Our Friday Reads: August 14

Our Friday Reads: August 14

Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations; have you read any of them? Tell us in the comments what you’ll be reading this weekend! If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Summer Previews.

Atmospheric Disturbances

It had been a while since I’d heard the word “simulacrum,” but it’s popping up a ton in this postmodern sort-of-mystery by Rivka Galchen. If the scheduling gods smile on me, I’ll be in a seminar of Rivka’s this fall at Columbia, and this book is making me even more excited about it. I’m reminded of Jonathan Lethem‘s Chronic City in some ways; I love fiction that asks the reader to consider what makes reality real. —Elizabeth


The Assassin’s Blade

Sarah J. MaasQueen of Shadows is hitting shelves on September 1 and I still have yet to read her incredibly well-reviewed Throne of Glass series. I’m attempting to fix that as quickly as possible and started by picking up this book, which is a collection of novellas. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous to start here rather than at book one (which was published first), but so far it is proving to be an engaging and excellent introduction to Celaena Sardothien and her world. Maas blew me away when I read A Court of Thorns and Roses. Needless to say, my hopes are incredibly high for this fantasy series, but I’m positive I have nothing to fear. #Sorrynotsorry that my Friday Reads will be nothing but Throne of Glass for the next few weeks. —Kelly

The Lost City of Z

This thrilling non-fiction story is one of the few remaining exploration mysteries. It explores the history of the Lost City, as well as the author’s personal search for adventures and answers. —Bob


The Contemporaries

A few weeks ago, in the New York Times Book Review’s first-ever Visual Arts issue, longtime NYT art critic Holland Cotter gave a fabulous review to Roger White’s The Contemporaries: Travels in the 21st-Century Art World. I was interested from the get-go, but knew I’d be buying the book when I got to the part in Cotter’s review where he said White praised Milwaukee, my hometown, as a “model” for a place where exciting art by young artists is being created, their efforts aided by cheap rents, ample space, and a supportive community. I haven’t even gotten to the Brew City-starring chapter yet and can’t put this book down. White, a painter, instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design, and writer/editor who cofounded the arts journal Paper Monument, is proving the ideal guide to the mad-mad world of contemporary art. The hype, the money, the aesthetic trends, the MFA system, how a young artist gets established—all of this and more is covered by an insider with a sharp, witty, balanced approach, a painter who also happens to write prose as well as any author I’ve read this year. —Phil


A friend is a huge fan of Sarah Waters, and I’ve been meaning to check out her work for years. Fingersmith seemed a good place to start, and wow—am I ever happy I did. Waters is an absolute genius, with incredibly well-wrought scenes and sentences, memorable characters, innovative plotting—she’s got it all. I’m not a huge fan of Victoriana, but she brings the period to life brilliantly, both in homage and subversion of 19th-century masters like Dickens. Fingersmith is both hugely impressive and hugely enjoyable: a perfect summer read! —Joe


You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

I’ve been excited about this book since we got a galley back in May. After reading a couple outstanding reviews, I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer. Apparently Alexandra Kleeman does a great job writing about the strangeness of having a female body, and I think writing about that sense of embodiment, of harnessing consciousness to flesh (to borrow a line from Susan Sontag), is such a cool and interesting project. Pass the Kandy Kakes, please. —Elizabeth


Wealth Secrets of the One Percent

I am reading Wealth Secrets of the One Percent. I would normally not even notice such a book except with a rueful chuckle; but it is published by Little, Brown. It is written by an economist (as opposed, say, to a motivational speaker), and—so far—it is entertaining. It sounds like the “wealth secret” he reveals is that people who have made insane amounts of money (like, Croesus) used the law and politics to make it happen; or were in a zone where the law and politics were not well defined (like, say, new technical tools that enable new techniques and technologies that have yet to be regulated). But time will tell. —Michael

Avenue Of Spies

This is only one of so many heroic stories about those who dared to defy the one of the most horrific demons of our time. —Bob


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