A Conversation with Zane

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With the film adaptation of her novel Addicted now in theaters, TheReadingRoom sat down with bestselling author Zane, to discuss the key ingredient to writing her addictive erotic fiction.

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Where did your love of storytelling come from?

My childhood sparked my imagination and the need to spin tales of varying degrees. As a child, I was like a sponge when it came to practically inhaling the pages of books. By sixth grade, I was literally reading a book a day. I can now read up to four novels in a day and remember every character, every experience, and appreciate it.

Between the success of your bestselling novels and the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica has become less taboo in recent years. Why do you think this is?

I believe that it has and timing is everything but so is knowing the right people to give you the outreach and media attention you need in order to be successful—regardless of the genre. Women want to feel sexually empowered and liberated and they find their resources in places where it works. The written word/fantasies are a good starting place. Women let fear hold them back from being bold and brazen and reading about fictional women without boundaries always helps.

Were you always aware that you were writing erotic fiction, or were you only ever focused on telling a story, and it was your readers who categorized it as such?

Definitely the readers placed me in that category. I consider myself to be a very detailed writer and that is not toned down when it comes to sexuality. But I do not set off on any writing venture consumed by the sexual aspects of it. The sex scenes are fun to create but you could take them out and still read a complete story.

What do you think is they key ingredient of great erotica?

Character development without question. People want to know who people truly are and why they should care about their intimate moments. They also want to have the story described in such vivid detail that they feel like they are in the room—bedroom or otherwise. Readers want to feel some kind of emotional connection to characters so that when something happens to them—good or bad—they have a vested interest in the outcome.

Do you still feel the same buzz of excitement now as you did when you first started writing and publishing your work?

Absolutely. I am passionate about what I do and I believe that I am walking in my gift. Writing gives me an escape from reality and it relaxes me, much like working out at the gym may relax someone else. We all have our ways to rejuvenate and reflect at the same time. Writing it mine.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a particular routine – things that you prefer to have in place – or is it more of a free-for-all? And has it changed over the years?

I have tried to establish different writing routines but wearing so many hats makes that hard to accomplish. So it is definitely more of a free-for-all in my case. However, I do work very well under pressure so setting deadlines for myself tends to pay off in the end. I prefer writing at night so that I have no interruptions. Over the years, I did start writing more during the day for a time period but that does not work as well for me as the night so I have gone back to that. It is almost like working the third shift at a factory except the only gears turning are in my head. I have insomnia so it helps.

Who are your greatest writing influences?

I cannot say that anyone actually influenced my writing because I do believe my writing style is unique and I have never tried to capture the vision of anyone else. However, I will say that I have an overall love of writing and am often impressed with the writing of others.

Are you still able to immerse yourself in books despite being so engaged in writing your own?

Yes, I am. In fact, I feel out of sorts if I do not read every day. My passion began with reading and that will never change. I have a book laying beside my laptop right now that I am halfway through with as I respond to these questions.

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John Searles’ Book Clubs 50 States Book Tour – Blog Post #1

John Searles

Author John Searles loves book clubs and has set himself the challenge of meeting with one book club in every state in the nation to discuss Help for the Haunted. If he makes it to all 50 states by 7/31/15, the first book club to talk to him in each state will win a tote bag full of books for every member. Interested? You can sign up your book club here.

For the next few months, John will be updating us on his progress, and filling us in on his experiences as he meets book lovers from across the nation.

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When I was a kid, my dad worked as a cross-country trucker. I used to go on trips with him, and we’d roll through dozens of states in a matter of days. In some ways, my 50 Book Clubs 50 States Challenge feels a little like those trips…well, minus the truck stops and state troopers and voices of other truckers’ crackling on the CB. Okay, maybe it’s not the same except that I’ll be “visiting” lots of states in what feels like a short amount of time!

So far, I’ve Skyped with book clubs in D.C., South Carolina and Maine. The D.C. Club was super small: only two women, both of whom met as residents in med school. They were careful readers with plenty of questions and observations about the book. They loved the voice of Sylvie, which made me so happy. And, as is often with the case with Help for the Haunted, the discussion turned to the topics of faith and whether or not we believe in the supernatural. Except for a few technical glitches with Skype going kaput, we had a great time.

Next up was a club in Lancaster, South Carolina. This newly formed group of about 15 people told me they are searching for a name. (I suggested the “We Love John Searles Book Club,” but for some strange reason they did not take me up on the idea.) Okay, now for the interesting thing about this discussion: Not everyone had read the book! I’m told this is often the case with clubs: that members intend to read the book but life gets in the way and they show up just to socialize. If you’re in a club, are you guilty of doing the same?

As for the discussion, it began with a very nice woman asking me what happened to the character of Perry, who drove my main character, Sylvie, around town for 50 cents a ride. She accused me, again quite nicely, of introducing this guy in the opening chapters only to drop him for the rest of the book. Now, I’m happy to answer any and all questions, but the problem with this particular one: I did not recall any such character! And trust me, by the time my books are published, I’ve read countless drafts, so it would be difficult to forget a comma, never mind an entire character! Still, when I told her this, she insisted, saying she’d find the pages about Perry then send me an e-mail pointing them out. Well, days later, I did receive an email from her, except she wrote to say how sorry she was, because she had been reading a different book at the same time and confused the characters. She begged my forgiveness and, of course, I forgave her…just like I forgave those people in the club who hadn’t read my book…yet!

