Posted in Adult, Fiction

New Year, New Books

According to the New York Times list of best selling books, some likely suspect heavy hitters top the list for 2020 including James Patterson and Ernest Cline. While I totally understand the comfort of a favorite author, why not ring in the New Year with some new authors? Below, I listed three best-selling books or authors of the year and their lesser-known read-alike counterparts.

Did you like Ready Player Two (2020) by Ernest Cline? Try Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (2015) by David Wong. 

Ernest Cline hit the big time in 2011 with his massively popular Ready Player One. You read it. I read it. The neighbor kid read it. It was a satisfying, if vacuous bit of distracting fun, and while I haven’t read the sequel, I suspect RP2 is much the same. Where RP1 was heavy on pop-culture references and 1980s nostalgia, David Wong is all about the future, baby! In Futuristic Violence, protagonist Zoey Ashe unexpectedly inherits billions from her estranged father. She and her cat Stench Machine are then forced to contend with a city full of jacked up monster men out to live-stream her demise. I’ve been a fan of Wong since his days as editor-in-chief over at Cracked, and his genre fiction does not disappoint. How funny is this book? Two words: burrito drone. On the other side of the funny coin is some truly gut-churning (futuristic) violence, so a big heads-up to you on that. 

Bonus rec: Otaku (2020) by Chris Kluwe. Kluwe, a former football-kicking-man for the Minnesota Vikings, wrote this in-part as a response to Gamergate. The world-building in this book is more of a direct analog to the immersive game play featured in RP1, but features a total badass female lead who has more in common with Futuristic Violence’s Zoey Ashe than RP1/2’s Wade Watts. Kluwe might not be the world’s most gifted writer, but he IS a poet with the swears, which I relished. A word of fair warning for y’all macho mens: do not read this if your masculinity is fragile. Not sure how fragile that might be? Then by all means, read the book to find out!

Do you like the Alex Cross series by James Patterson? Try the Mary Russel series by Laurie R. King. 

Alex Cross made his literary debut in Along Came a Spider back in 1993. At the latest count, there are upwards of 30 books in the Alex Cross series to date. By the same token, Laurie R. King has been producing Mary Russel mysteries almost as long and is closing in on 25 books featuring the character of her creation. Her series begins with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (1994) which pairs Mary Russel with the most famous literary character in the world, Sherlock Holmes. He is older now, and living out his dotage in the country staying busy where he can. His unlikely friendship with Mary, who is a kindred spirit of the analytical variety, creates a lifeline for both. It also plunges the duo into dozens of harrowing adventures over the intervening years. If you appreciate the nimble mind of Alex Cross, chances are Mary Russel will appeal to you, as well.

Bonus rec: A Grave Talent (1993) by Laurie R. King. This is the first in another stellar detective fiction series courtesy of King starring Detective Kate Martinelli. I love recommending series because if the first book appeals, chances are the whole series will be a good fit. This is for those among us who might dislike historical genre fiction; the Martinelli series is set in the modern-day. 

Did you like American Dirt (2020) by Jeanine Cummings? Try Where We Come From: A Novel (2019) by Oscar Casares.

The decision to include American Dirt as an Oprah Bookclub pick this year was met with criticism. You can read about the controversy HERE but it boils down to lack of authentic representation. Casares’ 2019 novel gives voice to the Latinx migrant experience through the lens of an unlikely friendship between two Chicano boys. One comes from a privileged home in Houston while the other must stay hidden in a stash house near the Texas border to avoid deportation. The boy from Houston serves as an audience surrogate as he learns about the hardships experienced by his new migrant friend. They are so similar, so why must one contend with such a struggle?

Bonus rec: Fruit of the Drunken Tree (2018) by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. This gorgeous debut novel is set against the bloody chaos of Colombia in the 1990s; this is another examination of how privilege can divide and unite people across time and space. 

All of the books listed above are available through Mead Library and the broader Monarch system. Most are also available via Overdrive/Libby if you prefer an audio or e-reader copy. Contact us for troubleshooting help as well as more book recommendations and read-alikes if your favorite author or genre was not touched on.