Weekend reading

Chris Schluep on December 06, 2019
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Well, it's certainly reading weather out there. There is snow across much of the country, and here in Seattle the skies have taken on a Mordor-like hue that murmurs perhaps you should stay in today and read. And what are the Amazon editors reading? You'll have to scroll down to find out. We hope that you, too, have time to read a book this weekend, when you're not catching up on holiday gift shopping.

By the way, books make great gifts. Books are thoughtful. And is there anything that's easier to wrap? Happy reading.



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When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

I’ve been looking forward to reading this debut novel for a couple of months now, and even though it doesn’t release until January 28, 2020, I decided it was time. I’m almost 100 pages in and I can already tell a few things: 1) I’m going to cry at some point. It will be a sloppy, my-heart-wants-to-burst-in-a-good-way, book cry. 2) This is going to be a book that I will probably be talking about for months. Maybe for all of 2020, and beyond. We’ll see how things go, but right now, that’s how I’m feeling about it, and I can’t wait to see if I’m right when I get to the end.

In this novel, Zelda is a young woman with a vast knowledge of, and interest in, Vikings. She would like to be one herself—but there are also Valkyries, who are very powerful and important, as they decide which of the Vikings dies in battle. Zelda is 21 years old but lives with—and is taken care of by—her older brother, Gert. Some people think Gert is a thug. Gert loves Zelda fiercely, and vice versa. They are each other’s tribe. Just telling you that little bit about the book makes me want to go home and read the rest right now…—Seira Wilson


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The Black Cathedral: A Novel by Marcial Gala, translated by Anna Kushner

I’ve been thinking a lot about place recently – how a physical environment can define a person’s belief system, actions, hopes, and dreams. So it’s no coincidence that I’m diving head first into Marcial Gala’s tautly woven novel about a neighborhood in Cuba whose fate rests with the doomed construction of a cathedral. The Black Cathedral is told from varying points of view from members of the community (gangsters, kids, gossips, murderers, ghosts) – each distinct, dark, and scheming - as they become intertwined and disrupted by the shadow of home. Sometimes violent, sometimes comic, this novel seems to be exactly what I’m in the mood for.—Al Woodworth



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H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I was very excited to learn this week that Helen Macdonald has a new book coming out, Vesper Flights, but not until August! To tide me over I’m revisiting her highly acclaimed memoir, H Is for Hawk (which also boasts one of the best book covers in recent memory). In it Macdonald is gutted by the loss of her father and processes that grief in an usual way—by raising a goshawk. So you will meet Mabel, not your typical bloodthirsty specimen, as she is trained to hunt like the goshawks of yore. It is this brash, slightly mad undertaking that wrenches Macdonald free from despair, and brings her to a place where she can begin again. Vesper Flights will also explore the profound connection between humans and animals and the natural world. Can’t wait. —Erin Kodicek



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The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black

You know how it goes: you spend so much time googling the events depicted in The Crown, to see if they are historically accurate naturally, that you fall down the rabbit hole and next thing you know, it is 1am and you’re marveling at the machinations of Mountbatten instead of sleeping. I’m also a huge fan of Benjamin Black’s Quirke series, so when I heard he had a new novel coming, based on credible information he had that the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had spent at least some of World War II stashed away on an old estate in Ireland, let’s just say The Secret Guests quickly made its way to the top of the TBR pile.—Vannessa Cronin


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Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino

I already have one reading resolution for the new year, which is to read more nonfiction. In an effort to get a jump on that resolution, I've have begun a list of nonfiction books—on that list is Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, which will publish in January. This is a book that—like our Best Book of 2017, David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon—falls into the category of why didn't I know about this before? While Grann's book highlights a series of murders of Osage tribe members after huge oil deposits were discovered under their land, Wilmington's Lie describes a post-Civil War effort by white supremacists to destroy racial progress and "take back" the city of Wilmington, North Carolina, which had become a successful mixed-race community. I'm just a few chapters in, but it has me eagerly looking forward to my weekend reading. —Chris Schluep



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