Finally, last night I met with a fun book club in Maine via Skype. Because there are details that center around birds in Help for the Haunted (as well as my previous book, Strange But True), they were curios where the inspiration came from. One woman, Joan, who was sitting front and center, told me she was a psychotherapist and liked to analyze the writer while reading! In other words she was analyzing me! Well, I confessed to Joan and the rest of the gang that I have a terrible bird phobia, which I guess is what compels me to put them in my books. My fear started when I was a kid and my mom’s friend gave her two parakeets. One of the birds used to bend the bars of the cage with its beak and get out, flying at us and trying to peck us. My mother would scream, “EVERYBODY RUN!!!!!” Then she’d send me out of hiding to catch it. Well, we all had a laugh at that, before Joan told me she has a pet cockatiel (that’s a bird, not a fancy dog) and she keeps it on her shoulder all day long when she’s at home. I had to break it to Joan that I wouldn’t be coming to dinner anytime soon, otherwise I might need to her to be my psychotherapist and not just a reader.

In the coming weeks, I have both in-person and Skype visits with book clubs in Rhode Island, Mississippi, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and more…. Come to think of it, with all those states in such a short amount of time, maybe it is a little like those tucking trips after all.

John Searles, 10-1-2014

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A Conversation with Laird Hunt

Conversation with Laird HuntLaird Hunt’s dazzling new novel Neverhome throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind during the Civil War.

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How important is the first line of a novel? Because your first line in Neverhome is superb, immediately drawing the reader in, and setting the tone: “I was strong and he was not so it was me who went to war to defend the Republic.”  Was that always the first line, or did that come later in the writing process?

In many ways the entire novel comes out of that first line.  It arrived, fully formed, and was never changed.  Once I had it, I could see the way forward, indeed see much of the journey Ash was going to undertake.  Maybe “hear” the way forward is better.  So much about writing Neverhome was about being able to listen to, and to a great extent not interrupt, the voice that had set up residence in my head.  This was at the very beginning of the writing process, which is fortunate because I didn’t have to grope around too much to find my (her) way.

The narrator of Neverhome is Ash Thompson: a young woman who passes herself off as a man in order to go to war to defend the Republic. What was the inspiration for Ash, and her journey?

Hundreds of actual women did this during the American Civil War.  I first learned about them when my wife gave me a copy of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman’s war letters.  Wakeman disguised herself as a man and went to fight for the Union using the first name Lyons.  That gift from my wife came 18 years ago, meaning it took me some 14 or 15 years to find my way to the first line of the novel and the story that poured out of it.  There were so many reasons these women went to war and as I wrote (I do a good portion of my research as I am writing) I learned more and more about them.  They went for adventure, patriotism, opportunity, love and other reasons.  In many cases, we don’t know why they went, only that they were there.  The character that came to me has her own very personal and complex reasons for going to war.  A large part of the impetus for telling the story has to do with exploring those reasons and perhaps, simultaneously, shedding light on the multi-faceted humanity both of Ash and the women who inspired her.

NeverhomeThe book has garnered plaudits for its spare writing style. You’re evidently a true literary stylist – but does this come naturally, or is it something you have to work on and refine throughout the writing process and various drafts?

I had a teacher early on at what was then called The Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) in Boulder, Colorado, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, who stressed how much of not just the work but also the pleasure of writing was to be had in the revision process.  Naturally I didn’t at first believe this and wanted simply to go from initial rush to initial rush with little attention paid to all those drafts that she had evoked.  Time plus the circumstance of not being published straight away eroded this notion as I discovered that not only did the work get tighter as I tinkered with it over the months and years, but that I was also coming to relish this process of peering deeper into the language and deeper into the story.  In the case ofNeverhome a great portion of Ash’s voice really was there in the first draft, but it got sharper and fiercer as I went through the 6 or 7 drafts that followed.  Working with a smart editor helped get it over the finish line.  I have been very lucky over the years in my editors.  The first several novels with Chris Fischbach at Coffee House Press and now Josh Kendall at Little, Brown. 

What sort of research did you undertake for Neverhome?

I read very deeply in the letters, diaries and memoirs of common soldiers who fought in the war.  I also read the extant literature about women Civil War soldiers and the few compendiums of their own writings (Wakeman and also the memoirs of Loretta Velasquez and Sarah Emma Edmonds).  I of course read some of the canonical overviews of the war but I was very careful, after realizing where the emphasis of the story was going to be, not to spend too much time — on the page and off — ferreting out the exact movements of Grant or Lee or Pickett et al.  We have many great novels that provide primers on the great trajectories of the war and I value them and read and reread a number during the writing process, but this was not going to be that kind of book.  I wanted to avoid the lure of too many glittering war tidbits (what kind of spurs Nathan Forrest wore and how many men died under his command and so on) and part of refining Ash’s voice was scraping away some of those kinds of observations.

You’ve published multiple novels now – does the excitement preceding each new release ever dim? Does it morph into something else?

My hope over the course of writing the novels has been that with each one the reception/awareness would build, not by leaps and bounds but incrementally.  I have always had a sense of being in it for the long haul and have hoped to build in such a way that a long haul would be possible and that books that would not wear themselves out at the first reading and maybe not even after the second could keep being written.  Having just switched publishers there was a different sense of possibility around the publication of Neverhome, and it has certainly been exciting, but the goal hasn’t changed: continuing to write and to write books that, hopefully, will last.

Laird was speaking with Simon McDonald

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10 Must-Read Books About High School Romance

10 Must-Read Books About High School Romance

Our teenage romances were a milestone in our emotional development. Reflect on those simpler times (were they, though, really?!) with these 10 books.


