Weekend Reading

Seira Wilson on June 08, 2018
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This week went by FAST and it's time to kick back with a good book. Or two. Or six. Our nonfiction line-up for weekend reading runs the gambit from Winston Churchill to memorable podcasts.  Throw in a debut novel about a reunion of friends that's got Erin on edge, and it's shaping up to be a pretty interesting couple of days out of the office...


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I finally watched the 60 Minutes episode about the rise and fall of the biotech Theranos, and it made me move Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup to the top of my reading pile. Author John Carreyrou is a top-notch journalist and this book reads like a crime thriller. I never cease to be amazed at the big-league deception that incredibly charismatic people are able to pull off, and Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is a prime example. Bad Blood is a cautionary tale that we should really pay close attention to, given that not only was large scale fraud involved, but this bogus technology was being used in diagnostic healthcare.  Just wait until I finish the book, then I'll REALLY get fired up about it...(haha) --Seira Wilson


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Four former classmates return to the Rust Belt with unfinished business in Stephen Markley's timely and insightful debut, Ohio. Bill is drug addict with a dubious package to deliver, Tina and Stacey have scores to settle, and Dan wants to reignite an old flame...Markley does a deft job of developing compelling characters and an unsettling mood. Something terrible is clearly going to happen. I’m turning the pages with trepidation.--Erin Kodicek


 

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As I flew home from BookExpo, the annual conference where authors, publishers, and booksellers come together, I watched The Darkest Hour, and it reignited my interest in Winston Churchill. While the film follows the first few weeks of Churchill’s term as prime minister, I decided to go back farther in time this weekend to Churchill’s involvement in the second Boer War, which Candice Millard wrote about in Hero of the Empire. I’m a few chapters in, and Churchill’s personality leaps off the page even at these very early moments in his political career, when he really has no career to speak of but a mountain of ambition and an already-stated desire to become prime minister one day. But if World War II itself is of greater interest, I cannot recommend highly enough Stephen E. Ambrose’s D-Day. Read it this year, which is the 74th anniversary of D-Day, so that you understand the battle in all its complexity by the time the 75th anniversary comes around next year. Hint: Both authors have a fine list of books that make excellent Father’s Day gifts for the dad who is an armchair historian.  -- Adrian Liang

 

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Listeners of Kevin Allison’s RISK! podcast are accustomed to its tales of poor judgment, embarrassing anecdotes, and just difficult situations. Some involve drugs, others young love. There’s one about Spanx, among other things. The title doesn’t necessarily refer to unsafe behavior (though there’s plenty of it); it’s about the risk taken in standing up in front of an audience, alone, spilling secrets. And though the show generally features well known storytellers, it's Allison's mission to encourage “people from all walks of life to turn their most meaningful experiences into powerful self-expression” via his workshops provided at The Story Studio. Now there’s RISK! the book (July 17), featuring some of the podcast’s most memorable monologues from contributors including Dan Savage, Aisha Tyler, A.J. Jacobs, and Lili Taylor. The truth will set you free. —Jon Foro

 

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For me, summer means parties on the patio, and over the years, I’ve learned great tricks from Martha Stewart and the gorgeous house-and-home magazines that pile up next to my bed. There are shawls on the back of my friends’ chairs, in case the night turns cool; there’s water in pretty bottles down the center of the table so we can all serve ourselves, and there’s something for everyone to eat, whether they’re vegan or meat-loving. But making sure the conversation is up to the standard of the place settings? Trickier. Priya Parker is an expert in that overlooked but crucial skill. Her background in conflict resolution taught her the value and impact of getting together in-person, with a set intention. I’ve been fascinated to read her book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, which Riverhead published in May. Whether you are planning a dinner party, a family reunion, or a work conference, her very practical reflections, stories, and suggestions will make you think about your goals and how to set up your gathering for success – however you define that. “Own your power as a host,” Parker writes, “and do so not to aggrandize yourself but to protect, equalize, and connect your guests.” For me, that serious advice sounds like a recipe for summer fun. – Sarah Harrison Smith


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