Penny Mann: Three books are topping my list for this weekend. First, the new Grisham, Camino Island. This latest thriller takes us to the shores of Florida and into the world of the rare (and yes, sometimes illegal) book trade. After Grisham, I am planning on switching it up a bit and checking out We Are Never Meeting In Real Life - a collection of essays from the always funny and poignant blogger Samantha Irby. I was already laughing out loud after reading the back cover, "Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making adult budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette - and how she's 35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something." Last but certainly not least, I finally got my copy of the new Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - her earlier novel, The God of Small Things remains one of my favorites, and I absolutely can't wait to get started on this new novel.
Erin Kodicek: I do not have any children, but if I did, I would feel no compunction whatsoever as I swaddled that child in bubble wrap, placed a helmet on their head, and made them carry one of those monkey backpacks where the tail doubles as a leash; novels like Do Not Become Alarmed provide ample reason why (other than the fact that I'm...a little off). In it, two families go on a cruise and, shortly after disembarking in South America, the children disappear. Told from both the parents and the children's points of view, Maile Meloy aims for us to ruminate on what's most important in life. And right now, that's getting monkey backpacks for my niece and nephew, even though they're too old for that sort of thing.
Jon Foro: Black Hawk Down - Mark Bowden's bestselling minute-by-minute account of the United States' disastrous 1993 operation in Mogadishu, Somalia - is considered a classic of war reporting for Bowden's meticulous research, dedication to detail, and his ability as a writer to apply clarity to chaos. For his new book, Bowden breaks down Huế 1968, a pivotal battle at the heart of the Tet Offensive. At well over 500 pages, I may need a break, so I'll be taking home a book I initially dipped into way back in January: Shark Drunk, which is Moby Dick if 1) you make it a true story, 2) you replace Ahab with two drunk Norwegians, and 3) the whale is a giant shark with hallucinogenic blood. Coincidentally, these two books use a nearly identical font on their jackets.
Sarah Harrison Smith: I’ve been reading Nadeem Aslam’s new novel, The Golden Legend (out last month from Knopf) every minute I get: in that blissful few minutes after my kids go to school but before I hop in the shower; in the hour after they’ve gone to bed; while waiting for the teakettle to boil. I can’t put it down this tale of modern Pakistan, in which nearly every family is touched by political violence. Though Aslam’s chief protagonists are persecuted Christians, there’s more than enough abuse of power, historical and contemporary, to go around. I’m not the bravest reader, and tend to avert my eyes from such horrors, but Aslam is brilliant at creating moments of beauty and sanctuary in art, nature, and love—that counterbalance the bloodshed. I can’t wait see how this “works out,” though I’m bracing myself for heartbreak.
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