Lauren Groff Recommends Atmospheric Novels

Posted by Goodreads on May 30, 2018

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Lauren Groff, the bestselling author of Fates and Furies, The Monsters of Templeton, and Arcadia, is back with the short story collection Florida. True to its name, every story is set in the Sunshine State, where Groff lives. Although stories span characters, towns, and decades, they are all brought together by a humidity-heavy sense of place where storms, snakes, and sinkholes lurk at the edge of everyday life.

With the state of Florida at the center of her new work, Groff is recommending five more works that—to her—best embody "a sense of place," taking readers around the world from Ghana to Mexico—and even into the underworld.

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"The very first book I read in college was the beautiful short story collection No Sweetness Here by the Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo, which I just reread and marveled at all over again. Aidoo is adept at capturing character in a few perfect lines, and she writes about Ghana with some exasperation but always a palpable love."

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"The Lover by Marguerite Duras is about a troubled young French girl in Indochina and her affair with an older Vietnamese man. It is written in complex and incantatory prose, and is one of my favorite books of all time."

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"Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano is strange and troublesome, about an alcoholic British consul in Mexico as he goes through the Day of the Dead, and it is written in long, lush, manic phrases that teach you how to read the book. Have some patience, take some time with it, and you will be rewarded."

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"Zora Neale Hurston was an utterly brilliant writer no matter what she chose to write about, but her lesser-known nonfiction work Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica is my favorite of all her books. It's a wild and breathtaking examination of the rituals and practices of voodoo, a book that shows Hurston at her sympathetic and observant best."

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"There's no hotter place than hell, and Dante's Inferno is a gorgeous, evocative, foundational text that I think every great reader should read at least once in their lives. I recommend reading it slowly, with a guide (an online course, a book, or a knowledgeable friend), stopping and savoring the delightfully wicked way Dante just happened to put all his enemies in hell."

Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Toby (new)

Toby Wells I feel like these are very promising books, going to read them as soon as possible

message 2: by Winifred (new)

Winifred Gray Putting them on my to read list...

message 3: by Carole (new)

Carole Knoles I loved Fates And Furies! Read The Lover a long time ago and Tell My Horse has been on my radar for a while. Can’t wait to read Florida!

message 4: by John of Canada (new)

John of Canada More books for my teetering bookshelf.Sigh.

message 5: by Alessia (new)

Alessia Scurati Just one thing, though: Dante's Inferno is not a novel... more like a narrative poem, but definitely not a novel.

message 6: by Scott (new)

Scott Stavrou A good atmospheric literary list indeed. For anyone looking to travel further, Losing Venice, a novel, is set in Venice, Prague and the Greek islands.
Losing Venice

message 7: by Keegan (new)

Keegan Alessia wrote: "Just one thing, though: Dante's Inferno is not a novel... more like a narrative poem, but definitely not a novel."

Who said it was a novel? I get that the title says she recommends atmospheric novels, which she does. But just because it was included in the list doesn't mean anyone thinks its a novel (should they have the title clarify she recommends atmospheric novels and one epic poem?). But they do make sure to clarify in the text of the article that these recommendations are "works" and she specifically calls it a "text" so it's not like anyone is confused about whether it's a novel or not.

message 8: by Isabella (new)

Isabella Ides White Monkey Chronicles: The Complete Trilogy
I Love Lauren Groff's list. Here's my literary atmospheric novel to add to the list.
Fate and Furies is one of my all-time favorite reads. It's even better the second time around when the reader, knowing the turn-abouts that are coming in the second half, is able to appreciate how beautifully Groff set up those revelations. The craftsmanship is breathtaking.
I also loved Arcadia.

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