Dream Factory

When the Disney World character actors go on strike, teens are hired as replacements. Ella is assigned the role of Cinderella simply because the shoes fit. And every afternoon at three o’clock she gets married to Prince Charming. A perfect dream come true; except Ella does not believe in dreams anymore. Meanwhile, Luke is one of the fur characters, and his girlfriend, Cassie, plays his counterpart, Chip. Cassie is perfect in every way, so why does Luke want to be with Cinderella?

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Story of a Girl

I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy’s old Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Montana at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday night. Tommy was seventeen and the supposed friend of my brother, Darren. I didn’t love him.I’m not sure I even liked him.

In a moment Deanna Lambert’s teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome its lasting repercussions and the stifling role of “school slut,” she longs to escape a life defined by her past.
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More than Friends

hen Grace Stanley’s older brother, Matt, died in a car accident, she wanted to die, too. But she’s slowly finding her way again, with the help of her mysterious new friend, Philomena – who always seems to show up when Grace needs her most. If only Jackson, Matt’s best friend, had a Philomena of his own. He’s fallen into some very bad habits – at the same time that Grace is falling for him.The second book in the “Saving Grace” series explores the themes of faith, hope, and learning to live (maybe even love) in the wake of a tragedy.
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Enthusiasm

There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast.a Julie knows from bitter experience: her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. Ashleigh’s current fancy is also Julies own passion, Pride and Prejudice, and the heroine’s quest for True Love. And so Julie finds herself swept along with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks and sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys prep school. There they discover several likely candidates for True Love, including the handsome and sensitive Parr. And Julie begins to wonder if maybe this obsession of Ashleigh’s isn’t so bad after all. . . Read more >


The Market

High school senior Kate Winthrop is about to find out just how much she’s worth. After stumbling across the Millbank Social Stock Market, Kate is horrified to discover that out of the 140 girls in her class, she’s ranked a bleak 71. Sure, she’s not drop-dead gorgeous, and her “fashion” choices leave a bit to be desired…but 71?! Determined not to accept her fate as a “junk bond,” she and her best friends quickly set out to make her the fastest rising stock on the Market. But what begins as a fun social experiment quickly turns into an obsession…
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Good Enough

Patti’s parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning “assistant” concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply “not good enough.” But Patti’s discovering that there’s more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there’s Cute Trumpet Guy. He’s funny, he’s talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti’s favorite band. Then, of course, there’s her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn’t want to go to “HarvardYalePrinceton” after all? Read more >


If I Stay

‘Just listen,’ Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. ‘Stay,’ he says.

Everybody has to make choices. Some might break you. For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they’re all about a future full of music and love, a future that’s brimming with hope. But life can change in an instant. A cold February morning …a snowy road …and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one. Read more >


Anatomy of a Misfit

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair, one of the most popular kids in school. Inside, she’s a freak. A mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if the rumors are to be believed, vampire DNA. But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauser, first most popular girl in school, will make her life a living hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd… right? Read more >


The Duff

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. But things aren’t so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone. Read more >


Second Kiss

Gemma Mitchell is a normal girl who somehow gets herself into abnormally embarrassing circumstances. And while she thinks she’s the biggest loser in school because of them, there are a few people in her life who would disagree. One of those people is her best friend, Jess Tyler, who is opposite to her in every way. He’s popular, good looking, athletic, and intelligent, and he can’t get enough of Gemma. But while Gemma is dealing with problems like wrong locker combinations and Valentine’s Day dances, Jess is living in a world of serious issues that are foreign to Gemma, until she realizes that he’s holding on to her for dear life.  Read more >


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10 Must-Read Books about Africa from Best-Selling Author Tony Park

10 Must-Read Books about AfricaTony Park recently stopped by to talk about his novel The Deltabut we couldn’t let him leave without asking about his reading recommendations for books on Africa. Check out his suggestions below.

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Elephant Elephant

From the jungles of Borneo, to the civil strife of Assam, to the black markets of Vietnam, Dr Tammie Matson continues her quest to help reduce the human-elephant conflict around the world.

In this follow-up to her bestselling memoir Elephant Dance, Tammie takes on the black markets of Asia determined to make a difference and break the chains of rhino-horn poaching and the illegal ivory trade.

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Resident Alien

Crisscrossing South Africa – and further afield – in a quest to understand the land and continent of his birth – Malan does time with an extraordinary cast of characters: from vigilantes and outlaws to beauty queens and truckers; from Sol Kerzner to Jackie Selebi; from JM Coetzee to the last Afrikaner in Tanzania. Malan’s honesty, his unwavering support for the underdog, and the unique power of his prose, make him one of South Africa’s most important writers.

