Weekend reading

Al Woodworth on October 09, 2020
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Weekend reading

This weekend the editors are reading all sorts of books—we've got novels centered on getaway drivers; a Jewish detective in Nazi Berlin; there's a new story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche about Black motherhood; "a witty and lionhearted" memoir; and a nostalgic work of nonfiction that's bringing Chris back to Mexico.

As Amazon Book Editors we're lucky enough to call reading work, but this weekend, I think it's safe to say we're basking in the glory of our nine to five. Here's what we're reading this weekend.


Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby

Vannessa has been raving about this one since the summer and I downloaded the audio earlier this week. And I can't stop listening. Cosby's novel combines murder, heists, family loyalty, and a flawed protagonist you can't help but root for. Beauregard “Bug” Montage used to be the best getaway driver on the East Coast, just like his dad, but now Beauregard has gone straight; just trying to get by and provide for his family as the owner of a repair shop. Until the past and some very large bills come calling. I’m both dying to see how the story ends, and already sad it will be over. At least now I know what to start next: Cosby's My Darkest Prayer. —Seira Wilson


Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Sunday is National Coming Out Day and I’m going to commemorate it by revisiting Jeanette Winterson’s witty and lionhearted memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?. This wasn’t the first of Winterson’s books to broach her fraught upbringing under the “care” of a religious zealot who couldn’t abide her daughter’s bent towards “unnatural passions.” She did that in her brilliant debut novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Of her decision to initially process this traumatic chapter of her life in fiction, Winterson said: “I wrote a story I could live with. The other one was too painful. I could not survive it." Luckily she eventually figured out that you don’t, in fact, have to be normal (whatever that means) to be happy. Here’s to everyone who has come to this courageous conclusion, and especially those who haven’t quite yet. —Erin Kodicek


Germania by Harald Gilbers

I just started Germania and now I can't wait for the weekend, and the time to finish this engrossing detective story. It's Berlin, in 1944, and Jewish detective Richard Oppenheimer is roused from his bed in the wee hours by the SS, who drive him to view the handiwork of a killer who's been killing and mutilating women, then posing them near Nazi war memorials. Once a successful investigator for the Berlin police, the only thing keeping Oppenheimer from the camps is his marriage to a non-Jewish woman, and now, maybe, this case. But the other boot could drop at any minute. Tense and atmospheric, this story of a man—and a city—under siege has me hooked. —Vannessa Cronin


On the Plain of Snakes by Paul Theroux

Mexico has become one of my family's favorite places, but with the pandemic and now Hurricane Delta, our plans to meet friends in a small town there in early 2021 are up in the air at best. This weekend I am going to read a few chapters of a book I enjoyed last year, Paul Theroux's On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. Many of us are missing travel, and missing the chance to experience different people and places. Theroux is taking me to Mexico this weekend. —Chris Schluep


White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad

Last weekend I read an early copy of Ijeoma Oluo’s Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America (Dec. 1), and the whole way through I was thinking, “Yes, and yes, and yes,” and highlighting passages like crazy on my Kindle. But I’m not a white male American; I’m a white female American (despite my male Chinese name). Which means that while I learned a whole lot in Mediocre, I didn’t have to overcome any kind of knee-jerk defensiveness to absorb Oluo’s points. And so now I’m reading Ruby Hamad’s White Tears/Brown Scars, which focuses squarely on how white femininity and white feminism have been developed as weapons against people of color. I started it yesterday, and so far I’m thinking, “OMG, she’s right. OMG, she’s right! OMG! SHE’S RIGHT!!” and highlighting passages like crazy on my Kindle—and I can’t wait to get back to reading it during, ironically or appropriately, the weekend before Columbus Day. —Adrian Liang


Zikora by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is coming out with a new work of fiction! Announced this week, Zikora, is her first fictional story since the publication of Americanah in 2007. Like her bestselling and award-winning novel, Zikora dives into Black female identity, but this time Adichie focuses on motherhood. The story opens with Zikora in the hospital about to give birth—as she labors through the pain, her mind races through questions about maternal mortality for Black women, the relationship with the father of her baby, and how men cannot know the pain of childbirth or understand women's sexuality. Suffice to say, I'm hooked and I can't wait to read the rest this weekend—I just fear it will be over just as I'm falling head over heels for it. —Al Woodworth


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