riverhead books

Marlon James Announces 'Dark Star' Fantasy Trilogy, Expected Fall 2018
The next project for Marlon James — the Man Booker Prize-winning author of 2014’s A Brief History of Seven Killings — is an epic fantasy trilogy to be published by Riverhead Books, EW can ann…

“Titled The Dark Star Trilogy, the three novels (Black Leopard, Red Wolf; Moon Witch, Night Devil; The Boy and the Dark Star) follow three characters — the Tracker, the Moon Witch, and the Boy. According to the official summary, they are “locked in a dungeon in the castle of a dying king, awaiting torture and trial for the death of a child. They were three of eight mercenaries who had been hired to find the child; the search, expected to take two months, took nine years. In the end, five of the eight mercenaries, as well as the child, were dead.” The three novels will unravel each character’s tale of what happened over those nine years — one perspective per book — as James builds a rich world brimming with African myths and legends, fantastical creatures, and other accouterments of his own imagination.”

Pardon us while we FREAK OUT.

Originally posted by marvelousgoatgirl


As the planet spins on, so the pages turn


Hello and very happy new year, beautiful Capricorn! I hope you’re basking in the glow of the past few weeks (the end of 2016 worked out quite well for you, you can admit it) instead of succumbing to the societal pressure to make lists of resolutions. Is it good to have goals to work towards? Of course! But don’t drive yourself crazy trying to change every other part of your personality in order to fulfill some imaginary “new year, new me” quota. Think about your life right now: what are you thankful for? What have you been blessed with? Once you’ve made that list, then think about which areas could use some growth. Take inspiration from the heroine of your lucky book this month: a woman who capitalized on her talents and used them to go after the life she truly wanted. She had some rough beginnings, but she didn’t let the more difficult aspects of her life bog her down or overwhelm her progress. Take courage - 2017 is blank slate, a song just waiting to be written. Grab your pen and your guitar and get to work!

LUCKY BOOK: Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein


Every dog has its day, and this month, gentle Aquarius, is yours. After the manic pace of the holidays - that persisted right up until the new year - it’s time to slow way down and catch your breath. If you’re feeling like you’ve got a couple screws loose, trust those instincts; you probably do! Use this time of renewal and new beginnings to attend to yourself in the way you’ve been longing to: return those phone calls and emails, complete the projects you left undone, systematically tie up any loose ends that have been keeping you up at night. Most importantly, do these things at the most leisurely pace you can muster. Disconnect from the frenetic pace of your social media feeds - you’ll be shocked at how much more clear and rested you’ll feel when you stop the mindless scrolling. Does the thought of going analog make you itch? Let your lucky book this month be your guide: follow the stories of several Americans doing their best to live more authentic lives: not necessarily by leaving technology behind, but by doing what they can, bit by bit, to simplify the way they approach their daily existence. Breathe deep, take in the beauty surrounding you, and use each morning as a fresh start.

LUCKY BOOK: The Unsettlers by Mark Sundeen


Quite the socialite, aren’t you, popular Pisces? You’re starting the year off surrounded by a community of family, friends, and admirers, happy as a clam. Well, perhaps a bit harried, too. But in the best way! Even though you have to get really creative in your responses to invitations (Why double date when you can quadruple date?) you’re feeling all the love the universe has to give right now, and now you want to give some of it back. How will you channel this benevolent energy? The main character of your lucky book used his creative powers to create political cartoons that rocked his entire nation - with consequences that far surpassed his expectations. When you have any kind of platform, taking a strong political stance is always a calculated risk - but is usually well worth the effort. Take advantage of the attention you’re getting, and think about how to best use it for good. You never know just how influential your words - or actions - may be.

LUCKY BOOK: Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez


Balance, Aries, it’s all about balance. In addition to a lucky book, you get a key word this month, too. Think of the next few weeks as gently flowing waves, and you’re rising and falling with the tide. You’re not doing any heavy lifting this month, so unclench and relax. The beginning of a new year often brings enormous pressure to transform into a brand new iteration of yourself that you probably feel little to no connection too. So why that disconnect? Imbalance. (Told you.) Bringing baggage from 2016 into the light of a new year - whether it be emotional, physical, psychological - is guaranteed to throw you off and have you losing the game before you get a chance to start playing. Take a step back and examine your priorities: how are you feeling about your career? Your relationships? Your home? Yourself? Do the necessary work of dotting I’s and crossing T’s that you’ve been neglecting, and then you can truly begin on a clean slate. Your lucky book this month is a mind-bending exploration of our perception of reality - time, space, physics. All of the things we know of, but struggle to explain; that we trust, but can rarely see. All of the disparate pieces that somehow hold together the very fabric of our existence…all connected through a most complex and delicate balance.

LUCKY BOOK: Reality Is Not What it Seems by Carlo Rovelli (1/24)


Auf wiedersehen and bon voyage, Taurus! You’re grabbing 2017 by the horns and shaking it - that is to say, you aren’t taking any winter blues lying down. No, you’re throwing your sunscreen and phone charger in a weekender bag and peacing out (and who can blame you?). A giant dose of wanderlust at the very top of a new year can do wonders for expanding your knowledge, refreshing your worldview, and giving a much-needed jolt to both empathy and creativity, which often go hand-in-hand. How would we learn authentically about other people’s lives and experiences if we stayed cloistered within our hometowns, unwilling to venture out and be an outsider in a new place? The protagonist of your lucky book this month shares your desire for traveling beyond the comfortable or familiar: she goes to a Middle Eastern country in search of an ancient text, but ends up discovering so much more. Witness to an incredible love story, mounting political tension, and a family’s struggle to navigate their country’s increasingly precarious hold on peace, she discovers what it means to be a stranger in a land that is physically and culturally different even as her emotional attachment grows ever stronger. In the midst of your adventures, don’t miss your chance to make a deep connection with what may at first feel strange or foreign. You’ll be all the richer for it.

