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The novel, written by debut author Nikki Erlick, is set in a not-so-distant future completely upended by one change. Overnight, the people of the world (or, at least, everyone over 22) wakes up to find a box outside their doorstep. Within the small box is a string that measures the length of their lives.
“The Measure” is as thought-provoking as it is propulsive. When you’ve reached the end, you might find yourself wondering what other books strike a balance between character-driven and philosophical, that will help you ask the “big questions” about life.
Luckily for us, author Erlick provided TODAY with five books of fiction that are like “The Measure,” as well as five books that she’s simply been enjoying lately. Find the entire list below.
Five books readers might enjoy if they liked 'The Measure'
Another Read With Jenna pick, “Dear Edward” is the definition of a tearjerker. The book follows 12-year-old Edward, the sole survivor of a plane crash that claims the lives of 186 passengers, including his entire family. When announcing the pick, Jenna said she chose “Dear Edward” because “it is a book about love and loss and finding your way after the unthinkable.” Napolitano also shared her own recommendations with us.
Love, as Saeed and Nadia find out in this terse allegorical novel, is a powerful force — but not one strong enough to stop societal collapse. The young couple falls for each other as their city becomes embroiled in war. Then, thanks to a spot of magical realism, they discover a series of doors that can transport them away from their country and start a new life. “Exit West” will have you thinking about the experience of being a refugee, and what it means to leave home behind for a place that may host you but doesn’t welcome you.
Tom Hazard sometimes wishes he could stop time. Instead he keeps going through it, and through it, and through it. Tom can live forever, thanks to a genetic quirk. The one threat to his life of immortality is developing relationships with mortals — a.k.a never falling in love. In Matt Haig’s intellectual but gripping page-turner, Tom breaks that rule.
Like “The Measure,” “The Age of Miracles" imagines how society might adjust to a sudden, and seemingly fantastical, change. Instead of a string to measure time, in this book, the Earth is slowing in its orbit. This, of course, has ramifications on the length of the days and on ecosystems. It also completely disrupts the rhythm of people's lives. One ordinary family finds themselves caught in a world that is recognizable but undeniably off-kilter and has to make a home in it, even if it’s the end of days.
In “The Power,” the women of the world discover they have a, uh, well, power — the ability to shoot electricity from their fingers. A few flashes later, and the whole world order is. But don’t expect a matriarchal utopia to rise up. Really, “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 taken hostage. But Ann Patchett’s literary magic unfolds people away from the archetypes of “hostage” and “kidnapper.” Among the main characters are Roxane Coss, an opera singer, flown in for the party's honoree, and the Japanese businessman who requested her presence, Katsumi Hosokawa. As the weeks go on, unlikely relationships form even in this uncomfortable environment.
Fredrik Backman’s books have a knack for making people believe in humanity. Like “Bel Canto,” this is an ultimately uplifting novel about a hostage situation. A bank robber bursts into an open house and takes it hostage, leaving the house hunters and real estate agent to contemplate how they got to this moment, and to broker alliances that lead to change.
At first, “Never Let Me Go” reads like a classic English boarding school novel: idyllic settings, recitations of students' bonds and spats. But there’s something not quite right with this school. The unsettling implications build as their reality comes out. It's worth reading this haunting novel before the twist is spoiled for you.
Enter the labyrinth along with Piranesi. It’s all he can remember; all he’s ever known. Descriptions of the house make the setting seem vivid and claustrophobic. Susanna Clarke, author of “Jonathan Strange and Doctor Norrell,” weaves a riddle of a novel. You'll discover the rules of the novel's world along with Piranesi, and that journey of discovery is what makes the book special.
Ted Chiang’s stories are exercises in 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 went on to inspire "Arrival," the Amy Adams movie about aliens who come to Earth bearing an indecipherable message of great importance.
For more book recommendations, check out:
- The best beach reads of all time, according to authors
- What beach read to pick up this summer, based on your zodiac sign
- All of Jenna Bush Hager's book club picks