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The Land God Made in Anger

The Land God Made In Anger – South West Africa-Namibia – has been governed by South Africa for decades, ever since German rule ended after the First World War. But German influence has remained strong. So when, a month after the Second World War ends, two German officers erupt from the sea along the infamous Skeleton Coast, escaping from a crippled U-boat, they are arriving on friendly territory. But who are they? Why have they come? Why do only two men escape from the submarine? And why does one of them immediately murder the other one on the shore? Read more >


Commando

Deneys Reitz was 17 when the Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899. Reitz describes that he had no hatred of the British people, but “as a South African, one had to fight for one’s country.” Reitz had learned to ride, shoot and swim almost as soon as he could walk, and the skills and endurance he had acquired during those years were to be made full use of during the war. He fought with different Boer Commandos, where each Commando consisted mainly of farmers on horseback, using their own horses and guns. Commando describes the tumult through the eyes of a warrior in the saddle. Read more >


The Dark of the Sun

Bruce Curry is the leader of a mercenary band with the dubious support of three officers. His mission: To relieve a diamond-mining town cut off by the fighting and retrieve a priceless consignment of diamonds. Along the way, he meets a beautiful Belgian woman. Shermaine is a dream come true. But the rest of Curry’s journey is about to become a living nightmare. Ranged against his ill-disciplined unit are bandits, guerillas, and hostile tribes that infest the land. In a sinister atmosphere of omnipotent evil, Curry fights to stay alive—and protect Shermaine, his one true love. But to do so, he must face another, even deadlier enemy: one of his own men… Read more >


Daddy's Girl

A little girl waits alone to be picked up after ballet class—until an unmarked car approaches, and she is gone. But this little girl is the daughter of Police Captain Riedwaan Faizal. But suspended from the squad, he finds himself powerless. With nobody on his side, the captain turns to investigative journalist and criminal profiler Dr. Clare Hart. Clare knows that the odds of a child’s survival dwindle with each passing minute. She knows that hiding her investigation from the police has its own dangers. But she will do anything to help a heartbroken father … even if it puts all their lives at risk. Read more >


Thirteen Hours

Detective Benny Griessel he has trodden on too many toes over the years ever to reach the top of the promotion ladder, and now he concentrates on staying sober and mentoring the new generation of crime fighters — mixed race, Xhosa and Zulu. But when an American backpacker disappears in Capetown, panicked politicians know who to call: Benny has just thirteen hours to save the girl, save his career — and crack open a conspiracy which threatens the whole country. A potent, suspenseful thriller, and a brilliant portrait of life in the country that will host the 2010 World Cup. Read more >


 

The Fear

In mid-2008, after thirty years of increasingly tyrannical rule, Robert Mugabe, the eighty-four-year-old ruler of Zimbabwe, met his politburo. He had just lost an election. But instead of conceding power, he was persuaded to launch a brutal campaign of terror to cower his citizens. Journalist and author Peter Godwin was one of the few observers to slip into the country and bear witness to the terrifying period that Zimbabweans call, simply, the Fear.

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White Dog

In apartheid South Africa in 1976, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to follow her husband to Africa. When Isaac goes missing and Alice goes searching for him, what she finds will change her life and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land.
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Hold My Hand I'm Dying

The great heart of Africa is dying. Joseph Mahoney, the last colonial commissioner in the spectacular Kariba Gorge, is there to witness the death throes. Somehow, he must also ease the birth pangs of the new Africa that will take its place. His companions are Samson, his Matabele servant, and Suzie, the girl he loves. But Mahoney and Suzie are drifting apart, and now Samson has been accused of murder. And all too quickly, it seems, the country is heading towrds a bloodbath of revenge.

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50 Comics & Graphic Novels Everyone Should Read

50 Comics & Graphic NovelsWhere do you start with superheroes or graphic novels? We’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of the most essential for the comic newbie, from superhero epics to indie favorites. Have you read them all?


SandmanSandman by Neil Gaiman

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

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MausThe Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story.

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PersepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trails of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.
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Y The Last ManY: The Last Man
by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra

This is the saga of Yorick Brown—the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.
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Comics 1

Fables by Bill Willingnam
Saga by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson


 

WatchmenWatchmen
by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel, and one of the most influential comic book stories of all time, chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.

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SecondsSeconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, runs a successful restaurant, and has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. Just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. But they don’t come easy.

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The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead 
by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

The world we knew is gone. Society has crumbled. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe. And in a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to finally start living.

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 ScalpedScalped by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guera

Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in hopes of finding something better. Now he’s come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on “The Rez” — short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime.

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Comics 2

Essex County by Jeff Lemire
Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer & Rags Morales
Daytripper by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba
Marvels by Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross


 

Batman Year OneBatman: Year One
by Frank Miller
& David Mazzucchelli

In 1986, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli produced a groundbreaking reinterpretation of the origin of Batman — who he is and how he came to be.

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The Dark Knight ReturnsThe Dark Knight Returns
by Frank Miller

It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now as his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city.
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PreacherPreacher by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

Merging with a bizarre spiritual force called Genesis, Texan Preacher Jesse Custer becomes completely disillusioned with the beliefs that he had dedicated his entire life to. Now possessing the power of “the word,” an ability to make people do whatever he utters, Custer begins a violent and riotous journey across the country.


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Fury MaxFury: My War Gone By
by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov

Colonel Nick Fury, veteran CIA operative, has been at war for a lifetime. Now he sits alone in a dank hotel room, coughing his confession into a tape recorder, laying out a legacy of carnage stretching back to World War II. Because when that war ended, another one began – and Fury sought it out, regardless of the cost to those who loved him.
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Comics 3

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
The Contract with God Trilogy by Will Eisner
Blankets by Craig Thompson


 

Superman For All SeasonsSuperman: For All Seasons
by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

In this coming-of-age tale witness the experiences and adventures that transform a simple country boy into the world’s greatest hero.

