The Best 21st Century eBooks




The Architect's Apprentice
by Elif Shafak
The Architect's Apprentice

From the acclaimed author of The Bastard of Istanbul, a colorful, magical tale set during the height of the Ottoman Empire

In her latest novel, Turkey’s preeminent female writer spins an epic tale spanning nearly a century in the life of the Ottoman Empire. In 1540, twelve-year-old Jahan arrives in Istanbul. As an animal tamer in the sultan’s menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart elephant Chota and befriends (and falls for) the sultan’s beautiful daughter, Princess Mihrimah. A palace education leads Jahan to Mimar Sinan, the empire’s chief architect, who takes Jahan under his wing as they construct (with Chota’s help) some of the most magnificent buildings in history. Yet even as they build Sinan’s triumphant masterpieces — the incredible Suleymaniye and Selimiye mosques — dangerous undercurrents begin to emerge, with jealousy erupting among
Sinan’s four apprentices.

A memorable story of artistic freedom, creativity, and the clash between science and fundamentalism, Shafak’s intricate novel brims with vibrant characters, intriguing adventure, and the lavish backdrop of the Ottoman court, where love and loyalty are no match for raw power.


 



Girl in a Band
by Kim Gordon
Girl in a Band

For many, Kim Gordon, vocalist, bassist and founding member of Sonic Youth, has always been the epitome of cool.

Sonic Youth is one of the most influential and successful bands to emerge from the post-punk New York scene, and their legacy continues to loom large over the landscape of indie rock and American pop culture. Almost as celebrated as the band's defiantly dissonant sound was the marriage between Gordon and her husband, fellow Sonic Youth founder and lead guitarist Thurston Moore. So when Matador Records released a statement in the fall of 2011 announcing that — after twenty-seven years — the two were splitting, fans were devastated. In the middle of a crazy world, they'd seemed so solid.

What did this mean? What comes next? What came before?

In Girl in a Band, the famously reserved superstar speaks candidly about her past and the future. From her childhood in the sunbaked suburbs of Southern California, growing up with a mentally ill sibling who often sapped her family of emotional capital, to New York's downtown art and music scene in the eighties and nineties and the birth of a band that would pave the way for acts like Nirvana, as well as help inspire the Riot Grrl generation, here is an edgy and evocative portrait of a life in art.

Exploring the artists, musicians, and writers who influenced Gordon, and the relationship that defined her life for so long, Girl in a Band is filled with the sights and sounds of a pre-Internet world and is a deeply personal portrait of a woman who has become an icon.


 



A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power
by Paul Fischer
A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power

"The 1978 abductions of the South Korean actress Choi-Eun-hee and her ex-husband, the director Shin Sang-ok, in Hong Kong is the true crime at the center of Paul Fischer's gripping and surprisingly timely new book."
-The New York Times

Before becoming the world's most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea's Ministry for Propaganda and its film studios. Conceiving every movie made, he acted as producer and screenwriter. Despite this control, he was underwhelmed by the available talent and took drastic steps, ordering the kidnapping of Choi Eun-Hee (Madam Choi)-South Korea's most famous actress-and her ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, the country's most famous filmmaker.

Madam Choi vanished first. When Shin went to Hong Kong to investigate, he was attacked and woke up wrapped in plastic sheeting aboard a ship bound for North Korea. Madam Choi lived in isolated luxury, allowed only to attend the Dear Leader's dinner parties. Shin, meanwhile, tried to escape, was sent to prison camp, and "re-educated." After four years he cracked, pledging loyalty. Reunited with Choi at the first party he attends, it is announced that the couple will remarry and act as the Dear Leader's film advisors. Together they made seven films, in the process gaining Kim Jong-Il's trust. While pretending to research a film in Vienna, they flee to the U. S. embassy and are swept to safety.

A nonfiction thriller packed with tension, passion, and politics, author Paul Fischer's A Kim Jong-Il Production offers a rare glimpse into a secretive world, illuminating a fascinating chapter of North Korea's history that helps explain how it became the hermetically sealed, intensely stage-managed country it remains today.


 



The First Bad Man
by Miranda July
The First Bad Man

From the acclaimed filmmaker, artist, and bestselling author of No One Belongs Here More Than You, a spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny-so Miranda July-readers will be blown away.

Here is Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six, who sometimes recurs as other people's babies. Cheryl is also obsessed with Phillip, a philandering board member at the women's self-defense non-profit where she works. She believes they've been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate in this one.

