Looking for a New Book? Here's What We're Reading This Weekend.

Sarah Harrison Smith on March 23, 2018
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This first weekend of spring, after we dig in our gardens, or dig a path through the snow, we're settling down to read some wonderful new books. Whether you're religiously romantic, an ursine enthusiast, a dog lover, bird fancier, or Carrie Fisher fan, one of these might be just what you're looking for.


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This weekend, I’m reading The Cloister, James Carroll’s smart, sensual new novel, which Doubleday published earlier this month. Carroll is a former priest and a prolific writer whose previous books include Constantine’s Sword: The Church and The Jews, a History. In The Cloister, Carroll takes a fictional approach to some of the same issues, spinning a tale of two couples: the historical 12th-century lovers Eloise and Abelard, and a doubting priest and a guilt-haunted Holocaust survivor who meet in post-war Manhattan. These entwined stories are linked by the lovers’ passionate reckoning with the church’s legacy of anti-Semitism, which, Abelard argues, stems from an error of interpretation. It’s a heady mix. “Romance and theology,” Eloise says. "Only eunuchs would think they are unrelated.” –Sarah Harrison Smith

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Come West and See (May 8) examines the complexities of a changing American West through a dozen stories set in the Redoubt, a cross-section of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming that's home to a separatist movement grown out of the occupation of a wildlife sanctuary. Sound familiar? Loskutoff’s interest lies with the people at the heart of this vision of Sagebrush Rebellion: the disenfranchised, resentful, fearful, and angry prepared to defend their “way of life” against the modern encroachments of changing demographics, environmentalism, and globalism. At least that is my best guess. The first story appears to be a love song to a lady grizzly, and in any case, I like books about bears. –Jon Foro

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Ever wanted to join the circus? Me neither. But that’s just what Tessa Fontaine did, after her mother—against doctor’s orders—decided to check off a bucket list item and tour Italy with her husband. What Fontaine learned under the Big Top would serve her well in life, and help her cope with the impending loss of her mom. The Electric Woman is a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at carnival life, and an ode to unconditional love. –Erin Kodicek

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I started a new audiobook this morning: Carrie Fisher's memoir, The Princess Diarist. Fisher also narrates the audio, and it's great so far. She’s talking about everything that was going on in the world in 1976, when Star Wars casting and filming began, and her pre-Star Wars life with mother Debbie Reynolds and her role with Warren Beatty in Shampoo. I love the Star Wars movies—the original three, that is—and Fisher’s insider view is fascinating. In print, I’m reading some books for April right now, including Chris Crutcher’s new young adult novel, Losers Bracket (April 3), which is fantastic. Losers Bracket is about a teenage girl, Annie, who has a pretty horrible birth family, a caring foster family, and split loyalties among them. It’s heartbreaking and funny, Chris Crutcher at his Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes and Whale Talk best, and I expect a strong ending awaits. –Seira Wilson

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The RITA Award finalists for the best in romance were announced this week, so I plan to dive into a few books I missed the first time around, including the adorable-looking New Leash on Life, by Roxanne St. Claire. (I’m possibly being influenced by my daughter’s unrelenting campaign to get a family dog, even though we’re already the harried “owners” of three cats.) Speaking of animals, an upcoming book that I’m enjoying every minute of is the nonfiction story of a modern museum robbery with the goal of stealing… exotic feathers. The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk Wallace Johnson (April 24) has everything you want a small, wonderful slice of history to encompass: quirky real-life characters, fascinating moments from the past, and a nudge to encourage you to re-examine some of your own assumptions. I keep comparing this book to Longitude and The Orchid Thief, and I can’t wait to grab a cozy blanket and a glass of wine and get back to this compelling tale. – Adrian Liang




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