Weekend reading

Chris Schluep on January 15, 2021

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I usually look at what the editors are reading over the weekend and think I want to read that.... I want to read that.... I want to read that.... This week I want to read every book on the list. And the ones that I've already read, I want to read again. Vannessa is continuing a mystery series that she started way back in 2003. Seira is reading a book that was recommended to her by a famous author. Al is reading a big book that's publishing in March. Sarah is reading a past novel by an author who really blew up last year. Erin is reading a feel good novel that will soon be a feel good movie starring feel good Tom Hanks. Adrian is reading a book that I really enjoyed last month. And I am reading a classic whose language I adore, although I wasn't totally sure about returning to it. Happy reading.

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear

I've loved Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs novels since I read the first one back in 2003. While the first books in the series were set during WWI, Maisie is now working for the British government on a secret intelligence project ahead of WWII. So far, I've just gotten to where a young delivery boy tells Maisie he stumbled into a murder, and identifies the murderer as a Frenchman. Clearly, Maisie's twin jobs—as an investigator and as an intelligence agent—will come into play. Maisie, so pragmatic, smart, kind, and logical, is the perfect character to spend time with this weekend. —Vannessa Cronin

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Last week the editors got together with one of our favorite authors, Kristin Hannah, and her delightful publicist, Dorie, on one of the most fun Zoom cocktail hours I’ve had to date. What does that have to do with The Push, you might wonder? Hannah gave the book a great blurb, and when I asked her about it her enthusiasm convinced me that this will be the thriller I listen to on my drive to Cle Elum this weekend. I‘ve downloaded the audio and can’t wait to start listening. —Seira Wilson

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen

I maintain that The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, has one of the best openings in contemporary literature: "I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces." So, I am over the moon to report that the follow-up novel, The Committed opens similarly: "I may no longer be a spy or a sleeper, but I am most definitely a spook." The book is publishing on March 2 and I can't wait to read it this weekend. —Al Woodworth

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney’s Normal People—the book and the excellent Hulu adaptation—continues to haunt me. There’s something so heartbreakingly real about the story; I literally cannot get it out of my head. I haven’t yet made time to read Rooney’s Conversations with Friends but I’m giving myself a break from reading books being published in the future to take a look back at my “Books I Missed” list. Rooney’s dialogue and observations are spot-on, and if every review is correct, Conversations with Friends will not disappoint. It’s also worth mentioning that a new book by Sally Rooney was just announced this week: Beautiful World, Where Are You (September 7, 2021), and it’s high on my own highly anticipated books of 2021 list. —Sarah Gelman

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Can Tom Hanks play a bad guy for once? Please? Now that I want to see, not so much his portrayal of Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd in the film adaptation of Paulette Jiles’ National Book Award finalist, News of the World. So I’ll reread it this weekend instead. In it, a war-weary widower travels from town to town reading relevant bits of news to paying customers. In one such town he is given a $50 dollar gold piece to ferry a kidnapped girl back to what’s left of her familyher parents and sister having been murdered by members of the Kiowa tribe who spare the then 6-year-old and raise her as one of their own. Fast-forward four years and tribe life is the only life she knows, so she’s not about to go quietly with a stranger who doesn’t speak her language, whose motives she does not trust, and to a place that is not what she now considers home. Even if it’s Tom Hanks. If you need a good yarn where the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and you can be sure the former will ride off into the sunset at the story’s end—and I think most of us do right now—this is a book for you. —Erin Kodicek

Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.'s Life and Win the 1960 Election by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick

As Amazon senior editor Chris Schluep said about Nine Days when we picked it as a Best Book of the Month: “To paraphrase Lenin, sometimes there are weeks where decades happen. Or in this case, nine days. The authors place the reader into a tense historical moment, populated by historical figures just coming into their own, to illustrate how King’s jailing, and Kennedy’s reaction, formed an inflection point that still defines our political parties today.” As we look ahead to MLK Day, I’m planning on spending time with this book and learning more about Dr. King’s impact on the 1960 election between Nixon and Kennedy. —Adrian Liang

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Ian Frazier wrote about rereading Lolita in a recent New Yorker piece. I haven’t read it yet. I decided instead to reread Lolita myself and later read Frazier’s article to compare notes. There are classics that I go back to relatively frequently (every year or two), and then there are classics that I think I should read again but don’t. The icky factor of Nabokov’s great novel had me often thinking of the opening paragraph to the first chapter—but not actually reading the book—my tongue tripping three steps down the palate until I felt a little icky myself. But the other day, after seeing Frazier's article, I picked up the book. It really is good. Strangely, reading this novel is conjuring images for me of Nabokov out west catching butterflies, driving around Wyoming with his family while he finishes up the manuscript to Lolita. It's an interesting and unexpected juxtaposition to the creepiness of Humbert Humbert. I wonder if Frazier talks about that in his New Yorker piece. —Chris Schluep

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