Jenna Bush Hager described “The Measure,” her July Read With Jenna book club pick, as a book that will make you appreciate life’s “beautiful little moments.”
The novel, written by first author Nikki Erlick, is set in a not-too-distant future completely disrupted by a change. Overnight, people around the world (or, at least, everyone over 22) wakes up to find a box outside their door. In the small box is a string that measures the length of their life.
“The Measure” is as stimulating as it is propelling. When you reach the end, you might wonder what other books strike a balance between character and philosophy, which helps you ask the “big questions” about life.
Luckily for us, author Erlick provided TODAY with five fictional books that sound like “The Measure,” as well as five books she’s just been enjoying lately. Find the full list below.
Five Books Readers Might Enjoy If They Liked ‘The Measure’
Another Read With Jenna pick, “Dear Edward” is the definition of a teardrop. The book follows 12-year-old Edward, the sole survivor of a plane crash that claimed the lives of 186 passengers, including his entire family. When announcing the choice, Jenna said she chose “Dear Edward” because “it’s a book about love and loss and finding your way past the unthinkable”. Napolitano also shared their own recommendations with us.
Love, as Saeed and Nadia discover in this terse allegorical novel, is a powerful force – but not strong enough to stop the collapse of society. The young couple fall in love with each other as their town is plunged into war. Then, with a touch of magical realism, they discover a series of doors that can transport them away from their homeland and start a new life. “Exit West” will have you reflecting on the experience of being a refugee and what it means to leave home for a place that can welcome you but doesn’t welcome you.
Tom Hazard sometimes wishes he could stop time. Instead, it keeps going through it, and through it, and through it. Tom can live forever, thanks to a genetic quirk. The only threat to his life of immortality is to develop relationships with mortals – that is, never to fall in love. In Matt Haig’s intellectual but captivating page-turner, Tom breaks that rule.
Like “The Measure”, “The Age of Miracles” imagines how society might adapt to sudden and seemingly fantastic change. Instead of a string to measure time, in this book the Earth slows down in its orbit. of course, has ramifications for day length and ecosystems. It also completely disrupts the rhythm of people’s lives. An ordinary family finds themselves caught in a recognizable but undeniably quirky world and must settle there, even if it is the end of days.
In “The Power”, the women of the world discover that they have a power, uh, well, the ability to shoot electricity from their fingers. A few flashes later, and the whole world order is there. But don’t expect a matriarchal utopia to arise. Truly, “The Power” is an interrogation of power itself and its corrupting influences.
Five of Erlick’s all-time favorite books
The premise of “Bel Canto” is admittedly stressful: a party in an unnamed Latin American country is held hostage. But Ann Patchett’s literary magic moves people away from the “hostage” and “kidnapper” archetypes. Among the main characters are Roxane Coss, an opera singer, who flew in for the winner of the party, and the Japanese businessman who requested her presence, Katsumi Hosokawa. Over the weeks, unlikely relationships are formed even in this uncomfortable environment.
Fredrik Backman’s books have a knack for making people believe in humanity. Like “Bel Canto”, it is an ultimately edifying novel about a hostage-taking. A bank robber breaks into an open house and takes her hostage, leaving the house hunters and real estate agent to ponder how they got to this moment and negotiate alliances that lead to change.
At first, “Never Let Me Go” reads like a classic English boarding school novel: idyllic settings, tales of student bonding, and feuds. But there is something wrong with this school. The disturbing implications build as their reality unfolds. It’s worth reading this haunting novel before the twist gets ruined for you.
Enter the maze with Piranesi. That’s all he remembers; everything he’s ever known. The house descriptions make the setting lively and claustrophobic. Susanna Clarke, author of “Jonathan Strange and Doctor Norrell,” weaves a riddle out of a novel. You will discover the rules of the world of the novel with Piranesi, and this journey of discovery is what makes the book special.
Ted Chiang’s stories are exercises in the imagination, each a portal to a new world. The eight stories in this collection range from science fiction to fantasy, but are united in their sense of thought-provoking surrealism. One of the stories later inspired “Arrival,” Amy Adams’ film about aliens who come to Earth with an indecipherable message of great significance.