LUCKY BOOK: A Word for Love by Emily Robbins (1/17)


Feeling a bit touched out, Gem? We all have those days. Err…months. No judgment, seriously. Coming right out of the holiday season, where it seems like everywhere you turn, there’s another nosy relative, ugly sweater party obligation, or guilt-inducing ad, it’s no wonder you are desperately seeking a room of your own. Consider this your pass to embrace the hermit you’ve been trying to suppress all November and December! You are welcome. Use this time to think about boundaries: have you been careful with who you allow into your space, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional? Have your loved ones been mindful of your needs? There is no shame in being exactly who you are, despite what the people around you (and on your feed) might feel about it. The beginning of the year can be tough - the pressure to change can feel more like a burden, particularly when the exhaustion of the weeks past doesn’t actually melt at the stroke of midnight on January 1, like the world would have you think. Stand firm in who you are, what you need, and what you enjoy - and don’t be afraid to turn your back on whoever makes you feel as if you are inadequate. When you’re curled up under a warm blanket and blissfully ignoring the world outside, you’ll want a copy of your lucky book: a beautifully heartbreaking true-life account about a young man who was made to feel ashamed of who he truly was, and his journey to radical self-love. Despite all odds, and despite hate masquerading as righteousness, he found the courage and strength to say yes to himself, and overcome a lifetime of no. Now that’s a story worth snuggling up to.

LUCKY BOOK: Boy Erased by Garrard Conley


It takes two, baby!!! Cancer, take a minute to make sure your phone isn’t in airplane mode and that you’ve got your notifications ON, because this is your month for partnerships! Maybe you need a cuddle partner for the cold winter months - or if you’re in warmer climes, a buddy to hit the hiking trails or In-N-Out with. Either way, the stars have decreed that the going will be easy in terms of of establishing and/or strengthening connections with the ones you’d like to get a little closer to this month. But that doesn’t mean that you can sit back with your arms crossed and expect love or companionship to find you: it’s all in your ability to recognize what’s in front of you, and perhaps even what’s been in front of you for some time. It’s in your willingness to open yourself up to possibilities you may have previously thought impossible. No woman is an island - or, at least, shouldn’t be for too long. Your lucky book is testament to that fact. Isolation and loneliness can be incredibly damaging over time, and should not be equated with strength of character or some kind of emotional fortitude. Nadia had to learn this lesson, however slowly or painfully, and ultimately, learned and grew from her connections with other people - despite, and in some cases, because of her missteps. Growth is change, and change sometimes hurts. But taking the first step is more than worth it, as any character in your lucky book would tell you. Consider the possibilities, and embrace them! Life is too short to go it alone.

LUCKY BOOK: The Mothersby Brit Bennett


Aaaaaand…ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR! You’re high kicking and downward dog-ing your way into 2017, and good for you! We’re in the dead of winter and that’s normally the signal for morose hibernation and comfort snacking, so be proud of your strength of will in such trying times. Keep yourself well hydrated, stock up on a healthy munchies, get plenty of rest. And, most importantly, don’t give in to the temptation to subscribe to the latest fad diet or Instagram fitness craze. You know what feels right for your body, and trying to fit into anyone else’s standards of beauty or fitness is just a long, slippery slope to dissatisfaction and depression. At this point in your life, whatever point that may be, you know that embracing your inner strength and resolve is what makes you feel truly empowered. It’s incredibly easy to lose sight of that strength on a daily - and sometimes hourly - basis. But as long as you continue exercising your body and mind (you know that level of discipline you have accounts for some serious mental heavy lifting, right?) you’re golden. You’re creating the life that you want, rather than just existing. And the quickest way out of or away from any rut - whether it be a “midlife crisis” or simply an awful week - is to live with purpose, with intention. To approach each crossroads as a fresh beginning rather than an inevitably unfulfilling choice. Grab your lucky book this month for a wellspring of insight and inspiration for any day when putting on your running shoes feels completely insurmountable. You’ll be back on the track in no time.

LUCKY BOOK: Life Reimagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty


Well, Virgo, it may be cool outside, but you are HOT. We aren’t sure what exactly it is, but you’re making heads turn all month, and good luck keeping your weekend evenings free - you’re the belle of the ball, so don’t be surprised by all the requests to hit the dance floor! Enjoy yourself, but this won’t be all fun and games - expect some serious relationship vibes to find their way to you and whichever sweetie has been on your mind for some time. The time is now, no day but today - what’s your move going to be? Coupled Virgos, a monumental next step could be coming - you know exactly what I’m talking about - while single Virgos, have your defenses at the ready. Heady romance and passion are all well and good, but beware the untimely return of a former lover. Take any mysterious reappearance as a sign - to run! Don’t be wooed by the same mind games that you escaped from once already. Your lucky book has enough of those already. Haunting, breathtaking, and utterly captivating, you’ll tear through this small book and be left completely on edge and completely stunned. Nothing like some healthy fear to counterbalance a bit of amorous passion, right Virgo? This will be a thrilling month indeed.

