Weekend Reading

Chris Schluep on March 15, 2019
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The Pacific Northwest is supposed to have spectacular weather this weekend. That means everybody with a fleece jacket and breathable hiking pants will be out and about. People will be sipping their coffee on park benches again. Pike Place Market will be filled with locals and tourists. The trails will be heavy with sun-starved hikers. What better time to stay in and read the true story of murder and memory in Northern Ireland? Or to read about the life and death of grizzly bears? With weather like this, you should be going outside, trying to find a grizzly bear. A couple of us are sticking to poems and short stories, because it's been a long winter--and even if this is a false spring, we intend to don our fleeces and our special pants and head out in search of grizzly bears.

Here is what we're reading this weekend:


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Say Nothing is not only getting rave reviews from our editors – we picked it as one of the best books of March – but is has won 4.8 stars from customers. I didn’t get a chance to read Say Nothing last month, so this weekend I’m girding myself to get neck-deep in The Troubles, following the story of a mother of 10 children who is taken away from her home in Belfast by masked intruders, never to be seen alive again. Some of her children were convinced their neighbors, whom they continued to see and speak with every day, were involved. New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe speaks with IRA members, regular folks, and those whose lives were forever changed by the conflict in Northern Ireland as they still struggle today with the line between murder and patriotism.


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It will be a toss-up between two books about what happens when people encounter bears, with different scales and outcomes. Bryce Andrews's Down from the Mountain (April 16) is the story of Millie, a mama grizzly whose efforts to feed her two cubs leads them into increasing contact with humans. The subtitle ( The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear) might spoil the predictable result, but Andrews uses her story to explore the problems facing both humans and bears as development and climate change push the two increasingly together. Jordan Fisher Smith's Engineering Eden begins with the fatal attack on Harry Eugene Walker by a Yellowstone grizzly in 1972. A subsequent lawsuit against the Department of the Interior prompted a conversation about how the national parks (and their wildlife) should be managed—whether as areas of true wilderness conservation, or playgrounds for masses of vacationing Americans. Bear with me. — Jon Foro


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Literature is one of Ireland's most treasured and beloved exports, next to good whiskey, witty banter, and Bono. And so, in honor of St. Patrick's Day on Sunday, I’m going to dip into a couple yarns from authors who hail from the Emerald Isle, starting with William Butler Yeats (of course). "When You Are Old" is one of my all-time favorite poems (and it was long before I actually started getting old and yearned for someone to "love the sorrows of [my] changing face.") In the more contemporary Irish lit category, I highly recommend John Boyne's terribly beautiful The Absolutist, a tale of love and betrayal set in the trenches of WWI. —Erin Kodicek


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I spent last weekend in the suburbs outside of New York. On Monday morning, as I was waiting to take a Metro North train back to Grand Central, I started thinking about how John Cheever was basically an embedded journalist on the front lines of suburbia. It was a different time when he was writing, people acted differently, but New York City still has a gravitational tug on the smaller cities outside of it--they appear kind of perfect on the outside, but there are unseen forces working underneath. That's about as far as my understanding of Westchester goes, so when I got back to Seattle I read The Country Husband. Tonight I'm going to read The Swimmer, and then this weekend I'll read one or two that I haven't read before.  —Chris Schluep


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