Weekend reading

Chris Schluep on March 06, 2020
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As the weekend approaches, and we at Amazon get used to the notion of working from home for the remainder of March, I sense an inkling among the team that we might have some more time to read, which is the reason we're all here in the first place. Of course one or two of us is also concerned about going stir crazy (Seira Wilsondon't tell her I told you). But maybe books will be the antidote to that. We are about to find out.

Here's how we intend to start off our month of, hopefully, even-more-reading:


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Latitudes of Longing: A Novel by Shubhangi Swarup

Swarup's novel has already made it's mark on readers internationally - it was longlisted for the International Dublin 2020 Literary Award, was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Indian literature, was a bestseller in India when it first published and winner of the Tata Literature Live! Award. It's been described as spell-binding and lyrical, a novel that crosses continents and landscapes, generations and universes to reveal the interconnected lives of characters looking to belong. So far, it feels immense and lush; Swarup relishes the forces of history and nature that root her story and I'm eagerly awaiting the weekend to surrender to her prose once more. —Al Woodworth



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The Book of V by Anna Solomon

Do you remember the first time you learned that Thanksgiving wasn’t the happy occasion you learned about in grade school? That’s a little how I’m feeling as I read Anna Solomon’s The Book of V, which examines the “real” story of the Jewish festival Purim, a holiday I remember being filled with happiness and joy when I was younger. But it’s not an unwelcome eye-opening, and with Purim starting next week, it’s a timely one. The Book of V weaves together the stories of three different women: a modern-day mother living in Brooklyn, a political wife in mid-70s DC, and the Bible’s Queen Esther – showing how the challenges these women face in very different times are really not so different after all. So far it’s a fascinating look at what it means to be a wife, mother and woman in society. —Sarah Gelman



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Iron Empires: Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America by Michael Hiltzik

I'm a sucker for books about railroads and robber barons. It turns out a lot of people are, and there's good reason for that. The railroads accelerated the notion of Manifest Destiny, powering our national self-image as they moved masses of people from east to west. They represented the maturation of capitalism, creating tycoons, causing the markets to rise and fall, building and displacing communities, making and breaking fortunes. Some of the nation's biggest names of the era were made in railroads. It was the Wild West in tuxedos. —Chris Schluep



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The Book of Longings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd

Most novelists wouldn't touch this territory with a ten foot pole, but then they're not Sue Monk Kidd. The author of the beloved bestsellers The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings returns with a daring and thought-provoking story about a woman named Ana, sister of Judas, who becomes Jesus's wife (you read that right). Of her desire to portray Jesus as "fully human," Kidd said: “Writing from a novelist’s perspective and not a religious one, I was drawn to his humanity, which can often be overlooked." But the focus of The Book of Longings is definitely our heroine, a woman trying to assert her voice in a time that would sooner quash it. So far a fascinating, frustrating, and rousing read. —Erin Kodicek



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Devolution by Max Brooks

The author of World War Z returns on May 12 with Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. [Cue excited hyperventilation.] After Mount Rainier unexpectedly erupts (funding for a warning system having been cut during federal spending reductions), the dozen or so residents of an elite, high-tech compound in the woods are cut off from the rest of the world. To make things worse, there’s something big and rotten-smelling out in the forest that seems to be watching them…. I admit, I had very unsettling dreams after starting Devolution—which I consider to be a huge compliment to the book. I’ll be up late this weekend, flinching at strange noises in my dark backyard, in order to finish this marvelously fun, rip-roaring read. —Adrian Liang



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These Ghosts Are Family by Maisie Card

My sister is the family historian, the one with the Ancestry.com subscription, and I’ve been fascinated to see how my family was shaped by the generations that came before, in ways we didn’t even realize. Kind of like the characters in Maisie Card’s new novel, These Ghosts Are Family. Near the end of his life, Stanford Solomon is about to meet Irene Paisley, a home health aide arriving to tend to him. What Irene doesn’t know is that her new patient is really Abel Paisley, her father, or that thirty years ago, back in Jamaica, Abel faked his own death and assumed the identity of his best friend. At the intersection of family drama, immigration story, and even ghost story, this promises to be a terrific read and I can’t wait to dive deeper. Vannessa Cronin


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