Two books of nonfiction, two adult novels, and one young adult novel--the reading this weekend is well-distributed and wide-ranging. Maybe there's just a little bit of darkness in each of these books (well, in the first one there's a lot of darkness), but they really do run the gamut.
Bonus observation: three out of five book covers feature profiles of the main character or characters. This is merely an observation, not a judgement. Everybody knows that you can't judge books by their covers.
Heaven knows I like a good book about bad people (please admit exhibits 1, 2, and 3, just off the top of my head), but what could there possibly be to say about Charles Manson after Helter Skelter and Jeff Guinn’s excellent 2013 biography? As it turns out, plenty. 20 years ago, while researching the infamous creep and the grisly murders he inspired, journalist Tom O’Neill discovered there was more than the official story let on, including: Manson’s network of influential Hollywood friends, law enforcement cover-ups, and even MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s shadowy mind-control program. This story somehow is more terrible (and more compelling, to be honest) than we thought. —Jon Foro
The Beekeeper of Aleppo: A Novel by Christy Lefteri
When I would hear of Aleppo, the image it conjured is the now iconic photo of a bloodied child sitting in an orange chair on an ambulance, a stunned look on his face. His name was Omran and he and the rest of his family were pulled from the rubble of their apartment building, collateral damage in Syria’s ongoing civil war. In the U.S. this conflict seemed so remote, but that image brought it close and engendered empathy for the plight of the people there. That’s what Christy Lefteri’s novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, does as well, a heart-wrenching story that humanizes the immigration debate by illuminating the sorts of desperate circumstances that compel people to flee their home countries or face a violent, and likely deadly, end. Lefteri is the daughter of refugees and volunteered at a center for the displaced in Athens. What that experience imprinted on her permeates the pages of this book. Reading it is marking me in a deeply personal way too. --Erin Kodicek
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur
I started this book last week, and if I hadn't had a bunch of other books that I needed to finish, I would have finished it by now. So this is one I'm really looking forward to returning to. Adrienne Brodeur's Wild Game (October 2019) is not the kind of book I would imagine myself gravitating toward--It's a memoir about the strange triangle that developed between a teenaged Brodeur, her mother, and her mother's lover. Often books like this can seem too voyeuristic, or the writing isn't good enough, or the writer tries to bite off more than she can chew. Not so with this one--at least not to this point--and, as I said, I can't wait to get back to it. -- Chris Schluep
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
I was lucky enough to get hitched before dating apps became a thing, so I can never remember which way to swipe is the good way. But Alisha Rai’s upcoming rom-com, The Right Swipe (August 6), is going to cement that in my brain. After Rhi, the founder of woman-positive dating app Crush, breaks her own rules about making second dates and then gets ghosted, she tries to bury the memory. But when the newest spokesperson for competitor—and potential takeover—Matchmaker ends up being the man who ghosted her a few months ago, Rhi realizes that she has to put him behind her once and for all. Too bad he has a pretty good excuse for standing her up. And he’s nice. And they still have chemistry. This rollercoaster of a romance swings between hilarious to spot-on true about matters of a cracked heart, while dealing incisively with toxic workplace culture. A glorious read for a glorious weekend. —Adrian Liang
I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal
There are some great young adult books coming out in August and this weekend I’m going to read one I’ve been looking forward to: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight. The book has gotten great reviews and praise from other authors including Angie Thomas and Nic Stone. The novel is told in alternating narratives by two high school girls who are not friends and have very different lives and perspectives. Something terrible happens at a school football game—violence and hate erupts and chaos spreads—and the girls unexpectedly have to rely on each other to get through it. Based on the description and blurbs for the book, it looks like it’s going to be a one-sitting read that I’m going to want to talk about when I’m finished (fair warning, colleagues). --Seira Wilson
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