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Apr 2

Bookrageous Favorites Out This Week!

The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

Last year’s favorites out in paperback

Lexicon by Max Barry

Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel

Gulp by Mary Roach

What We’re Reading This Week — Josh

As I mentioned on the most recent episode of the podcast, I’ve been doing an embarrassingly small amount of reading lately. Luckily, the reading I’ve managed has been very, very good.

Last week, Dustin from Melville House visited Maine and brought all kinds of goodies, including a copy of The Haunted Bookshop. The book was one of Jenn’s favorite books of 2013 (the world’s best endorsement, basically), and Dustin mentioned that it was “the best book about bookstores” he’d ever read. And it is! You guys, this book is so good. It is, as Jenn said on that episode, a delight. It’s funny, and well-paced, and exciting, and surprising, and I just loved it so much. While the book was written in 1919, it feels modern and reads at a speedy clip - I nearly finished the whole thing in a single sitting at a bar. More than anything, it is truly a love story to booksellers, bookstores, and most importantly books. I’m just going to leave a few quotes here as proof.

On lending books;

ON THE RETURN OF A BOOK LENT TO A FRIEND

I GIVE humble and hearty thanks for the safe return of this book which having endured the perils of my friend’s bookcase, and the bookcases of my friend’s friends, now returns to me in reasonably good condition.

I GIVE humble and hearty thanks that my friend did not see fit to give this book to his infant as a plaything, nor use it as an ash-tray for his burning cigar, nor as a teething-ring for his mastiff.

WHEN I lent this book I deemed it as lost: I was resigned to the bitterness of the long parting: I never thought to look upon its pages again.

BUT NOW that my book is come back to me, I rejoice and am exceeding glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the volume and set it on the shelf of honour: for this my book was lent, and is returned again.

PRESENTLY, therefore, I may return some of the books that I myself have borrowed.

On being a bookseller;

The beauty of being a bookseller is that you don’t have to be a literary critic: all you have to do to books is enjoy them.

and

I wish there could be an international peace conference of booksellers, for (you will smile at this) my own conviction is that the future happiness of the world depends in no small measure on them and on the librarians.

On the explosive power of books (a metaphor that plays into some of the intrigue later in The Haunted Bookshop).

Printer’s ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.

Ah, so great! I suspect that every line of this book has already been tweeted and tumbl’d by booksellers everywhere.

On the comic front, I’m reading The Last of the Innocent, the sixth volume of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ long-running series Criminal. The volumes, always self-contained but in a shared universe, are a great take on (and sometimes a thumb to the nose of) the tropes and cliches of crime writing. While the stories have been fantastic across the board, this one is definitely my favorite. The reason? Without spoiling too much, the book could be roughly described as “Archie Goes Bad.” Main character Archie Andrews Riley Richards, unhappy with his life and saddled with gambling debts, returns home to Riverdale Brookview and finds it’s not quite as idyllic as in his memory. It’s a stellar crime story - perhaps the pair’s best - and a few scenes aping the classic Archie style make Phillips’ typically great art even better.

What We’re Reading This Week — Rebecca
While I’m still working through the nonfic picks I shared last week, I’ve added some delicious backlist to the mix. I was WAY late to the George Saunders party (seriously, bookternet, you failed me on that one) and just read Tenth of December a couple months ago, and now I cannot get enough George Saunders. This debut collection was published in 1996 and has never been out of print (how many debut short story collections can claim this nearly decades later?), and I totally understand why. It’s radtastic, and it’s nearly impossible to believe that this is a writer’s DEBUT. Saunders’ stories feel prescient now, nearly 20 years after they were published, so I can only imagine how magical they must have seemed back then. He captures heartbreak and humanity and cruelty and absurdity with such a keen eye and such carefully selected details, and he’s so delightfully weird in the process. I’m torn between wanting to devour the whole collection and wanting to savor them piece by piece. So. Effing. Good.