When Cheryl's bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter Clee can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl's eccentrically-ordered world explodes. And yet it is Clee-the selfish, cruel blond bombshell-who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.

Tender, gripping, slyly hilarious, infused with raging sexual fantasies and fierce maternal love, Miranda July's first novel confirms her as a spectacularly original, iconic and important voice today, and a writer for all time. The First Bad Man is dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable.


 



My Struggle: Book 1
by Karl Ove Knausgård, Don Bartlett
My Struggle: Book 1

Until the recent publication of My Struggle, a 3, 600-page work in six volumes, the career of the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard had followed a fairly conventional trajectory: A young man besotted by the beauty of words, nature, music and painting writes a coming-of-age novel that earns him prizes and praise and then tries something more ambitious, which becomes an international best seller and wins more prizes.
“But with his latest project, My Struggle, whose title deliberately evokes Hitler’s infamous autobiography and political screed, everything has changed. Though My Struggle, a minutely detailed examination of Mr. Knausgaard’s family life, has done extremely well in Europe — in Norway, about half a million copies have been sold, the equivalent of one for every 10 people — it has also put Mr. Knausgaard (pronounced Kuh-NOWS-guard) squarely at the center of a debate about literary ethics and made him a kind of bad boy of European letters.” — Larry Rohter, The New York Times

My Struggle is the provocative, audacious, brilliant six-volume autobiographical novel of Karl Ove Knausgaard that has unquestionably been the main event of contemporary European literature. It has earned favorable comparisons to its obvious literary forebears A la recherche du temps perdu and Mein Kampf — but it has also been celebrated as the rare magnum opus that is intensely, addictively readable. From country to country, the fever has spread:

NORWAY: “Knausgaard’s intense, hungry prose propels the reader forward… A fantastic novel… I cannot say anything other than that I am looking forward desperately to the rest of it.” — Dagsavisen

DENMARK: “The Norwegian public have fallen on their knees in awe of this ambitious author, and with good reason… Knausgaard’s realism and literary skills are… raw and fearless.” — Information

GERMANY: “Knausgaard’s thinking is magnificently unbridled.” — Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

ITALY: “Certainly, Knausgaard’s strength lies in his detailed descriptions of nature and the human psyche. But it is the gravity and truth occurring between the lines that make this text authentic and necessary.” — WUZ

SWEDEN: “I can’t stop, I want to stop, I can’t stop, just one more page, then I will cook dinner, just one more page…” — Västerbottens-kuriren

And the sales have followed, in the hundred of thousands. Finally, it arrived on U. S. shores, greeted with a full embrace from The New Yorker, The New York Times, and everyone else.

The acclaim is unanimous: It is a modern masterpiece; it is a classic in the making.


 



The Science of Interstellar
by Kip S. Thorne, Christopher J. Nolan
The Science of Interstellar

A journey through the otherworldly science behind Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film, Interstellar, from executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne.

Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights — many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar — describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.

Interstellar and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s14).


 



Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
by Elena Ferrante
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Since the publication of My Brilliant Friend, the first of the Neapolitan novels, Elena Ferrante's fame as one of our most compelling, insightful, and stylish contemporary authors has grown enormously. She has gained admirers among authors-Jhumpa Lahiri, Elizabeth Strout, Claire Messud, to name a few-and critics-James Wood, John Freeman, Eugenia Williamson, for example. But her most resounding success has undoubtedly been with readers, who have discovered in Ferrante a writer who speaks with great power and beauty of the mysteries of belonging, human relationships, love, family, and friendship.

In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her husband and the comforts of her marriage brought and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which has opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women have attempted are pushing against the walls of a prison that would have seem them living a life of mystery, ignorance and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to see each other by a strong, unbreakable bond.


 



We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We Should All Be Feminists

An eBook short.

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay — adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name — by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century — one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences — in the U. S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad — offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today — and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.


 



The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly
by Sun-mi Hwang, Kim Chi-Young, Nomoco
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

A Korean Charlotte's Web

More than 2 million copies sold
This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command, only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild — and to hatch an egg of her own.

An anthem for freedom, individuality and motherhood featuring a plucky, spirited heroine who rebels against the tradition-bound world of the barnyard, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a novel of universal resonance that also opens a window on Korea, where it has captivated millions of readers. And with its array of animal characters — the hen, the duck, the rooster, the dog, the weasel — it calls to mind such classics in English as Animal Farm and Charlotte’s Web.

