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Holiday Reading List

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Great books I'd love to read over Christmas.

    The Golden Hill

    New York, a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, 1746. One rainy evening in November, a handsome young stranger fresh off the boat pitches up at a counting-house door in Golden Hill Street: this is Mr Smith, amiable, charming, yet strangely determined to keep suspicion simmering. For in his pocket, he has what seems to be an order for a thousand pounds, a huge amount, and he won't explain why, or where he comes from, or what he can be planning to do in the colonies that requires so much money. Should the New York merchants trust him? Should they risk their credit and refuse to pay? Should they befriend him, seduce him, arrest him; maybe even kill him? An astonishing first novel, as stuffed with incident as a whole shelf of conventional fiction, Golden Hill is both a book about the eighteenth century, and itself a novel cranked back to the form's eighteenth century beginnings, when anything could happen on the page, and usually did, and a hero was not a hero unless he ran the frequent risk of being hanged. Rich in language and historical perception, yet compulsively readable, Golden Hill has a plot that twists in every chapter, and a puzzle at its heart that won't let go till the last paragraph of the last page. Set a generation before the American Revolution, it paints an irresistible picture of a New York provokingly different from its later self: but subtly shadowed by the great city to come, and already entirely a place where a young man with a fast tongue can invent himself afresh, fall in love - and find a world of trouble.

    The Opposite of Loneliness

    Marina Keegan's star was on the rise when she graduated from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash. As her family, friends and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, 'The Opposite of Loneliness', went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord. Even though she was just 22 when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina's essays and stories that articulates the universal struggle we all face as we work out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.

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    Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores

    From the beloved New Yorker cartoonist comes a collection of paintings and stories from some of the world’s most cherished bookstores.
    This collection of 75 evocative paintings and colorful anecdotes invites you into the heart and soul of every community: the local bookshop, each with its own quirks, charms, and legendary stories.
    The book features an incredible roster of great bookstores from across the globe and stories from writers, thinkers and artists of our time, including David Bowie, Tom Wolfe, Jonathan Lethem, Roz Chast, Deepak Chopra, Bob Odenkirk, Philip Glass, Jonathan Ames, Terry Gross, Mark Maron, Neil Gaiman, Ann Patchett, Chris Ware, Molly Crabapple, Amitav Ghosh, Alice Munro, Dave Eggers, and many more.
    Page by page, Eckstein perfectly captures our lifelong love affair with books, bookstores, and book-sellers that is at once heartfelt, bittersweet, and cheerfully confessional.

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    Beloved Poison

    'It's rare that a book is Gothic enough for me, but Beloved Poison is killing it. The blood, the bones, the crumbling hospital . . .' Laura Purcell, author of The Silent Companions Set in a crumbling hospital in the 1850s, Beloved Poison is a richly atmospheric debut, perfect for fans of Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent and Sarah Waters. x x x Ramshackle and crumbling, St Saviour's Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealousy and hatred seethe beneath the veneer of professional courtesy. Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing. And then six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried flowers and a bundle of mouldering rags. When Jem comes across these strange relics hidden inside the infirmary's old chapel, her quest to understand their meaning prises open a long-forgotten past - with fatal consequences . . . x x x Praise for E.S. Thomson 'Meticulously researched and masterfully plotted, E.S. Thomson has written a complex, harrowing and highly enjoyable tale' Daily Express 'Here's a tale of Victorian London to freeze your blood on a cold winter's night' Evening Telegraph 'Jem Flockhart's London is vivid, pungent and perilous. The Blood takes you to places you will love to picture but be grateful you can't smell' Chris Brookmyre 'E. S. Thompson's Jem Flockhart books are the best I've read in years. Jem is just my kind of heroine: scarred, smart, complex, and unapologetically queer' Kirsty Logan, author of The Gracekeepers 'Jem Flockhart is a marvel . . . This vivid journey into the dark side of the human soul is a thoroughly engrossing tale' Mary Paulson Ellis, author of The Other Mrs Walker 'Deliciously dark and vividly atmospheric, menace oozes from every page. Terrific for lovers of historical noir' Saga 'A first class piece of historical crime writing' Big Issue A marvellous, vivid book ... immaculately researched and breathtakingly dark' Janet Ellis, author of The Butcher's Hook

    The Start of Something

    `A poet of the short story, Stuart Dybek is a strange and exceptional talent... Impressive.' Phil Baker, Sunday Times An Observer Book of the Year Nineteen tales of growing up, wising up and falling in love Spanning more than three decades of prize-winning work By a North American master of the short story What are you waiting for? Welcome to the world of Stuart Dybek, where lovelorn adolescents rub shoulders with hard-boiled gangsters and scarf-clad babushkas jostle for attention among jaded academics. Where memory collides with imagination. And where seduction is the order of the day. With an impeccable ear for the language of the streets, Dybek has rightly been heralded as one of Chicago's foremost chroniclers. But The Start of Something reveals a writer who has simultaneously dedicated his career to a more ambitious project - exploring the art of the short story from every angle. By turn sexy and violent, funny and poignant, the stories in this definitive introduction to a lifetime's work let you discover what those in the know have long been saying: Stuart Dybek is a master of the form.

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