Weekend Reading

Al Woodworth on August 28, 2020
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Weekend reading

While a few of our colleagues are on vacation (though no doubt, reading), the rest of us are busy dreaming about our weekend plans and the books we'll be devouring. Erin has discovered a book that makes her feel fine about being "terrible at math" (she said it, not me!). Sarah is indulging in a wellness book that she's been waiting all year to read. Chris has found the literary answer to "why am I here?" Vannessa, the mystery lover of the group, is looking for relief in laughter. And, I'm joining the chorus of those that love Bryan Washington.

Happy weekend all, and happy reading.


The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit—Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness by Craig Wright

Craig Wright distills the insight he’s gained from his “Genius Course” at Yale in a fascinating and fun examination of what made people like Einstein, Marie Curie, Beethoven and Steve Jobs tick. In addition, he provides an interesting critique of our education system. Many of the people deemed geniuses did not perform well academically (Beethoven and Picasso couldn’t even do basic math, a fact that endears them to me even more), and yet we rely on things like standardized tests to weed out those who may not be as successful as others. But successful at what? Wright asks this question: “Which is more essential to greatness, intelligence or curiosity?” Geniuses would say it’s the latter and many have echoed the sentiments of Mark Twain: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Alas, I know this book won’t make me a genius (it’s comforting that Wright points out that most geniuses are a**holes), but it is inspiring me to celebrate learning for learning’s sake, cultivate my curiosity, take more risks, channel my obsessions in more productive ways, and feel better about how terrible I am at math. —Erin Kodicek


The Feel Good Effect: Reclaim Your Wellness by Finding Small Shifts that Create Big Change by Robyn Conley Downs

At a publisher dinner a few years ago, I confessed that while I loved the idea of “wellness,” as a working mother of two boys (and two dogs and two cats), I felt really challenged by its rigidity. I wanted to take care of myself, but why did it have to be so all or nothing? Some days I could wake up and write in a gratitude journal and drink eight ounces of room temperature water before I started my day, and other days I was wrangling my phone away from my toddler while trying to respond to work emails, all while still wearing my mouth guard. And like a wellness dealer, a colleague suggested I check out the podcast The Feel Good Effect by Robyn Conley Downs, whose mantra is “gentle is the new perfect.” I started listening to the podcast, and every Wednesday when it was released, I arrived at work as if I had completed a joyful therapy session. Downs’ philosophy just spoke to me—she too was a working mother and her work was backed in science. One of my most anticipated books of the year is her debut book, The Feel Good Effect: Reclaim Your Wellness by Finding Small Shifts that Create Big Change (September 1). I have been saving this beautifully packaged book for as long as possible, and I’m thrilled to be interviewing the author for an upcoming Amazon Book Review podcast, so I’ll be diving into it this weekend to prepare. —Sarah Gelman


Inside Story by Martin Amis

Why am I here? It’s a question we all ask ourselves, probably more than we would like. It’s a particularly good question to ask during a pandemic, because it carries a dual meaning. Why am I on this earth? And why am I restricted to this house or apartment? I was happy to receive a PDF of Martin Amis’ autofictional novel—I assume that’s what we’re labeling it—titled Inside Story. It arrived last night, and it arrived like an answer. This is why I am here. —Chris Schluep


Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park

Occasionally, I like to take a break from reading about serial killers and detectives with sad personal lives to read books that will make me laugh or cry. And Loathe at First Sight is a wry, funny, coming-of-professional-age comedy set in the world of video game design. Melody Joo has just landed her dream job, or at least her dream starter job, as a junior video game producer. She tries to shut out her mother's (hilarious) matchmaking plans while she sets about climbing the corporate ladder. But an idea she throws out there to make fun of her horrible boss accidentally catches on, and her first video game—a Hunger Games-esque, post-apocalyptic fight for survival among...male strippers—may just hand her the career she’s dreamed of. Sexism and misogyny in the workplace, female gamers, marriage-obsessed moms, and male strippers. I'm in for a heady mix for the weekend. And not a serial killer in sight. —Vannessa Cronin


Memorial by Bryan Washington

I can't wait for the weekend, all I want to do is read Bryan Washington's new novel, Memorial (October 27). It's one of the books I'm most excited about for the fall—and I'm not alone. Jacqueline Woodson calls it a "page-turner." Tommy Orange says it's "stunning...intimate, sensual, and wise." And perhaps the greatest compliment comes from Ocean Vuong: "This book, in what feels like a new vision for the 21st century novel, made me happy." Washington is a razor sharp writer and in Memorial he pulls out all the stops—I've laughed, I've been on the verge of tears, I've felt the pang of a fractured love, and the anxiety that comes with the possibility of letting go. —Al Woodworth


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