LUCKY BOOK: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin


Oh, lovely Libra. The holiday season is enjoyable, sure, with all of shiny bells and baubles, and goodwill to all men. But the unrelenting busy-ness can be a bit much, so you aren’t too mournful in saying goodbye to the madness for another year. So, onto much more satisfying things: your warm bed. Your cozy apartment. An intimate group of friends and family, just sharing snacks, telling jokes, and watching movies without any of the frenzy that typically bleeds into similar get-togethers in November or December. If you’re feeling like a homebody, that’s completely fine, because you love your home and are proud to be in it, and so are the loved ones you invite into your space. That warm glow of comfort and friendship - it’s completely irreplaceable, isn’t it? This month, you share a lot in common with the title character in your lucky book - a comparison you may find unusual, but stick around. This is American history like you’ve never experienced it before, although the character in question is actually French. That’s right, General Lafayette, that dashing, daring, revolution-loving soldier may have fought battles and navigated thorny political conspiracies, which you will probably never be called upon to do - but at the heart of his tale lies the impact he made not just on history, but on the people who surrounded him. His friends. His admirers. The people who he could kick up his feet and shoot the breeze with. It’s easy to forget that historical figures had inner lives that so resembled ours - so this month, bask in the knowledge that you and General Lafayette could both appreciate the simple pleasures of spending time with good company. La vie est belle, non?

LUCKY BOOK: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell


Whew, Scorpio! Have you slowed down since the ball dropped on January 1? You’re a whirling dervish this month, spinning from one activity to the next, accepting as many invitations and lunch dates and dinner gates and hangout plans as your poor little calendar can hold. Not to knock your hustle - you’re feeling the energy that comes from a fresh new start, and your “new year, new you” vigor is unstoppable. After all, community is crucial, your networking is working, and you certainly don’t have time to waste! But to that point, take a second every now and then to double check your daily agenda - double-booking can happen all too easily. Barring that, go on and live your life in glorious, unfettered splendor. You’re embodying the spirit of your lucky book this month, which explains why untidiness and sprawl is actually integral to the way our minds function, and can lead to innovation and creativity. Is your room a mild disaster area because you’re too busy to put your things away? Fine! Is your desk strewn with papers and post-its? Great! You’re subconsciously keeping yourself engaged, attuned to unusual patterns, and primed for new ideas. 2017 is already your year, Scorpio - and you haven’t even made your bed yet. If you want to rub it in your mother’s face, just don’t tell her we sent you.

LUCKY BOOK: Messy by Tim Harford


Wow, Sagittarius, you’re looking quite large and in charge. You’ve got a swagger in your step and twinkle in your eye - as focused as the archer for which you’re named. Yes, you made a list of resolutions, and what of it? You’re not the kind of person to abandon them after two weeks, no ma’am. Setting manageable, yet ambitious goals for yourself is a wholly affirming exercise: it inspires reflection on what’s been working for you so far, and helps you dream of what you’d like to accomplish next. You’re feeling totally grounded and in control this month, Sag, so this work is both essential and instinctual. Be sure to think through all of the logistics of each goal: what resources are required to make them a reality? Who might you need to rely on for help? How much time will you give yourself to achieve each step? You’re thinking like a visionary, so it’s only right that your lucky book this month be a sparkling how-to guide for the creative, forward-thinking soul. Take it from an expert: the power of soulfulness and positivity cannot be understated. But they don’t come naturally, no matter how good you may be feeling right now, in the second week of the new year. Put in the practice now to make these values a habit, and watch how your vision boards manifest in 2017. You got this!

LUCKY BOOK: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Your literary solutions for another planetary revolution


Whip out the candles and deck the halls, Sag, because it’s your month to celebrate! Sure, it’s always been kind of a bummer that your birthday month falls in the middle of the biggest holiday season, but the party only stops if YOU let it. You’re in control here, and this month, you’re going to get an extra dose of that independent spirit that you’re so known for. And what a time to shine - as wave after wave of holiday party invitations roll in, you’re going to be rubbing shoulders with all sorts of people, including some potential project co-collaborators! It’s a good thing you’ve found the energy and drive to look the seasonal blues in the face and say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” because your creative juices are flowing and your birthday month falling on the last month of the year tends to bring out your “never say never” spirit. This is the perfect time to dive into (or begin a long-overdue reread!) of your lucky book, which is all about the various places that life can take you when you have a dream, and which people in your life will accompany or abandon you in the pursuit. Who do you want to surround yourself with as you get ready to embark on a new creative adventure? How do you see your relationships adapting to where you envision yourself being in five years, or ten years? If that question is too heavy for this month of socializing, partying, and vision board-ing, be sure to pick up your lucky book for that dose of inspiration and warning you need.

Lucky Book: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer



You do not suffer fools this month, Cap, and it’s the best kind of intimidating. Maybe it’s all of those post-turkey naps, maybe your brilliance just needed a chance to shine extra bright, but either way: you’re firing on all pistons and keeping everyone around you on their toes. You’re blessed with an abundance of great ideas, and you’re having no trouble communicating them. Quite the contrary: it seems that there is a direct line of clarity from your brain to your lips, so relating how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking is much easier and more effective than usual. You have something in common with the main character of your lucky book, Javier Mallarino, who is nationally known for sharing his opinions and feelings in a way that everyone can understand, but not necessarily agree with. Just like him, it’s up to you to figure out how and when to wield this gift so that you do not make enemies of people who don’t appreciate being told your truth. How can you remain authentic to yourself without sacrificing key relationships and alienating unsuspecting strangers? What is more important to you, speaking your mind, or keeping those bridges unburnt?

 Lucky Book: Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez



 It’s never too late, dear Aquarius! That is your personal mantra for the month of December, as you make one final, desperate attempt of 2016 to accomplish all that you set out to do this year. Sound overwhelming? It is, of course, but you’re more than up to the task. You only have a year’s worth of built up momentum, so you shouldn’t be surprised by the burst of energy that’s in store (if it hasn’t already kicked in yet)! Considering the myriad distractions of this holiday season, it’s quite an impressive feat, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s of your personal to-do list for the year - but on the other hand, you’re well aware that for you, it’s now or never. You don’t want to drag the baggage from this year into the next, and for that reasoning alone, you’re truly going to enjoy your lucky book. The narrator is a woman who was raised by her mother to sit back and wait for a young rich man to sweep her off of her feet and cater to her every need…until reality abruptly sets her straight in adulthood. Once she realizes that her daughter is going to need the learn the lessons that she never did, she owns up to her ignorance and resolves to begin anew, doing the hard work that is necessary to be the kind of person she most wants to be: a successful, empowering role model for her child. Perfect morale-boosting reading during those few and far between downtimes this month!

