Weekend reading

Seira Wilson on October 23, 2020

Weekend reading

This weekend, many of us seem to be reaching for the comfort of books that take us to another time or place. Erin is reading a book that reminds her of home and family, I'm going back to a beloved childhood author, and Sarah is caught up in a story set in the 1980s.  Others are traveling to Bombay in the 19th century to solve a murder, and enjoying a book of Japanese folktales retold from a feminist point of view.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.: Special Edition by Judy Blume

I love Judy Blume. I read every one of her books growing up, and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is a favorite. I still remember how reassuring this book was to me during what is now called the tween years, and last month Simon & Schuster released a special anniversary edition to celebrate 50 years since it's original publication. Of course, I had to have this new edition, all done up in a pink faux leather cover with foil and this very contemporary cover image. I've convinced my daughter to read it, and I'm going to re-read it myself this weekend. I'm nervous. I want my daughter to love it as much as I did, but I've got faith in this classic and can't wait to revisit Margaret's story myself. —Seira Wilson

Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott

Elizabeth Gilbert once said: “We must take care of our families wherever we find them.” This is as good a summation as any for Kathleen Alcott’s Infinite Home. Set in a Brooklyn brownstone presided over by a kindhearted but increasingly senile landlady (Edith), the tenants band together when her greedy son threatens to pull the rug from beneath them. One tenant has Williams Syndrome, another agoraphobia; there is an artist dealing with the debilitating effects of a stroke, and a washed-up comedian with unfunny issues of his own. Given this cast of characters, you might be tempted to reach for a [insert antidepressant of choice here]. But this book is far from bleak. Motivated by their concern for Edith, and for one another, each eschews their personal struggles to try to keep this crazy quilt of a family, and their home, intact. Home and family have been very much top of mind as of late. Re-reading Infinite Home this weekend will be like a warm hug (a far cry from a real one, I realize. But certainly COVID-times approved). —Erin Kodicek

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

I recently learned that Greg McKeown has a new book coming out in April, 2021. If you don't know who he is, McKeown published Essentialism in 2014, a book about the disciplined pursuit of less. In other words, it was a book to help people who feel stretched thin yet not productive enough to become more productive by doing less. I like to flip through the pages of Essentialism every year or so to remind myself that doing more isn’t necessarily doing better. —Chris Schluep

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

Nev March's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning debut, Murder in Old Bombay is on my docket for this weekend. Set in 1892, Captain Jim Agnihotri is recuperating in a Bombay hospital, with little to occupy his time but reading about his idol Sherlock Holmes and perusing the daily newspaper. Reading about the deaths of a woman and her sister-in-law, Captain Jim offers the grieving family his services as an investigator. It goes without saying I love a good historical mystery, and I'm endlessly fascinated by life in colonial India, so I devour books like The Widows of Malabar Hill. All of which makes Murder in Old Bombay a must-read this weekend. —Vannessa Cronin

A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

A publishing friend suggested I read the upcoming A Crooked Tree (January 5, 2021) by Una Mannion, and I’m so glad I listened to his advice. Libby is fifteen years old in the early 1980s, the middle of five children, when her exhausted mother leaves her 12-year-old sister on the side of the road when she misbehaves. This ignites a series of events that unfold during one pivotal summer in Libby’s life. While the two books are nothing alike in plot, it reminds me a bit of one of my favorite novels from the year, Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy—both unfold slowly, unload plot wallops like a sucker punch (in a good way), and are about so much more than they initially seem. While this book looks like a thriller, it’s really a coming of age story, and one ripe with the time period in which it's set, when the fear of child kidnappings was rampant and Americans transitioned from the days of disco to the MTV era. I’m racing toward the end of this book and know I’ll keep thinking about it long after I’m done. —Sarah Gelman

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton

Like all of us, or at least most of us, I can be a sucker for well-designed book jackets and pithy titles. Sometimes my inclination leads me astray, but I can already say with confidence that Where the Wild Ladies Are lives up to its title. Across these contemporary and blisteringly original stories, Aoka Matsuda puts her own twist on Japanese folktales. So far the stories are spooky (perfect for Halloween), surreal, funny, and did I mention feminist? Matsuda examines sexism, the workplace, societal norms—but does so with ghosts, monsters, fox-women, frogs, and sex workers. So far, I’m thrilled to have found Where the Wild Ladies Are. —Al Woodworth

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