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11 Books To Read This December

Our favorite books of the month.

Here at the Chicago Review of Books, we deal with holiday stress the only way we know how: by reading lots of books. Lucky for us, this month delivers some great stories spanning fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We highly recommend you pick up all of them, light a candle, find a cozy chair, and remember what life is really for: READING BOOKS.

Nietzsche and the Burbs
By Lars Iyer
Melville House

“When a new student transfers in from a posh private school, he falls in with a group of like-minded suburban stoners, artists, and outcasts—too smart and creative for their own good. His classmates nickname their new friend Nietzsche (for his braininess and bleak outlook on life), and decide he must be the front man of their metal band, now christened Nietzsche and the Burbs.”

How to Be A Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century
By Frank Dikotter
Bloomsbury

“In How to Be a Dictator, Frank Dikötter returns to eight of the most chillingly effective personality cults of the twentieth century. From carefully choreographed parades to the deliberate cultivation of a shroud of mystery through iron censorship, these dictators ceaselessly worked on their own image and encouraged the population at large to glorify them. At a time when democracy is in retreat, are we seeing a revival of the same techniques among some of today’s world leaders?”

The Revisionaries
By A.R. Moxon
Melville House

The Revisionaries is, in the end, a wildly imaginative, masterfully rendered, and suspenseful tale of one man trying to differentiate between reality and fantasy in order to find the source of his faith. It will summon to mind the bold outlandishness stylishness of Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Moore—while being unlike anything that’s come before.”

Dead Astronauts
By Jeff VanderMeer
MCD X FSG

“Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives human and otherwise converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake: the fate of the future, the fate of Earth—all the Earths.”

Anyone
By Charles Soule
Harper Perennial

“Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever…”

Such a Fun Age
Kiley Reid
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

“A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.”

Virginia Woolf And the Women Who Shaped Her World
By Gillian Gill
Houghton Mifflin Court

“An insightful, witty look at Virginia Woolf through the lens of the extraordinary women closest to her.

Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo
By Carole Maso
Counterpoint

“A vibrant series of prose poems from beloved author Carole Maso is now available in paperback for the first time. Originally published in 2002, Beauty Is Convulsive is a passionate meditation on one of the twentieth century’s most compelling artists, Frida Kahlo (1907–1954).”

Africaville
By Jeffrey Colvin
Amistad

“Structured as a triptych, Africaville chronicles the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family—Kath Ella, her son Omar/Etienne, and her grandson Warner—whose lives unfold against the tumultuous events of the twentieth century from the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the social protests of the 1960s to the economic upheavals in the 1980s.”

Gatekeeper
By Patrick Johnson
Milkweed Editions

“Spooky and spare, Gatekeeper is a striking debut collection and a suspenseful odyssey for these troubled times.”

The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast
By John L’Heureux
A Public Space Books

“Compiled as he neared the end of his life, and conceived as the legacy of a life’s work, The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast brims with elegance, humor, and compassion, welcoming both the ordinary and the rapturous.”

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