 Lucky Book: Please Excuse My Daughter by Julie Klam



 All work and no play makes you a very unhappy Pisces, isn’t that right? As the stars would have it, the world is your oyster this month - or, more accurately, your playground! Life tends to get pretty hectic this time of year, but that’s fine, because you’re having a ball! Between parties and brunches, interviews and meetings, you’re in your element as a networker and socialite, and it’s completely invigorating. There’s no better time to dive into your lucky book for this month, an illustrated history of popular entertainment that makes the case for play. Seriously. Believe it or not, that’s what’s behind the allure of so many products and innovative practices we enjoy today: someone, at some point in history, derived the idea for it from an fun activity or concept. So you can say goodbye to any lingering feelings of guilt for enjoying yourself rather than keeping your nose to the dull grindstone day in and day out. Amusement and laughter are essential to the spirit of creativity that keeps modern society afloat, after all.

 LUCKY BOOK: Wonderland by Steven Johnson



 Well, hello there, Aries! Feeling feisty today? Mm-hmm, we can tell. This month you’re all about the real talk, and we can’t really blame you - the past few months have had you a bit more subdued and insular than usual. December tends to bring with a feeling of finality, of a grand finish, and in order to feel prepared for the ending of this year and beginning of the next, there are some things you would really like to get off your chest. We support you unburdening yourself for the sake of your mental and emotional well-being, but Aries, please - not at the expense of those around you. There is a fine line between telling it like it is and just being mean. To give yourself some much-needed levity to balance the storm of emotions that you’d like to proclaim to the world, find a quiet corner to commune with your lucky book. It’s a collection of short stories that quickly and incisively cuts to the beautiful, often nonsensical truths of everyday life. While not 100% true to reality, they are 100% true to emotion, and that is exactly the kind of honesty you need right now.

 LUCKY BOOK: The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God and Other Stories by Etgar Keret



 Taurus, it’s cold outside… All the more reason to stay in and cuddled up with that special someone! This month, you can’t be bothered with all of the hustle and bustle that the holiday season inevitably brings. Spending an hour in line only to be told the cashier is no longer accepting credit cards (and not an ATM in sight), succumbing to the pressure to stroll through a holiday market and ending the evening cold and broke, buying an ugly sweater for a party that you’ll never wear again - why suffer through any of this, when you have the indoors, and streaming services, and a cutie to enjoy both with? Relationships are your specialty this month, so go ahead and lean into the lovin’! Of course, if you’re not feeling the romance, maybe your creative or business collaborations could use a bit more TLC. Either way, no matter where your affections lie, you’ll want to soak in the deliciously dysfunctional tale of Mathilde and Lotto: half epic romance, half cautionary tale. A perfect one to binge on when you’re avoiding the outdoors.

 LUCKY BOOK: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff



 Oh, Gemini, you saucy minx. With 2016 nearly gone, why not turn on your seductive powers and see who you can lure in? You’re grown bored with playing it safe and responsible - time to rip up the playbook and have some fun before the ultimate Sunday night blues of a brand new year begin to creep in. This is a great time to start casting out feelers for who you’d like to join your inner circle, so by all means, cast away! Just be cautious when it’s time for the reeling in - living life with reckless abandon comes at a price, and you can’t get off to a fresh start in the new year with new friends or partners that don’t feel entirely safe or supportive. So often the wires between love and relationships and friendship can get blurred, crossed, and impossibly knotted - better to exercise a bit of caution now (just a bit!) to avoid a mess later. If you don’t believe me, turn to your lucky book of the month, a short story collection that explores the earnest messiness of life and the hilarious, heartbreaking, harrowing ways we choose to deal with it. Adventurous and cautious (but curious) Gems alike, you don’t want to miss this one.

 LUCKY BOOK: Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes



 Cancer, believe it or not,  you’re really giving Gemini a run for its money with this dual personality stint this month! Is it that end-of-year pressure that has you feeling erratic and ready to risk it all? Or are you simply following every impulse, no matter how soft or loud? One day, you’re feeling generous and at ease, totally in tune with the rhythms of the universe and humming alongside precocious woodland creatures. The next, the storm clouds develop and you somehow find yourself hate-stalking your exes on social media. What gives? While this sort of emotional leap-frog can be disconcerting, rest assured that it won’t last for too long. And remember that there is no “bad” emotion - everything you feel is valid, and worthy of examination. Just be mindful of how you act out those emotions. Do your best to keep yourself balanced - too much false positivity or rampant negativity can leave you feel distinctly unsettled and unlike yourself. And who are you, really? The narrator of your lucky book this month will give you an absolutely spellbinding peek at how we think about ourselves and other people - how can we be sure that the ‘truth’ is not simply our perspective? Who is to say what truth is? Every relationship we have with someone is a transaction - not only in emotions, but in our shared experiences and how we remember them. No matter what mood you find yourself in from day to day, this is a book you’ll want to have close by for instant grounding.

