What Millions Readers Are Reading (Vol. 1)

Welcome to the first installment of a new column where Millions readers can sound off on the books they’re currently reading. Tell us about what you’re reading—hot takes always welcome—and you might just end up in next month’s column.



Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth (1966)

I wanted to celebrate Barth’s life by exploring more of his work, and am now kicking myself at not reading Giles Goat-Boy sooner. It’s a maximal novel that celebrates its style, proudly defiant and aware that it’s an oddity. In the form of parody, Barth mixes genres and traditions like the odyssey, the messianic, and the campus novel in a sort-of parable about the Cold War. Its narrator, George the goat-boy, is so affable in his whimsical brutality. If I had found this book as a stubborn teen, I would have fallen sooner and deeper into love with language art. —Zachary

coverGet the Picture by Bianca Bosker (2024)

A nonfiction book by a journalist trying to understand the art world. She works for artists and galleries trying to find her voice in contemporary art. As someone who works in the art world, I’m finding it a bit tacky at times but I’m also enjoying some aspects of the book. —Mána

coverThe Cemetery of Untold Stories by Julia Alvarez (2024)

I am loving it. I’ve been a fan of Julia Alvarez for a long time—this book does not disappoint. —Gina

A Model Childhood by Christa Wolf (1976)

cover Millions Readers

A Model Childhood is a book about memory, guilt, and shame. Wolf wrote it in the 1970s to contend with (it seems) her memories of growing up in a Nazi family in a town that was then German but ceded to Poland after the war. The writing is virtuosic, with two timelines—the child’s life, and the present-day writer revisiting, interrogating, and struggling to understand the life—running side-by-side. It’s incredibly rigorous, a beautiful demonstration of how writing fiction can help us toward knowing ourselves, as individuals and within our societies. —Rose

cover Millions ReadersWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

After long last, I am finally reading Wolf Hall. I bought the hardcover from my local library’s annual book sale a few years ago, but it sat in a pile with other books awaiting the day I finally buy yet another bookshelf, and I somewhat forgot about it. However, this year, that same library is doing a 2024 reading challenge, and one of the categories is “Recently Deceased Author,” so that’s what re-reminded me, given that Hilary Mantel died in 2021. I’d always intended to read this beautifully written account of Oliver Cromwell’s dealings with Henry VIII and all the cultural/court chaos within. And there’s a plague! Lots of parallels to be drawn to our modern day—how power is used, how the powerful respond to rules and customs having consequences, but also, how a person’s family and upbringing determine so much. I’m only around 130 pages into it, but it’s worth the literal weight of reading a 500+ page hardcover, and it’s as great a book as everyone said. I’m looking forward to the rest of it. —Saracover Millions Readers

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis (2014)

Shook me to the core! —Ulla

cover Millions ReadersStory of My Life by Jay McInerney (1988)

Story of My Life follows a young woman’s misadventures in the druggy socialite scene of nocturnal 1980’s New York. The tone is so conversational and sarcastic —you feel like you’re on the phone with this candid, sardonic girl who’s jaded with the whole scene but too engrained in it to step away. The whole cast of characters are simultaneously so above and beneath everything. They have money, status, and beauty, but lack any real intimacy, connection, contentment, or aspiration. It’s a wickedly fun novel that to me, is a cautionary tale about decays when one focuses on the pursuit of pleasure. I love McInerney—he always nails down crippling personal deficiencies in his characters with such a balance of self-intimacy and distance from oneself. —Michael

cover Millions ReadersSwimming With Dead Stars by Vi Khi Nao (2022)

This is the seventh book I’ve read by Nao in the last two years: Fish Carcass, Fish in Exile, The Vanishing Point of Desire, The Room, Umbilical Hospital, A Brief Alphabet of Torture, and now this one. One of the most electrifying works of literature I’ve read in my life, with a highly compelling sense of surrealism and much gender-bending. —Ernie

cover Millions ReadersA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

It’s a strange experience to slowly realize you’re reading fan fiction, with no clues about that given on the cover or in the marketing of the book. But this is straight up Tolstoy/Dostoevsky fan fic, imagining a world where one of their idiosyncratic, charming aristocrats made it to the post-Bolshevik world and gave us their thoughts on how the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s a little too self-satisfied I think, and I’m not as in love with the characters or the milieu as the author is. Not sure I’ll finish it. —Amelia

Savoring every sentence of an 18th-century epistolary novel? Trudging dutifully through the buzzy memoir of the moment? Tell us about the book in your life right now—and it might just end up in the next What Millions Readers Are Reading column.

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