Weekend reading

Adrian Liang on May 15, 2020
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Weekend reading

One of my favorite lines from Downtown Abbey is when Maggie Smith’s (rich, titled) character innocently asks a family member who works, “What’s a weekend?” C'mon, Countess. A weekend is for reading!

The Amazon Books editors are taking advantage of this weekend to spend quality time with a new food memoir by the author of Heat, mermaids and sirens, a classic graphic novel, a true tale of mobsters, and the newest book by Michael Connelly.

And speaking of titled women, a memoir centered on social media sensation Duchess Goldbatt is at the top of the pile for Al Woodworth, who says the duchess’s Twitter posts “will fill you with the marvelous feeling of make-believe.”


Dirt by Bill Buford

Bill Buford is the author of one of the quintessential culinary memoirs, Heat, where he recounts his efforts to master the art of Italian cuisine. Dirt finds him continuing his gastronomic education in Lyon, France, accompanied by his wife and three-year-old twin sons. I’m devouring this witty adventure in food and pursuing one’s passions. Highly recommended by my colleague Chris Schluep, too. —Erin Kodicek


The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice by David Hill

This has been quite the week, and I’m so ready to just walk away from the computer and ignore everything except the book I’m reading. This weekend that book is going to be The Vapors. I love books about the South, the mob, and bits of sordid forgotten history—so how have I not read this yet!? To be fair, The Vapors doesn’t release until July 7, but this true-crime tale about Hot Springs, Arkansas, between the 1930s and 1960s, when it was a criminal wonderland, is going to be just the escape I’m after. —Seira Wilson


Fair Warning by Michael Connelly

Now that I'm done with season 6 of Bosch on Amazon Prime Video (binged it, loved it), I have six months to wait for the new Lincoln Lawyer novel (releases Nov. 10). Luckily, Fair Warning publishes at the end of this month, and that's what I'm reading this weekend. Reporter Jack McEvoy is stunned when two LAPD detectives arrive on his doorstep to ask him about a one-night stand of his from months ago, a woman who's since been brutally murdered. You can't drop a bomb like that on a journalist and expect that he'll wait for the police to figure it out, right? What I love about Connelly's writing is the way he ups the suspense with plot details others would consider mundane: editor edicts, deadlines, reporters jockeying for bylines, and contacts refusing to spill. Not to say the plot isn't wildly satisfying. And fresh. And topical. This one's so good, I can't wait for the weekend. —Vannessa Cronin


Maus by Art Spiegelman

As the edges of the days blur, and school, work, and home life become one amorphous ball of gas… OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic. Then again, maybe it’s not. Anyway, the lines are blurring and my reading this weekend will be my son’s reading from last weekend. Because on Sunday I noticed that Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, Maus, about his father’s life as a holocaust survivor, was lying on the floor next to my nine-year-old son’s bed. “Were you reading Maus?” I asked him. “Yeah, Dad,” he said. “I read the whole thing.” We talked about it for a while, and he seemed neither traumatized nor surprised by what was in the book. He had some questions, which I tried to answer the best I could. He said some smart things that made me proud. Then I took the book back to my room and read for a while. I’ll finish it this weekend, because it’s been a long time since I last read Maus, and whether or not it comes up again in conversation I’ll be glad to have picked it back up. —Chris Schluep


Becoming Duchess Goldblatt: A Memoir by Anonymous

I'm new to the social media personality Duchess Goldblatt—a fictional 81-year-old and author of the bestselling Feasting on the Carcasses of My Enemies, who tweets things like "Hello, lemon-lime sourballs. It’s Transitory Saturday, when we remember that nothing is good forever, and nothing is bad forever." Or, "Please stop shaking your commemorative Duchess Goldblatt snow globes. You know it wakes me up." Like so many others (Lyle Lovett, Celeste Ng, NPR's Melissa Block), I have fallen under her spell. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is the memoir of her creator discovering humor, comaraderie, and community through D.G. as she deals with the sadness and loneliness that comes from a divorce, partial custody of her kid, job annoyances, and the absence of friends. Her “Grace” (as her fans call her) extends friendship to everyone, offering universal acceptance and encouragement. As her creator writes, “the damnedest thing was: she was better than me...Duchess has perfect compassion and grace.” The memoir is publishing in July, but she's alive and well on Twitter right now and I highly recommend taking a gander: it will fill you with the marvelous feeling of make-believe. —Al Woodworth


A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Yay, black mermaids! I was mesmerized last year by The Deep by Rivers Solomon (and there’s an intriguing backstory about how that novella was inspired by a song from the group clipping). Now comes A Song Below Water (June 2), which in addition to mermaids also includes sirens—those mythical creatures whose voices lure sailors such as Odysseus to their watery graves. But wait, there’s more! A Song Below Water is set in modern-day Portland, Oregon, and centers on two high school juniors who learn to rely on each other when their secret powers are threatened to be revealed. My daughter has promised to bake chocolate chip cookies for our family this weekend, and I can’t imagine a better pairing than a warm cookie and this young adult fantasy novel. —Adrian Liang


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