Books we are talking about

Chris Schluep on October 29, 2019
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Next year is going to be an unusually big year for books. And 2020 will start off with a bang. I'm not going to name any titles yet (that's for a later post), but January 2020 is as good a month for books as we've seen in a long time. And that quality continues through February, March, and beyond. 

One specific reason next year will be good is that a few beloved authors are bringing out presumably big novels. You can learn about a couple of those authors below, as well as some books that deserve your attention right now.

Happy reading. 



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The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel's 2009 novel Wolf Hall started off one of the more notable literary series of the past ten years. It was followed by Bring Up the Bodies in 2012, establishing once and for all that historical fiction based on Thomas Cromwell could be entertaining, award-winning, and best-selling. Before that, I think the odds on creating a popular series about a 16th-Century chief minister to a king, even if it was King Henry VII, were even at best. 

In 2020 we'll get to read the final book in the series. This is not to be missed. And if you have been thinking I really should start this series, now is the time.

I'll mention one other book that's being eagerly-awaited. This one doesn't publish until June 2020, but Elena Ferrante is back. The Lying Life of Adults is her tenth book ("Elena Ferrrante" is a pseudonym) and the first novel since those in the Neapolitan Quartet. My Brilliant Friend, the first in the Neapolitan series, was made into a series on HBO, and the four books together have sold 11 million copies worldwide. This new novel will cover similar themes to her previous work, focusing on female friendship. 



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The Beautiful Ones by Prince

While Elton John is getting a lot of attention for his celebrity memoir, another celebrity book is making waves as well. Prince passed away in April of 2016, but he had been working on a book. Now we have The Beautiful Ones, which includes his own writing and photographs. Here is the publisher's description:

The book is told in four parts. The first is the memoir Prince was writing before his tragic death, pages that bring us into his childhood world through his own lyrical prose. The second part takes us through Prince’s early years as a musician, before his first album was released, via an evocative scrapbook of writing and photos. The third section shows us Prince’s evolution through candid images that go up to the cusp of his greatest achievement, which we see in the book’s fourth section: his original handwritten treatment for Purple Rain—the final stage in Prince’s self-creation, where he retells the autobiography of the first three parts as a heroic journey.

The book goes on sale today, and we suspect it will fly up best seller lists.


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The Guardians by John Grisham

Speaking of best seller lists, John Grisham's latest is at the top of the Charts Most Sold Fiction list. The reception for The Guardians seems a notch above the reception for his last few books. The reviews are great. The sales are great. It's good to be John Grisham.  If you haven't read him in a while, or you're thinking you might want to see what this whole Grisham thing is about, this is the one to pick up.


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The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan

We were happy to see Mike Duncan's The Storm Before the Storm on best seller lists as well. The topic of "the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic" is fascinating enough in itself. Duncan writes briskly and informatively; at the same time, he is crafting a historical narrative of the Romans and the non-Romans who played a part in that story. But it's impossible to read this book (it's also a good listen, so consider the audiobook) without connecting the dots to the world we live in today. Economic inequality. Political opportunism. Fear of foreigners. A bleeding of plebeian rights.


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