Staff Reads: December 8

Staff Reads: December 8

Do you wonder what the Bookish team is reading? Do you want to take a peek at our bookshelves? You’ve come to the right place. Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations. Tell us what you think in the comments!

If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Winter Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

Roomies

Only Christina Lauren could write a book so captivating that I forget I’m sitting on a crowded airplane. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion they wrote this just for me because it includes all of my favorite things: a marriage of convenience plot, a hot guy with an Irish accent, and a Broadway musical. Add in a pair of uncles I want to adopt me and an on-point plotline about outgrowing friendships, and CLo has delivered another winner. Holland’s journey is heartbreakingly relatable. She’s struggling to find her purpose and to light the fire that used to drive her passion. I wanted to take her for a cocktail to talk about New York, writing, and Calvin’s single Irish friends. —Kelly

The Circle

I started reading The Circle by Dave Eggers when it first came out, and for one reason or another, didn’t end up finishing it. So many people have mentioned it to me in conversation since then that I’ve decided to pick it up again and make sure I get all the way through it this time. I predict I’m going to feel extremely creeped out by social media before too long. —Elizabeth

Girl in Snow

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka is a beautifully written whodunit. When beautiful and popular Lucinda is discovered dead, the whole town mourns. But three characters must examine their relationships with Lucinda, and with themselves. The publisher writes, “Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.” I couldn’t say it better myself. These characters are fascinating and tragic, each in their own way. —Kristina

It Takes Two to Tumble

I want to put Cat Sebastian’s books into the hands of romance readers everywhere. She has a brilliant gift for crafting characters that attach themselves to your heart and won’t let go. It Takes Two to Tumble kept me up late into the night because I didn’t want to part ways with Ben and Phillip. These characters come from remarkably different backgrounds, yet in each other they find comfort and solace. Sebastian’s novels make you believe in the possibility of a world built on love, respect, and hope. This is one of my favorites of the season. —Kelly

Her Body and Other Parties

I am devouring Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machadoone of the most singular, surprising, and exciting collection of stories I’ve read in years. Just about to be published in the U.K., it seems set to become as big a hit here as it was in the States. —Stuart

The Argonauts

Last week, I spent a blissful few hours re-reading Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (for the third time). The formally experimental memoir/essay of a highly introspective femme writer steeped in queer theory parsing through how to live an ethical life is basically catnip for me. And I convinced my book club to make it our December read! It is romantic, idealistic, and intellectually rigorous. —Nina

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Always, always, always this time of year I turn back to A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. We had the beautiful edition with the Ellen Raskin woodcuts when I was a child and now I have it as an adult as well. The opening paragraph sticks in my head, in the voice of Thomas himself (you can listen here) and sets the tone for this delightful, nostalgic, and sometimes dark, tale:

“One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.”

If you’ve never experienced this story, please give yourself a delicious treat that you won’t regret indulging in. —Myf

World Without End

Ken Follett wrote my favorite book of all time, Pillars of the Earth, and this week I’m reading the companion novel, World Without End. The story takes us from Jack Builder’s time further along in the Middle Ages. The mark of a great writer is when they really envelop you in the story and you feel as though you are part of it. You can see, hear, smell, and feel the environment, including the cacophony of sound of the fleece market and the fights at the guild hall. There are several main characters and the narrative follows their lives during this period. Nobles and the church rule over the land and the story shows the economic disparities of the time and how powerful the church was during the late Middle Ages. It also highlights the role of women during that time and how helpless—or not—they were. This is a fascinating and long book, but definitely worth the time. —Barb

The Emperor’s Soul

I am reading The Emperor’s Soul, a novella by Brandon Sanderson. My friend, a very big Sanderson fan, recommended the novella as an introduction to his work before diving into some of his larger series. I’m really enjoying the novella so far. It’s an interesting story about a Forgersomeone who can create a copy out of any item just by learning the object’s history. The Forger was caught trying to steal something and is now being blackmailed to work for the government in an attempt to forge a new soul for the catatonic emperor. Sanderson’s writing style is as unique as his stimulating story, and I’m excited to finish this tale and begin a full-length novel next! —Amanda

The Man from the Train

This book is terrifying—and I can’t put it down. Baseball writer Bill James and his daughter Rachel attempt to identify the killer behind dozens of mass family murders in the early part of last century. Imagine if the two killers in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood were one man, and instead of a gun the murderer used the blunt side of an axe. I knew nothing about these hideous cases, and the authors’ exhaustive coverage and building of a case against the man they think is responsible is keeping me up at night reading, and then messing with my sleep for a few minutes after I turn in! It’s not the most elegantly written and structured book in the annals of true crime, but it’s an absolutely riveting story. —Phil

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