After making our predictions for the winners of the National Book Awards, we decided to cast a spotlight on two of our handpicked victors— Emily St. John Mandel and John Corey Whaley, nominees for the Fiction and Young People’s Literature categories—and used our BookVibe magic to see what they’re reading.
Suggested by Emily:
The Vacationers by Emma Straub is pretty relatable—it’s a story about a dysfunctional family. For the Posts, a trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is supposed to be a relaxing break from their lives in Manhattan. However, over the course of the vacation, secrets are unearthed, childhood rivalries resurface, and old emotional wounds are brought to life.
Junot Diaz’ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is, for lack of a better word, hilarious—and astoundingly touching. It centers around Oscar, a sweet and overweight nerd who dreams of finding true love. He never gets what he wants, and blames it on a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations. Discover the human capacity to risk it all in the name of love and have a blast in the process.
2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino is about three lost souls who are searching for love, music and hope on the streets of Philadelphia. Follow the stories of a rebellious nine-year-old singer, a lovelorn fifth grade teacher, and a desperate club owner, as their lives intersect in the funniest and most magical ways.
Suggested by John:
Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles is a luminous tale about Julia and how she and her family struggle to adapt after the rotation of the earth changes. The days and nights are longer, gravity is affected, and the state of nature is in disarray. Navigate the hardships of growing up in an altered world with Julia as she faces obstacles such as the vulnerability of first love.
Stephen King’s The Shining is terrifying, but what else is new? Follow Jack Torrance as he takes on a new job at the Overlook Hotel. At first elated to have found job that allows him time for his writing, Jack soon finds that the hotel is anything but the idyllic place he thought it was—and only Danny Torrance, a gifted five-year-old, notices.
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle is a dazzling sequel to Better Nate Than Ever. Equipped with a one-way ticket to New York City, theater geek Nate is determined to make a splash at rehearsals for E.T.: The Broadway Musical. However, Broadway isn’t what it seems—full of diva child stars and hostile understudies, Nate must work harder than ever for a chance to see his name in lights.
Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think? Don’t forget to check out our predictions for the National Book Awards and voice your opinions.