 LUCKY BOOK: All Men Are Liars by Alberto Manguel



 Aw, Leo, aren’t you just a doll? With your fresh rosy cheeks and eyes all aglow. No wonder you’re having to balance so many date night requests - you’re irresistible! Enjoy this magical time of flight and fancy, Leo. A, you deserve it, and B, isn’t time you let yourself unwind and have a little fun? That may mean venturing outside of your usual prescribed boundaries for potential partners…but go on, live a little! Try to follow where your impulses take you, rather than sticking to the status quo you’ve become so comfortable with. With all of that romantic energy buzzing around inside of you, why not take a risk and see what happens? Your lucky book this month revolves around a number of different relationships, and the ways that courage, persistence, and pure want can influence our actions. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but when you decide to try something new, the results are never boring (although, at times, they may cost you). Enjoy yourself this month, Leo - it’s way overdue!

 LUCKY BOOK: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub



 Well, the weather outside may be frightful, but you know what’s just delightful? Your couch. Your snuggie. That brand new carton of eggnog. Oh, and the fire, of course. As far are you’re considered, ‘tis the season to kick up your feet and enjoy the creature comforts of home, and anyone who thinks otherwise is free to get loud and rowdy elsewhere. October and November were particularly trying, for a multitude of reasons, so this month you’re ready for a slower pace, some quiet reflection, and about one hundred sprawling naps. Five holiday party invitations per day aren’t fazing you this time - you’re hitting decline, decline, decline without a care in the world. And if you get the urge to see some familiar faces, invite the gang over for an intimate gathering in your space, and enjoy the lack of spilled drinks and conversations that need to be shouted to be heard. And in the quieter times, when your guests have dispersed and the only sound you hear is the cold wind howling in the trees, find a warm spot to curl up with your lucky book, a brilliant and breathtaking reimagining of Snow White that will turn your recollection of the titular cartoon film on its head. Sometimes the best way to re-center and reflect on the state of the world and ourselves is to escape into a fantasy world that echoes our own in ways we don’t expect – and believe me, this book is more than up to the task.

 LUCKY BOOK: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi



 Libra, Libra, Libra. Repeat after me: WOOSAH. WOOOOOSAH. Try not to let the frenetic pace of the holiday season mess with your head. I know everything feels a bit crazy right now - you’re balancing work, family plans, holiday travel, gift lists and time is just flying by. How did December get here so quickly? How is this already the end of 2016? What have you even done this year? (Woosah.) See how easy is it to spiral? But guess what: letting your anxiety take the wheel, however sensible it may seem in the moment, is rarely a good idea. Indulging in that kind of stress will only leave your brain feeling like scrambled eggs, and you’ll feel so much better, on a daily basis, if you manage to hold it together, figure out a system to keep all of those balls in the air, and stave off the inevitable burnout. And if you’re desperate for a pick-me-up amid the exhausting madness, your lucky book is here to save the day: a fascinating, high-energy, totally bad-ass story about two women in late eighteenth-century England who join what is essentially a fight club. That got your attention, didn’t it? Every time you’re tempted to dwell on the million and one things you have to do, focus instead on the task that’s right in front you, and then the one after that, one foot after another. When you’re no stranger to truly harsh circumstances, as these two women are, that’s the only way to survive.

 LUCKY BOOK: The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman



 Scorpio, has anyone told you lately that you’re positively glowing? Not surprising, as this is your month to finally shed that outer layer of anxiety and embrace the fun that life has to offer. Remember that? Fun? Listen, we know you’re devoted to your job, and it’s very admirable. You’ve been working hard, trying to hit your year-end goals, and crushing it. Seriously! So isn’t it time to relax, just a bit? Stop turning down your coworkers’ invitations to hang out and go enjoy that happy hour deal! Or the Love Actually trivia night that you know for a fact a handful of your friends would win in a landslide - why not make a night of it? In a world that feels increasingly manic and disjointed, and during a season that tends to bring you very low if you’re not already feeling pretty high, be sure that you’re doing what you can to take care of you. Life is meant to be lived, so why not live it the best way you can? Your lucky book for this month will be a timely and poignant reminder of exactly what it is that you’re living for, and why it’s so important to do what you can, while you can. Keep that glow, Scorpio, and don’t feel guilty about allowing yourself to enjoy the ride once in a while. You’re only going to get one.

 LUCKY BOOK: On Living by Kerry Egan

Riverhead Books announced the winner of its Little Free Library sweepstakes today. A 15-year-old Boy Scout from Harlingen, TX struggle to find an Eagle Scout project with meaning until he learned about Little Free Library [LFL], an Innovations in Reading Prize-winner.

“What a great concept and way to give back to my community. If you look at the LFL world map there is only one library in our entire region. You can certainly see a void for hundreds of miles in every direction. My dad always tells me to try and leave a legacy and that’s what I hope to do with this project. My goal isn’t to just build one LFL but to start a movement in the Valley with LFLs in our region.”

The prize was judged by Riverhead authors and voted on by the public. Read more of his winning entry here.

"Videos of People Falling Down" by Thomas Pierce

Recommended by Riverhead Books

Issue No. 138

How NOT to Ride Down Stairs HUGE FALL

A boy with floppy brown hair and freckled arms pedals his mountain bike toward some concrete steps outside of a high school. There are twenty-five steps, and they lead down to the teacher’s lot. The boy’s friends are waiting at the bottom to see what happens. When he reaches the first step, he leans back in his seat to keep from toppling over the handlebars. His name is Davy, and he can draw a hand perfectly. Nobody draws a hand like Davy. His art teacher wants him to apply to art schools next year. She believes one day Davy will draw not only a perfect hand but also a perfect wrist and a perfect arm and, if he is diligent, a perfect shoulder too. Beyond that she dares not hope. Necks are the most beautiful part of the female body, and no one has ever captured one as it really is.

Read the full story here!

About the Author

Thomas Pierce was born and raised in South Carolina. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Oxford American, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Virginia Creative Writing Program, he lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife and daughter.

