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8 Books to Immerse Yourself In

By kileyturner
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No one is allowed to need anything from you, or to make a sound, or really even to breathe in the same room, when you're reading one of these books.
Harmless

Harmless

edition:Paperback

Set over the course of a single day and night, Harmless is a tense, provocative, and psychologically astute first novel in the tradition of Herman Koch's The Dinner, Tom Perrotta’s Little Children, and Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, about a weekend reunion of old friends that takes a terrifying turn when two teenage girls go missing.
 
At a remote farm, a group of old friends gather to catch up, sit by the fire, and forget about their overworked lives. But a long weekend in the country is …

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We All Love the Beautiful Girls

We All Love the Beautiful Girls

edition:Paperback

Who do the lucky become when their luck sours?

One frigid winter night, the happily prosperous Mia and Michael Slate discover that a close friend and business partner has cheated them out of their life savings. On the same night, their son, Finn, passes out in the snow at a party — a mistake with shattering consequences.

Everyone finds their own ways of coping with the ensuing losses. For Finn, it’s Jess, a former babysitter who sneaks into his bed at night, even as she refuses to leave her …

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Autonomous

Autonomous

A Novel
edition:Hardcover
tagged : high tech

"Autonomous is to biotech and AI whatNeuromancerwas to the Internet."—Neal Stephenson

"Something genuinely and thrillingly new in the naturalistic, subjective, paradoxically humanistic but non-anthropomorphic depiction of bot-POV—and all in the service of vivid, solid storytelling."—William Gibson

When anything can be owned, how can we be free

Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap …

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Smoke

Smoke

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
tagged : literary, suspense

“Dan Vyleta has conjured a rich and surprising counter-history, an England saturated with a substance so potent and evocative it vaults instantly into the pantheon that includes the dust of Philip Pullman, the soma of George Orwell and the opium of Amitav Ghosh. Smoke is enthralling.” —Robin Sloan, bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

England. A century ago, give or take a few years. An England where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that p …

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The Mountain Story

The Mountain Story

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

Five days. Four hikers. Three survivors. From Lori Lansens, author of the national bestsellers Rush Home Road, The Girls and The Wife's Tale comes a gripping tale of adventure, sacrifice and survival in the unforgiving wilderness of a legendary mountain.
     On his 18th birthday, Wolf Truly takes the tramway to the top of the mountain that looms over Palm Springs, intending to jump to his death. Instead he encounters strangers wandering in the mountain wilderness, three women who will change …

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The Winter Family

The Winter Family

A Novel
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

Tracing a gang of ruthless outlaws from its birth during the American Civil War to a final bloody showdown in the Territory of Oklahoma, The Winter Family is a hyperkinetic Western noir and a full-on assault to the senses.
     From the 1860s to the 1880s, the outlaws known as the Winter Family roam the harsh frontier, both serving and battling the fierce advance of civilization. Among its twisted specimens are the psychopathic killer Quentin Ross, the mean and moronic Empire brothers, the imp …

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Excerpt

High summer night in Oklahoma. Warm winds that smelled of apple blossoms. Now and then a lightning bug winked on and drifted through the air. Quentin Ross caught one in his fist and held it there, with its radiance leaking between his fingers and reflecting in his shallow eyes. For a moment he rolled the lightning bug between his thumb and forefinger, and then he crushed it, smearing himself with its luminescence, and he smiled, wide and empty.
 
The Winter Family was camped in a stand of blackjack oaks. There was no fire but the moon was up, pushing the stars back into the darkness of the sky. Charlie and Johnny Empire lay on their sides, playing cards and bickering. Fred Johnson wrote in his little book and drank whiskey from a cup not much bigger than a thimble. Quentin wandered from tree to tree, humming to himself, soft and tuneless. The others tried to sleep, tucked between tree roots or curled in bedrolls like pill bugs. All of them, except for Augustus Winter.
 
