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Novel pursuits

Strange new books for a brave new world



Even though's Jeff Bezos claims his Kindle is an effort to "improve the book," maybe it doesn't need to be improved upon. According to the results of a National Endowment for the Arts study released earlier this year, the overall rate at which adults are reading fiction rose by 7 percent between 2002 and 2008. This follows two decades of significantly declining rates.

Of course, the Kindle first released in November 2007. Coincidence? Until releases some sales figures, we'll never know. So, forget that mystery and get engrossed in one of these new releases — in whatever form you prefer — instead.

A book about books

The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri

David Bajo

Penguin, $15/paperback

Release: May 26

Philip Masryk, a mathematician, inherits 351 books from a lover who has vanished. As he reads, Philip becomes wrapped up in learning the truth about her disappearance and, somehow, gets stuck within the novels' narratives. The Los Angeles Times calls this debut from David Bajo an "intellectual thriller" about "the mystery of true, unfettered love."

Purchase the book: The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri: A Novel

Vampires vs. humanity

The Strain

Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

William Morrow, $26.99/hardcover

Release: June 2

In an interview on, writer/filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy) sets up his new trilogy, Strain, saying, "When I was a kid growing up ... I used to love reading a good vampire story. But a very scary vampire story, none of this romantic, [languid] young men sucking the necks of beautiful people. I loved the really chilling story of the undead." Expect Strain and Hogan's vampires to be "menacing, real and disgusting," and spreading a vampiric virus. (If the book is as well done as the Web site, we're all going to be sucked right in.)

Purchase the first book in the trilogy: The Strain: Book One of The Strain Trilogy

Mundane meets magical

The Story Sisters: A Novel

Alice Hoffman

Shaye Areheart Books, $25/hardcover

Release: June 2

Alice Hoffman is the queen of magical realism. She weaves tales of love and loss, family and friends with fantastical elements that make a reader feel like she's living a dream. In The Story Sisters, Hoffman follows three sisters — Elv, Claire and Meg — as they grow from children to women, and the choices each must make along the road.

Purchase the book: The Story Sisters: A Novel

Gothic labyrinth

The Angel's Game

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Doubleday, $26.95/hardcover

Release: June 16

Drop by not only to find a trailer for Carlos Ruiz Zafón's new novel, The Angel's Game, but also a haunting soundtrack for the book that follows in the footsteps of Zafón's international bestseller, The Shadow of the Wind. A gothic 1920s tale from the streets of Barcelona, The Angel's Game introduces David Martín, a novelist who accepts a lucrative offer to write a book of magnificent power. But to what end?

Purchase the book: The Angel's Game

Sci-fi shorts by a master


Charles Stross

Ace Hardcover, $24.95/hardcover

Release: July 7

In Wireless, Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross has pulled together a collection of his short stories, along with a previously unpublished novella. It's been said that "Stross has more ideas than is probably healthy for one man," so trying to describe the themes within Wireless is a bit of a challenge. Let's just say if you're a fan of Neal Stephenson, Robert A. Heinlein or H.P. Lovecraft, you might want to grab this one.

Purchase the book: Wireless

Young prehistoric heroine

Children of the Dawnland

Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

Starscape, $17.99/hardcover

Release: July 7

What was the world like 13,000 years ago? Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, married archaeologists and authors, tell a prehistoric story in Children of the Dawnland, through the eyes of "12-summer-old" Twig. A "Dreamer girl" with powers to tell the future must convince her people to leave their land based on nightmares she's having — about the end of the Ice Age.

Purchase the book: Children of the Dawnland

Gaiman's magic touch

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?

Neil Gaiman

DC Comics, $24.99/hardcover

Release: July 21

Neil Gaiman rocked the comics world by pairing up with artist Andy Kubert for the first time since Marvel's 1602 for Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? This hardcover collection, which includes Gaiman's two-part Batman finale along with three of his former stories, takes a close look at 70 years of Bruce Wayne.

Purchase the book: Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Batman (DC Comics Hardcover))

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