Bring on the weekend! The Amazon editors have loaded up our bags and Kindles with a number of books we plan to savor during the next few drizzly days (apparently no one got the message that we should be past the “April showers” phase of spring), but these six books are perched at the top of our must-read piles or queues.
From the making of a "maker" to a girl with a clockwork heart, and from a reminder to breathe to Richard Russo’s newest novel, these wide-ranging books promise to provide the escape we need, especially during a week when we lost one our our favorite book personalities, Grumpy Cat. Rest in peace, little one.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Ocean Vuong’s poetic prowess is on full display in On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (June 4), an epistolary novel about a young man who tries to make sense of the violence and isolation that has followed him and his family from Vietnam to America. My colleague Chris Schluep was bowled over by this book, so I was compelled to give it a go, and it does not disappoint. —Erin Kodicek
Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It by Adam Savage
For 14 seasons on the Discovery Channel, Adam Savage—along with co-conspirator Jaime Hyneman—built things, battled zombies, blew things up, strapped jet engines to cars, debunked urban legends, and (less frequently) validated them for their hit series, MythBusters. That show ended three years ago, but Savage has forged on with new television projects (MythBusters Junior, Being Savage) and a new book: Every Tool’s a Hammer, a combination autobiography, how-to manual, and inspirational guide for anyone who ever wanted to be a maker, but felt lacking in equipment, skill, or time. Like me. It’s time to get in the garage and build (or break) something. —Jon Foro
Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky
In my pre-motherhood life, I hated to fly. But now that I have kids, I see a (child-less) flight as a treat—hours of uninterrupted time when I might read, catch up on some TV, or (gasp!) nap. So I’m looking forward to a cross-country flight this weekend, and am determined to make the most of my quiet time. Even though the advance copy takes up significant space in my carry-on, I can’t wait to crack Stephen Chbosky’s Imaginary Friend (October 1). As Chris wrote last week, Chbosky is the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was published 20 years ago. This book is billed as “literary horror,” and at over 700 pages it’s certainly an investment in both time and physical strength. But something tells me this book is worth it, that it may have that special something that ignites excitement even amongst non-readers. Either way, know that we’ll report back with our thoughts. —Sarah Gelman
Before the Broken Star (The Evermore Chronicles) by Emily R. King
I am a massive fan of Emily R. King's Hundredth Queen series (four amazing, audacious fantasy novels), so I did a little dance when I saw she is starting a new series with Before the Broken Star. A young woman who has survived the slaughter of her whole family, Everley Donovan has a clockwork heart that saved her from death but limits her years among the living. She decides to use this short time to expose the man who killed her family, but along the way we're promised to meet dread pirates, female convicts, heroic and not-so-heroic soldiers, and magical entities, with a nod at familiar fairy tales. This is an Amazon First Reads title for May, which means those who join the free program can get the Kindle book for $1.99 (or for free, if a Prime member) during this month. Otherwise it's on sale June 1. I plan to swashbuckle through this fantasy garnished with a slow-burn romance this rainy weekend. —Adrian Liang
Chances Are . . .: A novel by Richard Russo
I've just started reading Richard Russo's newest novel, Chances Are... (July 30), which is set on Martha's Vineyard. The book starts off with a reunion of three men in their mid-sixties. They met in college, and while their lives took different paths, they stayed in touch. Russo is 69 years old, and this book has an autobiographical feel to it, in that I can imagine him mining his own relationships for the story. But there's a plot device that I assume isn't from his past, something that adds a darker edge, and a little suspense, to the story.
There's a genre of novel, written by lions in the their late sixties and seventies, that I've found myself enjoying over the past few years. I'm thinking of authors like Paul Auster and Michael Ondaatje. The writing is maybe a little more free than in their past novels, and they tend to be looking back even as they are moving forward in the story. Two themes stand out to me in these books—the unpredictability of life, and the effect that choices and events have on our later selves. I like these themes, because even as we work to direct our own lives, we are always navigating on a big, capricious, and amoral ocean. OK, I'm getting a little too deep for myself. And maybe there's a simpler way of summing up these books. Maybe Russo's book will help me to sort out what I'm trying to say here. —Chris Schluep
Breathe, Mama, Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms by Shonda Moralis MSW LCSW
I happened upon this one sort of randomly when I was looking for something else, but it caught my eye and once I started reading the description, I knew it was some kind of cosmic nudge. While Breathe, Mama, Breathe looks like it may be aimed at mothers with newborns or younger children, it also seems every bit as helpful and applicable for the tween years, when one might be feeling like sanity has left the building. Mother’s Day is already behind us, but this book is a gift I’m giving to myself. I am honestly looking forward to practicing Shonda Moralis’ tools and techniques that will help me find more time (or at least the illusion of it) and peace in my day-to-day. —Seira Wilson
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