Weekend Reading

Al Woodworth on July 17, 2020
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Weekend reading

This weekend the editors are diving into novels that conjure emotional roller coasters, fevers, and just plain comfort. A lot of these books are about love—in varying forms, between husband and wives, childhood friends, kids and their parents, siblings, and just maybe, a cook and a webbed-footed daughter of a Venetian boatman. Intriguing, right?

Here's what the Amazon Book Review editors are reading this weekend.


Monogamy by Sue Miller

I’ve been gravitating toward emotionally fraught novels lately. I think it’s because life has slowed down so much, and because my circle of experience has been reduced to my house, my yard, and sometimes my neighborhood, that I’m seeking adventure through other people’s emotional experiences in novels. At least that’s what I think it is—maybe a couple more emotional novels will reveal the real truth. This weekend I’m reading Monogamy, about a happy bookselling couple where the husband suddenly dies and the wife finds out he’s been unfaithful to her. I’m looking forward to this emotional roller coaster. It’s the only roller coaster I’ll be riding this weekend.—Chris Schluep


Don't Ask Me Where I'm From by Jennifer De Leon

I was excited about this book when it was due to be published in May, so it’s on the top of my To Be Read pile for August. Best-selling author Celeste Ng calls it, “A funny, perceptive, and much-needed book telling a much-needed story.” And other reviews have been equally glowing. Liliana Cruz is trying to fit in at her new all-white high school that is worlds apart from how she feels in her inner-city Boston neighborhood. But when family secrets are exposed and racial tensions take root at her school, something has to give. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From has all the hallmarks of a book I’ll want to read in one sitting, so I’m glad it’s the weekend!—Seira Wilson


The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

I have Ferrante fever, again. I had it bad a few years ago with the Neapolitan quartet, and with Ferrante’s new novel publishing in September, I am once again sending myself to the couch until I finish the very last page. The Lying Life of Adults follows Giovanna through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. As she takes to heart her Aunt’s maxim to “look, look carefully," an entirely new world opens up to her—one that simultaneously frightens and excites, and changes her whole perception of her parents, the city she loves, and the people around her. I love the intimacy of Ferrante’s novels; I can’t help but be swept away, fully consumed by the contradictions and complexities of the human spirit. —Al Woodworth


The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

The team has been talking lately about how our reading habits have changed during the pandemic. One thing we have in common is returning to favorites—it kinda feels like visiting a trusted friend in trying times. For me one of those books is The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. I typically read it every summer anyway, probably because I'd rather be in Venice where much of the book takes place, and Winterson's skilled pen will transport you there, and to the brutal battlefields of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. These settings could not be more different, nor the two main characters—a humble soldier/cook, and the webbed-footed daughter of a Venetian boatman—and yet their destinies are inextricably linked. Unsurprisingly The Passion explores love in all its forms, but mostly the unrequited variety. What can I say? I'm a repeat wallower. And it’s going to happen again this weekend. —Erin Kodicek


Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

Lydia Kang's editor, Jodi Warshaw, describes Tillie Pembroke, the heroine of Opium and Absinthe as "privileged, socially awkward, and hopelessly preoccupied with science." The only person who understands her is her sister Lucy, so when she finds Lucy's dead body, Tilly is devastated. And intrigued, since Lucy's body bears a curious mark: twin puncture wounds on her neck that suggest a vampiric murderer. Can such a thing be possible in 1899 New York? Will Tillie's growing laudanum habit get in the way of being able to tell truth from fantasy? I love historical mysteries, unreliable narrators, and The Alienist, so this novel (and how beautiful is that jacket?) promises to satisfy all my loves. —Vannessa Cronin


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