Weekend reading

Chris Schluep on November 08, 2019
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This weekend, the common theme among the books the Amazon editors are reading is change. That's probably appropriate during these autumnal days when the leaves are falling. (I hear snow is falling somewhere across the country, too—yikes.) The end of daylight saving time, which brings early darkness, reminds us, too, that things change.

So we are taking home books about changes in our habits, in our bodies, and in our eating. There's a book about coming of age (in the shadow of celebrity no less), and even a book about changes in the geography of genius. There is also a book set in Manhattan's Chinatown, which doesn't fit neatly into the change theme. No matter. I have made my bed and I will sleep in it. So cue the David Bowie song. Turn and face the strange. Or the falling leaves. Or the snow. Or the early evening darkness. And remember that a good book is a good way to center yourself during all this change. Even if the book you are reading is about change.



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Long Way Home by Cameron Douglas

I’d wanted to read Cameron Douglas’ memoir, Long Way Home when it first released but then I saw that there is an audible edition and Douglas reads it himself. It’ is totally insane. And so hard to stop listening to. Douglas’ voice is unique, it has almost a surfer/stoner inflection but with excellent diction. And he lays his life out in full. The good (which mostly comes later) and a whole lot of bad and ugly. He never tries to sugarcoat his behavior and he offers up some pretty vulnerable feelings and realizations about himself. His drug addiction and subsequent YEARS in prison are a serious cautionary tale—he ends up doing approximately six years in prison, and that’s having both a father and grandfather who are wealthy, marquee name celebrities. Think about that one for a minute…. I’ve thus far found myself very taken with Douglas’ story and his kind of quirky writing style. I’ve loved the insider perspective and detail of the various worlds he inhabited—from East Coast boarding school to the international DJ scene, to prison life and I’m looking forward to see what is happening in his life at the point at which he wraps up his journey in the book. —Seira Wilson



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Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke

I’ve heard about this book from a few people in my life recently. And I don’t know if my electric blanket is turned up too high or if the Change is upon me, but this weekend—while the leaves are turning colors and we’re planting tulip bulbs in preparation for spring blooms—seems like an excellent time to dig into this whole menopause thing. Ask me on Monday what I learned, because the one thing I know already is that by not talking about menopause, we keep it in the shadows and prolong our ignorance. High-fives to the ladies in my life who are already talking about it. —Adrian Liang


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Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg

It's barely November, but I'm starting to turn to some New Year, New You books—which I hope will lead to a great list of New Year, New You books come January. Turning to a book authored by BJ Fogg seems like a good choice to search for New Year, New You inspiration. He is the director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, and his book is Tiny Habits. As I was perusing the copy on the back of the galley (the actual book will publish December 31st), I read "With the Tiny Habits method, you don't need to set goals or track your behavior or even be super motivated." That motivated me to start reading the book. Chris Schluep




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The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner

Eric Weiner’s first book, The Geography of Bliss, found him in search of the happiest places on Earth. In The Geography of Genius, he looks for creative hotbeds where geniuses from Socrates to Steve Jobs thrived, and asks why. Moreover, why do these hotbeds eventually fizzle? The book—an irreverent and surprisingly entertaining blend of historical biography, travel essay, and sociological study—centers around this quote by Plato: “What is honored in a country will be cultivated there,” be it intellectual discourse, art, music, literature, or life-altering gadgets like the iPhone. In the process of determining the conditions by which golden ages of genius happened when and where they did, Weiner also uncovers intriguing anecdotes that serve to illuminate and humanize god-like “characters” like Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Freud. He likewise stumbles upon answers to compelling questions like, why does genius seem like such a boy’s club? This is a great read to dip in/out of. —Erin Kodicek


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Simply Real Eating by Sarah Adler

This past week I’ve been cooking my way through Sarah Adler’s Simply Real Eating: Everyday Recipes and Rituals for a Healthy Life Made Simple (Nov 19), and I plan to continue this weekend. So far this week we’ve made her Husband Fries (pg. 210), Healthy Veggie Noodle Pho (pg. 132), and the Turkey Sausage and Veggie Polenta Bowls (pg. 190). While the latter was my absolute favorite and I repurposed it for breakfast two different ways the two mornings after—these recipes were exactly as they claimed to be: simple and absolutely delicious. This weekend I’m tackling her bevvie, breakfast, and dessert chapters and have Sarah’s Matcha Latte (pg. 31), Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte (pg. 35), Savory Yogurt Bowls (pg. 66), and Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cookies (pg. 235) on my list. I tried the cookies this week at a lunch hosted by Adler, and I can safely say they changed my life. (When I told my mother this, she asked if they were legal. And yes, yes they are.) I’ve been a fan of Adler’s for many years, and I’m really excited for her to be introduced to an even broader audience. —Sarah Gelman



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Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

It’s going to be a good weekend of reading. I’m half way through Charles Yu’s bitingly comic novel Interior Chinatown and it’s making my head spin – in the best way a novel can. The novel is set in a Chinatown—specifically in a Chinese restaurant—where a cop show called Black and White is filmed. The stars are black and white cops, but the novel is told through “Generic Asian Guy” who aspires to be “Kung Fu Guy.” The reality, of course, is that no matter the role (mostly minor – never a reoccurring), Willis Wu is always typecast into the Asian stereotype, diminishing his personhood, denying him the truth of his American citizenship. Told in the script of the TV show, Charles Yu’s novel is pure entertainment but it’s also a daring and eviscerating portrait of racism in America. —Al Woodworth


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