June 20, 2016

Looking for something to read this summer? Trust us, we’re professionals.


Ah, summer. The season of cold brews, killer barbecue, and beach reading. Which, in turn, means it’s also the season of booklists. Lots and lots of booklists.

Well, we don’t want to be caught off-trend, so the Melville House staff has come together to produce a list of our own — here are the books we’ll be carrying around this summer, redolent of sunscreen and appropriately dog-eared:


Wah-Ming Chang (managing editor):
The Subsidiary by Matías Celedón
Translated by Samuel Rutter

The Subsidiary white“I like short books. And art in short books. And also Chilean writers! I also like short books that scare the crap out of me. What luck, then, for us to be publishing Matías Celedón’s unnerving novel The Subsidiary. This is a story about an office worker losing his way in a power outage and finding out just how the darkness can twist people’s actions, including his own. Celedón created each page using a stamp set he found in Santiago, and documented the narrator’s bureaucracies and breakdown in spare, intimate observations. Hold The Subsidiary as a thing of beauty, read it as a book of horror—and keep a flashlight handy.”


Ian Dreiblatt (director of digital media):
The Anatomy of Inequality by Per Molander

The Anatomy Of Inequality white“America’s waking up—discussion of economic inequality, and the innumerable other issues wired through it, has reached a generational high-water mark. When you’re ready for a vacation from your summer vacation, Per Molander offers a detour back to difficult—and crucially important—realities about why the world’s richest societies tend also to be its most unequal. With stopovers in ancient Sumeria and Egypt, hang-time with chimpanzees, and a fantastic account of the birth of aviation—but most of all with piercing intelligence and stunning data—The Anatomy of Inequality has a great role to play in conversations America has finally begun having about who has what, who doesn’t, why, and what it all means.”


Marina Drukman (art director):
A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar

A Man Lies Dreaming White“An exhilarating mix of noir and shund, this book is for those who like unexpected, rule-breaking, genre-bending, adventurous writing. An alternative history with a double plot: one of a man dreaming in Auschwitz, and another where Hitler is a private detective, searching for a missing Jewish girl in the dark alleys of London. Weird, twisted, and absolutely brilliant.”


Chad Felix (manager of library and academic marketing):
Death by Video Game by Simon Parkin

Death By Video Game white“For a while, painters painted rich people and landscapes. Similarly, video games used to only be about saving princesses and collecting coins. But then came That Dragon, Cancer, then came No Man’s Sky, then came Minecraft and Papers, Please. These are games that tell different stories, make different demands. Furthermore, they represent the rise of a new, largely independent, gaming industry. Death by Video Game is Simon Parkin’s smart, entertaining, and thought-provoking account of this brave new world—its quirks, threats, depths, and dangers.”


Julia Fleischaker (director of marketing and publicity):
The Money Cult by Chris Lehmann

The Money Cult white“Pretty much everything Chris Lehmann writes is brilliant and so it’s no surprise that The Money Cult is as well. The editor-in-chief of The Baffler has written a “tour de force” (that’s not me talking, that’s the New York Times Book Review), dispelling the myth that religion and capitalism haven’t always been co-dependent. Lehmann takes us from Benjamin Franklin to Joel Osteen, and in a year where Donald Trump is an actual, this is real life, candidate for President of the United States, it makes for a bracing, timely read.”


Bailey Flynn (intern):
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
Translated by Michael Hofmann

Every Man Dies Alone Movie Tie-In white“From the very first page, a book that delivers on its promise to be moving, illuminating, and completely immersive. Equal parts horror and humanity, this account of a grieving couple’s rebellion against the Nazi regime in Berlin will leave you with a greater understanding of our responsibilities in this world, and a deepened sense of what literature can do.”


Nikki Griffiths (managing director, Melville House UK):
Trainwreck by Sady Doyle

“If you’re looking for an eye-opening, provocative, and frankly quite inspiring read, Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck is it. Examining the female ‘trainwreck’ from Miley Cyrus to Britney Spears, Sylvia Plath to Mary Wollstonecraft, Doyle helps us understand what these women’s crimes are and why they offend us so much. And, importantly, why we need to stop passing these harsh judgements so easily and readily, making the world a more just place for women to live. There is so much to relate to in this well-written and witty book, and it will certainly make you think twice. A great read to round off the summer season, coming in September.”


Ryan Harrington (editor):
Viking Economics by George Lakey

Viking Economics white“I know what you’re thinking: why in the world would this wonky Nordic economics book be my beach read this summer? Because you’re wrong about what this book is! And you’re wrong if you think that the high standard of living enjoyed by Scandinavian citizens couldn’t exist elsewhere—even in the U.S. In this refreshing and funny investigation, George Lakey explains that if you structure a society around freedom and equality—a re-design that the Scandinavians fought for inspiringly recently—then a smaller income gap, reduced unemployment, happier workers, healthier citizens, and a thriving environment will all follow.”


