A few weeks ago someone in the 1book140 community (I wish I remembered who) suggested that some of the very best books we might read exist in our rear view mirror—those near-run things, books we nearly selected but didn't. Looking back, many favorites have lost in our monthly voting. Tears have been shed; hair pulled; teeth gnashed. Now, bookies, is the time for redemption. I give you December, the month of second chances. Voting goes until next Wednesday, November 23rd at 9 am Eastern.
Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
Wharton has developed an undeserved reputation as a joyless prude because she sets her novels in upper-crust, turn-of-the-20th-century Manhattan. But in reality her novels are anything but dry: The plot of Custom of the Country sounds like a season of The Real Housewives, complete with social climbing, blackmail, multiple divorces, and suicide.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
This New York Times bestseller tells the story of a woman who tries to profit off the murder of her mother and sisters—and then finds herself learning things about the day of their death that she never imagined. It was nominated for several crime writing awards, but it's not just a genre book. Set in rural Kansas, Dark Places deals with issues of class and poverty that elevate it beyond pulp.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
Two men were instrumental in putting together the first edition of the OED: Scottish professor James Murray, and American Civil War Veteran W.C. Minor, who also happened to be in a mental institution. The Professor and the Madman is a compelling tale about the power of language and the complexities of the human mind.
Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Tales of Jeeves and Wooster from the inimitable comic genius himself. What's that? You say he was up last month? You say he had his chance? Well, he's getting another one. Seriously: There was a lot of support for Wodehouse, and Norton just reissued five Wodehouse classics (including this one), so they're easy to procure. The New Yorker says this about Wodehouse: "Wodehouse is the funniest writer—that is, the most resourceful and unflagging deliverer of fun—that the human race, a glum crowd, has yet produced."
A satirical romance set in the near future that examines our relationship with technology and the future of American fiscal and foreign policy. Check out the James Franco-starring book trailer, plus this profile of Shteyngart by The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal.