When they’re not out trying to catch ’em all, the eNotes staff are an elusive bunch. These fantastic enigmas dwell in the depths of Capitol Hill in the heart of Seattle, and spend their days click-click-clacking away behind bright Mac screens to decipher Shakespeare, answering your homework questions, and digging up free money for students. In between celebrating literary holidays and battling the feels, these majestic beings drink in the words of countless literary beasts, ruthlessly ravaging mountains of text. Whether the fantastic beasts are the eNotes staff or the books they’re reading…well, that’s up to you.
Let’s face it: sometimes you need to cry it out. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a lighthearted beach-read, and that’s all well and good, but there are other times when you’re looking for a deep story that can really get you going and start the tears flowing. Then again, even if you’re not the kind of person who cries a lot (there are some who express their emotions in other ways, to be sure), then at the very least, we can all but guarantee you’ll find yourself moved by the following titles. Continue Reading ›
Ah, summer time, the perfect opportunity to pick up a new book and enter a brand new or vaguely familiar world. Pool-side or park-side, a new book is a great way to fill your brightly lit evenings.
Check out our thoughtfully curated suggestions below for some truly gratifying reads. Continue Reading ›
They have dedicated their days to making Hamlet survivable. To making calculus doable and those funky little greek letter things decipherable. They maintain the complex virtual temple of learning that is the website. What is this pantheon, you ask? Who are these noble masters of learning, these repositories of wisdom and knowledge? This is the eNotes staff. And they are reading only great literature, all the time.
Okay. Some of them are reading great literature all of the time. Some of the time. A couple of us. Once in a while. Meet the eNotes staff. Continue Reading ›
Ahhhh, summer! Finally, some time for a bit of pleasure reading. Got a gift certificate you’ve been hanging on to? (Ha. Mine are gone minutes after they hit my hands.) Or maybe you are just overwhelmed with choices and don’t want to waste precious free time on something that isn’t so great. Well, we at eNotes want to help you get the most out of your summer reading
Here are ten suggestions offered by my very well-read friends who occasionally hang up their tweed jackets and loosen their professorial buns (no, not hair). Here you will find a combination of new and older works, both fiction and non-fiction, serious and comedic. So pick a few and let us know what YOU think!
Are you a fan of AMC’s Mad Men and Peggy and Joan in particular? Curious about what life was really like on Madison Avenue in the ’60s? Then you will enjoy Maas’s exploration of life in the ad game in the 1960s and beyond .
A good beach read by a first time novelist. A friend says it is “the only romance novel I’ve ever finished.”
“Suddenly single when her aspiring screenwriter boyfriend takes off for a hot job in L.A., bridal magazine editor Emma Carter is forced to reassess her appearance, her job, and her prospects-and take action. A diverse cast of engaging, occasionally offbeat characters, the hilarious sayings attributed to them, and a fast-paced style facilitated by Emma’s pithy sound-bite “confessions” add to the fun in a lively Manhattan-set story that, while not a true romance, leaves the heroine happily pursuing her dreams and involved in a satisfying romantic relationship. This work may appeal to those who enjoy Bridget Jones-type books and like their stories urban, trendy, and slightly ambiguous. Curnyn is a fiction editor and lives in New York. This is her first novel. ” – Library Journal
“Do give books for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.” ~ Lenore Hershey
So many books, so little time… If you are still floundering about for a good Christmas gift, here is a list that may help. Recently, Flavorwire complied a list of the most recommend books from fifteen respected magazines and newspapers and determined how many times works had been recommended to readers. You can read their full list of dozens of titles here, but here are the top ten of all those titles with the most mentions:
1. Bringing Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Nine recommendations)
The sequel to Hilary Mantel’s 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne BoleynThough he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle.
2. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Seven recommendations)
A finalist for the National Book Award! Three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare with Iraqi insurgents has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America’s most sought-after heroes. Now they’re on a media-intensive nationwide tour to reinvigorate support for the war. On this rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside Destiny’s Child.Among the Bravos is Specialist Billy Lynn. Surrounded by patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers, he is thrust into the company of the Cowboys’ owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Over the course of this day, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.
3. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (Seven recommendations)
While the distance between rich and poor is growing in the U.S., the gap between the haves and have-nots in India is staggering to behold. This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a flimflam slum that has recently sprung up in the western suburbs of the gigantic city of Mumbai, perched tentatively along the modern highway leading to the airport and almost within a stone’s throw of new, luxurious hotels. We first meet Abdul, whose daily grind is to collect trash and sell it; in doing so, he has “lifted his large family above subsistence.” Boo takes us all around the community, introducing us to a slew of disadvantaged individuals who, nevertheless, draw on their inner strength to not only face the dreary day but also ponder a day to come that will, perhaps, be a little brighter. Sympathetic yet objective and eloquently rendered. —Brad Hooper, Booklist
4. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Seven recommendations)
5. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Seven recommendations)
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
“The war tried to kill us in the spring.” So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for.In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.
6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Six recommendations)
On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife Amy disappears. There are signs of struggle in the house and Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect. It doesn’t help that Nick hasn’t been completely honest with the police and, as Amy’s case drags out for weeks, more and more vilifying evidence appears against him. Nick, however, maintains his innocence. Told from alternating points of view between Nick and Amy, Gillian Flynn creates an untrustworthy world that changes chapter-to-chapter. Calling Gone Girl a psychological thriller is an understatement. As revelation after revelation unfolds, it becomes clear that the truth does not exist in the middle of Nick and Amy’s points of view; in fact, the truth is far more dark, more twisted, and more creepy than you can imagine. Gone Girl is masterfully plotted from start to finish and the suspense doesn’t waver for one page. It’s one of those books you will feel the need to discuss immediately after finishing because the ending doesn’t just come; it punches you in the gut. —Caley Anderson
7. Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum (Five Recommendations)
At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain.
8. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (Five recommendations)
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.
9. The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro (Five recommendations)
The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career—1958 to1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.By 1958, as Johnson began to maneuver for the presidency, he was known as one of the most brilliant politicians of his time, the greatest Senate Leader in our history. But the 1960 nomination would go to the young senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. Caro gives us an unparalleled account of the machinations behind both the nomination and Kennedy’s decision to offer Johnson the vice presidency, revealing the extent of Robert Kennedy’s efforts to force Johnson off the ticket.
10. Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon (Four recommendations)
Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.
All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges.