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February 13, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
A new year means a new wave of literature to plunge into headfirst. So Vox called on four local bibliophiles to find the books that will make the biggest splash around Columbia this spring. Think witty riffs on Aesop’s fables and race-against-the-clock sci-fi thrillers. Cozy up, find a cat and let this definitive list inspire and enthrall you into spring.
March 25; $3.99
Russell’s dystopian novel tells of a society that urges healthy sleepers to donate sleep to cure a plague of insomnia. Earlier works such as Swamplandia! and St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves gathered Russell props from Chevalier for her ability to craft complex characters and imaginative worlds.
April 1; $27
The author of 2010’s coming-of-age thriller Room brings us this murder-mystery period piece set within the cinematic backdrop of San Francisco’s Gilded Age. “Donoghue just does such interesting and unusual things in her writing, so I’ll be interested to see what she does with this,” Chevalier says.
The Weight of Blood
March 11; $26
Columbia-based author Laura McHugh’s debut novel is a darkly suspenseful murder-mystery set in the depths of the Ozark Mountains. Two inexplicable disappearances intersect, and 16-year-old Lucy Dane feels compelled to put the riddles to rest. “I’ve gotten to read a few chapters of it, and it’s excellent,” Parssinen says. “It’s definitely a thriller and a page-turner.”
April 8; $40
“Maggie is someone I would classify as one of the most promising young writers around,” Parssinen says. Astonish Me, Shipstead’s sophomore novel, blends Cold War-era political intrigue with a grand background set in the world of ballet.
This love story is defined by a passionate affair between an American dancer and an accomplished Russian ballet star turned political defect.
May 13; $24.99
A story of young parents sending off summer at a beach house, Cutting Teeth unveils a deliberate exploration into the crossroads of friendships, family life and class status. “Julia is someone I’ve always admired as a teacher, probably the best fiction teacher I’ve ever had, so I imagine there’s a lot for me to learn as an author by reading her books,” Parssinen says.
Feb. 11; $18.99
Bick got her start publishing the sort of dystopian trilogies that are entirely too common in young adult lit, Yancey says. White Space, however, seems to show her branching out into cool new territory. Bick’s recursive young adult novel explores a character who finds herself dropped into the world of the story she had written. White Space plays with the traditional mechanics of narrative as Bick blurs nested layers of reality.
The Ring and the Crown
Melissa de la Cruz
April 1; $17.99
Detailing love and political chess in an alternate version of Georgian-era Europe, The Ring and the Crown unravels an intriguing and complex story of magic, monarchies and betrayal. “With all the hype around Game of Thrones, this seems to be a YA version of that,” Yancey says.
Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman
Feb. 11; $16.99
Tesla’s Attic, the first in Shusterman’s Accelerati series, is the offbeat yet imaginative story of two brothers who find the undiscovered inventions of Nikolas Tesla in their attic. “Shusterman’s books are wildly popular at my library,” Yancey says. “They are never in for more than one day, so I’ll definitely be ordering this.”
MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction
Feb. 25; $16
Chad Harbach originally published his essay examining the American publishing landscape in The New York Times. Building around this idea, Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding, along with other contributors, delve into the division between New York publishers and MFA scholarly programs. MFA vs. NYC is sure to be an insightful read for aspiring writers, Jones says.
And the Dark Sacred Night
April 1; $26.95
A sort of spiritual successor to Three Junes, Glass’ first novel, her newest book tells the story of Kit Noonan’s search to discover his father’s identity. Jones says that the novel picks up on a lot of the plot threads and characters from Three Junes a few years down the line and brings them into a new story.
Talking to Ourselves
April 8; $23
The first of Neuman’s work translated into English,Talking to Ourselves explores family relationships and loss through this poignant on-the-road story. “The relationships we have with our parents are very different from the relationship our parents have with us, and these perspectives are a great way of showing that,” Jones says.