Featuring specially-commissioned illustrations, this first English-language edition of Sun-mi Hwang’s fable for our times beautifully captures the journey of an unforgettable character in world literature.


 



Police
by Jo Nesbø, Don Bartlett
Police

The police urgently need Harry Hole… A killer is stalking Oslo's streets. Police officers are being slain at the scenes of crimes they once investigated but failed to solve. The murders are brutal, the media reaction hysterical.   

But this time, Harry can't help… For years, detective Harry Hole has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo. His dedication to his job and his brilliant insights have saved the lives of countless people. But now, with those he loves most facing terrible danger, Harry is not in a position to protect anyone.

Least of all himself…


 



Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone
by Bo Burnham, Chance Bone
Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone

A strange and charming collection of hilariously absurd poetry, writing, and illustration from one of today's most popular young comedians…

EGGHEAD: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone

Bo Burnham was a precocious teenager living in his parents' attic when he started posting material on YouTube. 100 million people viewed those videos, turning Bo into an online sensation with a huge and dedicated following. Bo taped his first of two Comedy Central specials four days after his 18th birthday, making him the youngest to do so in the channel's history. Now Bo is a rising star in the comedy world, revered for his utterly original and intelligent voice. And, he can SIIIIIIIIING!

In EGGHEAD, Bo brings his brand of brainy, emotional comedy to the page in the form of off-kilter poems, thoughts, and more. Teaming up with his longtime friend, artist, and illustrator Chance Bone, Bo takes on everything from death to farts in this weird book that will make you think, laugh and think, "why did I just laugh?"


 



Thank You for Your Service
by David Finkel
Thank You for Your Service

With a foreword by Roméo Dallaire and an introduction by Carol Off.

No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, Finkel shadowed the men of the US 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad as they carried out the grueling fifteen-month "surge" that changed them all forever. Now Finkel has followed many of the same men as they've returned home and struggled to reintegrate — both into their family lives and into society at large.

In the ironically titled Thank You for Your Service, Finkel writes with tremendous compassion not just about the soldiers but about their wives and children. Where do soldiers belong after their homecoming? Is it reasonable, or even possible, to expect them to rejoin their communities as if nothing has happened? And in moments of hardship, who can soldiers turn to if they feel alienated by the world they once lived in? These are the questions Finkel faces as he revisits the brave but shaken men of the 2-16.

More than a work of journalism, Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding — shocking but always riveting, unflinching but deeply humane, it takes us inside the heads of those who must live the rest of their lives with the realities of war.


 



Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
by Jung Chang
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

A New York Times Notable Book

Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for decades and brought a medieval empire into the modern age.
At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China — behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.

In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought against monumental obstacles to change China. Under her the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, electricity, the telegraph and an army and navy with up-to-date weaponry. It was she who abolished gruesome punishments like “death by a thousand cuts” and put an end to foot-binding. She inaugurated women’s liberation and embarked on the path to introduce parliamentary elections to China. Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot.

Cixi reigned during extraordinary times and had to deal with a host of major national crises: the Taiping and Boxer rebellions, wars with France and Japan — and an invasion by eight allied powers including Britain, Germany, Russia and the United States. Jung Chang not only records the Empress Dowager’s conduct of domestic and foreign affairs, but also takes the reader into the depths of her splendid Summer Palace and the harem of Beijing’s Forbidden City, where she lived surrounded by eunuchs — one of whom she fell in love, with tragic consequences. The world Chang describes here, in fascinating detail, seems almost unbelievable in its extraordinary mixture of the very old and the very new.

Based on newly available, mostly Chinese, historical documents such as court records, official and private correspondence, diaries and eyewitness accounts, this biography will revolutionize historical thinking about a crucial period in China’s — and the world’s — history. Packed with drama, fast paced and gripping, it is both a panoramic depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman: as the concubine to a monarch, as the absolute ruler of a third of the world’s population, and as a unique stateswoman.


 



A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing
by Eimear McBride, Eimear McBride
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing

Eimear McBride's debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn't always comfortable — but it is always a revelation.

Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny — and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.


 



Tenth of December
by George Saunders
Tenth of December

A new story collection, the first in six years, from one of our greatest living writers, MacArthur "genius grant" recipient and New Yorker contributor George Saunders.

