What Should I Read Next?
American War by Omar El Akkad

#11 in our new feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.

American War

An appreciation for distopian fiction seems to be on the rise these days… I wonder why…. Oh, never mind that…

But do consider Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, “American War,” which is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” From these incongruous ingredients, El Akkad has fashioned a surprisingly powerful, engaging and readable novel — one that creates as haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy did in “The Road” (2006), and as devastating a look at the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in “The Plot Against America” (2004).

Set in the closing decades of the 21st century and the opening ones of the 22nd, El Akkad’s novel recounts what happened during the Second American Civil War between the North and South and its catastrophic aftermath. It is a story that extrapolates the deep, partisan divisions that already plague American politics and looks at where those widening splits could lead. A story that maps the palpable consequences for the world of accelerating climate change and an unraveling United States. A story that imagines what might happen if the terrifying realities of today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — drone strikes, torture, suicide bombers — were to come home to America.

A highly compelling, somewhat disturbingly real read that makes you frame and consider the headlines of today in new ways. Highly recommended.

Read the full review from the NY Times

What Should I Read Next?
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

#10 in our new feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Yes this book is getting a lot of attention — but deservedly so. With a palpable Scandinavian tone, this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, features a grumpy yet loveable man who finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon–the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness, that Backman unfolds elegantly for us. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry “and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,” Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

What Should I Read Next?
Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk (A Visual Guide) by Josh Katz

#9 in our new regular feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.

Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk (A Visual Guide) by Josh Katz

A fun and compelling read from the creator of the New York Times dialect quiz that ignited conversations about how and why we say the words we say, a graphically stunning and delightful exploration of American language.

Did you know that your answers to just a handful of questions can reveal where you grew up? In December 2013, Josh Katz released an interactive dialect quiz in the New York Times that became the most viewed page in the paper’s history. Now a graphics editor, Katz harnessed the overwhelming response to that quiz to create Speaking American, an extraordinary and beautiful tour through the American vernacular.

How do you pronounce “pecan”? What do you call a long sandwich with varieties of meats and cheeses? Do you cut the grass or mow the lawn?

The answers to these questions—and the distinctions they reveal about who says what and where they say it—are not just the ultimate in cocktail party fodder; they are also windows into the history of our nation, our regions, and our language. On page after page, readers will be fascinated and charmed by these stunning maps of how Americans speak as they gain new insights into our language and ourselves.

For fans of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and How the States Got Their Shapes, Speaking American is an irresistible feast of American regional speech.