Told through the course of four seasons in the Man of Steel’s adolescent life, it illustrates that it is the person, not the powers, that makes Superman a hero.
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100 Bullets100 Bullets
by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso

This dark and intriguing Eisner Award-winning series features a mysterious agent named Graves who approaches ordinary citizens and gives them an opportunity to exact revenge on a person who has wronged them. Offering his clients an attaché case containing proof of the deed and a gun, he guarantees his “clients” full immunity for all of their actions, including murder.
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HawkeyeHawkeye
by Matt Fraction & David Aja

The self-made hero Hawkeye fights for justice…and good rooftop BBQs! And with ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he’s out to get some downtime from being one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Then, the action continues as the arrowed Avenger battles Superstorm Sandy, digital doomsday, dog detectives, lady problems, murder for money and more!
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BoneBone
by Jeff Smith

Humor, mystery, and adventure are spun together in this action-packed, side-splitting saga. Everyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone. Written and drawn by Jeff Smith, Bone will touch your heart and make you laugh out loud.
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Comics 4

Peanuts 1950-1952 by Charles M Schulz
Tintin by Georges Remi Herge
Hellboy Mignola
Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday


Powers Powers by Brian Michael Bendis
& Michael Avon Oeming

Heroes glide through the sky on lightning bolts and fire. Flamboyant villains attempt daring daylight robberies. God-like alien creatures clash in an epic battle in the night sky. And on the dirty city streets below, homicide detective Christian Walker does his job. Detective Walker has to investigate the shocking murder of one of the most popular superheroes the world has ever known: Retro Girl. Read more >


PlanetaryPlanetary
by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday

Tasked with tracking down evidence of super-human activity, the inter-dimensional peace-keeping force known as Planetary uncover unknown, paranormal secrets and histories, such as a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a ghostly spirit of vengeance, and a lost island of dying monsters.
Read more >


Captain AmericaCaptain America
by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting

A midnight call to duty brings Captain America aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D Heli-carrier to identify the corpse of his most feared adversary: the Red Skull! The shocking murder of Cap’s oldest enemy may not be the end of the Skull’s plans, however, because whoever shot the Skull has stolen his final project: an unfinished Cosmic Cube with the potential power to alter reality itself.
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The WakeThe Wake
by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy

When Marine Biologist Lee Archer is approached by the Department of Homeland Security for help with a new threat, she declines …but quickly realizes they won’t take no for an answer. Soon, she is plunging to the depths of the Arctic Circle to a secret, underwater oilrig filled with roughnecks and scientists on the brink of an incredible discovery. But when things go horribly wrong, this scientific safe haven will turn into a house of horrors at the bottom of the ocean! Read more >


Black HoleBlack Hole by Charles Burns

A strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back. This is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape. And then the murders start.
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The New Frontier

The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke
Locke & Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
The Invisibles by Grant Morrison
Asterix by René Goscinny & by Albert Uderzo


RunawaysRunaways by Brian K. Vaughan

They were six normal teenagers linked only by their wealthy parents’ annual business meeting…until a chance discovery revealed the shocking truth: their parents are the secret criminal society known as the Pride! The Pride will take any measures necessary to protect their organization – even if it means taking out their own children! Now on the run from their villainous parents, Nico, Chase, Karolina, Gertrude, Molly and Alex have only each other to rely on.
Read more >


Old Man LoganOld Man Logan
by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

Nobody knows what happened on the night the heroes fell, and what happened to Wolverine is the biggest mystery of all. For 50 years, no one has heard hide nor hair from him…and in his place stands an old man called Logan. A man concerned only about his family. A man pushed to the brink by the Hulk Gang. A man forced to help an old friend—the blind archer, Hawkeye—drive three thousand miles to secure his family’s safety. Get ready for the ride of your life, Logan.  Read more >


 Parker The HunterParker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke

The Hunter, the first book in the Parker series, is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind – to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him! Richard (Donald Westlake) Stark’s groundbreaking Parker books are adapted for the first time as a series of graphic novels by Darwyn Cooke.
Read more >


Kingdom ComeKingdom Come
by Mark Waid & Alex Ross

Winner of five Eisner and Harvey Awards, KINGDOM COME is the best-selling graphic novel form acclaimed writer Mark Waid and superstar painter Alex Ross. This riveting story set in the future pits the old guard–Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and their peers–against a new, uncompromising generation of heroes in the final war to determine the fate of the planet. Read more >


All Star SupermanAll Star Superman 
by Grant Morrison & Frank Quietly

Witness the Man of Steel in exciting new adventures featuring Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Bizarro, and more! The Man of Steel goes toe-to-toe with Bizarro, his oddball twin, and the new character Zibarro, also from the Bizarro planet.
And Superman faces the final revenge of Lex Luthor – in the form of his own death!
Read more >


Comics 5

Thor by Walt Simonson
Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis
Criminal by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

 


What’s missing from our list? 

Let us know in the comments!

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12 Must-Read Books with Talking Animals

12 Must-Read Books with Talking AnimalsOur selection of the best books starring talking animals. If you feel we’ve missed something, let us know in the comments below.

The Last Wild

In a world where animals are slowly fading into extinction, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes feels as if he hardly exists either. He’s been locked away in a home for troubled children and is unable to speak a word.

Then one night, a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach come to help him escape, and he discovers that he “can” speak–to them. And the animals need him.

Only Kester, with the aid of a stubborn, curious girl named Polly, can help them survive.


Redwall

As the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey bask in the glorious Summer of the Late Rose, all is quiet and peaceful. But things are not as they seem. Cluny the Scourge–the evil one-eyed rat warlord, is ell-bent on destroying the tranquility as he prepares to fight a bloody battle for the ownership of Redwall. This dazzling story in the Redwall series is packed with all the wit, wisdom, humor, and blood-curdling adventure of the other books in the collection, but has the added bonus of taking the reader right back to the heart and soul of Redwall Abbey and the characters who live there.


