Weekend Reading

Jon Foro on July 12, 2019
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Which animal fuels your nightmares? Spiders and snakes will top many lists, while others might fear and loathe the man-eating class, such as great white sharks or the gigantic saltwater crocodile. For me, it's the ghastly and extremely fast Solifugae arachnidsAKA camel spiders, sun spiders, and wind scorpionsthat I fear are lurking in my hiking boots, though I've never actually seen one in person. But the deadliest (and definitely most annoying) one of all also happens to be the most ubiquitous: The mosquito. It's also, maybe surprisingly, one of the most interesting. That's why Timothy Winegard's fascinating account of the tiny bloodsuckers tops Adrian's book pile this weekend.

What are the rest of the Amazon Books editors checking out? Read on! 


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The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard

I have been consumed (ha!) by this book over the past few weeks, because every time I turn the page I learn something new about my least favorite common insect. While the buzzing of mosquitos might be annoying, the diseases the female bloodsuckers carry and transfer to their victims are downright terrifying. Malaria and yellow fever have decimated human populations throughout our history, but malaria has even been found in the fossilized remains of dinosaurs. Professor Timothy Winegard infuses his history of the mosquito with an almost gee-whiz level of excitement that pulls me through some of the drier bits. No additional flourishes are needed, though: The information in this book is so eye-opening that I can’t wait to get back to it this weekend. —Adrian Liang


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Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

It’s 1977 in Uruguay and a military coup has made life especially perilous for “subversives,” including homosexuals. Fortunately five queer women, Cantoras, have found an isolated cape where they are free to be themselves. I’m only a third of the way into this lushly-written novel, getting lost in the stories of Romina, Flaca, Anita, Paz, and Malena (and getting very worried for what’s to come when they have to leave their unique sanctuary, and return to ‘real life’). —Erin Kodicek


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Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control by Stephen Kinzer

How’s this for a horrible story: Stanley Gottlieb was a mild-mannered chemist who lived in a cabin in the woods of Virginia with his family, pursuing a simple, spiritual existence without electricity  or running water. Stanley Gottlieb also headed the CIA’s MK-ULTRA project, where he developed poisons and interrogation techniques designed to bust psyches with drugs like LSD. He pioneered “black sites” in Europe and Asia, employing some of the darkest minds from the camps of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. I told you it was horrible! And it makes for one a hell of a story, which Stephen Kinzer (All the Shah’s Men, The Brothers) tells in Poisoner in Chief. “Unputdownable” might be the worst word, but this book might validate it. —Jon Foro

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The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite by Daniel Markovits

The American Dream has been on trial for a while now, and for a variety of reasons. There’s no doubt that we aren’t all playing on a level field. But Daniel Markovits, who teaches at the Yale Law School, argues that we aren’t even playing on the same field. I have only read a few pages of his book (which publishes in September), but it was enough to tell me that I want to read more this weekend. Markovits is smart and passionate, and he is on the right side of the discussion. The Meritocracy Trap might be one of those books that actually helps to shape public discourse in a positive way. —Chris Schluep


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Evvie Drake Starts Over: A Novel by Linda Holmes

I just finished the audio of The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, and boy was it incredible. And sometimes difficult, as it always is to read about (or listen to) shocking injustice and racism, particularly towards young people. Anyway, all that to say that the audio I’ve started now is something very different. Evvie Drake Starts Over is light and fun, but it’s also a book about new beginnings, old guilt, fear of failure, and meeting someone that gives you the courage to try. I’m enjoying it immensely and it’s got that “light summer read” quality that’s perfect for a weekend drive through the mountains. —Seira Wilson


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