On Friday, April 24, Veronica Roth joined BuzzFeed Books for an hour of chatting with authors Kevin Nguyen, John Scalzi, and C Pam Zhang about their new books, and the quarantine reads they're loving. Here's what they had to say.
Look by Zan Romanoff
"This is a contemporary book about social media, and a girl navigating that space. It's hard for me to summarize! Lulu has a lot of followers, and then something happens that throws her into a tailspin and she has to navigate having an authentic life versus having this whole manufactured life. It's about walking in those two different worlds."
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
"Samantha Mabry is just a beautiful writer. It's about sisters, but also about ghosts, kind of magical realism. It also got, like, thousands of starred reviews. You should definitely read it."
Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
"Coming up is the sequel to Aurora Rising, which is a space adventure. This one's called Aurora Burning but if you haven't read the first, you have time to catch up! If you need a fun sci-fi romp with a gang of misfits — which I always want — this is the book for you."
Kevin Nguyen, author of New Waves, recommends:
Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
"This book is really funny, really snarky. It's about a woman who gets kicked out of her botany PhD, so she steals a bunch of poisonous plants. There's a lot of misplaced admiration. It's really sharp."
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
"This book is very funny. It's about a woman who takes temp jobs that escalate really quickly — almost immediately, she takes a job on a pirate ship. It's contemporary but kind of feels like a much older book, which is just a great zone."
Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby
"Sam Irby is still just one of the funniest writers out there; this is her new essay collection. There's a line where she's at the club and someone confuses her for Roxane Gay, and I was just laughing so hard that I was having trouble breathing."
Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
"It's about a lot of things, but I think it's the best portrait of Asian American isolation. Asian Americans are often just nonpeople, nonbodies, and I've just not seen a writer get at that thing so well."
Barcelona Days by Daniel Riley
"It's got this great concept — it's about a couple that's been together since college and they're getting engaged. They're just like, We haven't slept with enough people! So they each get to sleep with three people. At the opening of the book, they're at dinner in Barcelona on vacation, and the rule is they have to tell each other about their trysts. That's where it starts."
John Scalzi, author of The Last Emperox, recommends:
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
"This book is tremendous. I love the fact that I get to write in the same era that Nora's writing in because she's someone who is just so good that I cannot get away with slacking off."
Otaku by Chris Kluwe
"Chris Kluwe is a former NFL kicker with the Minnesota Vikings who has now become a writer. In Otaku, he sort of tackles the world of misogyny in virtual gaming. It's really cool."
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
"Very recently I was at a signing at a bookstore and they had an ARC of Mary Robinette Kowal's upcoming book in the Calculating Stars series, and it took everything that I had in me not to steal it. If you haven't caught up with Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, now is a really good time."
C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold, recommends:
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
"Because we live in such a distractible time right now, I'm enjoying books that grab your mind and attention through horror tropes. The premise of this one is a young black woman is signed up for mysterious medical experiments, and she's not allowed to tell anyone about them. It's really fucking creepy. There's this one scene in it with teeth that I won't talk about any more, but I think about it once a week. It's absolutely riveting, and also a commentary on the broken medical system and racism, and all of that. Highly recommend."
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
"It's a fully realist novel concerning a black graduate student in the sciences, but there's this creeping awfulness of lived everyday life and the weight of that. It's really wonderful."
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
"I read this when I was very sad and couldn't focus on anything else. You can read it in one night; I think I read it between the hours of 1 and 3 a.m. It's so good. It's about this young girl whose father is obsessed with ancient patriarchal societies, and they sort of live out this reenactment of people in England in centuries ago."
Stories of the Sahara by Sanmao
"This one is a translation. It's a memoir about a Chinese woman who lived in the Sahara for years, and it's actually very funny."