Val's staff picks.
Darnielle artfully details the slow and insidious uncoiling of lives in sleepy small town Nevada, Iowa, after clips of mysterious home videos are found on rental movie tapes. An unbalancing act of constant, lowkey anxiety and fever dream night sweats, Universal Harvester will leave you unsettled.
This book is so entertaining! It's like eating a bag of potato chips,. It's full of nerd references - Zach Lightman, dedicated video game player who wishes for more in life, sees a UFO one day - and his life changes completely. Fan of READY PLAYER ONE or ENDER'S GAME? Pick it up!
This book centers around the building of a great cathedral in Kingsbridge, England. The characters are so human - frustrating and endearing. Set during the Anarchy, Follett utilizes his research to create a gorgeous, believable setting to get lost in. One of my absolute favorites!! (Also check out the miniseries) -
One of my all-time favorites - this book is gut-busting funny. Six video game programmers are bureaucratically marooned, which results in hilarity, insanity, and absurdity. A great look at our fast-paced, overwhelmingly tech-centric culture. A book that only gets better with every read.
You feel like no one can possibly be THE worst person ever, but hot dog does Coupland rise to the challenge (and go far, far beyond that). If you like that stomach churning combination of horror and bleak hilarity (the experience of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes to mind) you really need to experience the blisteringly mean satire of Coupland.
Fan of superheroes? Here is a book for you—The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first literary superhero and is responsible for titans such as Zorro, Batman, and Spiderman. Set during France's Reign of Terror, this slim volume has it all—daring rescues, political intrigue, nefarious plots, and a romance so intense you'll never recover. (You're welcome).
I love this book. I couldn't live without this book. I finished The Song of Achilles at 3 am with a foil helmet perched on my head and bawling so loudly I woke up my mother. In this epic retelling of Greek tragedy, we rediscover Achilles through the eyes of Patroclus, from the tenderness of childhood to a man made for war. You'll cry 'til your eyeballs fall out.
Strap in folks, 'cause you'll never find sure footing with this book. Koch does it all—an unreliable narrator, the twisty plot, moments of deep horror balanced by acts of tenderness. And the next time you find yourself sitting down to dinner with your family, be thankful.
"Hey, neat cover," you say. You pick it up, admire the fine tooth of the paper, the satisfying typography. You begin to read. "Whoa," you say, "I have these same ironic and deep artish contemplations too, yo." You then buy the book and look all je ne sais quoi as you read in the cafe.
Are you a fan of Lemony Snicket? Of course you are! Here is his newewst offering—dark, strange, and deeply joyous. We Are Pirates is about that longing you've had all your life—a romanticized escape that is just out of your reach; that desperate bid for Neverland that still gives you hope on those lonely nights. Gorgeous and startling, this is a read you won't want to put down.
I am sad Elvis is dead. Correction: when I remember Elvis is dead, I want to fling myself at the sun. If you, too, have felt this way, here is a temporary balm for the agony in your soul. With great love and deep wonderment, Guralnick reveals the man lost behind the image; his relentless drive and ambition, quirks, fears, dreams, and how together they created the phenomenon that haunts us today.
Ask yourself, how do we know about our human past? The Monuments Men tracks the development of cultural and heritage protection and the brave men—not soldiers, but museum curators, artists—who risked their lives on the front to protect and return the world's treasures. A wonderful, humbling read.
Dark Places is a slick, fast-paced horror show that'll pull the rug right out from under your feet. Paired with Flynn's relentless, haunting prose, this book is one you won't be able to put down. If you're a fan of Gone Girl, this book is even better. Never read Flynn before? Start with this one.
A fresh, modern take on the spooky and twisted. Broken Monsters is unlike any mystery thriller you've read before. Fan of Gillian Flynn? Lauren Beukes is like her spooky, supernatural cousin.