Weekend reading

Al Woodworth on March 13, 2020
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I think it's safe to say, that this weekend's reading will provide us each with a break (some might argue necessary) from the pressure, anxieties, and concerns of our current moment. But let's face it, this is a group that always turns to books, no matter the moment. And so this weekend, we're reading across genres, countries, and decades - diving into what it's like to age in a relationship (fictionally speaking), "How to Get Out of Bed Like Marcus Aurelius," a novel about a young boy who can't express emotion, a "light" mystery, a summer filled with the rush of a first love, and more.


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Sweet Sorrow: A Novel by David Nicholls

This past week my older son had a new request: “Mommy, let’s have a sleepover.” This means he wants to fall asleep in our bed, instead of falling asleep in his bed and then sneaking into our bed a few hours later. Both because I’m a sucker and because the world can be a scary place, I let him do it. Once he was tucked in next to me, he said, “Mommy, read to me from your book.” I was reading David Nicholls’ upcoming Sweet Sorrow (May 5), and in particular a chapter about a group of British boys (lads?) drinking and making the kinds of jokes that teenage boys make. So I did read it to him, but I edited out a few choice words. And while I’ve been enjoying this book already, I was really struck by how reading it aloud made me truly appreciate Nicholls’ sharp humor and well-written prose. You may recognize Nicholls’ name as the author of the breakout hit One Day. In Sweet Sorrow, 16-year-old Charlie Lewis is in a dark place, which sort of explains why he joins a theater troupe putting on Romeo and Juliet. The main explanation is that he falls for the girl playing Juliet, artsy Fran Fisher. Told in flashbacks by his adult self, Charlie tells the story of one fateful summer in his life. As I get further into the book, I may be tempted to read other portions aloud.—Sarah Gelman


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The Motion of a Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver’s new novel (May 5) is about a couple in their sixties. Until her knees gave out, Serenata had been the runner in the family (in fact, interestingly, she has a history of doing unique, individual activities—like running, getting a tattoo, or wearing a scrunchie—that later wind up being embraced by the masses—or at least that’s her viewpoint). But now her husband, Remington, who never exercised, has announced that he’s thinking of running a marathon. Such is the set-up for a novel that sets its eye on what it’s like to age in a relationship. This is a demographic that doesn’t get written about a lot. Shriver is a sharp, observant writer. She has also made me laugh out loud a couple times already.—Chris Schluep


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Almond by Won-pyung Sohn

Almond tells the story of a young boy in South Korea who is a little bit different than all those around him. For instance, when he sees another kid being beat up in an alley, he just stares. He doesn't intervene, he doesn't run away, he just observes. Turns out, it's a mental disorder and he is unable to express emotion and identify feelings, and the reality of this is pushed to the limits in Won-pyung Sohn's brilliantly fresh novel (May 5). This is a book about finding a common language with those that experience the world differently than you. I have laughed, held my breath in sadness, and have fervently turned the pages as this boy opens my eyes about what loss, laughter, and connection truly mean.—Al Woodworth


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The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers by Eric Weiner

In The Geography of Bliss Eric Weiner went on a quest to find the happiest places on earth. In The Geography of Genius he looked for creative hotbeds where geniuses thrived, and asked why. In his upcoming book, The Socrates Express (May 12), he examines some of the world’s greatest thinkers and applies their wisdom to these troubled times. Express also gives a cursory glance at many different philosophies, from Existentialism to Stoicism, and has chapter headers like: How to Get Out of Bed Like Marcus Aurelius, or How to Grow Old Like Simone de Beauvoir...It’s a feast for the curious and self-searching, and I’ve been going down a lot of delightful rabbit holes, expanding my knowledge and seeing if and how these lessons can help me lead a more meaningful life. OK, gettin’ too deep here. I’ll stop now. —Erin Kodicek



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The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The death of Ricky Boss Ribs opens Jones’s chilling novel (May 19), but it’s the deaths of elk slain during an unauthorized Native American hunt that haunts Lewis—literally. When Lewis sees a ghostly elk corpse on the floor of his living room, he knows the slaughter he took part in almost ten years ago will not be buried any longer. The cover to this book sucked me in, but the writing and the spooky elk appearances are pulling me through Jones’s novel about tradition, identity, and murder. —Adrian Liang

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The Secrets of Bones by Kylie Logan

I know judging a book by its cover is frowned upon, but surely you get a pass when the cover is as cute as that on The Secrets of Bones. As we enter Week 2 of working from home, I'm in the mood for something light, but not too frothy, and this, the follow up to The Scent of Murder, is fitting the bill nicely. Jazz Ramsey lives in Cleveland, where she has a job she likes—at an all-girls school—and a volunteer job she loves: cadaver dog handler/trainer. Her two worlds collide when, during a careers day demo, her cadaver dogs find something that had been hidden for years: the body of a missing teacher. OK, so maybe "light" is a relative term. But with smart dogs, a smart heroine, and a smart plot, this mystery is just my speed this weekend.—Vannessa Cronin


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Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Marie Kondo

Given that we’re working from home these days, it may seem like a strange time to be reading organizing guru Marie Kondo’s upcoming book about decluttering called Joy at Work (April 7)—though if you’ve seen our Instagram page recently, you’ve seen my desk, and why I need this—but there is so much more to this process than just physical clutter. Joy at Work is a collaboration between Marie Kondo and organizational psychologist Scott Sonenshein, and their book also addresses the digital clutter and time-sucking inefficiencies that often hold us back from a mindset that could bring more success and happiness into our work life. I think using this time at home to finish Joy at Work and employ its strategies to get my inbox, digital files, and future calendar sorted now will help me not only work better away from the office but give me a fresh mindset for the day I get back in front of my messy desk and KonMari Method the hell out of it.—Seira Wilson

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