Weekend reading

Adrian Liang on November 01, 2019
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Rake leaves or read books? The choice is easy—unless you’re listening to a book, in which case you can do both.

This weekend the Amazon editors are reading an old favorite with a spooky edge, two buzz-worthy January novels, a middle-grade adventure that gives American folk tales a new twist, and a suburban-lit novel that provocatively asks, “Who is watching your children?” #spooky!


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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

A decaying mansion, a suspicious suicide, a mild-mannered pup suddenly attacking a child…These are all the ingredients of a classic horror story, and yet Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger is anything but cliché. Are the strange happenings at Hundreds Hall a result of the supernatural, or a creeping and contagious madness? I often reread The Little Stranger around Halloween, and then sleep with the lights on for days after. —Erin Kodicek


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The Playground: A Novel by Jane Shemilt

I’m really fascinated by a category I think of as “suburban lit.” I don’t know what this says about me, but there’s just something disturbing yet entertaining about seeing the dark underbelly of an idyllic place or seemingly perfect person. At least in literature. I picked up Jane Shemilt’s The Playground (December 30) because of the haunting line on the cover: Who is watching your children? Three couples in London are part of the same tutoring circle, taught by one of the mothers of the group. Both adults and children grow close, but the adults become so distracted and self-obsessed, they miss what’s happening with their children. (Hint: It’s nothing good.) The Playground reminds me of Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty, but much darker. I have 50 pages left and may not be able to wait until the weekend officially hits to rip through the rest of this novel. Suburban lit at its best. —Sarah Gelman


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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Every book in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint is a must-read for me, a huge fan of the Percy Jackson book series. (And if you get the chance to see The Lightning Thief musical, I highly recommend going. Fun fun fun!) I’m listening to the Audible edition now of the latest book in Riordan’s imprint, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong, as he’s just lost his first boxing matcha huge disappointment to his grandfather, a famous boxer in his time. Plus Tristan’s best friend recently died, so physical pummeling isn’t the only thing Tristan is going through. But Tristan’s friend gave him a journal before he died. The journal appears to be related to the folk stories Tristan’s grandmother told them about Brer Rabbit and John Henry. And it glows. I’m only 20 minutes in, but I’m looking forward to listening to Amir Abdullah’s marvelous voice as he tells Tristan’s story while I rake leaves this weekend. —Adrian Liang

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Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

I picked up Miranda Popkey's novel Topics of Conversation (coming out in January) and I'm completely immersed in her razor sharp, unsentimental sentences that seem to deal with all the big things in life: love, sex, identity, connection, femininity, motherhood (and I'm only sixty pages in!). As the title suggests each chapter is a conversation between women, who seem to stumble into these dialogues both openly and self-consciously, revealing the fragility of the stories we tell each other and the stories we tell ourselves. I already know I want to talk about it with my girlfriends—a perfect topic of conversation. —Al Woodworth


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The Followers by Megan Angelo

We haven’t made it a secret that we think January 2020 is going to be a big month for books. There are just so many great ones on the horizon. One January book that is getting some early buzz is The Followers by Megan Angelo. As the title hints, there is a social media angle to this book. I haven’t read a word of it yet, but it seems that the story takes place in a near future where celebrities live every moment of the day on camera. The marriage of celebrity and social media is a ubiquitous spectacle in our actual world, one that can feel toxic at times. I’ll be interested to see what Megan Angelo does with it in a novel. —Chris Schluep


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