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Sting-rayIn this edition, a book that will make you nostalgic for your banana seat bike, a memoir by the late, great Carrie Fisher, and a novel about a family of psychics...

Jon Foro: I am a child of the 70s. I have also been a child in later decades, but for me, the years when I wasn’t burdened with job/girls/nuclear holocaust-based insomnia were filled with The Six-Million Dollar Man, Evel Knievel, CBS’s annual presentation of The Wizard of Oz, homemade lightsabers built from blue Lego railroad tracks, and night-skiing to the Steve Miller Band. (It’s a true story that I was once running through the woods near my house singing “Fly Like an Eagle,” and just as I came to the verse, a small, fallen pine caught my right Puma and sent me face-first into the trail.) Anyway, the 70s were the best, and Sting-Ray Afternoons - Steve Rushin’s memoir of the Golden Age of candy cigarettes, sugar on your grapefruit, and Nixon on the TV - seems to understand that, looking like a decent deep-dive and homage to the “Me Decade,” which was a title I was blissfully too young to understand.

Seira Wilson: I’m on vacation this week, so I’m going to read something I didn’t get to last year and something I’ve been dying to read even though it doesn’t come out for months… E. Lockhart’s last book, We Were Liars, was my favorite YA book of 2014 and was also included on our overall Top 20 list that year because it’s that good. Lockhart has a new book coming out this fall (!), so Genuine Fraud (September 5) was the first thing in my carry-on bag after sanitizer wipes. (Think about all the things you touch in an airplane seat for a minute…yeah.) The other book I packed is The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher’s memoir that released last year and is a behind-the-scenes look at her time on the set of the first Star Wars movie. Fisher was a teenager at the time and (not unsurprisingly) kept extensive journals, excerpts of which are included in the book. 

Erin Kodicek: I've got a long flight coming up, affording me some quality time with Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory, a humorous and heartfelt novel about a family with various psychic abilities. The "Amazing Telemachus Family" have an amazing run, until something terrible happens one night that changes the trajectory of their lives. Are their unique gifts ultimately a blessing, or a curse? I'm excited to find out. I'm also going to check out Refuge by Dina Nayeri. I have no idea what it's about but it has a very pretty cover and I have no qualms being judgy that way.

Adrian Liang: Because the one thing you absolutely want to do on the first long weekend of summer is to think about heavy, future-changing events, I plan to finish Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? by Graham Allison (May 30). (I also plan to learn how to pronounce “Thucydides” properly, since we’ve been stumbling over the name while discussing it amongst ourselves.) In short, Allison lays out the theory of Thucydides’s Trap: an established power and a rising power almost inevitably go to war. It’s not 100%  inevitable, however. Allison nimbly dissects other similar scenarios in the past 500 years that mostly, but not always, led to battle. Those who believe that U.S. power is here to stay no matter what haven’t paid much attention to their history lessons, and those who dismiss China likely don’t realize that China surpassed the U.S. in GDP as measured through purchasing power parity in 2014. Plus, despite China’s recent flirtation with communism, Chinese culture has a millennia-long love affair with capitalism. (The number 8 is considered lucky in China because the word for 8 sounds similar to the word for wealth or fortune.) Destined for War is a wake-up call that I highly recommend to readers who think on a global scale.

Sarah Harrison Smith: I seem to be on a short-story kick at the moment, and this weekend I’ll be finishing Helen Simpson’s Cockfosters, a slim but artful collection Knopf is publishing on June 7. Simpson is one of those rare authors who only writes short stories—no novels for her—and you can feel her assurance with that form in this, her eighth book. Each story takes the name of a place (though one, a utopian feminist fantasy, is called “Erehwon,” i.e., “Nowhere” spelled backward. Does that count?). The title, Cockfosters, refers to the final stop on the London tube’s Piccadilly Line, which two old school friends, now empty-nesters, travel to in search of a pair of lost, despised, but necessary bifocals. It’s a straightforward journey to the end of the line, but in Simpson’s hands the trip reveals a particularly midlife state of mind. This collection got great reviews when it was published in the U.K. earlier this year. I’ll be interested to see if its appeal is as strong for North American readers.

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Oh I am a huge fan of Helen Simpson's short fiction. Didn't know about this new one so will be ordering it now, thanks.

Posted by: Sara O'Leary | Friday June 2, 2017 at 1:17 PM

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