About the Guest Editor

Founded in 1994 by Susan Petersen Kennedy, Riverhead Books is now well established as a publisher of bestselling literary fiction and quality nonfiction. Throughout its history, Riverhead has been dedicated to publishing extraordinary groundbreaking, unique writers. Riverhead’s books and authors have won or been finalists for Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, National Book Critic Circle Awards, MacArthur Genius Awards, Hurston Wright Legacy Awards, Dayton Literary Peace Prizes, and numerous other distinctions.

“Videos of People Falling Down” from HALL OF SMALL MAMMALS (January 8, 2015) is reprinted by permission of Riverhead Books. © Copyright Thomas Pierce 2014.

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Sharing monthly destinies, shaping personal libraries


Happy, happy birthday, Scorpio!!! Congrats on making it to another one! I know at times it’s felt like a crawl - what a year, huh? - but this is your month to celebrate the glory that is being you. You know what can really kill a celebration? Baggage. I know the past few months have been pretty heavy, but I have some great news for you: you have permission to let it go. As you come into a brand new year of life, make the decision to stop dwelling in your problems and start working to find solutions. Forcing yourself to get up and go is the best way to keep from feeling stuck. Take it from the main character of your lucky book this month, Miraflores. When her mother falls ill, she doesn’t simply mope & cope - she makes a bold move: a trip to Panama, her family’s home, in search of clues about her father, who she believes holds the key to healing her mother. In doing so, she discovers so much more, including clues to what had so long been a maddening mystery: her own identity. Choosing to step outside of your own emotional bubble can be daunting, Scorpio, but the rewards - particularly the accidental ones - far outweigh the risks. November is your month! Take it!

LUCKY BOOK: The World in Half by Cristina Henríquez


Alright, Sag, get ready for a month of serious chill. You can lower those defenses and wave the white flag - you aren’t falling into any of those pesky political argument traps over family dinners this holiday season, nope. This is your time to kick back and settle down, in whatever way you prefer to unwind. Don’t fret if it takes you some time to find that perfect spot to be yourself in - you’ve had your hackles raised for so long that it’s normal to need a readjustment period. The author of your lucky book wrote an entire memoir about her quest for that elusive happy place - in her case, it’s a bar. Not just any bar, but the bar, the bar that will be the unique blend of comforting, hilarious, exciting, stimulating, and satisfying that she needs. As a lifelong lover and aficionado of bar culture - from both sides of the counter - she embarks on a journey through various locales to find her personal oasis of chill. So, where’s yours, Sag? That is your mission for this month. Tie up any pesky loose ends from the last few weeks, and let yourself just be. Cheers!

LUCKY BOOK: Drinking with Men by Rosie Schaap


Cap, you’re a political firecracker this month, and it couldn’t be more timely. But you know that activism is about much more than one election: it’s a constant, enduring effort to work within small spaces like your family, your school, and your community to preserve the rights and wellbeing of your fellow citizens. That work can’t be done alone, as you know very well: you’re all about effective collaboration, which is sure to help your effort will go a long way. Your lucky book this month is a powerful examination the ways that dangerous political ideals can infiltrate a small family, and the ever-present struggle to stay true to tradition and responsibility while not sacrificing personal values. Set in Nairobi, but told from the point of view of a Somali narrator transplanted to Rome, this is a fascinating look past the political mayhem on the surface to the very human center: how to function within a family in way that is both authentic and aware of the greater climate outside of their doors. How to demonstrate love to young children within a society that does not necessarily love you. As we enter a new political era, Cap, this book offers a profound take on how to navigate these very difficult questions, but in a refreshingly different environment. Although, as I’m sure you know, sometimes the most faraway and foreign settings can feel the most familiar. Keep fighting the good fight, Capricorn. Make us proud.

LUCKY BOOK: Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah


Well don’t you cut a dashing figure in that power suit, Aquarius? Whether it be a literal or metaphorical suit, this month, it’s BUSINESS TIME. Last month was for marathoning Luke Cage and having long, lazy (and boozy) brunches. In November, you’re making some serious power moves, and have no time for petty distractions. This clear-eyed focus is a gift, Aquarius, and you know what they say about gift horses and mouths. Sometimes it takes a while to get to the point where you feel ready to take determined strides towards your goals, as the author of your lucky book knows well. Following an extended overseas trip, she returned to her home in New England feeling uninspired, clueless as to what she wanted to do next. Sound familiar? We’ve allllll been there. What did she do next? Go back to school, scroll through Craigslist for a temp job? No, she bought a motorcycle. What follows is a beautiful tale of finding the inner strength to discover her passions and reclaim her life in a way that is totally authentic to her. We’re sure you’ll find her a kindred spirit, Aquarius, as you’re both incredibly driven to succeed. (Okay, we had to.)

LUCKY BOOK: Motorcycles I’ve Loved by Lily Brooks-Dalton


The world is your oyster, Pisces! You’re full to the brim with the spirit of adventure and discovery this month, and why not? Getting out of your comfort zone and seeing something new doesn’t have to mean dropping hundreds on a plane ticket - especially around the holidays, when airfare pricing is at its peak. No, you can be surprised by how exciting some local exploration can be - think about it, when is the last time you played tourist in your own backyard? Trailed off your normal path and discovered a hidden gem? If you aren’t convinced, and are itching to go further, we’ve got it covered in your lucky book: an epic historical adventure that takes its young protagonist through the ancient Incan empire of Peru of in 1530 as he serves as a translator to Francisco Pizarro. Forced to adapt to his new surroundings and navigate the perilous times amid the Spanish invasion, young Waman learns some unforgettable lessons about himself and what it means to truly belong. By all means, Pisces, get out and explore, but don’t leave this book behind - you truly can’t beat being able to travel this far through time and space.

