Weekend reading

Adrian Liang on June 21, 2019
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Hurrah, hurrah! With summer officially started, we’re breaking out our hammocks, open-toed shoes, chilled refreshments, and books that will make this solstice weekend even sweeter than it normally already is. A reread of a subversive classic by Cormac McCarthy (but not The Road), a much-needed “You go, girl!” boost for a working mom, Leigh Bardugo’s upcoming debut adult novel, and a middle-grade novel for fans of Percy Jackson are among the books the Amazon Books editors will be diving into this weekend.


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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1) by Cormac McCarthy

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is picking up a book at the airport for a flight—preferably a mass market paperback (though a trade paperback will do), and pure indulgence. Coming back from BookExpo a couple weeks back, I stopped to peruse the racks at a multipurpose kiosk in JFK, and was a little bit surprised to find a display of “classics” ordered by decade, many of which shared (alongside a possible corporate affinity) countercultural, if not outright subversive, outlooks: On the Road, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Grapes of Wrath, that sort of thing. I chose All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy’s tale of three young men (boys) and their flight south across the U.S.-Mexico border. I’d read it as a younger man, but McCarthy’s sun-scorched world-view seems especially appropriate for the moment. (I guess I have a different take on indulgence.) —Jon Foro


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The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

My to-read pile is so teetering that I rarely take the time to go back and reread a favorite, but The Passion by Jeanette Winterson is one exception. I read it (almost) every summer, probably because I'd rather be in Venice where much of the book takes place, and Winterson's skilled pen will transport you there—and to the brutal battlefields of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. These settings could not be more different, nor the two main characters—a humble soldier/cook, and the webbed-footed daughter of a Venetian boatman—and yet their destinies are inextricably linked. Unsurprisingly The Passion explores love in all its forms, but mostly the unrequited variety. What can I say? I'm a repeat wallower. And it’s going to happen again this weekend. —Erin Kodicek


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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I know Ninth House is a long way off…but I’ve been a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo since I read an early copy of Shadow and Bone years ago. Ninth House is Bardugo’s first adult novel—very exciting, since her young adult novels have so much appeal for an adult audience already. I can’t wait to see the characters and world she creates for this one, and I got an advance reader’s edition of it today. So this weekend, though I should be reading other things, I will be reading a book that comes out October 1st. Ninth House is about a young woman, Alex, who has a second chance at her life, literally and figuratively. She’s already survived an attempted murder and now she’s been asked by an unknown benefactor to attend Yale in order to investigate the school's secret societies. Um, could this get any better!? Privilege, dark magic, unsolved murder, and Bardugo’s fantastic writing? So. In. —Seira Wilson

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You Are a F*cking Awesome Mom: So Embrace the Chaos, Get Over the Guilt, and Be True to You by Leslie Anne Bruce

Whenever I have a particularly tough week balancing the “working” with the “mom,” the ’70s candy slogan “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” finds its way into my head. This is a week I’ve felt like a nut, or like a woman who’s not so great at balancing both work and life. So I pulled the advance copy of You Are a F*cking Awesome Mom (September 10) off of the bookshelf in hopes of getting the pep talk I need. With chapters titled “Lean In,” “High-Waisted Denim: Learning to Love Your Mom Bod” and “You Won’t Actually Get a Divorce (Probably),” I’m feeling optimistic that journalist and Instagram influencer Leslie Anne Bruce speaks my language. —Sarah Gelman


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Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

My deep infatuation with Rick Riordan’s books began many, many years ago with The Lightning Thief. When he launched his own imprint to publish other writers’ middle-grade adventure novels, I was over the moon. And the books in the imprint have been not just great but outstanding, including one of the most recent additions, Carlos Hernandez’s Sal and Gabi Break the Universe. Smart-aleck middle-schooler Sal has diabetes, loves performing magic tricks, and can reach into parallel universes for things like chickens and scarves. Unfortunately, sometimes other things pop through the holes he makes in reality, like different worlds’ versions of Sal’s mom, who died several years ago—and that can be rough on Sal, Sal’s dad, and Sal’s awesome stepmom. Super-intelligent fellow student Gabi Reál is the only person who can see the holes Sal is creating in reality, and she just might also be the only person who can help Sal fix a problem that could, well, break the universe. Whip-fast, funny, and deeply empathetic, this is a great match for readers of Percy Jackson who are looking for ways to fill the summer hours. —Adrian Liang


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The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

I was doing some middle of the night reading last night when I came across an article in The New Yorker about Cixin Liu, the author of the science fiction novel The Three-Body Problem. A few years ago, the magazine called him China’s Arthur C. Clarke, which caught my attention because I used to edit Clarke. The Three-Body Problem is set against China’s cultural revolution. China is beaming signals into space, trying to make contact with alien civilizations. Then an alien civilization on the brink of destruction picks up the signals and starts planning to invade Earth. The Three-Body Problem seems to come up relatively frequently, cited by smart people with deep thoughts, and I thought, Rather than read the New Yorker article, I should just finally read the book itself. So I started reading it last night, and you know what? It’s even better than I expected it to be. Thank you, New Yorker. (Note: My first contribution to this blog was back when I was editing books. I wrote a remembrance of Sir Arthur when he died. Although that piece appears to have been lost in the World Wide Web forever, here’s a part of it referenced in another blog, listing one of the things he taught me.)—Chris Schluep


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