Weekend Reading

SourdoughIn this edition, secret sourdough societies, horrific books, boozy cocktails, and more.

Erin Kodicek: I'm going to check out Sourdough by Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore author, Robin Sloan. Proving that good bread can be life-changing, the novel centers around a lonely software engineer who frequents an eatery run by two brothers who soon have to flee the country due to Visa issues. Entrusting Lois with the jewel of their livelihood--a sourdough starter--she takes her stewardship very seriously, and soon she is baking herself and foisting the fruits of her labor onto delighted, gluten-tolerant co-workers, then farmer's markets...and then it starts getting weird. I have a feeling I'm going to loave it.

Jon Foro: Way back in the olden days, in my first bookstore gig, one of my first responsibilities was “managing” the horror section. It was a perfect match. For one, I’d been reading horror novels since I was 12, starting with 'Salem's Lot before branching out with the likes of H.P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, and Richard Matheson. Second, I thought the section was hilarious, with nearly every book featuring a grinning skull, possessed child, or ventriloquist’s dummy on its raven-black cover. In fact, before I worked there, I performed the “service” of merchandising the titles according to themes. (For example, all titles with Satanic dogs would be faced out. I was shiftless and bored.) Grady Hendrix has done something similar with Paperbacks from Hell, which is what must be the definitive-for-all-time survey of 70s and 80s mass market horror, all conveniently organized by subject matter, summarized, and critiqued. With the ascendance of YA, I’m not sure horror fiction even exists anymore, at least as I remember it. This one takes me back.

Seira Wilson: I loved Cassie Beasley’s debut, Circus Mirandus, and her new book Tumble and Blue is waiting for me this weekend.  Another magic-infused story, Tumble and Blue is about legends and fate, a golden alligator and cursed ancestors set in the Okefenokee swamp. It’s supposed to be hot here in Seattle, so I’m also going to avail myself of a recipe or two from Sloshies and make my own frozen cocktails. A trip to the farmers market for some fresh fruit, add ice, spirits, and a comfy deck chair…it’s looking like a good weekend ahead.

Sarah Harrison Smith: Reading writers’ diaries and letters always has a little bit of an illicit thrill, doesn’t it? Case in point: David Sedaris's Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, which Little, Brown published at the end of May. But although I find Sedaris amusing, I’m actually reading a different collection just now, by the British writer Barbara Pym, who wrote The Sweet Dove Died, Excellent Women, Quartet in Autumn, and other post-war novels (Quartet was nominated for a Booker prize in 1977). Anyway, her diaries and letters, collected as A Very Private Eye, make very good reading. They’re smart and well-written, with a rueful streak that stems mostly from her difficulties in love, and trouble getting her books published. The diaries provide a glimpse at the life of an educated, single, working woman, living in a time that now seems distant, and to use a word she liked, “meagre,” in terms of material comforts. Pym was an excellent woman, and A Very Private Eye makes an ideal night-table companion.

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