The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards follows an uninspired writer who attempts to bend the truths around him into a compelling work of fiction. Jansma's whole book is built of nested metafictional vignettes: an author writing about authors writing about authors. This is a book not about what happens but how that story is told, and while that's a bold thesis for a novel, it doesn't leave room for much else to succeed.
Stephen King fans - you're going to love Tessiegirl's Stephen King Universe Flowchart, a comprehensive mapping of the intricately interwoven world of Stephen King characters! Kind of difficult to read online? No worries, there. The Stephen King flowchart is available in print, self-published by the artist.
Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being is a story about a Japanese-American novelist named Ruth who, while walking the beach of her small island, happens upon a diary that has washed ashore. The diary, belonging to a 16-year-old Japanese girl named Naoko, reveals a narrative so compelling that it draws Ruth into the world of the storyteller in a fantastic exploration of story, how we make it and how it makes us.
Jared Diamond, the author of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel, delivers a fascinating portrait of primitive societies in The World Until Yesterday based upon research and his own experience living among New Guinea Highlanders. Diamond is an astute thinker draws his readers into considering the modern world in light of the experience of our predecessors.
Stuart Nadler's novel Wise Men tells the story of Hilly Wise, the wealthy son of the infamous aviation attorney Arthur Wise. As Wise Men spans Hilly's life, the reader finds the protagonist torn between living in his father's shadow and forging his own path.
Photo: Little, Brown and Company
Edogawa Ranpo's The Strange Tale of Panorama Island follows Hirosuke Hitomi, a struggling writer who dreams of creating a natural utopia. When a wealthy acquaintance of Hirosuke's passes away, a plan is put into motion for Hirosuke to steal the identity of the deceased. With money from the dead man's estate, Hirosuke might now have the means to build the Arcadian world he's always imagined.
Photo: University of Hawaii Press
Berry Rydell never envisioned his fall from respected police officer to driving a bounty hunter around San Francisco, just as Chevette Washington never imagined that a spontaneous act of pick-pocketing would land her in so much trouble. In William Gibson's 1993 novel Virtual Light, the pair find themselves in possession of a pair of virtual reality glasses and in flight from bad guys who will do anything to get them.
If you've never read William Gibson, or perhaps have only delved into his more recent novels (of which Pattern Recognition is the best), Check out Virtual Light, the first book in the author's 1990s Bridge Trilogy.
Photo: Bantam Books
The conventional view of Jane Austen as "dear Aunt Jane" is put irrevocably to rest in The Real Jane Austen, a superb new and insightful biography showing Austen to be a woman more modern, more aware, and much tougher than the image that evolves from her novels and previous biographies.
Last night, as part of World Book Night 2013, my 12-year-old daughter Rowan and I gave out 20 copies of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Though we stood among 20,000 volunteers worldwide, we were but two individuals in our community approaching random passersby with a bit of an odd query.
"Would you like a free book?"
"Would you like a copy of David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day?"
"Hi. It's World Book Night and we're giving away free books..."
Many approaches and many reactions. Some had heard of David Sedaris, mostly from the radio. A couple of our targets had read actually read him. Where Rowan took the lead we were met with far less suspicion than when I did. Note to self: Lead with the whole World Book Night thing, because if you start with "Want a free book?" folks are mostly like, "No, I'm good," looking at me sideways as they quicken their pace.
Nevertheless it was an unqualified success. We began the night with 20 books and we ended with zero. 500,000 books were handed out across the world last night, and I can personally speak for 20 individuals who will be richer for it.
Jim and Bob Burgess return to their childhood hometown of Shirley Falls, Maine to guide their sister and her son through a difficult legal situation. The Burgess Boys tells the story of a dangerously misinterpreted prank but grows into a sweeping meditation on family, memory, and the true meaning of home.
Photo: Random House