Our Friday Reads: July 24

Our Friday Reads: July 24

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.


Confession of the Lioness

Oh, magical realism, my dear, dear friend. It has been a long time since I’ve picked up a novel that exhibits magical realism, so I was excited to crack the spine of this new release. It tells the story of the people of Kulumani, a village in Mozambique where the women are being killed by the area’s lionesses. Obviously the question from the start is “Are the lionesses even real?” and, if not, what do they represent? The author also explores the desire to keep traditions alive, the role of women in this society, and the many ways that life can be extinguished. I’m about 50 pages from the end. So far, so good. —Kelly

Under the Tuscan Sun

This summer most of my reading has been Ireland-set, but this week I’m journeying somewhere else. I’m rereading Frances MayesUnder the Tuscan Sun, which I hadn’t picked up since it was released in 1996. I’d remembered it as wonderfully written, as vivid an evocation of a specific place as I’d encountered. Happily, it’s proving just as alive and transporting on visit #2. The old Tuscan villa Mayes and her husband buy and set to restoring, the villa gardens and surrounding countryside, the Tuscans she meets—all of it is brightly captured in Mayes’ elegant, companionable prose. With nearly 20 years of my life having passed since the first visit, I am also responding in a few different ways, of course; one way is how this time I’m more tuned to the good fortune of Mayes’ story: house, place, life-partner, wine, and Tuscan dinners, all seeming close to perfect. With a few more miles on my tires, I’m aware of the rarity of what the author chronicles. —Phil


People of the Songtrail

It has been nearly 25 years since I had the pleasure of being taken on a guided archaeology tour of the Museum of Natural History by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear; and I’ve been a voracious fan of their writing ever since. They’re both archaeologists, and it shows in the Forgotten Past series, which focuses on pre-Columbus North America. —Bob

My Age of Anxiety

This is a book about the widespread nature of anxiety disorders as a leading mental illness in the U.S. It has amazing blurbs from some very smart people and a highly entertaining first chapter: Did you know that anxiety related mental illness accounts for 31% of all mental illness expenditures in the U.S.? That’s a lot of Ativan and Xanax prescriptions, basically; and more than 25% of Americans will deal with a “clinical anxiety” issue at some point over their lives. The author is painfully honest about his own struggles, which were so debilitating that he almost passed out at the altar at his own wedding, for instance, drenched in flop sweat; alarming the priest. —Michael

My Brother’s Shadow

I have a habit of gravitating towards novels that explore how we deal with loss—in particular, that first big loss. Kaia finds herself “frozen” after her brother’s suicide. Sometimes he visits her in the form of an angel, and at first it is unclear if he’s also represented in the mysterious wild boy she suddenly befriends—though it is immediately obvious that she’s the only one who can see him—or if the boy is simply a manifestation of her own emotions. It’s a novel sophisticated young readers may enjoy, though readers who prefer clarity may not appreciate it as much. Still, I’m always happy to find new literature that can help readers explore complex emotions in new ways. —Kelly


Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and throughout history more than one country has wanted to control it. This is one of the few books focused solely on the island. I am very excited to learn about the role it has played over the centuries.—Bob


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