The Capture

Deep in the forest of Tyto, the Barn Owls dwell. Soren is born into their tranquil kingdom. But evil lurks in the owl world. First eggs begin to mysteriously disappear from their nests, then Soren himself is captured by a part of strange yellow-eyed owls. He finds himself in a dark and forbidding canyon. It’s called an orphanage, the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, but Soren knows it’s something worse. Within his gizzard, the hope for escape remains alive, no matter how many rules, punishments, and sleepless days he faces at St. Aggie’s. He and his best friend, Gylfie, know the only way out of this place is to do something they have never done before: fly.


Mrs Frisby

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death.

But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH. They are an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma!

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Stuart Little

Stuart Little is a shy, philosophical little mouse with a big heart and a taste for adventure. In spite of his diminutive stature, barely two inches tall, Stuart sets forth into the world wtih some mighty big plans: to ride a Fifth Avenue bus, to win a sailboat race in Central Park, and to teach school for a day. But Stuart’s greatest adventure begins when he decides to find his best friend, Margalo, a pretty little bird who once lived in a Boston fern in the Littles’ house in New York City. Climbing into his tiny car, Stuart hits the open road, sure he’s heading in the right direction, only to find himself in for a big surprise.


The Jungle Book

In the jungles of India, a pack of wolves discover a young boy. They name the boy Mowgli and protect him against dangers, including Shere Kan, the most savage tiger in the jungle.

As Mowgli grows up, he learns the ways of the jungle from Bagheera the panther, the wise bear, Baloo, and other animals. Soon, he must decide whether to remain among beasts or embrace his own kind.


Watership Down

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for over thirty years, Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.


 

The Wind in the Willws

The Wind in the Willows features the adventures of woodland residents Mole, Ratty, and Badger as they rescue their friend Toad from escapades with coach-houses, motor-cars, and washer-women, finally helping him vanquish the stoats and weasels who have captured Toad Hall.

Since its beginning as a series of stories told to Kenneth Grahame’s young son, the Wind in the Willows has become one of the best-loved children’s books of all time.


Fantastic Mr Fox

Nobody outfoxes Fantastic Mr. Fox!

Someone’s been stealing from the three meanest farmers around, and they know the identity of the thief—it’s Fantastic Mr. Fox! Working alone they could never catch him; but now fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. What they don’t know is that they’re not dealing with just any fox—Mr. Fox would rather die than surrender. Only the most fantastic plan can save him now.


Animal Farm

Animal Farm is the remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published.

As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.


Charlotte’s Web

This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur—and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to quite a pig.

It’s gone on to become one of the most beloved children’s books of all time.


 

Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

The four Pooh books created by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard have long been cherished by children and adults.

These stories – starring the round, endearing Bear of Little Brain and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Christopher Robin, and others – are as popular today as when they first enchanted readers more than seventy years ago. The adventures of Christopher Robin and his friends, in which Pooh Bear uses a balloon to get honey, Piglet meets a Heffalump, and Eeyore has a birthday.

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Robin Talley on “Lies We Tell Ourselves”

Conversation with Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it. We spoke to Robin ahead of her novel’s release.

Robin, congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves. What are your emotions, a week out from release date? I suppose by now you’ll have been some feedback based on ARC’s, but surely nothing will beat seeing your novel in your local bookstore.

Thank you! It’s funny, just the other day I was strolling through the young adult section of my local bookstore, and I couldn’t help stopping to look at the spot on the shelf where my book will be once it’s launched. All of this is like a crazy dream coming to life. I don’t know if I’ll be able to believe it even once I see it in the flesh!

Was Lies We Tell Ourselves your first attempt at getting published? How long have you been writing for?

I started trying to write novels in about 2007, after a few years of practice in the fanfiction world (which, by the way, I highly recommend to newbies who want to experiment with writing but find the idea of writing an entire original novel to be horribly intimidating). I’d finished two novels and signed with my literary agent before I wrote Lies We Tell Ourselves.

Lies We Tell OurselvesLies We Tell Ourselves
 is the story of two high-school seniors experiencing desegregation for the first time in their Virginia school in 1959. What was the inspiration behind this story?

I originally got the idea from my parents, who were both high school students in Virginia when their schools were integrated for the first time. We were talking about their memories of that period, and I realized I didn’t know anything about it, even though I’d grown up and gone to school in Virginia too. Virginia has a very contentious history when it comes to the civil rights movement and racial integration, but it isn’t taught much in public schools there ― I suspect because everyone would rather sweep it under the rug and pretend it isn’t a part of the state’s history. The more I researched the period, the more I wanted to write a young adult novel imagining what it would’ve been like for one of the teenagers on the front lines of that battle. I also wanted to explore what it would’ve been like for one of those teenagers to be gay ― to be right in the middle of a huge external crisis and simultaneously be dealing with a huge secret you couldn’t tell a soul. As I explored those ideas, slowly, my main character, 17-year-old Sarah Dunbar, started to emerge.

It’s clear you write about issues that matter to you. On your website you say that you “spend an inordinate amount of time getting worked up about things that shouldn’t happen in the world, and yet somehow keep happening.” But with a propensity for “getting worked up,” does that make the writing process itself any less enjoyable?

