This weekend the Amazon Book Editors are taking home a mixed bag of fiction and nonfiction, new releases and old favorites. We've got the memoir of a future foodie during his punk rock days, a novelization of one of this year's Academy Award nominees, and an Augusten Burroughs re-read in honor of Valentine's Day (not). For a little mental getaway we have a young adult fantasy set in Paris during the time of Louis XVI, and for those looking for a story that is strange but true, the biography of a once-lauded writer who fell into obscurity amid rumor and speculation.
Aside from Black Panther, I haven’t seen any of the Best Picture nominees and doubt I'll make the effort before the awards on February 24. (I'm still angry about Shakespeare in Love winning the Best Picture Oscar in 1999. And I hold a grudge.) However, I do plan on reading the book adaptation of BlacKkKlansman titled, a little confusingly, Black Klansman. This true story of a black detective and his white partner infiltrating the KKK in 1978—with the white detective going to meetings, and the black detective conducting the phone conversations—sounds like a humdinger while it gives a bracing glimpse into our not-so-distant past. And maybe it will convince me to get off the couch and go see a movie for a change. Nah… Too many books, too little time!--Adrian Liang
Sometimes I'll spot a book being published later in the year, one that I want to immediately pick up and read... and I have to put it down and wait. Reading for Best Books of the Month requires the discipline to move systematically through the months, to not get too ahead of yourself, and make sure you give each publishing month the right amount of coverage. But there's a book I've been staring at on my shelf. It's about a writer. It's tragic. It's a story that sounds like fiction but isn't. And I get to start it this weekend.
Here's the first paragraph of the publisher's description: "For a time, Nelson Algren was America’s most famous author, lauded by the likes of Richard Wright and Ernest Hemingway. Millions bought his books. Algren’s third novel, The Man with the Golden Arm, won the first National Book Award, and Frank Sinatra starred in the movie. But despite Algren’s talent, he abandoned fiction and fell into obscurity. The cause of his decline was never clear. Some said he drank his talent away; others cited writer’s block. The truth, hidden in the pages of his books, is far more complicated and tragic. Now, almost forty years after Algren’s death, Colin Asher finally captures the full, novelistic story of his life in a magisterial biography set against mid-twentieth-century American politics and culture." Can't wait. --Chris Schluep