the Odyssey
offers a host of alternative plot lines for Odysseus and includes perspectives from unsung characters such as the Cyclops and Achilles. Mason shared with Goodreads one of the images that inspired him: Arnold Böcklin's painting, Isle of the Dead
, where Odysseus may have ventured.
Who is your favorite character (god, mortal, or otherwise) encountered by Odysseus?
I'd choose not those Odysseus met among the islands but the islands themselves. I imagine them as numerous beyond measuring, like a sea full of scattered jewels, and in no place in particular. I like to think that Odysseus found only a few of the monsters and witches haunting the islands, that there were innumerable other dangers he missed by a hairsbreadth. It would be an archipelago of terror and beauty, full of islands small enough to know in their entirety, some empty, others inhabited by quietly reflective immortals—when the world was young, they pursued war and love, but now they keep to themselves, watching the waves roll in and the seasons go by. They have learned that memory is indelible, and their days would all be the same if they had their way, but now and then a mortal washes in, always uninvited, full of anger and busyness, and time moves forward. Read more »
Add The Lost Books of the Odyssey to my books »
Literature at Every Latitude
Looking for something outside the English-language canon? Great stories know no borders. Each month Goodreads brings you a new recommendation from a different country!
52° 13' N
21° 2' E
Fado by Andrzej Stasiuk
Translated by Bill Johnston
is Poland's answer to Jack Kerouac
. His book Fado
, a collection of "on the road" essays, takes the reader far beyond the tourist meccas of Eastern Europe. Observing life and the consequences of history in the rural regions of the author's native Poland, Stasiuk also journeys to Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Albania. Goodreads member Salonica
says, "A writer with the nomadic mind of a gypsy holds up a gargantuan mirror to reflect the image of Eastern Europe to the rest of the world...Stasiuk hides nothing. He gives us a true dispatch from Eastern Europe with the heart of a bohemian."
View book »
"In Bed" with Peter Hessler
Like many college graduates, Peter Hessler
left school in search of adventure. After completing his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford in 1994, Hessler boarded a trans-Siberian train in Moscow, arrived in Beijing—and never left. Carving out a travel writing career about modern China through the lens of a foreigner, Hessler is now a staff writer for The New Yorker
, a contributor to National Geographic
, and the author of two books about his passion, River Town
and Oracle Bones
. His newest endeavor, Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory
, follows Hessler as he obtains his Chinese driver's license and sets off on the ultimate road trip, spending seven years exploring the chaotic streets of China's metropolises and the remotest corners of this vast and evolving country. Hessler shares his favorite books about China, ranging from the Ming Dynasty to present day.
The Last Days of Old Beijing
by Michael Meyer
"I like travel books that focus on a place the author knows well, and for years Meyer lived in a Beijing
hutong, one of the city's traditional alley-and-courtyard neighborhoods. This book gives an excellent portrait of the capital's history, and it describes how locals cope with the overwhelming pace of development."
The Private Life of Chairman Mao
by Li Zhi-Sui
"Dr. Li was Mao Zedong's doctor for 22 years, which gave him an amazing perspective on critical periods like the Cultural Revolution. This book reveals so much about the psychology of leaders—in many ways it's much more useful than a standard history. And Dr. Li is a remarkable figure, complicit in many ways, but never without dignity."
1587: A Year of No Significance
by Ray Huang
"I wish there were more history books like this one. Huang focuses on a year when supposedly nothing important happened. But the book tells a much larger story, explaining how things functioned in imperial China and giving a powerful sense of the decline of the Ming, the dynasty that built the Great Wall."
by Anchee Min
"There are a number of excellent memoirs by Chinese women about the Cultural Revolution, and I particularly like the way this one is written. There's something hypnotic about the rhythm—very simple sentences that initially might feel awkward, but over time the writing gains a real power."
