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With the temps frighteningly low, there are—as far as we see it—two options for weeknight unwinding. One: Binge on the Netflix series of your choice. Or two: pick up a book, for Pete's sake.
In case you're already up-to-date on Homeland, we asked the staffers of Lincoln Square's Book Cellar (one of the coziest spots we know) to fill is on on their picks for winter page-turners. From a spine-tingling tome to short stories that will leave you "refreshed and exhausted," here's what the city's finest book sellers recommend as an antidote to cabin fever.
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace."Don't read this if you're uncomfortable laughing out loud in crowds of strangers. David Foster Wallace's essays are not only fiercely intelligent and minutely perceptive, they're hilarious. Follow him on a series of misadventures including a trip to the Illinois State Fair, a visit to David Lynch's film set, and the eponymous story about a week-long luxury cruise that'll leave your abs hurting from laughter—when it's not bowling you over from amazement."
Pieces for the Left Hand, by J. Robert Lennon. "This book is deceiving: it's told in a series of 100 very short, very profound stories. Some are two pages, some are two paragraphs, some are two lines. But every single one imparts some fascinating perspective and bit of wisdom. You'll feel paradoxically refreshed and exhausted when you finish. You can read an excerpt here."
The Passage, by Justin Cronin. "This is the first in a trilogy—the second book is titled The Twelve, the final book is forthcoming—and everyone at the bookstore knows I'm kind of obsessed with it. Premise: The year is 2018. An experiment in a Colorado research facility goes awry. Society crumbles within months. You'll think you know what happens next. You'll be wrong. Within the folds of this post-apocalyptic narrative we meet an array of intricate characters: a bereaved FBI agent, a faithful centenarian, a death-row inmate innocent of any crime, twelve men who control the minds of millions, and a six-year-old girl who alone holds the key to rebuilding the world. An emotional, challenging read for lovers of The Stand, Firestarter, and The Road."
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz. "I had a seven-hour layover once in Frankfurt and lucked out to find a pretty solid English language bookstore. Diaz's first novel is about as riveting and exciting a piece of lit fiction can get these days, and is powered by this absolutely singular voice."
Tenth of December, by George Saunders. It's insane to think Saunders was laboring for so long in the literary underground before his breakout collection, Tenth of December, got him so much attention. But it's all really worth it: his voices, his concepts, his resolutions. No one can write endings like Saunders, and each and every story in this book shows it. Laugh and cry and laugh."
A Naked Singularity, by Sergio de la Pava. "A Naked Singularity has about the weirdest publishing history you can get, first put out as a self-published novel, the death-knell of most fiction, and eventually picked up by The University of Chicago Press. But it's a massive, moving, insane piece of the literary high and popular low and everything in between. Part legal novel, part heist story, written with the kind of hard-hitting prose and ideas that makes you think of Dostoevsky and Melville as much as Wallace and Gaddis. Don't be scared. Go for it."
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. "I learned about this book at a conference, brought it with me on the plane ride home and finished it as we were landing. This memoir is riveting and brave."
Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman. "This page-turning novel alternates chapters between contemporary Africa with late 1800's Africa. It combines beautiful description with terrific adventure and will set the mood for not only an African trip but any vacation into the wild."
Night Film by Marisha Pessl. "This is perfect to read in a crowded place. The creep factor is high so it is reassuring to read this spine-crawling story with numerous people nearby."
John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence Norfolk. "This historic novel has the perfect combination of witchcraft, love, and war."
· The Book Cellar Inc [Official Site]
· The Perfect Book for Holiday Travel [Racked New York]
· All Book Cellar Inc coverage [Racked Chicago]