What should you read next? Here are the best reviewed books of the week ‹ Literary Hub

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Celeste Ng Our missing heartsAnnie Ernaux To get lostby Elizabeth McCracken The hero of this bookand Orhan Pamuk plague nights all are among the highest rated books of the week.

Featured by Book Marks, “Rotten Tomatoes for books” by Lit Hub.

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Fiction

Cover of Celeste Ng_Our Missing Hearts

1. Our missing hearts by Celeste Ng
(PenguinPress)

14 Rave • 2 Positive • 2 Mixed
Listen to an interview with Celeste Ng here

“Amazing… One of Ng’s most poignant tricks in this novel is to bury its central tragedy… in the middle of the action. It elevates the telling of the specific story of a confused boy and his defeated father to a reflection on the universal bond between parents and children… Our missing hearts will land differently for individual readers. One element we shouldn’t miss is Ng’s bold reversal of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. It is the will to conform, the suppression of our glorious cacophony, that will doom us. And it is the expression of individual souls that will save us.

–Bethanne Patrick (The Los Angeles Times)

Elizabeth McCracken_The hero of this book cover

2. The hero of this book by Elizabeth McCracken
(Eco)

11 Rave • 3 Positives
Listen to an interview with Elizabeth McCracken here

“…moving, melancholic… McCracken skillfully evokes what so many of us feel about our mothers: that they are just there, and always there, and that any indication that they weren’t always there or were never as they are is an affront to the primacy of their bond with their child. Many children will never forget the moment they realized their mother was a special human being who made mistakes. and had flaws and weaknesses of their own, separate from themselves.This existential shock reverberates throughout McCracken’s book, coupled with the shock of that mother who is no longer there…In this vivid composition, McCracken paints the final layer of the portrait of the mother she has so painstakingly drawn in the preceding pages… ‘Don’t trust a writer who gives advice,’ McCracken warns in chapter 1. But the irony is that his words create an exquisite alchemy that makes the reader ready to to follow anywhere, to believe every word she writes. Is this book a novel or is it a memoir? It doesn’t matter at all. With each vital and powerful phrase, McCracken conveys the electric and primal nature of that fundamental first love.

–Janice YK Lee (The New York Times book review)

Plague Nights_Orhan Pamuk tr.  Ekin Oklap

3. plague nights by Orhan Pamuk
(Knopf)

3 Rave • 7 Positive • 2 Mixed

“…a fascinating, tiresome and, dare I say, curiously timeless book, although Pamuk clearly has his eye on the present…a complex and intriguing amalgamation of form and genre. Some passages read like a textbook, others like a murder mystery… Sometimes, plague nights reads like the work of someone who fell into the well of their own research and imagination, lost in an excess of detail, characters and events. Although I don’t know Turkish and am always a little wary of translations, the prose itself can seem laboriously academic, coagulated with events as if it were really an exercise in historical documentation… Elsewhere , there are magnificent passages of description, moments of surprising lightness. , narrative sections full of old-school drama and cliffhangers, and memorable phrases throughout… Above all, I was captivated by how the islanders’ crimes, misdemeanors, and fatal missteps mirror those committed during our current global coronavirus and our political meltdowns… Masterfully imagined and relentlessly inventive, plague nights is worthy of the time a prepared reader will have to invest in it. While that sometimes seems a bit like homework, it can also be a virtue, encouraging one to rethink the present and delve deeper into Ottoman history simultaneously. Indeed, asking a lot of the reader is in line with Pamuk’s awe-inspiring, multifaceted and blustering intentions.

–Helen Schulman (Airmail)

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nonfiction

David Quammen_Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus Cover

1. Breathless: The scientific race to defeat a deadly virus by David Quammen
(Simon & Schuster)

6 Rave
Read an excerpt from Breathless here

“Captivating and terrifying… Breathless is so good that it took me a while to realize it lacked the vivid details of “you’re there” Overflow. It’s because he wasn’t there… Another kind of tour de force… These barriers did not prevent him from writing a luminous and passionate account of the defining crisis of our time – and the international response unparalleled at this one… Quammen marries an old woman – fashioned love of colorful language to her passion for detail – an odd coupling that not only results in a lucid book on an important subject, but also a pleasing book to read.

–Michael Sims (The New York Times book review)

Adam Hochschild_American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and the Forgotten Crisis of Democracy Cover

2. American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and the Forgotten Crisis of Democracy by Adam Hochschild
(Marine)

5 Rave • 1 Positive

“A story worth telling, and in American Midnight, historian Adam Hochschild…tells it with verve and insight…It is of course a story with a purpose, not a search for a “usable story” that seeks a past that brings comfort and moral uplift to the here. It’s all about prevention… Examining this forgotten hiccup in the country’s history, we meet several unforgettable characters who come to life in these pages… This book is first and foremost a chronicle of dissent in a democracy, exposing in languages vivid are the abuses and extremes that characterized the period during and soon after the great crusade… Much of what Hochschild examines in this volume will be new to its readers. It is, at the end of the day, information that we can all use.

–David M. Shribman (The Boston Globe)

Cover Annie Ernaux_To get lost

3. To get lost by Annie Ernaux
(Seven Story Press)

5 Rave • 1 Positive • 1 Casserole
Read an excerpt from To get lost here

“The sex is raunchy and portrayed with a lemony eye for detail… The almost primal frankness of her voice is invigorating. It’s as if she were etching each sentence on the surface of a table with a knife. She is, in her writing, definitely not the kind of girl whose bike has a basket… Not hacked in post-production… The bedroom scenes are bulldozed… This book is an anthology of her projected anxieties. His heart is a kind of nocturnal beast… To get lost is a feverish book. It’s about being impaled by desire and things human beings want, as opposed to things they settle for. Is it a major book? Probably not. But it’s one of those books about loneliness that, with every page, makes you feel less alone.

–Dwight Garner (The New York Times)

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