He sat astride a pale horse, like Death, leaning back in his heavy saddle and smoking a cigarette in an ivory holder. The suit he wore was well tailored but growing threadbare. His straw-white
hair was cropped short and he had an extravagantly waxed mustache. His eyes were very light amber, almost yellow, the eyes of an eagle or a cat. Occasionally he would remove a watch from his pocket and turn it in the pale moonlight, watching as the second hand marched around, and around, and around. It is often observed that murderers do not look like murderers. No one said that of Augustus Winter.
 
A little after midnight Winter cocked his head. “They’re coming.”
 
“I don’t hear anything,” Quentin said.
 
But soon they all did. The sleepers were kicked into wakefulness, the lantern shuttered, weapons drawn, instructions whispered.
 
O’Shea and two of his hands came around the bend and rode up to the camp. Everyone relaxed. O’Shea pulled up his horse, unstrapped a bag tied to his saddle, and tossed it to Quentin.
 
“I’d be grateful if you count it now,” O’Shea said.
 
Quentin knelt down, opened the sack, and rifled through the bills quickly. Then he stood, his knees creaking.
 
“Yes, it’s all there, as we agreed.”
 
“Good,” O’Shea said and began to wheel his horse around.
 
“Now just a moment, Mister O’Shea,” Quentin called out.
 
“Please, just a moment more.” Quentin’s voice was very deep, melodious. He spoke slowly, as if he were thinking very carefully, or reciting poetry.
 
O’Shea turned back to him, reluctantly. Both men were around fifty, but O’Shea was a tall man with a healthy mane of gray hair, while Quentin was small and fine boned.
 
“We’ve run into some unexpected expenses . . . ,” Quentin began.
 
“Oh god damn you,” O’Shea said.
 
Quentin continued as if O’Shea had not spoken.
 
“. . . which were not included in the initial estimate of our—”
 
“Estimate?” O’Shea shouted. “We had a deal, you thieves.”
 
“Yeah,” Winter said. He did not speak loudly but all the men fell silent, and the bugs too, and the wind seemed to die down to nothing.
 
“Yeah. Thieves, Mister O’Shea. And worse.”
 
O’Shea looked at Winter and bore his gaze. That was something not every man could do. O’Shea was not like every man. Willpower radiated from him. And he was angry now. He looked at the dirty mob of killers under the trees, white trash and blacks and Mexicans, in their muddy boots and sweat-stiff dusters, thin and poor and dumb as nails. One of them was using baler twine as a rifle strap. He thought: Am I to let these men get the better of me? But then, it was only money.
 
“How much?” O’Shea asked. Quentin told him. O’Shea nodded and said, “The money will be ready when you get back. I trust that is all.” Not a question.
 
But Quentin said, “Just one more thing, Mister O’Shea! Please! One more thing. A member of our band has taken ill. He needs a doctor. We would be grateful if you could bring him back to town.”
 
“Oh for heaven’s sake,” O’Shea snapped, but they were already bringing the sick man forward, surprisingly small, wrapped up tightly in a stinking bedroll. O’Shea stood up in his stirrups and looked down. He frowned. The man was an Indian, but his skin had gone gray and seemed thin, as if his bones were likely to poke through at any moment. Greasy foam flecked around his lips and nose and the whites of his eyes were jaundiced, the color of egg yolk.
 
The little Indian regarded O’Shea with piteous weakness. O’Shea frowned in disgust.
 
“His name is Bill Bread,” Quentin said.
 
“One of you take him,” O’Shea said to his hands.
 
“Farewell, Mister O’Shea,” Quentin called, and tipped his hat.
 
“Take good care of Mister Bread!”
 
The Winter Family laughed as the hands threw Bill Bread over the neck of one of their sturdy ponies and rode off, holding their noses. They all laughed, except for Augustus Winter, who watched O’Shea’s horse in the dim moonlight, until it was lost in the trees.

