As always, our reading tastes are an eclectic mix but for some reason we nearly all of us are in the mood for good nonfiction. The books we're taking home this weekend include a biography of Kim Jong Un, a cookbook recommended by a friend, a journey into the heart of American fast food, and a story of murder and bootlegging during Prohibition. Our fiction read this week is a somewhat creepy novel that is an absolute nail biter, with an amazing cover.
I have a thing for Americana of all sorts, but especially when it comes to food and stories of people who have achieved the American dream. In Drive-Thru Dreams (June 25) I've already met many of these entrepreneurs, and fast food culture in our country and beyond. I've been dog-earring pages and shouting random facts and funny bits from the living room couch, and it just keeps getting better and better. Some of my favorites so far: Colonel Sanders. He was quite the character, and mentored future burger mogul, Dave Thomas. Do people really want healthier choices at the drive-thru window? Not as much as we tell ourselves we do (though the calorie count listing on the menu has made an impact). Love or hate it, the way Adam Chandler tells it, fast food is a reflection of who we are and what we value as Americans. This weekend, you'll find me eating a cheeseburger and happily finishing this book. --Seira Wilson
I like books about North Korea, and I like talking about books about North Korea (for example here, here, and here). A relic dystopian state, the Hermit Kingdom has always been isolated and secretive. But with the ascension of Kim Jong Un, we’ve come to know, or at least witness, more about a North Korean Supreme Leader than ever before. Still, it’s not much, though he apparently writes very warm letters. Using exclusive sources from Kim’s life, The Great Successor is not just a biography of self-proclaimed demigod; it’s also the tale of a country that has suffered for decades under a line of medieval despots—and the latest might be the most effective one yet. —Jon Foro
Here are two things that are dear to my heart: The Great Gatsby, which I’ve recently written about in Weekend Reading, and Cincinnati, home of Skyline chili, Graeter’s ice cream, and some very good friends. Karen Abbott’s new book presents a Gatsby story set in Cincinnati--The Ghosts of Eden is about a hard-edged man who quit his career as a lawyer in order to become the King of Bootleggers. With his riches, he carved out a Jake Gatsby style existence—but the story takes place during Prohibition, and there is a pioneering U.S. Attorney, Mabel Walker Willlebrant, and her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, who threaten to bring it all down. Stories like this tend to have a murder in them. This one is no different.--Chris Schluep
Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark
I think we all have that friend (or friends) who make entertaining look easy, and dare I say it, fun. (I am not that friend to anyone, unfortunately.) One of my friends that fits that bill just cooked a 70s-themed cocktail party menu for her birthday party—complete with salmon mousse in a mold and lots of shrimp cocktail—and she regularly hosts epic summer dinners on her patio. One of her secret weapons for the latter? Food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark, specifically her book Dinner: Changing the Game. This friend recently gifted me a copy of the book and I ran out of fingers trying to mark pages of recipes I want to try this weekend. On the top of my list: Fusilli with Burst Cherry Tomatoes, Mint, and Burrata; Vietnamese Rice Noodles with Daikon Radishes and Cucumbers; and my friend’s top recommendation: Harissa Chicken with Leeks, Potatoes, and Yogurt. --Sarah Gelman
The Need by Helen Phillips
Get ready to be creeped out by the upcoming novel by Helen Phillips. When a paleobotanist working on a private dig site starts to uncover strange artifacts, it’s a signal that there are weird things afoot. Her two young children, a husband who travels, and the unsettling dig finds lead to sleepless nights, and she begins to wonder if odd things she’s hearing and glimpsing are real or a figment of her strained senses. I won’t spoil what happens next, but this quick read has me twitchy to return to it this weekend to find out what’s truly going on. The cover harkens a bit to Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne, and those who are enthralled by VanderMeer’s unorthodox fiction will find much to enjoy in The Need (July 9). —Adrian Liang
You might also like:
Subscribe to the Amazon Book Review, featuring picks for the best books of the month, author interviews, reading recommendations, and more from the Amazon Books editors.