What We’re Reading This Week — Rebecca

While I’m still working through the nonfic picks I shared last week, I’ve added some delicious backlist to the mix. I was WAY late to the George Saunders party (seriously, bookternet, you failed me on that one) and just read Tenth of December a couple months ago, and now I cannot get enough George Saunders. This debut collection was published in 1996 and has never been out of print (how many debut short story collections can claim this nearly decades later?), and I totally understand why. It’s radtastic, and it’s nearly impossible to believe that this is a writer’s DEBUT. Saunders’ stories feel prescient now, nearly 20 years after they were published, so I can only imagine how magical they must have seemed back then. He captures heartbreak and humanity and cruelty and absurdity with such a keen eye and such carefully selected details, and he’s so delightfully weird in the process. I’m torn between wanting to devour the whole collection and wanting to savor them piece by piece. So. Effing. Good.

What We’re Reading This Week — Jenn’s Picks

I can just hear Paul yelling at me for picking things that aren’t out yet, but I DON’T CARE. You guys. Get so excited for this summer. I have read these both and am here to declare them Most Excellent.

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway (July 29 2014) is his third book, and I could not possibly have been more excited for it. Expectations: met and then some. This is about family, environmental apocalypse, government bureaucracy, international intrigue, and oh yeah, SUPER HEROES and how far you’d go for someone you love. It’s a real shift from The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker; Harkaway’s humor is in full force, but in many ways this is a far more realistic — and therefore more terrifying — story. And here’s where I run out of words and start to ramble and babble and so I will just say: pre-order it now and start counting down the days.

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (August 5 2014) is the third book in the Fillory series and you guuuuuyyyyyysssss I don’t want to spoil anything but AGH I HAVE SO MANY FEELS ABOUT THIS BOOK. It’s hard to talk about it with anyone who hasn’t read books one and two (GO READ THEM) but also if you have read them it is also hard because I want to tell you all the things. I guess I will just say that this is an amazing final installment that I don’t want to be final — there are so many potential spin-offs and side stories and adventures-yet-untold and Fillory scares the crap out of me but I’m not ready to be done yet. In any case I highly recommend that you reread The Magicians and The Magician King because there are Relevant Things! And also because they are great.

Ok. End gush. Over and out.

What We’re Reading This Week — Rebecca

It’s all nonfiction all the time around these parts right now. I’m totally besotted with The Canon by Natalie Angier, which is one woman’s mission to bring the magic and wonder of science back to everyday American life. A veteran science writer, Angier sets out to answer the question: "What would a nonscientist need to know about science to qualify as scientifically seasoned?" What follows is a breakdown of the basic concepts of scientific study that is just as enjoyable and entertaining as it is informative. This is my first experience reading Angier, and I’m completely besotted. 

Deborah Halber swings the pendulum away from the pros and puts power in the hands of amateurs in The Skeleton Crew (July, Simon & Schuster), as she explores how obsessed amateurs use the internet to crack long-cold cases. This one’s fascinating whether you’re into the cold case thing or not (I’m not).

Bookrageous Episode 67; Survival Stories

How long would you wait to resort to cannibalism? Are bunnies actually cuddly? Is Gravity a sci-fi movie? These and other questions are answered by Paul, Rebecca, and Josh in Episode 67.

What We’re Reading This Week — Jenn’s Picks

It’s all nonfiction up in here! Well not all but I’m in the middle of like 5 books and the jury is out on most of them so here are the two I definitely like:

  • The Noble Hustle, Colson Whitehead: Listen, you probably don’t need me to tell you that Whitehead is a comedic genius, but HE REALLY IS. Add this to the stack of books whose topics themselves I don’t much care about (I probably have the worst poker face in the history of the game) but that I have now read a wildly entertaining book about. Go to Vegas with Colson when the book comes out on May 6 (I know, I know, it’s hard to wait) — you will not regret it.
  • The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar: A customer recommended this to me based on our discussion of Thinking, Fast and Slow, which to recap went something like “Oh yeah that book was great but what a tough read.” Iyengar is a much smoother writer, and while she doesn’t get as deep into the nitty gritty science as Kahneman, she throws a whole lot of case studies in there and uses them to excellent effect. Why *do* we make choices? Let’s find out!