Kait Howard (publicist):
The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz
Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette

The Queue white“Basma Abdel Aziz is a brave Egyptian dissident who originally studied neuropsychiatry and spent over a decade treating victims of torture at the nonprofit Nadeem Center in Cairo. Her novel The Queue is a moving indictment of authoritarianism that grapples squarely with the failures of the Arab Spring. While it should be compared to classic dystopian works like The Trial and 1984—as well as to Vladimir Sorokin’s great, Soviet-era novel of the same name—it’s unique in its detailed depiction of everyday life in an unnamed city resembling Cairo. Basma’s characters are brilliantly drawn, and it’s fascinating to watch how they each respond to their circumstances in different—and surprising—ways.”


Dennis Johnson (co-founder, co-publisher):
The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay

The Mirror Thief white“If this isn’t the ultimate escape novel I don’t know what is: Travel back in time to 16th-century Venice tracking a man trying to steal the leading technology of the day — the all-new, flat-surface, silver-backed crystal mirror — which is a crime punishable by death. So how does that relate to the Beatnik scene in Venice Beach, California in 1958? Or to card-sharking in the Venetian casino in 2003 Las Vegas? The answers are what make this book one of those old-fashioned, totally absorbing, stay-up-all-night-just-to-read-one-more-chapter books you’ll never forget.”


Hannah Koerner (intern):
Not on Fire, But Burning by Greg Hrbek

NotOnFireButBurning“This book moves straight from a devastating prologue to a quiet family drama, then finishes off with a rapid-paced sci-fi thriller ending. There’s something for everyone, and somehow all of it manages to be a complex and thoughtful look at human agency and goodness that never gets unwieldy or convoluted.”


Valerie Merians (co-founder, co-publisher):
Golden Delicious by Christopher Boucher

Golden Delicious white“I have a special affection for Christopher Boucher’s groundbreaking novel Golden Delicious. It is the most stylistically innovative, yet heartfelt, fiction I have ever read. As George Saunders said, Golden Delicious is ‘a crazed, beautiful book—a joyful example of necessary experimentation, i.e., an experiment whose purpose is to accommodate more beauty and truth… Boucher makes the world come alive by making language come alive.’ It’s a simple coming of age story, that blows the roof off that genre.”


Liam O’Brien (senior sales and marketing manager):
The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure by C.D. Rose

The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure PB“You know what sucks about summer? All the pressure to have fun and be happy. I think everyone who experiences a lot of social anxiety around enjoying themselves would benefit deeply from this book because it’s a powerful reminder that no matter what, life is inherently absurd and failure is absolutely an option — a hilarious and inspiring option at that.”


Simon Reichley (assistant to the publishers):
Networks of New York by Ingrid Burrington

Networks Of New York white“The best thing about Networks of New York is that it simultaneously demystifies everyday life in urban America and imbues it with enchantment. Burrington’s lucid and detailed taxonomy of street markings and manhole covers gives the reader a set of tools for navigating a previously arcane and impenetrable realm of life in New York City. And her canny analyses of high-frequency trading and a monopolized telecom industry constantly point to the vast, even planetary scale of the modern urban network, and remind us that we are literally living inside of the most complex piece of technology ever conceived.”


Taylor Sperry (editor):
The Insides by Jeremy P. Bushnell

The Insides whiteThe Insides is the story of a woman who was once an amateur street magician, has become a butcher at a restaurant in Chelsea, and suddenly finds herself in possession of a knife so deliciously mysterious that it’s made her the object of a manhunt. It’s funny and exuberant, packed with magic and adventure, and the perfect caper for any summer reading list. (And after you’ve read that, go back to Jeremy’s debut, The Weirdness, which we published in 2014.)”


Jessica Yung (intern):
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
Translated by Michael Emmerich

The Lake PB“Summer is supposed to be the time to read romance novels—but, if you’re anything like me, only ones don’t make you nauseous. For that, I suggest Banana Yoshimoto’s 2011 novel The Lake, a story about two young neighbors in Tokyo brought together by their personal histories of loss. The book’s world, for the most part, occupies a mundane space, but oftentimes dips into the magical, the puzzling and dreamlike. It’s an emotional and mysterious read, one you can easily finish in an afternoon but that will linger for days.”



If you like these (spoiler alert: you will like these), stay tuned. Besides this list of our own books, we’re also working on a list of summer favorites that Melville House, through some bizarre hiccup of fate, happens not to have published. (We know: weird, right?)