STARRED REVIEW
August 01, 2019

The Hold List: Crowd pleasers

STARRED REVIEW
August 01, 2019

The Hold List: Crowd pleasers

August 01, 2019

The Hold List: Crowd pleasers

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Each month, the editors of BookPage share special reading lists—our personal favorites, old and new. Do you have a book you can recommend to anyone, anytime, anywhere? To avid readers, to reluctant readers, to strangers whose tastes are unfamiliar to you? This month, we’re sharing our go-to recs—the books we pass out like free candy.


City of Thieves by David Benioff
Now that David Benioff has tasted screenwriting success, my guess is he won’t return to writing novels. I may be the only person disappointed by this, given the many fans of his TV work (you might have heard of “Game of Thrones”?). Nevertheless, I’ve done my part to recruit more mourners of Benioff’s brief literary career by doling out copies of City of Thieves. Set during the Siege of Leningrad in World War II, this slim little page-turner balances the dark historical backdrop with humor and brio that never veers into flippancy. It’s been a hit with everyone I’ve recommended it to, including my brother, who hadn’t read a book in years before I loaned him my copy. (For the record, he’s now a member of a book club.) —Trisha, Publisher


Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan
Of all the essay collections I’ve read and cherished, this is the one I recommend the most—for its humor, catharsis, revelation, style and sanded-to-a-point precision. John Jeremiah Sullivan is one of the deepest probing, widest ranging, sharpest shooting essayists of our time, and Pulphead is a smorgasbord of his interests—from Axl Rose to “One Tree Hill” to Christian rock festivals to weed. He even has an essay about American cave art, which I usually skip because its contemplative rhythms lull me right to sleep—but I met someone just last week who said it was their favorite of the whole lot. It just goes to show you: There’s truly something for everyone in this collection. —Christy, Associate Editor


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere tells the story of the residents of suburban Shaker Heights, Ohio, and the intersections among them, but such a brief synopsis can hardly do justice to the intricacies of the novel. I became captivated by the wide array of characters I encountered, from cruel perfectionist Mrs. Richardson to her hell-raising, fire-starting daughter. With every complication, twist and heartbreak, I became just a bit more rabid, and by the time I was done with the book, I found myself questioning the very meaning of family, identity, love, art and morality. Those questions are universal, so I have no doubt that any reader will find something to love in Little Fires Everywhere, just as I did. —Olivia, Editorial Intern


Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Amelia Peabody is a forthright British spinster who recently inherited a sizable fortune. Desperate to escape her grasping relatives, she runs off to Egypt to fulfill her dream of seeing the pyramids. Never one for senseless propriety, she marches right onto a dig site—and directly into a fascinating mystery involving a mummy. Radcliffe Emerson, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation, is none too pleased to have his workplace invaded by an inexperienced woman, and his and Amelia’s barbed banter lends the proceedings a hilarious screwball energy and more than a little sex appeal. Elizabeth Peters’ first mystery in this long-running series is a total romp, with an old Hollywood breeziness and a spiky feminist energy. —Savanna, Assistant Editor


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
I almost didn’t choose Exit West as my pick for this month, because I’m starting to feel like a broken record. But I can’t help it. There isn’t a single reader to whom I wouldn’t recommend this book. An unnamed Arabic country teeters on the brink of civil war, and new lovers Saeed and Nadia decide to flee. But in the novel’s version of a global refugee crisis, people flee their countries via magical doorways that deposit them elsewhere. From their home, Saeed and Nadia are transported to Greece, London and eventually California. It’s a slim read with a rich imagination, and at its heart is a love story, as through the lovers’ journey we witness the way a relationship could be shaped by a mad dash for survival. The audiobook is phenomenal, too. The author reads, and his voice is gorgeous. —Cat, Deputy Editor

Crocodile on the Sandbank
By Elizabeth Peters
Grand Central

ISBN 9781455572359

Get the Books

City of Thieves

City of Thieves

By David Benioff
Viking
ISBN 9780670018703
Pulphead

Pulphead

FSG
ISBN 9780374532901
Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

By Celeste Ng
Penguin Press
ISBN 9780735224292
Crocodile on the Sandbank

Crocodile on the Sandbank

By Elizabeth Peters
Grand Central
ISBN 9781455572359
Exit West

Exit West

By Mohsin Hamid
Riverhead
ISBN 9780735212176

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