What We’re Reading This Week — Jenn’s Picks

jennirl:

Can we talk about David Peace for a minute? Let’s, by all means. I have already raved about Red or Dead and how incredibly hypnotic and briliant it is, but as we get closer and closer to release date (MAY 27 YOU GUYS) I get more and more excited about everyone I know reading it. About chasing customers around the store with it. About buying like 10 copies and then giving them out to people on the subway. (Maybe not that last one but if I had the money I would.) And while I was waiting I started reading The Damned Utd (first US editing OUT MARCH 11 THAT IS TOMORROW) and I realized: David Peace is one of my all-time favorite authors. Red or Dead is not a fluke or a gimmick or a one-off. The Damned Utd is more accessible, just as good, and while also about soccer it is completely different in important ways. And it is also full of genius. And while both of these books make me want to sing from the hilltops like this

they don’t make me want to watch football — they make me want to go out and READ MORE BOOKS. This is about where I start to stutter in real life, here I’m just running out of words. I’m going to go order every book of his I can get my hands on because apparently there are a bunch.

Ok, ok, let me try to sum up: if you like strong voices, innovative prose style, and behind-the-scenes looks into tightly knit communities, you must read David Peace.

Mar 3
Moar Charts from Jenn
Paul challenged me to not only keep track generally (fiction, scifi/fantasy, nonfiction) of my reading for this year, but to slice & dice the genres as well! Here’s how the year is going, of the books I have finished in 2014. Some  finetuning for you:
Of the fantasy I’ve read, the subcategories thus far are: military, urban, and metafiction
Of the historical, one was Civil War and one was the Depression
Of the scifi, two were apocalyptic and one had aliens
Of the nonfiction, one was a memoir and one was popular science
Of the romance, one was Regency and one was steampunk

Moar Charts from Jenn

Paul challenged me to not only keep track generally (fiction, scifi/fantasy, nonfiction) of my reading for this year, but to slice & dice the genres as well! Here’s how the year is going, of the books I have finished in 2014. Some  finetuning for you:

  • Of the fantasy I’ve read, the subcategories thus far are: military, urban, and metafiction
  • Of the historical, one was Civil War and one was the Depression
  • Of the scifi, two were apocalyptic and one had aliens
  • Of the nonfiction, one was a memoir and one was popular science
  • Of the romance, one was Regency and one was steampunk

What We’re Reading This Week — Rebecca’s Picks

I didn’t set out to color-coordinate this week’s reads, but look at those pretty blue and white covers! A new Joshua Ferris book constitutes celebration in these quarters, and I dug To Rise Again at a Decent Hour(Little, Brown & Co, April)It’s a story about a dentist who is disillusioned with the modern world but can’t manage to disconnect from it. When a stranger starts impersonating him online—building a website for his practice, starting Facebook and Twitter profiles, commenting on news sites under his name—and spreading strange propaganda for a religion he’s never heard of, he’s pissed…and then totally intrigued. His emails with the man who is pretending to be him, and who claims to know him better than he knows himself, lead to some pretty weird situations and weirder thoughts, and it all makes for a wonderful (and oh so very Lit Fic-y) examination of how we connected (or not) and what we want from our connections. In Bookrageous parlance, this is most certainly a book about people in Brooklyn having thoughts, but it’s a good one and well worth a look if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat.

My ginger lifemate and partner in crime Liberty has been raving about Elizabeth McCracken for ages, and now that I have devoured Thunderstruck & Other Stories (Dial Press, April 22) I GET IT SO HARD. McCracken’s short fiction does all the things I want short fiction to do. These are stories about loss and want and how the two intersect and shape each other, and there are some gobsmackingly incredible sentences in them. I am so, so sorry I waited this long to read McCracken’s work, and I can’t wait to dive into her backlist.