George Saunders is back with a deeply felt collection that takes his literary powers to a new level. In a recent interview, when asked how he saw the role of the writer, Saunders said: "To me, the writer's main job is to make the story unscroll in such a way that the reader is snared-she's right there, seeing things happen and caring about them. And if you dedicate yourself to this job, the meanings more or less take care of themselves."

The title story is a moving account of the intersection, at a frozen lake in the woods, of a young misfit and a middle-aged cancer patient who goes there to commit suicide, only to end up saving the boy's life.

"Home" is the often funny, often poignant account of a soldier returning from the war.

"Victory Lap" is a taut, inventive story about the attempted abduction of a teenage girl.

In all, Tenth of December is George Saunders at his absolute best, a collection of stories and characters that add up to something deep, irreducible, and uniquely American.


 



A Thousand Mornings
by Mary Oliver
A Thousand Mornings

In A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver returns to the imagery that has come to define her life’s work, transporting us to the marshland and coastline of her beloved home, Provincetown, Massachusetts. In these pages, Oliver shares the wonder of dawn, the grace of animals, and the transformative power of attention. Whether studying the leaves of a tree or mourning her adored dog, Percy, she is ever patient in her observations and open to the teachings contained in the smallest of moments.

Our most precious chronicler of physical landscape, Oliver opens our eyes to the nature within, to its wild and its quiet. With startling clarity, humor, and kindness, A Thousand Mornings explores the mysteries of our daily experience.


 



What Young India Wants
by Chetan Bhagat
What Young India Wants

In his latest book, What Young India Wants, Chetan Bhagat asks hard questions, demands answers and presents solutions for a better, more prosperous India.

Why do our students regularly commit suicide?
Why is there so much corruption in India?
Cant our political parties ever work together?
Does our vote make any difference at all?
We love our India, but shouldnt some things be different?
All of us have asked these questions at some time or the other. So does Chetan Bhagat, Indias most loved writer, in What Young India Wants, his first book of non-fiction.

What Young India Wants is based on Chetan Bhagats vast experience as a very successful writer and motivational speaker. In clear, simple prose, and with great insight, he analyses some of the complex issues facing modern India, offers solutions and invites discussion on them. And, at the end, he asks this important question: Unless we are all in agreement on what it is going to take to make our country better, how will things ever change? Non-fiction If you want to understand contemporary India, the problems that face it, and want to be a part of the solution, What Young India Wants is the book for you.


 



Umbrella
by Will Self
Umbrella

A brother is as easily forgotten as an umbrella. James Joyce, Ulysses Recently having abandoned his RD Laing-influenced experiment in running a therapeutic community — the so-called Concept House in Willesden — maverick psychiatrist Zack Busner arrives at Friern Hospital, a vast Victorian mental asylum in North London, under a professional and a marital cloud. He has every intention of avoiding controversy, but then he encounters Audrey Dearth, a working-class girl from Fulham born in 1890 who has been immured in Friern for decades. A socialist, a feminist and a munitions worker at the Woolwich Arsenal, Audrey fell victim to the encephalitis lethargica sleeping sickness epidemic at the end of the First World War and, like one of the subjects in Oliver Sacks' Awakenings, has been in a coma ever since. Realising that Audrey is just one of a number of post-encephalitics scattered throughout the asylum, Busner becomes involved in an attempt to bring them back to life — with wholly unforeseen consequences.


 



Lionel Asbo: State of England
by Martin Amis
Lionel Asbo: State of England

A savage, funny, and mysteriously poignant saga by a renowned author at the height of his powers.

Lionel Asbo, a terrifying yet weirdly loyal thug (self-named after England's notorious Anti-Social Behaviour Order), has always looked out for his ward and nephew, the orphaned Desmond Pepperdine. He provides him with fatherly career advice (always carry a knife, for example) and is determined they should share the joys of pit bulls (fed with lots of Tabasco sauce), Internet porn, and all manner of more serious criminality. Des, on the other hand, desires nothing more than books to read and a girl to love (and to protect a family secret that could be the death of him). But just as he begins to lead a gentler, healthier life, his uncle — once again in a London prison — wins £140 million in the lottery and upon his release hires a public relations firm and begins dating a cannily ambitious topless model and “poet.” Strangely, however, Lionel's true nature remains uncompromised while his problems,  and therefore also Desmond's, seem only to multiply.


 






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