Weekend reading

Erin Kodicek on August 21, 2020
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Weekend reading

The Amazon Books editors are an eclectic crew, as evidenced by our reading selections this weekend. Seira is digging into something à la the film Knives Out, Sarah and I are going a more therapeutic route—in very different ways—Vannessa is poring over one of the numerous thrillers in her to-read pile, Adrian is reading about a clandestine group of students who dispatch demons, and more.  

These are the books we’ll be happily buried in for the next few days.


The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Inheritance Games (September 1) has all the hallmarks of a book I could love: riddles, mystery, a death…The publisher makes a comparison to Knives Out, which I loved, and you can’t miss the connection to another favorite, The Westing Game. A young woman with no money and a desperate need for a scholarship suddenly inherits the fortune of a billionaire she’s never met, but the catch is she must move into his mansion which is still occupied by four very upset would-be heirs. I’m always on the hunt for a new thriller that blends straightforward mystery with psychological twists, and this may very well be the book I’ve been waiting for. —Seira Wilson


Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life by Christie Tate

One of my surprise favorite books from 2019 was Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, so the blurb from Gottlieb on Christie Tate’s upcoming Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life (October 27) piqued my interest, as did Chris’ insistence that I read the book. I’m halfway done, and I feel as exhausted and fulfilled as I would after my own quality therapy session. The memoir opens with Tate—a law student at the top of her class—driving around Chicago, wishing someone would shoot her in the head. This realization prompted her to seek out therapy, in particular a somewhat untraditional group therapy led by therapist Dr. Rosen. In these pages, we see Christie grow and change: she expresses ugly emotions, she messes up, and she digs up memories from her past that turn out to be integral to the person she is today. I have been savoring this book—it’s fairly slim yet dense—and I find myself daydreaming about it when I should be engaged in my life. I’ve dared myself to flip ahead enough to know that the ending is a postscript that takes place ten years in the future. And while this is one of those books that I don’t want to end, I admit I can’t wait to see what direction Tate’s life takes. —Sarah Gelman


Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

I’ve been turning a lot to Stoic philosophy for comfort in these COVID times. There is something steeling in the notion that, while we can’t always control what happens to us in life, we do have control over our attitude and how we react to things. The authors of The Daily Stoic have returned with a book about the birth of this philosophy and its early devotees, and how we can use the core values they evangelized to build emotional resiliency. It’s also interesting to learn about how Stoicism evolved—unsurprisingly, the nature of philosophy guarantees that there will be growing pains, and while the principles involved may be high-minded and noble, sometimes the egos involved are not. Whether emperor or slave, Holiday and Hanselman reveal these wisdom-seeking ancients, warts and all. Warts are interesting. And more relatable. —Erin Kodicek


The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Seira, Chris and I just taped a podcast where we discussed true crime books, so reading this thriller about Rachel, a true crime podcast host who shows up in a small town to cover a controversial rape case involving an Olympic swimming hopeful, seems fitting. As she concentrates on the rape trial, a note left on her car demands that Rachel also apply her investigative skills to finding out what happened to the note-writer's sister, Jenny, who drowned 25 years ago. That was the official ruling, at any rate. Seems like there may be no end to the dark secrets in this small town. —Vannessa Cronin


Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Bree’s mom died in a car accident only months before Bree left town for early college—a program for talented high school students who want to get a jump on their college credits. But on Bree’s first night at school, she sees something inexplicable that unlocks a hidden memory of her mother’s death. Driven to learn the truth, Bree begins to investigate the Legendborn, a secret group of students who hunt demons. While I’m only a few chapters in, I’m loving Bree’s real voice and the fantastical premise of Legendborn (September 15). This is a heroine I’m looking forward to spending many hours with this weekend. —Adrian Liang


Creative Types: and Other Stories by Tom Bissell

It feels like it’s been a while since I read a short story collection. It has also been a while since I read a book by Tom Bissell, a guy whose writing I have always admired. If I were to describe what I like about Bissell, it’s his range. And as I was reading the description for Creative Types (January 2021), which is a short story collection about artistic types, I read this: “stories that range from laugh-out-loud funny to disturbingly dark.” Bingo. That’s what I’m looking for. — Chris Schluep


The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War by Catherine Grace Katz

The Daughters of Yalta (September 29) is proof that behind every great man there is a great woman. During the pivotal Yalta Conference in February 1945, the wartime alliance among Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin nearly fell apart. As the "Big Three" convened to chart out the path forward, the "Little Three"—Kathleen Harriman, Sarah Churchill, and Anna Roosevelt—proved indispensable. They performed behind-the-scenes diplomacy, removed bedbugs, drank late into the night, kept secrets, and acted as powerful confidants to their fathers. These women were bold, intelligent, accomplished, caring, and funny. I can't wait to read more about the remarkable maneuvering and relationships of these three women.—Al Woodworth


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