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People Park

People Park

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and selected as an Amazon.ca Best Book

It's the Silver Jubilee of People Park, an urban experiment conceived by a radical mayor and zealously policed by the testosterone-powered New Fraternal League of Men. To celebrate, the insular island city has engaged the illustrationist Raven, who promises to deliver the most astonishing spectacle its residents have ever seen. As the entire island comes together for the event, we meet an unforgettable cross-s …

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The Headmaster's Wager

The Headmaster's Wager

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary

From Giller Prize winner, internationally acclaimed, and bestselling author Vincent Lam comes a superbly crafted, highly suspenseful, and deeply affecting novel set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War.
 
Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. He is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of the Chen Acad …

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Excerpt

1930, Shantou, China
On a winter night shortly after the New Year festivities, Chen Kai sat on the edge of the family kang, the brick bed. He settled the blanket around his son.
 
“Gwai jai,” he said. Well-behaved boy. “Close your eyes.”
 
“Sit with me?” said Chen Pie Sou with a yawn. “You promised . . .”
 
“I will.” He would stay until the boy slept. A little more delay. Muy Fa had insisted that Chen Kai remain for the New Year celebration, never mind that the coins from their poor autumn’s harvest were almost gone. What few coins there were, after the landlord had taken his portion of the crop. Chen Kai had conceded that it would be bad luck to leave just before the holiday and agreed to stay a little longer. Now, a few feet away in their one-room home, Muy Fa scraped the tough skin of rice from the bottom of the pot for the next day’s porridge. Chen Kai smoothed his son’s hair. “If you are to grow big and strong, you must sleep.” Chen Pie Sou was as tall as his father’s waist. He was as big as any boy of his age, for his parents often accepted the knot of hunger in order to feed him.
 
“Why . . .” A hesitation, the choosing of words. “Why must I grow big and strong?” A fear in the tone, of his father’s absence.
 
“For your ma, and your ba.” Chen Kai tousled his son’s hair. “For China.”
 
Later that night, Chen Kai was to board a train. In the morning, he would arrive at the coast, locate a particular boat. A village connection, a cheap passage without a berth. Then, a week on the water to reach Cholon. This place in Indochina was just like China, he had heard, except with money to be made, from both the Annamese and their French rulers.
 
With his thick, tough fingers, Chen Kai fumbled to undo the charm that hung from his neck. He reached around his son’s neck as if to embrace him, carefully knotted the strong braid of pig gut. Chen Pie Sou searched his chest, and his hand recognized the family good luck charm, a small, rough lump of gold.
 
“Why does it have no design, ba?” said Chen Pie Sou. He was surprised to be given this valuable item. He knew the charm. He also knew the answers to his questions. “Why is it just a lump?”
 
“Your ancestor found it this way. He left it untouched rather than having it struck or moulded, to remind his descendants that one never knows the form wealth takes, or how luck arrives.”
 
“How did he find it?” Chen Pie Sou rubbed its blunted angles and soft contours with the tips of his fingers. It was the size of a small lotus seed. He pressed it into the soft place in his own throat. Nearby, his mother, Muy Fa, sighed with impatience. Chen Pie Sou liked to ask certain things, despite knowing the response.
 
“He pried it from the Gold Mountain in a faraway country. This was the first nugget. Much more was unearthed, in a spot everyone had abandoned. The luck of this wealth brought him home.”
 
It was cool against Chen Pie Sou’s skin. Now, his right hand gripped his father’s. “Where you are going, are there mountains of gold?”
 
“That is why I’m going.”
 
“Ba,” said Chen Pie Sou intently. He pulled at the charm. “Take this with you, so that its luck will keep you safe and bring you home.”
 
“I don’t need it. I’ve worn it for so long that the luck has worked its way into my skin. Close your eyes.”
 
“I’m not sleepy.”
 
“But in your dreams, you will come with me. To the Gold Mountain.”
 
