We listen! Some folks have been writing to us saying, hey Weekend Reading is great, except, the books featured often aren't available until next month, or beyond, and that's a tease. So this week we're going to mix it up and only include editors' picks you can get your hands on, or download, now. Enjoy.
Erin Kodicek: After reading Kathleen Rooney’s wonderful novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, I was reminded of other notable flâneurs in literature—Leopold Bloom of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway…It is the gals gadding about town, rather than the men, that Lauren Elkin focuses on in her book, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London. Part memoir, part cultural critique, you will follow in the footsteps of ladies like George Sand and Jean Rhys, pondering the influence urban settings have had on their lives and work. They say that the act of walking actually enhances one's ability to think. (I’m an avid walker, and my colleagues might disagree). But, Elkin’s book certainly fuels this assertion. It’s a fascinating literary jaunt you’ll want to take.
Jon Foro: If you're at all interested in Roman history (especially if you happen to think that past events occasionally resonate in our time), you should check out Adrian Goldsworthy's histories from Yale University Press, including an excellent biography of Caesar and his most recent book, Pax Romana. (Read his post on Roman elections for the Amazon Book Review.) I recently learned of another Yale book, not by Goldsworthy, but one that seems like a perfect accompaniment: Praetorian: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Imperial Bodyguard. Guy de la Bédoyère examines the elite security force originally formed to protect Augustus and his family, but over the centuries grew into a political force of its own, often deposing emperors they objected to. So if you’re thinking about appointing your own private security force, you might want to think twice.
Adrian Liang: If you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you reading deep into the (weekend) night, there are three excellent books to consider. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough keeps the tension high throughout even as you start to wonder who is manipulating whom. (And are you a victim as well?) The ending is creating a lot of buzz, creating a stark divide between opinions that we haven’t seen since Gone Girl. Lisa Gardner has penned another gripping mystery in which a thirteen-year-old girl, about to be adopted by two FBI agents, discovers that the older brother who once saved her from their homicidal father might now be embarking on a killing spree of his own. If you haven’t read Gardner before but like Lisa Scottolini or J.D. Robb, I suggest giving Right Behind You a try. And speaking of J.D. Robb…on February 7 Eve Dallas embarked on her 44th investigation in Echoes in Death, which is getting rave customer reviews.
Seira Wilson: If you’re trying to decide what to read next and you’re a fan of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series (in book or movie form), we’re reading her new book, Carve the Mark, for our YA book club on Goodreads and it’s a story that quickly sucks you in. Once again Roth does a great job of world-building and creating strong characters, but without writing the same book all over again.
Sarah Harrison Smith: Daphne Merkin is such a funny, astute writer that I’m willing--even eager--to follow her into the abyss of depression in her new book, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression, published this week by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. A brilliant critic and memoirist, she reveals herself to her readers without shame. Back in my early twenties, when I was a fact checker at the New Yorker magazine, I worked with Merkin on several of her pieces, including an infamous one about her desire to be spanked. I was astonished, as a relatively shy young person, at her bravery in admitting to something so intimate – and I later was impressed by her kindness in mentoring aspiring writers (among other things, she teaches at New York’s 92nd St. Y). Merkin’s had one of those lives that veers between the very lucky (born into privilege) and the profoundly unlucky (much of what came after), and though she’s one-of-a-kind, you may find a sense of solidarity in her story, whether you’ve ventured down that dark road yourself or not.
Chris Schluep: The book that I would read again right now—if I wasn’t reading for the Best Books of March—is one from our February Best Books of the Month. It’s called Swimming Lessons, and it’s a family drama/mystery that begins when a husband thinks he sees his estranged, probably dead wife outside a window one day. He doesn’t take it well, and he has a bit of a spill, and the rest of the story is told in flashbacks as well as following events on the current timeline. This isn’t a hard-charging narrative—it’s character-oriented, and it take its time to unfold. But it’s been rainy here in Seattle (I’m not joking, but go ahead if you want to laugh), and I just want to build a fire and go reread Swimming Lessons.