The best binge reads for book gluttons

Who am I?

When it comes to books, I’m a wanna-be glutton, always on the lookout for the next story that strips my will, leaving me with no choice but to read it from cover to cover in a single sitting; the kind that forces me to gobble up the words even when I’d prefer to savor them slowly.  I want a story to be a compulsion, the kind that keeps me up all night, feels like a roller coaster ride, and leaves me exhausted the following day.  I call them my binge reads, and there have been quite a few, but here are the first five to come to mind.


I wrote...

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster

By Scott Wilbanks,

Book cover of The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster

What is my book about?

Annabelle Aster doesn't bow to convention-not even that of space and time-which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.

Annie and Elsbeth's search for an explanation for the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery-and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen...and yet somehow already did.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Night Circus

Scott Wilbanks Why did I love this book?

Let’s begin with the sheer virtuosity of Ms. Morgenstern’s imagination then follow it up with her extraordinary ability to realize it with words. This is one of my favorite stand-alone works in one of my favorite genres—fantasy—and tells the story of a circus that arrives without warning, is open only at night, and is like no other circus you’ve ever experienced. It’s a story about fierce competition, life, death, but above all else… love.

By Erin Morgenstern,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Night Circus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TIKTOK SENSATION

Rediscover the million-copy bestselling fantasy read with a different kind of magic, now in a stunning anniversary edition to mark 10 years since it's paperback debut.

The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Against the grey sky the towering tents are striped black and white. A sign hanging upon an iron gates reads:

Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

Full of breath-taking amazements and open only at night, Le Cirque des Reves seems to cast a spell over all who wander its circular paths. But behind the glittering acrobats, fortune-tellers…


Book cover of Everything I Never Told You

Scott Wilbanks Why did I love this book?

Nobody understands better than Ms. Ng that the driver of story is not in the plot’s arc, but within the protagonist’s head as she or he struggles to make sense of it. Everything I Never Told You reveals how the toxic expectations of a mother who accepts nothing but excellence from her children dismantles everything she loves. Ms. Ng’s ability to map a character’s tragic flaws and the internal struggles that result is unparalleled. I think I hate her. (Just kidding.)

By Celeste Ng,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Everything I Never Told You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed debut novel by the author of Little Fires Everywhere and Our Missing Hearts

"A taut tale of ever deepening and quickening suspense." -O, the Oprah Magazine

"Explosive . . . Both a propulsive mystery and a profound examination of a mixed-race family." -Entertainment Weekly

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia's body…


Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Scott Wilbanks Why did I love this book?

The LOTR trilogy induced my first out-of-body experience. I became the tenth member of the fellowship as we traveled across Middle Earth to the Cracks Of Doom. Whenever I need a little escape from my current circumstances (and I have many times), I revisit the series. My journey as a writer began with it.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…


Book cover of The Vampire Lestat

Scott Wilbanks Why did I love this book?

How is it possible to empathize with, even love, something that is inherently evil?  Enter Lestat, the vampire. Once an aristocrat in pre-revolutionary France, now a centuries-hopping demon, Lestat is utterly alive, possessing an unquenchable appetite for adventure, all despite being a member of the undead. This book reads like foreplay feels, leaves me giddy, as if my blood is slowly being drained away… (See what I did there?)

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Vampire Lestat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestselling author - Surrender to fiction's greatest creature of the night - Book II of the Vampire Chronicles

The vampire hero of Anne Rice’s enthralling novel is a creature of the darkest and richest imagination. Once an aristocrat in the heady days of pre-revolutionary France, now a rock star in the demonic, shimmering 1980s, he rushes through the centuries in search of others like him, seeking answers to the mystery of his eternal, terrifying exsitence. His is a mesmerizing story—passionate, complex, and thrilling.

Praise for The Vampire Lestat
 
“Frightening, sensual . . . Anne Rice will…


Book cover of Riddle-Master

Scott Wilbanks Why did I love this book?

You know that smell, the one that reminds you of the happiest moments in your childhood? Mine is freshly mown grass. Whenever I smell it, I’m a little boy jumping over the water sprinkler in our front yard with my sister. This trilogy triggers something as poignant every time I read about the young farmer who has an uncanny talent for unraveling all riddles except one: why are there three stars on his forehead? Set in the age after the great wizards have disappeared from the world, Morgon must find the answer before the nameless ones find him.

By Patricia A. McKillip,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Riddle-Master as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For over twenty years, World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip has captured the hearts and imaginations of thousands of readers. Now at last her renowned Riddle-Master trilogy–The Riddle-Master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, and Harpist in the Wind–long out of print, is collected in one volume.

It is considered her most enduring and beloved work. Now it is collected in one volume for the first time–the epic journeys of a young prince in a strange land, where wizards have long since vanished...but where magic is waiting to be reborn.


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A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

Book cover of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

Janet Hulstrand Author Of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Editor Francophile Minnesotan Once and forever Brooklynite

Janet's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This memoir chronicles the lives of three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel. The story begins in 1992 in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn as the author reads a notebook written by her grandmother nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year search to find her grandmother’s journals and uncover the hidden interior lives of her mother and grandmother.

Her adventures take her to a variety of locations, from a small town in Iowa to New York, Washington, London, and Paris—and finally to a little village in France, where she is finally able to write the book that will tell her own story, intertwined with the stories of her mother and grandmother.

A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France

By Janet Hulstrand,

What is this book about?

This story, about three generations of women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel, begins in 1992, in an unfinished attic in Brooklyn, as a young writer reads journals written by her grandmother as a schoolgirl nearly 100 years earlier. This sets her on a 30-year quest to uncover the hidden lives and unfulfilled dreams of her mother and grandmother. In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, the author comes to realize that the passion for travel and for literature that has fueled her life's journey is a gift that was passed down to her by the very role models she was…


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