Chen Kai added a heaping shovel of coal to the embers beneath the kang. Muy Fa, who always complained that her husband indulged their son, made a soft noise with her tongue.
 
“Don’t worry, dear wife. I will find so much money in Indochina that we will pile coal into the kang all night long,” boasted Chen Kai. “And we will throw out the burned rice in the bottom of that pot.”
 
“You will come back soon?” asked Chen Pie Sou, his eyes closed now. Chen Kai squeezed his son’s shoulder. “Sometimes, you may think I am far away. Not so. Whenever you sleep, I am with you in your dreams.”
 
 “But when will you return?”
 
“As soon as I have collected enough gold.”
 
“How much?”
 
“Enough . . . at the first moment I have enough to provide for you, and your mother, I will be on my way home.”
 
The boy seized his father’s hand in both of his. “Ba, I’m scared.”
 
“Of what?”
 
“That you won’t come back.”
 
“Shh . . . there is nothing to worry about. Your ancestor went to the Gold Mountain, and this lump around your neck proves that he came back. As soon as I have enough to provide for you, I will be back.”
 
As if startled, the boy opened his eyes wide and struggled with the nugget, anxious to get it off. “Father, take this with you. If you already have this gold, it will not take you as long to collect what you need.”
 
“Gwai jai,” said Chen Kai, and he calmed the boy’s hands with his own. “I will find so much that such a little bit would not delay me.”
 
“You will sit with me?”
 
“Until you are asleep. As I promised.” Chen Kai stroked his son’s head.
 
“Then you will see me in your dreams.”
 
Chen Pie Sou tried to keep his eyelids from falling shut. They became heavy, and the kang was especially warm that night. When he woke into the cold, bright morning, his breath was like the clouds of a speeding train, wispy white—vanishing. His mother was making the breakfast porridge, her face tear-stained. His father was gone.
 
The boy yelled, “Ma! It’s my fault!”
 
She jumped. “What is it?”
 
“I’m sorry,” sobbed Chen Pie Sou. “I meant to stay awake. If I had, ba would still be here.”
 
1966, Cholon, Vietnam
It was a new morning towards the end of the dry season, early enough that the fleeting shade still graced the third-floor balcony of the Percival Chen English Academy. Chen Pie Sou, who was known to most as Headmaster Percival Chen, and his son, Dai Jai, sat at the small wicker breakfast table, looking out at La Place de la Libération.
 
The market girls’ bright silk ao dais glistened. First light had begun to sweep across their bundles of cut vegetables for sale, the noodle sellers’ carts, the flame trees that shaded the sidewalks, and the flower sellers’ arrangements of blooms. Percival had just told Dai Jai that he wished to discuss a concerning matter, and now, as the morning drew itself out a little further, was allowing his son some time to anticipate what this might be.
 
Looking at his son was like examining himself at that age. At sixteen, Dai Jai had a man’s height, and, Percival assumed, certain desires. A boy’s impatience for their satisfaction was to be expected. Like Percival, Dai Jai had probing eyes, and full lips. Percival often thought it might be his lips which gave him such strong appetites, and wondered if it was the same for his son. Between Dai Jai’s eyebrows, and traced from his nose around the corners of his mouth, the beginnings of creases sometimes appeared. These so faint that no one but his father might notice, or recognize as the earliest outline of what would one day become a useful mask. Controlled, these lines would be a mask to show other men, hinting at insight regarding a delicate situation, implying an unspoken decision, or signifying nothing except to leave them guessing. Such creases were long since worn into the fabric of Percival’s face, but on Dai Jai they could still vanish—to show the smooth skin of a boy’s surprise. Now, they were slightly inflected, revealed Dai Jai’s worry over what his father might want to discuss, and concealed nothing from Percival. That was as it should be. Already, Percival regretted that he needed to reprimand his son, but in such a situation, it was the duty of a good father.

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