Weekend Reading

Chris Schluep on November 30, 2018
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Today's edition of Weekend Reading illustrates what's so special about books. The breadth of genres alone is impressive--there's something for everyone and real quality in each. There's nonfiction, mystery, short stories, and fantasy. There's old stuff and new. You'll find paranoia, an argument against cynicism, a marriage that is not what it seems, and a third book in a trilogy about a magical world. In biology, we learn that variation is the secret to adaptation and survival. Something about that rings true of reading as well.


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Secrets: We all got ‘em, right? Unfortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), we happen to be unlucky enough to be living in the worst time in history for keeping them. Appropriately, there is no shortage of books about hackers, hacking, and the hacked. Jeremy Smith’s breaking/_and/entering| (January 8) explores the darker corners of cybersecurity through the story of “Alien,” a woman initiated into the dark arts of black-hattery when she arrived at MIT in the early 1990s, and later developed an arsenal of digital trespassing tools that included physical disguise.

Another book takes a more philosophical approach: McSweeney’s 54: The End of Trust (currently out of stock, but more on the way) wonders why we eagerly opt-in to a system built to collect and disseminate our most personal information. Including contributions from Cory Doctorow, Douglas Rushkoff, Bruce Schneier, and the infamous Edward Snowden, 54 lives up to its ominous front matter—white text on an otherwise completey black page: something went wrong. -- Jon Foro


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I remember starting The Last Mrs. Parrish a couple years ago and not getting into it right away, but when I was looking for a new mystery to listen to I decided to give it another try. I'm so glad I did! Just as I was starting to think things were going to become predictable, part two began and with it the book has taken a whole new turn. The story of a picture perfect marriage with a rotten core, a scheming young con woman, and twists I didn’t expect have me eager to get back in the car to see where the final chapters will take me…  -- Seira Wilson


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In the introduction to Christmas Days, Jeanette Winterson writes: “I know Christmas has become a cynical retail hijack but it is up to us all, individually and collectively, to object to that. Christmas is celebrated across the world by people of all religions and none. It is a joining together, a putting aside of differences.” Considering these contentious times, a lot of folks are apprehensive about holing-up with family during the holiday season. My advice? Leave politics at the door, watch Elf for the fifteenth time, and begin the tradition of reading these magical stories--to yourself, to your loved ones (preferably by a fire with some hot cocoa). At the very least it will warm the cockles of your (cold/terrified/hopeful) heart. --Erin Kodicek


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Katherine Arden first captured me as a reader in 2017 with her debut fantasy novel set in Russia, The Bear and the Nightingale. Young Vasya Petronova is caught between two worlds: the rising Christian world that hates the devils glimpsed among them, and the wild world in which house spirits, water sprites, and most importantly the brother gods of death and destruction are in decline. Vasya is also caught between expectations: her family's desire that she marry well (and young), and her own desire for adventure and independence. Needless to say, it doesn't go well. Arden's debut novel built like a thunderstorm, with far-off disquieting rumblings that escalated into a clash between sprites and humans, ancient religions and new, honor and ambition. Now the publication date of the third and final book in Arden's trilogy, The Winter of the Witch, is just around the corner, and this novel rings with assurance even as it treads paths normally familiar only in dreams. Start with The Bear and the Nightingale if you haven't had that pleasure already; then set some time aside in early January 2019 so that you can immerse yourself again in this glorious, magical world. —Adrian Liang


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