Weekend reading

Chris Schluep on September 25, 2020
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Weekend reading

One could forgive a person these days for wanting to find a temporary escape through books. Most of the Amazon editors are seeking to do that this weekend. Even the ones who are reading serious literature are prepared to lose themselves in someone else's world. The only dissenter is senior editor Erin Kodicek, who—appropriately—is immersing herself in a nonfiction book titled Dissent and the Supreme Court. We say more power to her.

Here are the books we are reading this weekend.


To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

In the first decade of the century, Paolini turned a young generation into avid readers with Eragon and his Inheritance Cycle fantasy novels. Now Paolini serves up his first adult and first science fiction novel with To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. I’ve read it alreadywe named it a Best Book of the Month in Science Fiction and Fantasy. But I’m talking with Paolini next week about his book and want to make sure I don’t ask any boneheaded questions, so I’m re-reading the book this weekend. I’m looking forward to again plunging into this high-stakes story of a xenobiologist who stumbles upon an alien artifact, jeopardizing the future of the human race. —Adrian Liang


The Gucci Mane Guide to Greatness by Gucci Mane and Soren Baker

It’s been a long time since we were in the office, but Seira and I came in to unpack boxes of books today and she handed me a copy of The Gucci Mane Guide to Greatness. At first, I thought she was trying to tell me something. Why else would she hand me a book of advice from a man who’s overcome violence, crime, prison and addiction to come out successfully on the other side? But I started reading it and before I knew it an hour had passed, and I intend to keep reading this weekend. Divided into chapters such as “The Essentials,” “Accountability 101,” “Work Ethic,” and “The Power of Love,” Mane breaks down the lessons he’s learned through hard-won experience and imparts that experience in proverb format, from ‘Find Something to Be’ to ‘Every Day is a Chance to Get Better,’ and ‘Whatever You’re Thinking, Think Bigger.’ Not the kind of book you need to read cover to cover, but fascinating to dip in and out of as the need arises. —Vannessa Cronin


The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir by André Leon Talley

Seira is our resident audio book expert (she’s also the resident children’s book expert, cookbook expert, and expert on books about opioid addiction and the mafia—she’s a bit of a renaissance woman that way!) and she talked up the audio book version of André Leon Talley’s memoir The Chiffon Trenches. Talley’s career is monumental; he has been called the most influential man in fashion. Raised in a religious home in the South, Talley was studying to be a French teacher when he got pulled into the world of fashion, a world he revered. I’m going to do some major cleaning and organizing this weekend, and I plan to listen to this memoir the whole time. Read by the author, Talley does not shy away from difficult topics such as the racism he encountered in the fashion world. I’ve been listening to The Chiffon Trenches and day-dreaming about what I would wear to meet Talley, whose eye is as sharp as his intellect. This is an intimate and unflinchingly honest look at a truly amazing person. —Sarah Gelman


Straight from the Horse's Mouth by Meryem Alaoui, translated by Emma Ramadan

The premise of this novel is intriguing: a 34-year-old woman named Jmiaa turns to sex work in order to support her family in modern day Morocco. If I left it there, you'd think, wow, that sounds depressing. But no! Jmiaa is solicited to help a young director ensure authenticity on a film, then ends up with the starring role. More than one description calls this book funny and original, so I’m getting ready for some laughs, some tears, and taking my mind to Casablanca for the weekend. —Seira Wilson


The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

This past weekend I read Fifty Words for Rain, which I loved. Since the numbers in the title worked out so well last weekend, I'm leaning in, and reading The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar (publishing November 24) this time around. This is another buzzy literary fiction title for 2020 and to me, it kind of has the feeling of a dream—it's lyrical and ethereal, grounded in art and the birds that have bewitched the main character and his family for generations. The novel follows a closeted Syrian American trans boy who sheds his former name and searches for a new one, and all the while, he's taking care of his ailing grandmother, grieving the loss of his mother, a prominent ornithologist, and avoiding his sister and best friend. His only solace: painting the sides of NYC's building under the cloak of night. There's more of course, but the themes of belonging, migration, sexuality, and family are enough to keep me reading into the night. —Al Woodworth


Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue by Melvin I. Urofsky

Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be missed for myriad reasons, even for her strategic sartorial choices. She infamously donned a certain collar to announce majority opinions and another for dissents. In Dissent and the Supreme Court, judicial authority Melvin Urofsky celebrates the role of dissent in shaping our democracy. Citing cases like Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), where Chief Justice Roger Taney was raked over the coals for the majority decision which upheld slavery, we all know what it took for the dissenting opinion to ultimately prevail. In a time that is so divisive, this book begs for more constitutional dialog, and more respectful discourse in general. This was something RBG and Antonin Scalia, who were so diametrically different ideologically but managed to be good friends, understood all too well. #relationshipgoals —Erin Kodicek


Gravity Falls: Pining Away by Disney Book Group

I am not actually reading this book myself. I ordered it for my youngest son, who started watching the television show of the same name. He just loves watching Gravity Falls, so I knew he would read the books. At this point in his development, I don't worry too much about what he reads; I just want him to develop the habit. The book arrived a couple of days ago in the mail, and he has already read it—mission accomplished. When I went back to order the next book in the series, I noticed that the entire Gravity Falls series is free to Prime readers who order it on Kindle. That's win-win, as far as I'm concerned. So here is a heads up to any parent looking to encourage a young child to read. —Chris Schluep


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