In this edition of Weekend Reading, a riveting novel about trees (no, really!), another chronicle of cool 70s peeps, Tom Rachman takes on daddy issues, and a book that aims to help you get that smartphone monkey off your back...
I’m in the middle of reading Richard Powers’s The Overstory (April), a gorgeous, almost meditative novel that intertwines the stories of seven people with very different lives who eventually come together through their awakening to the importance of trees. It might sound dry—but it’s not. It might sound a bit woo-woo—and it definitely is that, though in such a way that it inspired me to go out in the darkness last night to listen to and smell the rain hitting the evergreen trees that surround my home. --Adrian Liang
Everyone who was cool in the ‘70s is old. We know this from all the biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs by and about all those cool people, living and otherwise, including Lou Reed, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, Patti Smith, a ton of old punks, and even their legendary haunting grounds. Here’s another one! Twentieth-Century Boy is Duncan Hannah’s tale of painting, promiscuity, permissiveness, and all yesterday’s parties of 1970’s New York City. The book description had me at “louche.” --Jon Foro
Bear Bavinsky is a successful painter, but not a successful father. This doesn’t prevent his son, Pinch, from having an almost pathological need to win his regard. The Italian Teacher follows his journey to both connect with Bear, but also carve out an identity all his own. It’s a story that captures the exquisite grief of disappointed love. --Erin Kodicek
My phone and I go way back, but recently, I’ve been feeling like we should spend a little less time together. First step: wear a wrist watch, so I don’t have to rely on my phone to tell me what time it is. Second step: deactivate my go-to social media account, so I don’t spend more time lurking than living. Third step: read Catherine Price’s new book, How to Break Up with Your Phone: A 30 Day Plan to Take Back Your Life. This pocket-sized guide starts with a “Dear John” letter of sorts, in which Price explains the problem to the phone, as if it were a boyfriend who’d outstayed his welcome. Though this is a manifesto, Price offers practical advice for cutting back on phone use, creating thoughtful boundaries, and then locking your intentions in place. Those who succeed win more time for reading books, more time for chatting with friends, more time for cuddling real live sweethearts and pets instead of scrolling through an overheated data-collection device at 3 o’clock in the morning. Sounds good to me. You? --Sarah Harrison Smith
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