I think it’s important to dig deep into to any topic, time period, or idea to write well about it. When you’re digging into upsetting stuff, big parts of the writing process can be decidedly unpleasant, and the writing process for Lies We Tell Ourselves was indeed pretty brutal. My characters go through a lot in this book. Sometimes while I was working on it I’d have to close Word and go watch videos of puppies or something to decompress for a while. Then I’d feel guilty, because the characters in the book ― who are inspired by the real children and teenagers who went through the integration process ― didn’t get to take breaks. For them, this was constant, and very, very real.  

I’m always interested in how authors who explore deeply personal and affecting themes – in this case race relations and sexuality – ensure their stories don’t become too preachy or self-righteous. It can’t be easy handling the subject matter with the kind of deftness required to make their story truly resonate.

I think the key is to write with a focus on the characters and what they’re feeling, rather than consciously thinking about how you’re delivering a particular thematic point. Most of the work in starting a new story, for me, is getting to know the main characters ― spending a lot of time in their heads, so you know how they’ll react to whatever the plot might throw at them. Remaining true to your characters is, I think, the way to avoid writing that sounds too heavy-handed or tries to impart a “message.”

What was the book that most influenced your career as a writer, and why?

The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin. I started reading the series when I was in the third grade, and it was those books that made me want to be a writer. I still love them, actually. My wife read them as a kid too. She and I will get into intense discussions about things like Mary Ann and Logan’s relationship, and what on earth was wrong with Dawn.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a particular routine or ritual – things that you prefer to have in place, like an outline, or copious character notes – or is it more of a free for all, just get the words down on the page?

I’m very into outlining. I have an Excel spreadsheet for every story I write with a highly detailed scene-by-scene outline, plus a list of characters, a list of miscellaneous details like names of businesses and characters’ class schedules, and a list of items I want to change in my next round of revisions. I can’t imagine writing without my lists. It’s just because I have a bad memory, though. If I tried to keep all those details in my head it would all shake loose.

What books might readers be surprised to find on your shelves?

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
 by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld andManaging to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results by Alison Green and Jerry Hauser. In my day job, I work in online communications for nonprofit organizations.

What has been your favorite book of the year so far?

I can’t pick just one! Right now I’m reading and loving The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Richmond, a young adult book based on a fascinating alternate history premise ― what would the world be like today if Hitler had won World War II? I highly recommend it.

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Must-Read Fiction about the Workplace

Must-Read Fiction about the Workplace

Looking for fiction based in the workplace? You’ll find a great selection of novels here. Share your suggestions in the comments below!

Then We Came to the End

No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. With a demon’s eye for the details that make life worth noticing, Joshua Ferris tells a true and funny story about survival in life’s strangest environment–the one we pretend is normal five days a week.


 

Personal Days

Ever wondered what your boss does all day? Or if there is a higher – perhaps an existential – significance to Microsoft Word malfunctions?

This astonishing debut is a scathingly funny look at a group of office workers who have no idea what the unnamed corporation they work for actually does. When it looks like the company may be taken over, fear of redundancy unleashes a deliciously Kafkaesque plot full of the tedium and mistrust of corporate life and the backstabbing bitchiness of our survival-of-the-fittest instincts.


Disclosure

An up-and-coming executive at the computer firm DigiCom, Tom Sanders is a man whose corporate future is certain. But after a closed-door meeting with his new boss—a woman who is his former lover and has been promoted to the position he expected to have—Sanders finds himself caught in a nightmarish web of deceit in which he is branded the villain.

As Sanders scrambles to defend himself, he uncovers an electronic trail into the company’s secrets—and begins to grasp that a cynical and manipulative scheme has been devised to bring him down.


 

Severance Package

Jamie DeBroux’s boss has called a special meeting for all “key personnel” at 9:00 a.m. on a hot Saturday in August. When Jamie arrives, the conference room is stocked with cookies and champagne. His boss smiles and tells his employees, “We’re a cover for a branch of the intelligence community. And we’re being shut down.”

Jamie’s boss then tells everyone to drink some champagne, and in a few seconds they’ll fall asleep—-for good. If they refuse, they’ll be shot in the head.


The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit

Universally acclaimed when first published in 1955, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit captured the mood of a generation.

Tom Rath doesn’t want anything extraordinary out of life: just a decent home, enough money to support his family, and a career that won’t crush his spirit. After returning from World War II, he takes a PR job at a television network. It is inane, dehumanizing work, but when a series of personal crises force him to reexamine his priorities he is finally moved to carve out an identity for himself.


Something Happened

Bob Slocum was living the American dream.

He had a beautiful wife, three lovely children, a nice house…and all the mistresses he desired. He had it all — all, that is, but happiness.

Slocum was discontent. Inevitably, inexorably, his discontent deteriorated into desolation until…

… something happened.


Company

Stephen Jones is a shiny new hire at Zephyr Holdings. From the outside, Zephyr is just another bland corporate monolith, but behind its glass doors business is far from usual: the beautiful receptionist is paid twice as much as anybody else to do nothing, the sales reps use self help books as manuals, no one has seen the CEO, no one knows exactly what they are selling, and missing donuts are the cause of office intrigue. While Jones originally wanted to climb the corporate ladder, he now finds himself descending deeper into the irrational rationality of company policy. What he finds is hilarious, shocking, and utterly telling.


The Circle

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime.  . There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. But What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.


Lightning Rods

Joe fails to sell a single set of the Encyclopedia Britannica in six months. Then fails to sell a single Electrolux and must eat 126 pieces of homemade pie, served up by his would-be customers who feel sorry for him.

