Tear Jerkers, Literary Thrillers, and a Love Song to Video Games | What We’re Reading

This week, Library Journal and School Library Journal staffers are reading lots of hot forthcoming books: Elizabeth Wein’s follow-up to Code Name Verity, Marisha Pessl’s noiry Night Film. I’m most intrigued by a novel my colleague Meredith Schwartz just finished, Austin Grossman’s You, which she promises is like (at least a little bit) many of my own favorite books.

Shelley Diaz, Associate Editor, SLJ

I’m currently working through Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion, Sept.). I can’t say too much for fear of an inadvertent spoiler, but be warned: DO NOT read on the subway. I’ve already been on the receiving end of many a disturbed look because of my barely contained sobs.

I will share a quote, though. Rose, the main character, is a budding poet and a huge fan of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Here’s one of Millay’s poems that preceded a tear-jerker scene:


If I grow bitterly,
Like a gnarled and stunted tree,
Bearing harshly of my youth
Puckered fruit that sears the mouth;
If I make of my drawn boughs
An Inhospitable House,
Out of which I never pry
Towards the water and the sky,
Under which I stand and hide
And hear the day go by outside;
It is that a wind to strong
Bent my back when I was young,
It is that I fear the rain
Lest it blister me again.

Stephanie Klose, Media Editor, LJ

I’m reading Marisha Pessl’s upcoming release, Night Film (Random, Aug.). The story of a disgraced journalist’s investigation into the apparent suicide of a mysterious and eccentric cult horror-film director’s daughter, it’ll be this summer’s Gone Girl: a completely absorbing literary thriller. As media editor, though, I’m curious to see how the audio version will translate the book’s considerable ephemeral material—newspaper pages, photographs, magazine slideshows, websites. Generally, publishers have dealt with similar material in other books by including a cd or downloadable .pdf file with the visuals, but these are all clues that are important for readers/listeners to see at the exact point in the text where they’re positioned; missing one or seeing another too early would lessen the experience.

Molly McArdle, Assistant Book Review Editor, LJ

I just started Renata Adler’s dreamy Speedboat (NYRB), which I’ve been seeing and reading about everywhere for the past few months. I’ve caved to the peer pressure and am all the richer for it. The novel’s protagonist, Jen, has a life that is both eerily like and unlike my own: full of late-night rat sightings (like) and stopovers in Luxor (unlike). I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but I’m also not sure I need it to.

Chelsey Philpot, Associate Book Review Editor, SLJ

In preparation for a lot of traveling over the long weekend, I have been hoarding YA ARCs and New Yorker magazines. As for adult titles, I am determined to make my way through Michael A. Lerner’s Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City (Harvard Univ.) before I get back to the city!

Meredith Schwartz, News Editor, LJ

I just finished You by Austin Grossman (Mulholland). It’s a little like Ready Player One: a love song to video games. It’s a little like This Is Not A Game: what happens when your old gaming group starts a company together. It’s a little like Oscar Wao and Kavalier & Clay: a literary novel about a protagonist whose own idiom is deeply rooted in genre fiction. It’s a little like The Magicians: the protagonist is wry about his own search for a status that eludes him and how it shapes his relationships with peers. It’s a little like The Secret History: in tone and mood. And it’s not really quite like any of them. You also juggles interactions with fantastic characters in an otherwise realist setting in a way that’s ambiguous without being annoying: you’re not quite sure if it’s metaphor, hallucination, an authentic magical experience, or if the distinction matters. Highly recommended!

Molly McArdle About Molly McArdle

Molly McArdle (mmcardle@mediasourceinc.com, @mollitudo on Twitter) is Assistant Editor, Library Journal Book Review. She also manages the Library Journal tumblr.