Weekend reading

Seira Wilson on September 04, 2020

Weekend Reading

With a long holiday weekend ahead, we are settling in for a good stretch of reading with books we've been meaning to get to, and some that are coming out later this month or in the months ahead. 

One of us is getting ready for school lunches with a new cookbook, while another is going to read the novel that became a popular HBO series she's been thinking of watching. Also on deck, a mystery with a podcast twist, a novel that balances weighty topics with laugh-out-loud humor, and a new perspective on musical great, Richard Wagner. 

We hope you find yourself enjoying a good book this weekend, too.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

This book did not have me at: “In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife.” No offense if you’re into that sort of thing, but it’s just not my jam. And a story about a woman cursed to be forgettable sounds like my junior high years. And high school. But my colleagues’ effusive praise for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (October 6) has convinced me, so I’m going to give it a go this weekend. I have been assured that it is the very opposite of forgettable. —Erin Kodicek

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood

I'm reading The Bad Muslim Discount (November 17) and so far I'm absolutely loving it. Over the course of the novel we follow a young man, Anvar, and a young woman, Safwa. But it's not what you think. No, Anvar under the cloak of night falls in love with Zuha in high school and doesn't meet Safwa until more than ten years later. Both of these firebrand characters yearn for something more than their devoutly religious parents. While the novel deals with weighty topics like racism, the Muslim ban, and domestic violence it's also full of one-liners that made me laugh out loud. It’s also littered with small kindnesses that change the course of Anvar and Safwa's lives forever. (Or at least, so far). —Al Woodworth

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

HBO recently began broadcasting Lovecraft Country, a 10-episode series based on Matt Ruff’s novel by the same name…but I’m going to do the readerly thing and read the book before I dive into the show. Lovecraft Country blends the overt racism of the 1950s with otherworldly horrors (yes, those are tentacles on the book cover!) as Atticus Turner drives cross-country to find his missing father. This book is one that has a lot of enthusiastic fans. I’m hoping to become one of its new converts this weekend…and maybe even restart that HBO subscription. —Adrian Liang

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I just finished listening to The Vanishing Half on audio (so good!) and was in the mood for a new mystery to listen to next. So I asked our intrepid mystery expert, Vannessa, and she recommended The Night Swim. The story centers around a woman named Rachel Krall who does a true crime podcast that "puts listeners in the jury box." She's gone to a small town to cover a trial, and simultaneously gets pulled into a cold case murder. The way Goldin sets it up, with three different narratives—one of them being the podcast itself—is really compelling and reminds me of books like Sadie and I Killed Zoe Spanos. I'll be driving over the mountain this weekend and am looking forward to a couple of uninterrupted hours with The Night Swim. —Seira Wilson

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross

Here’s a hot take. In the months that we haven’t been working at the office, it’s been more difficult to keep up with the long tail of books that are publishing. Where I used to have piles of physical galleys to sort through, I now have lists on a screen. It’s not the same, and I find myself more concerned about missing things. I offer Wagnerism as evidence. There is a chance this book was mentioned by a publisher at some point; but it wasn’t until yesterday, when I was talking to a colleague at Amazon Studios, that it took root for me. The author Alex Ross is the New Yorker music critic, and as my colleague told me about the book I found myself timidly asking, What month does it publish? The answer: September. Which is this month. The book is a series of essays on Wagner’s influence throughout history. It posits that Wagner is the most widely influential musical figure in history—and without getting into it too much, he and his music are relevant to our current times. I am looking forward to reading Alex Ross’s thoughts on Wagner this weekend. I just wish I had read the book several months ago when I was reading for the best nonfiction (and/or history) of September. —Chris Schluep

Let’s Fix Lunch: Enjoy Delicious, Planet-Friendly Meals at Work, School, or On the Go by Kat Nouri

Since my kids are still in preschool, they will be “back to school” in person starting next week. And among all the things to worry about this year, one of the few things I can control is what I pack in their lunches. Pinterest Mom I’m not, but I do aim to keep lunch slightly interesting, even though the boys’ school sticks to kosher meals (which translates to fish as the only animal protein) and no nuts. School lunch—peanut butter and jelly + one picky eater = complicated lunch scenarios. This weekend I took some time off to get final school preparations done, and that involves reading the new Let’s Fix Lunch: Enjoy Delicious, Planet-Friendly Meals at Work, School, or On the Go (September 15) by Kat Nouri, the founder of Stasher Bags. I’ve already flipped through and bookmarked Act 2 Fried Rice for the kids’ first day, and a simple Chicken Noodle Soup for myself. I’m also thinking of earning myself the title of SuperMom by baking the Apple Streusel Bars (minus the hazelnuts, natch), but don’t want the teachers to expect that I’m going to be sending my gremlins with home-baked snacks every day. I expect this book to give me inspiration for both myself and my kids this school year. —Sarah Gelman

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