LUCKY BOOK: The Gold Eaters by Ronald Wright


Wooooosaaaahhhhhhhhh. Aries, you’re cool as a cucumber this month, and we have to admit, we’re kinda jealous? Or maybe proud…okay, a little of both. Let’s be honest: you aren’t really known for having the most mellow disposition, so this month of level-headed clarity and zen is a truly impressive departure from the norm. These smooth waters extend from the boardroom to the bedroom - you’re making moves at work, but they’re behind the scenes; you don’t need or want eyes on you right now. As for your inbox - that quiet seduction thing you’ve got going on is clearly working. To celebrate your peaceful, reflective month, here’s a peaceful, reflective book that will give you small doses of witty wisdom and gentle healing to help you keep calm and carry on. This author is the real deal when it comes to spiritual health and self-awareness, and during a time like this, we can use all the help we can get keeping our internal affairs in order, wouldn’t you agree? Dive into these essays and stories with an open mind and heart, and don’t hesitate to do a bit of digging to ensure that you’re directing all of those quiet energies in the right places. What do you believe in? What does it mean to be fully alive? These are the kinds of questions your lucky book will inspire - so seize this chance to let your mind explore them, even if you can’t necessarily find the answers right away. Sometimes, the peace you need is just found in the asking.

LUCKY BOOK: Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott


As the temperatures drop, your desire to get cozy with a special someone grows. No shame in that, Taurus! In fact, this month, you are primed to enter into a partnership - whether it be for romance or business…or both, we don’t judge! As you consider getting closer with whoever has caught your eye, you’ll want to carefully consider what you are gaining, and what you are giving up. Does this person truly know you? Do you truly know them? What are the expectations being placed on the relationship? Why is this relationship important to the both of you? The truth is, Taurus, you aren’t getting any younger, and one of the main benefits of aging is being able to learn from past mistakes, past misunderstandings and miscommunications. Your lucky book this month is a short story collection that explores the themes of alienation, false assumptions, and struggling to find one’s place in the world - through the lens of characters who tend to turn commonly-held generalizations on their head. Each individual is just that - singular, unique - and cannot be shoehorned into a broader stereotype or understood as a monolith. Beware the trap of trying to simplify a person into an idea, for convenience’s sake - it’s an insult to who they truly are, and to what you are trying to build. Best of luck, Taurus. Mind your heart.

LUCKY BOOK: Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer


Hey there, lovely Gem. You know how ‘adulting’ has become a rather annoyingly ubiquitous word lately? Well, you’re going to be doing a lot of that this month, so make your peace with it. If your mind is immediately drifting to hunkering down with a budget calculator or scouting out a new job, slow down. What I’m talking about is the flipside of being a functional, responsible human - rather than adding more things to your plate, we think you should strongly consider taking a few things off. That’s right - this month, work on your power of discernment. How are you spending your time? What do you keep saying yes to? What do you eventually end up regretting? It’s great to know what you want, but equally (or perhaps more) important is a strong sense of what you don’t want. Nadia Turner, the main character in this month’s lucky book, demonstrates this power pretty well: even if you don’t agree with her decisions, it’s undeniable that she makes them with a clear-headed focus, and any repercussions that arise…well, that’s her bed to lie in. All part of being an adult, wouldn’t you say? Being deliberate with your time and resources, choosing the path that feels right, and being responsible for the aftermath, whether it be positive or negative. The key, Gemini, is just keeping your eyes open. Doing what’s best for you. If you look at adulting that way, trust me, it doesn’t seem nearly as daunting.

LUCKY BOOK: The Mothers by Brit Bennett


Lights, camera, ACTION, Cancer! You’ve been toiling on the sidelines for a while now, and November is officially your month to step out and show off. If this sounds impossible, take heart. Your proclivity to keeping a low profile and dodging large amounts of attention do not make you the kind of person who wouldn’t do well with some low key fame - quite the contrary, in fact. Your naturally laid-back demeanor and kind personality make for a genuinely likeable person…an important trait, when all eyes are on you. If you still feel torn between wanting to stay comfortably hidden and wanting some recognition for what you’ve been working on, your lucky book this month will be your touchstone. This short story collection beautifully and deftly deals with the frustration of feeling trapped between two states, whether they be related to race, relationships, children, or class. There are no easy answers or tidy little bows, because as you well know, life rarely functions in absolutes. Be comforted in knowing that your confusion is more than valid and normal; it’s a part of the human condition. But also remember that you are totally worthy (and ready, despite how you may feel) of the recognition coming your way. You can stay in the shadows if you truly want to, but we really feel you should take your place in the spotlight. You’ve earned it!

LUCKY BOOK: You Are Free by Danzy Senna


Calling all blankets, slankets, and snuggies: November is here and you are ready for some serious hibernating. We can’t fault you at all, Leo - why subject yourself to bitter-cold bar hopping and surge pricing at 2 AM when you can be warm and satisfied in the comfort of your own home? You can finally finish that scarf you started crocheting two years ago, work on your pie-making skills before the holiday family dinner rush, or make a serious dent in the Criterion Collection with a tub of kettle corn. Better yet, make it a movie night with your besties - nothing really completes an evening spent #homebodying like having your nearest and dearest curled up on your couch with you. Your lucky book this month is perfectly attuned to your mood right now - because, let’s be honest, what’s better than a book that feels like the mood you’re in? Domestic, contemplative, and more than a bit quirky? Let Claire-Louise Bennett’s unsettling, meditative, and gloriously witty prose be the cherry on top of your relaxing month spent pampering number one. Your mind, and soul, will thank you.

