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4 New Books You Should Add To Your Reading List ASAP

Some of our recent favorites, as reviewed in the BuzzFeed Books newsletter.

Posted on May 2, 2019, at 5:40 p.m. ET

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1. Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Riverhead Books, Via brywashing.com

In my experience, it is rare that I come across a book that grabs my attention and pulls me into its world while also making me feel like it is part of my own. Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington does all of the above with grace and grit. Lot is a collection of stories that take place in Houston, TX (Bryan’s hometown) and provides a provocative look into the lives of many people who experience devastating, humorous, and life-altering situations. With stories that range from a young man coming to terms with his sexuality, to the plight of an immigrant chauffeur and the drug dealer who employs him, to the kid who can’t let go of the woman he loves and goes to comical lengths to win her back, Lot never lets you forget there is life beyond your own four walls, and it invites you to be a part of the world Bryan has so expertly crafted. — Sharod Duncan

Get it from Amazon for $16.51, Barnes & Noble for $22.50, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

2. 99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai

Viking, Via penguinrandomhouse.com

Kochai’s touching debut novel is a coming-of-age tale that takes the reader on a journey through war-torn contemporary Afghanistan. The story begins with 12-year-old Marwand, who is visiting his extended family in Logar from America. He is eager to make amends with the family guard dog, Budabash, who he tortured six years ago when he was last in Logar, back when his childish sense of morality and empathy had not yet been fully developed. Now, racked with regret, he attempts to apologize to Budabash for his previous behavior when the dog bites a piece of Marwand’s finger off and runs away. Marwand and his cousins immediately set off to look for Budabash, and they run into a series of adventures, dangers, and mythical characters, including thieves and solders, along the way.

99 Nights in Logar is a multilayered novel that is structured with memories and Afghan fables seamlessly weaved into the main narrative. The result reads like a tale that is told by a gifted storyteller, where both sand dunes and drones hold mythical significance. Kochai’s novel poignantly speaks to the importance of family, navigating one’s own identity, and finding a sense of belonging that will speak deeply to all readers. –Olivia Sohn

Get it from Amazon for $15.48, Barnes & Noble for $25, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

3. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Hogarth, Jonny L Davies

Sally Rooney’s latest novel is getting a ton of hype, and absolutely all of it is deserved. After her brilliant debut novel Conversations With Friends, the Irish writer once again explores the fascinating power dynamics and mutual misunderstandings that come with so many relationships. In Normal People, she tells the story of Marianne and Connell, whose complicated relationship starts in high school and spans over some of their most formative years. Rooney shows how dramatic shifts in the power balance between Marianne and Connell affects their relationship. Her writing is precise and acutely insightful, and she has a special talent for capturing fleeting feelings on an almost molecular level. Oh, and it’s also very sexy. A wildly addictive read (seriously, I’ve already devoured it twice and each time in under 48 hours), Normal People is bound to become a modern classic. So get your copy now and thank us later. –Marie Telling

Get it from Amazon for $13.72, Barnes & Noble for $18.20, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

4. Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Nan A. Talese, Annalena McAfee

The 1980s look a bit different in Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me. The Beatles are back together, Argentina has won the Falklands War, Britain is in chaos, and most importantly to the story at hand, famed mathematician Alan Turing is still alive. In this reality, Turing has made leaps and bounds within the world of artificial intelligence, leading to the creation of synthetic humans — 25 to be exact, 12 Adams and 13 Eves. Upon receiving a considerable inheritance in the wake of his mother’s death, Charlie Friend — a generally listless man, unable to hold a job and deeply infatuated with his bright, young upstairs neighbor Miranda — makes the decision to purchase an artificial human for himself. And so Adam enters McEwan’s tale, bringing unexpected complications to Charlie’s life and his relationship with Miranda. Yet the story is less reliant on a love triangle and instead is more about the grey area of what makes us human, and how that uncertainty impacts our understanding of morality, justice, and our interactions with those around us.

While the essence of the story might have been simplified had McEwan chosen to set Machines Like Me in the not-too-distant future, his commitment to telling an alternate history of the 1980s in which Turing lived feels fresh and surprising. Moreover, the book’s exploration of the fine line between machine and mortal is not exactly a novel concept in modern media (I.e. Westworld or Ex Machina) and at times it is unclear if the McEwan’s somewhat incomplete characterization of Miranda is a side effect of Charlie’s distinctly masculine subjectivity or the author’s own biases. Yet McEwan’s undeniable talent for world-building and crafting inventive, compulsively readable prose makes for a genuinely thought-provoking exploration of human nature that challenges expectations of its genre. –Jillian Karande

Get it from Amazon for $17.67, Barnes & Noble for $18.87, or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

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