Weekend Reading

FriendsIn this edition, identity crisis, a look under the hood at Uber, and more...

Sarah Harrison Smith: I can’t wait to read more of Conversations with Friends, a debut novel by the young Irish writer Sally Rooney, which Hogarth is publishing next month. I’ve been totally charmed by the intense college-era loves and friendships of Rooney’s characters, who are at that moment in their development when their high-minded intellectual ideals are rubbing up against their real-world desires. Rooney’s protagonist, Frances, is 21 -- a serious student and budding writer who can express herself admirably in print but often fails to say what she means in person. This gives her a cool edge others admire, but also leaves her chronically lonely. I’m finding myself comparing Rooney’s detached yet intense voice to Rachel Cusk’s. If that’s a style you find engaging, and dialog like, “I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to fetishize commodities as usual” makes you giggle, then Conversations with Friends might be the next book to add to your summer wish list. I can’t get enough of it.

Erin Kodicek: I'm excited to dip into Tom Perrotta's upcoming novel, Mrs. Fletcher (August 1). It's about a recent empty nester, struggling with this alien status and desperate for a distraction, when a very saucy one is served-up anonymously on her phone. No, it's not a message from Anthony Weiner, but it is something that piques Mrs. Fletcher's interest to such a degree that she becomes obsessed with a certain porn site and suddenly her sleepy suburban existence is sleepy no more. Meanwhile her son, whose clueless neanderthalism is proving a liability with the college ladies, is trying to find his footing in life too. Will these two grow up? I'm keen to find out.

Adrian Liang: If you haven’t yet read Brad Stone’s The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World, this weekend is the time to do it, given Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation this week. While Stone’s book hit shelves shortly before the sexual harassment and greyballing stories came out, anyone who reads The Upstarts won’t be super surprised that Uber is beset by troubles of its own making. As we said earlier this year, when we picked The Upstarts as a Best Book of the Month, “Stone gives Uber's and Airbnb's mistakes as much room on the page as its scrappy triumphs, allowing a far more complex story to build. Interwoven among the highlights and lowlights are innovation incubators, dirty tricks, desperation among VC investors to not miss the Next Big Thing, competitors' bright ideas, and the strikingly different personalities of the two companies' young leaders.”

Looking back at older technology—or at least more traditional ways of dominating the landscape or, rather, seascape—I’m planning on reading Seablindness: How Political Neglect Is Choking American Seapower and What to Do About It by Seth Cropsey (August). Seapower has been increasingly on my radar since I devoured Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap by Graham Allison last month. I spoke with Mr. Allison this week (the interview will be posted here in July), and like all good authors, he has launched me on an intellectual mission to learn more about a subject I’m overly ignorant about.

Seira Wilson: Finally some hot sun in Seattle (by which I mean 90 degrees) coming up and I’ve already got plans to hit the beach and try not to drown myself attempting to paddle board.  I’m packing up the beach bag with something old and something new—the paperback edition of My Best Friend’s Exorcism is coming out next month with an amazing new cover, and I’m ready to kick back and enjoy some campy 1980’s fun. I’m also planning to finish an upcoming young adult novel, Aftercare Instructions (out June 27). I started it earlier this week and it sucked me in right away.  A girl is left extremely abruptly by her boyfriend at the very start and it leads her to rediscover dreams and hopes she’d tucked away and face the reality of their time together.  The style is different—told like a 4-act play—and it feels right, not gimicky. 

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Can't wait to read Conversations with Friends, given your rave. :)

Posted by: Laura | Tuesday July 11, 2017 at 2:44 PM

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