Weekend Reading

NeanderthalIn this edition of Weekend Reading, neanderthals, body-snatching cicadas, and other "skullduggery."

Jon Foro: Who has two opposable thumbs, an occipital bun, and two books about Neanderthals to read this weekend? This guy! The first is Café Neandertal, a book that digs not only into the mysterious lives of Homo neanderthalensis, but also into the culture of archaeology in the Dordogne region of southwest France - a place first frequented by our hominin cousins 400,000 years ago, and more recently by the Rolling Stones. The second is Claire Cameron’s The Last Neanderthal, a novel written from two perspectives: a Neanderthal girl living in her species’ last days, and a modern researcher, both connected across millennia by the challenges of motherhood.

Adrian Liang: I’m immersing myself in the weird and mysterious this weekend. Ubo, by Steve Rasnic Tem, centers on Daniel, a man who was taken from his family by large cicada-like creatures and then has his consciousness forced into the brains of mass shooters and serial killers during their violent frenzies so that the cicadas can study his reactions. Yeah—pretty weird. And definitely disturbing. As Daniel tries to figure out what the purpose of these studies are, he uncovers truths that are even scarier than being kidnapped and mind-assaulted by big bugs. The second book with a what-the-heck-is-going-on? vibe is Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, an SF novel told mostly from the point of view of Zan, a warrior whose memory disappears every time she enters a worldship in an attempt to overthrow it. Zan wakes after her most recent attack in the middle of a space war, and the person who tells her to trust her is the one person she yearns to trust the most but knows she must not. Zan’s amnesia, worldships and space-faring vehicles that are organic rather than metal, and secrets layered upon secrets make this a mesmerizing read.

Erin Kodicek: I'm going to finish Caitriona Lally's quirky and uttlerly endearing debut, Eggshells. In it, socially awkward Vivian would like to make a friend, but being socially awkward, she decides to do so by placing an ad. A very specific one. You see, Vivian wouldn’t like just any friend. She would like a friend named Penelope. And once she finds her, Vivian’s world will never been the same… 

Seira Wilson: Another rainy weekend in Seattle so hopefully will get lots of reading done...I'm looking forward to The Upstarts from the author of The Everything Store. This time Brad Stone looks at a new generation of entrepreneurial visionaries, including Travis Kalanick of Uber and Brian Chesky of Airbnb. I’m also going to read Holly Goldberg Sloan’s new middle grade novel, Short. I loved her last book, Counting by 7s, and Short is about a middle school student with self-esteem issues, who is forever changed by a summer production of The Wizard of Oz.  

Sarah Harrison Smith: Well, after being blown away, swept under and totally enthralled by George Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo earlier this week I’m headed back into to non-fiction for a few days while I draw a deep breath and let the hilarity and deep dark sadness of the Saunders settle. So this weekend I’ll spend time in the company of Giles Hilton’s Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat. Picador’s publishing it early in February, and I’ve been looking forward to digging into the story of the team that, in 1939, embarked on some serious skullduggery to try to get the better of the Germans. I love a good spy narrative and this one promises a lot of fun and some fascinating new stories.

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