Holed up in his trailer, Joe finds an outlet for his frustrations in a series of ingenious sexual fantasies, and at last strikes gold. His brainstorm, Lightning Rods, Inc., will take Joe to the very top and to the very heart of corporate insanity with an outrageous solution to the spectre of sexual harassment in the modern office.


The Bug

The Bug breaks new ground in literary fiction, offering us a deep look into the internal lives of people in the technical world.

Set in a start-up company in 1984, this highly acclaimed novel explores what happens when a baffling software flaw—a bug so teasing it is named “the Jester”—threatens the survival of the humans beings who created it.

This is a story about obsession and love that takes readers deep into both the personal and virtual life.


Microserfs

They are Microserfs–six code-crunching computer whizzes who spend upward of sixteen hours a day “coding” and eating “flat” foods (food which, like Kraft singles, can be passed underneath closed doors) as they fearfully scan company e-mail to learn whether the great Bill is going to “flame” one of them. But now there’s a chance to become innovators instead of cogs in the gargantuan Microsoft machine. The intrepid Microserfs are striking out on their own–living together in a shared digital flophouse as they desperately try to cultivate well-rounded lives and find love amid the dislocated, subhuman whir and buzz of their computer-driven world.


Kings of Infinite Space

Paul Trilby is having a bad day. Actually, a bad life. His wife left him. Three subsequent girlfriends left him. He’s fallen from a top-notch university teaching job, to a textbook publisher, to working as a temp writer for the Texas Department of General Services. And even here, in this land of carpeted partitions and cheap lighting fixtures, Paul cannot escape the curse his life has become. For it is not until he begins a tentative romance with the office’s sassy mail girl that he begins to notice things are truly wrong. Strange sounds come from the air conditioning vents, the ceiling bulges, a body disappears. Mysterious men lurk about town, wearing thick glasses and pocket protectors…


Revolution

Revolutionary Road has been hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs.

This is the the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.


Since the Layoffs

The guys who owned the factory have left town for someplace where there’s more sun and cheaper labor. The deserted plant is fenced in and the fence topped with razor wire, as if they’d worried that the locals would steal tractor-building equipment and start making tractors in their basements. Jake’s girlfriend has also decamped. ake’s got six months of unemployment left before he’s dead broke and the locks get changed. Life has turned into one big downgrade. It has downsized and hardened him. He’s up for anything. The economy is pain, lies and silliness, and he is going to carve off a piece of it for himself or die trying.


Factotum

Factorum follows the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across World War II-era America. Deferred from military service, Chinaski travels from city to city, moving listlessly from one odd job to another, always needing money but never badly enough to keep a job.

Henry’s day-to-day existence spirals into an endless litany of pathetic whores, sordid rooms, dreary embraces, and drunken brawls, as he makes his bitter, brilliant way from one drink to the next.


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10 Must-Read Ghost Stories

10 Must-Read Ghost StoriesSearching for your next haunting read?

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone.

Because prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls…


 

Dark Matter

January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he’s offered the chance to be the wireless operator on an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year. Gruhuken.

But the Arctic summer is brief. And as night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease…


Winter Ghosts

March 1928. Freddie is on holiday in south west France. When his car crashes, he stumbles down from the mountains to a hotel in the nearest village, where  he meets a beautiful young woman called Marie. As the storm rages outside, she explains how war destroyed her home and her family. Marie’s story touches Freddie, but when he wakes the next morning, she has gone. Waiting for his car to be mended, he decides to explore the mountains where Marie’s family took refuge.

But buried in the cave he finds a secret older and more shocking than anything he could have imagined…


 

The Woman in BlackSet in Victorian England, Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. Here, Kipps sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her.

From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again. He also hears the terrifying sounds of adult and child passengers sinking into the quicksand on a pony and trap. Kipp resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil his professional duty …


Ghost Story

For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them.

They are about to learn what happens to those who think they can bury the past…

…and get away with murder!

Peter Straub’s classic ghost story has been called a work of “superb horror” by The Washington Post Book World that conjures our darkest fears and nightmares.


A Christmas Carol

On Christmas Eve, Scrooge sits in his house with not a kind word for anyone. He just wants to be left alone until the “humbug” of Christmas is over.

But four ghostly visitors—his former business partner, followed by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come— have other plans!

These ghosts show Scrooge the error of his ways;  and by the time Christmas Day dawns, he is a changed person.


A Sudden Light

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. revor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own.


The Haunting of Hill House

Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Luke, the adventurous future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with chilling, even horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers…

… and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.


The Little Stranger

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to see a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the house is in decline. All around, the world is changing, and the family is struggling to adjust to a society with new values and rules. As Dr. Faraday becomes increasingly entwined in the Ayreses’ lives, signs of a more disturbing nature start to emerge, both within the family and in Hundreds Hall itself.

And Faraday begins to wonder if they are all threatened by something more sinister than a dying way of life, something that could subsume them completely.


GhostwalkA Cambridge historian is found dead, floating down the river Cam, after researching a book about a series of suspicious circumstances surrounding Newton’s appointment as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1667. That year, two Fellows died by falling down staircases, apparently drunk; another died in a field, apparently drunk; a fourth was expelled. When Lydia Brooke steps in to finish the book, strange shows of light begin to play on the walls, and papers disappear only to reappear elsewhere.

And when events escalate to murder, and Lydia’s rekindled romance appears increasingly implicated in the danger, the present becomes entangled with the seventeenth century, with Isaac Newton at the center of the mystery.


 

What are you favorite ghost stories? Let us know below!

 

 

 

 

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