Six Records of a Floating Life
by Shen Fu
"Written during the Qing dynasty, this book is a quirky, evocative, and surprisingly intimate glimpse of the mind of a highly literate gentleman of the early 1800s. The book is also an antidote to the heaviness that often permeates our view of Chinese history, because Shen Fu has such a love of life—his first chapter is entitled 'The Joys of the Wedding Chamber.'"
The Never-Ending Book Quiz
Think you have a mind like a steel trap? Play the Never-Ending Book Quiz
and see how you stack up against your friends!
Featured Trivia Question
The setting of many of Gabriel García Márquez's works is, according to him, "not so much a place as a state of mind." What is this place called?
New Features on Goodreads
We're thrilled to announce that Goodreads now has 3 million members! Our community continues to blossom, and thank you for helping us spread the joy of reading. We strive to make the site better for our members, and we love hearing your suggestions. Please tell us what you would like to see happen on Goodreads by visiting the Goodreads Feedback Group
. In the meantime, here are some recent improvements we've made!
Goodreads Bookswap: Bonus Books for Top Givers
With thousands of books generously posted by our members on Goodreads Bookswap
, we've decided to start rewarding our top givers. Now for every 10 books you send to other readers, you will get a complimentary shipping label in return—on the house! Read our FAQ
and start swapping now! »
Are you a fan? Follow your favorite authors!
Want your updates on Goodreads to be sprinkled with tidbits from the brightest literary minds? Hit the "become a fan" button on any author profile to see updates about what your favorite author is reading, blogging about, or writing next! You can "fan" top Goodreads authors Neil Gaiman
and Paulo Coelho
, or even Kathryn Stockett
, Maggie Stiefvater
, and Melissa Marr
. If an author is not yet
a member of Goodreads, you can follow their blog if you "fan" them. Check out Cassandra Clare
, Nick Hornby
, Malcolm Gladwell
, or Judy Blume
! The Goodreads Author Program has more than 10,000 members. Browse popular authors »
Book Quizzes: Test Your Knowledge, Challenge Your Friends
What body part is Elizabeth Bennet best known for? Delightful décolletage, pert lips, or fine eyes? Where is Percy Jackson's "Achilles' Heel"? What is the name of Scarlett O'Hara's plantation? How much do you remember from your favorite books? There is nothing like a pop quiz to find out! You can also write your own quiz and challenge your friends. Become a quiz whiz! »
What's New on Goodreads
New Books from Goodreads Authors
Meet more authors »
Popular February Book Groups
Find the right group for you »
Also, don't forget to follow us on
Goodreads Poetry Contest!
Want your words to reach 3 million people? Goodreads and the ¡POETRY!
group have partnered to host an ongoing poetry contest. Each month the winning poem will appear in our newsletter. Join the ¡POETRY!
group to vote each month to pick a winner from among the finalists. You can also submit a poem
for consideration. Here is our February winner!
Le déjeuner sur l'herbe
by Jane Ellen Glasser
I'm not embarrassed. No, my fixed stare
suggests only that you're interlopers on the scene.
Oh years ago, I could rouse a media storm.
Today my nakedness seems nominal. Clean
country air; a tipped basket of fruit,
a knot of bread; for cloth, the sweet
summer grass—this outing is a holiday from
my cramped flat, heat-swollen city streets.
A friend came with me. By the sun-lit bank
you'll find her, just risen from a bath,
slipping into a white chemise. Surely you've
entered into places like this, where faith
distills your life to one shimmering afternoon
and lets you rest there. But Manet tried
to warn us about opposites. Since you've
stayed, baffled by the canvas, I'll confide
there is something indelicate here. Business
suits at a picnic! Our dates refused to remove
their jackets and cravats. One stares off, bored,
into the distance. My suitor in the hat reproves
critics of the latest exhibit at the Salon
des Refusés as if I weren't here. Their
presence makes me more naked than I am.
Visitors to the museum can't help but stare.
Read more poetry »
Jessica, Elizabeth, and the Goodreads Team
P.S. Goodreads is hiring developers!