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5.Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

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You can’t just use words like “great” or “amazing” to describe this story collection. I settled on astonishing, arresting, and staggering. It requires language that pinpoints at least a little the ways that Difficult Women will wreck you. You will be wrecked, but you will also feel affirmed and seen and known. That may sound like a contradiction, but that is what Difficult Women is all about. The contradictions of existing as a woman in the world. The contradictions of sex, love, and connection. It is possible to want to be held and to be hurt at the same time and that is the essence of these stories.

–Jessica Woodbury

6.The Fireman by Joe Hill

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This was my first Joe Hill novel. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t sure how to approach it. I heard all of these references to Ray Bradbury and Harry Potter when people talked about it, and I couldn’t figure out a way to put the two together in a way that I could handle. Then, I found myself with an audible credit and saw that Kate Mulgrew was the narrator. I will listen to that woman read the nutritional information on a box of sugary cereal.  What I found as I listened is that the combo of Joe and Kate can’t go wrong.  He writes stories that are meant to be listened to, and she was meant to be their voice.

–Cassandra Neace

7.The Fisherman by John Langan

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A fellow Rioter recommended this one to all the horror lovers out there and, because I’ve already read all of the Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Nick Cutter in existence, I jumped. A story about two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, you wouldn’t expect many thrills and chills from the initial premise. But I was immediately drawn in by the book’s slow build, which effortlessly combines both present-day horrors with a long, horrific tale from the past. Somebody bring me all of the John Langan!

— Steph Auteri

8.Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

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There’s no shortage of love for Colin Dickey’s Ghostland here at Book Riot. I listened to this on audio and found it to be a wonderful book that’s part architectural history, part anthropology, part travelogue, and part folklore study. Dickey does a great job blending scholarly arguments about cultural memory, trauma, and place-making with contemporary takes on urban legends and ghost stories. It’s an incredibly thought-provoking book that manages to ask all sorts of big questions about important topics without being overburdened by dry prose. It’s a fun, smart analysis of what makes a place haunted.

–Ashley Bowen-Murphy

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