LUCKY BOOK: Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett


Where’s the party, Virgo?! A little cold isn’t going to stop you from having a good time this month, and you know what? We admire that. November is the month for you to step out and be an active part of your community - whether it be your current one, or a new one. That’s right - if you’ve been considering a change of pace, why wait any longer? Make the move you’ve been wanting to, and don’t look back. Life is too short to ignore your own impulses and delay your gratification when you have both the drive and the means. Your lucky book this month is a moving memoir of a hospice chaplain who shares some of the most impactful and unforgettable lessons learned from her former patients - who bettter to be inspired by, than people who have lived their lives and have incredible wisdom to share before they go? Nothing puts the here and now into perspective like envisioning yourself facing the end. What experiences do you hope to have lived? What kinds of adventures do you want to be able to relive? In between spinning from one social engagement to another this month, be sure to find a quiet corner and recharge with this little book. And then: keep on living.

LUCKY BOOK: On Living by Kerry Egan


Oh generous Libra, with the holidays around the corner and the festive spirit beginning to creep its way into your veins, you’re already creating lists and sub-lists of things to buy for loved ones (and maaaaybe a few things for yourself). Don’t bother denying it! We love your enthusiasm, and your commitment to making each holiday season better than last year’s for your friends and family is touching. But we have to give you a word of warning: relax. Take some time to budget and really examine your financial situation before ordering that iPhone 7. Figure out how to be sensible and pragmatic with your debit and/or credit cards before the onslaught of holiday sales - and debt - truly begins. And if you’re already dreading the boredom that will set in as soon as you open those spreadsheets, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Your lucky book this month is a riveting, wild romp through the mundane and fantastic; the possible and impossible. This collection of short stories wonders, at its core, what it means to exist in an absurd world, and how to make sense of our place in it. So when the quotidian drama of reality gets you down - balancing checkbooks? Yawn - have this book handy for a mood-boosting dose of literary insanity. It’s therapeutic, believe us.

LUCKY BOOK: Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds
New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.

“As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Trump Administration.

“This is how a community of knowledge can become dangerous,” Sloman and Fernbach observe. The two have performed their own version of the toilet experiment, substituting public policy for household gadgets. In a study conducted in 2012, they asked people for their stance on questions like: Should there be a single-payer health-care system? Or merit-based pay for teachers? Participants were asked to rate their positions depending on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the proposals. Next, they were instructed to explain, in as much detail as they could, the impacts of implementing each one. Most people at this point ran into trouble. Asked once again to rate their views, they ratcheted down the intensity, so that they either agreed or disagreed less vehemently.

Sloman and Fernbach see in this result a little candle for a dark world. If we—or our friends or the pundits on CNN—spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of policy proposals, we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views. This, they write, “may be the only form of thinking that will shatter the illusion of explanatory depth and change people’s attitudes.”

We all scream for THE MOTHERS!

Riverhead is known for combining two of life’s most necessary pleasures—books and food. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Riverhead Table, one of our most celebrated projects, and Riverhead Bar, the fun and boozy spinoff. So we jumped at the opportunity to partner up with one of our favorite Instagram accounts, Ice Cream Books, and innovative ice cream parlor, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Creams, on a limited edition flavor inspired by one of our most buzzed about Fall debuts, The Mothers by Brit Bennett.

Ice Cream Books took the world by storm when they launched this summer, sharing stunning, evocative photos of frozen delights paired with great reads. This is the first time they have collaborated to release an original literary-themed flavor, and who better to partner with than Lower East Side favorite Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, known for their collaborations, unique events, and hands-on, small batch approach to ice cream.  

Morgenstern’s crafted the exclusive Sour Plum Jam Sorbet—a mix of sour, sweet, and creaminess, inspired by an evocative quote from The Mothers:

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

The flavor was served during the week of October 17th, and to kick it all off, Ice Cream Books released a stunning image of the Sour Plum Jam Sorbet atop the book.

On a balmy Tuesday afternoon in New York, during the second week of Brit’s book tour, Morgenstern’s hosted an Ice Cream Social in their parlor. Senior Publicity Manager Liz, Brit, and I took the time in the middle of a busy day of book interviews to celebrate the good things in life—the long awaited release of The Mothers, a successful beginning to Brit’s first tour, and of course, the unforgettable sorbet.

Joining us were Michael and Chantal of the Snapchat media group Sweet for a video and photo shoot. Thankfully, we “reserved” (using this term loosely, although we did get cute card placements in front of a few seats!) the parlor during non-peak hours, so that we could move freely around the shop and enjoy the view of The Mothers sitting next to the register.

By the time Brit started reading excerpts from The Mothers, as one usually does in an ice cream shop, customers started to roll in for a rush. Ice cream attendants reached over the glass, shouting, “Chocolate chip!” as Brit read some of the more moving sections of the novel, suppressing the urge to laugh.

We then went outside with the Sweet team for an introduction shot very much à la MTV Cribs. Suddenly, we knew what it must feel like to be a Kardashian. More photos were taken while Brit held onto a dripping ice cream cone, trying not to get her shirt dirty.

“Maybe if you hold the cone closer to yourself? It will make it look more natural?” Michael suggested.

Natural, in the most unnatural sense, of course.

After the video and photo shoot and after the rush, Liz, Brit, and I sat by the counter, gulping spoonful after spoonful of ice cream. We took a breather from all of the wonderful chaos. “This is so surreal,“ I remember Brit repeating several times.

The sorbet was too delicious not to share, so we carried a few pints in a bright mini cooler (provided by Brit’s Editor Sarah) to Brit’s event in conversation with Angela Flournoy in Fort Greene, Brooklyn’s beloved Greenlight Bookstore. While Brit named the books she would bring if she were trapped on a desert island, the audience enjoyed bowls of the sorbet. I stood in the back by the shelves in awe at the turnout. We had arrived 30 minutes early so that Brit could do a short signing beforehand, and even then, all of the seats had already been taken. The store was packed to the brim and even spilling out onto the streets.

Brit was right—it was surreal. Surreal, but we had known all along that it was possible.