Staff Reads: April 20

Staff Reads: April 20

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 Spring Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I recently spent a delightful afternoon curled up with Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love. The book follows Desi Lee as she attempts to win her crush’s heart using steps she’s compiled from watching Korean dramas with her dad. If you’re looking for a big-hearted YA book, this is for you. Desi is an incredibly relatable heroine, and one that I loved rooting for every step of the way. The blossoming romance between Desi and her crush is sweet and fun, and the shenanigans that ensue are hilarious. I particularly loved Desi’s supportive and genuine relationships with her close friends and dad. I’m eagerly awaiting Goo’s next novel, The Way You Make Me Feel, and in the meantime I’ll be half-following in Desi’s footsteps and indulging in some of the K dramas Goo recommends at the end of the novel, starting with The King 2 Hearts. —Kelly

Wrong to Need You

The second in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, this romance is truly forbidden, and I have no idea how Rai is possibly going to make these two reach their HEA. But I know she will, as I also know there will be plenty of personal angst, high-stakes passion, and complicated relationships. This series is like a super-steamy soap opera, with the shifting family and friend dynamics nearly as compelling as the sexytimes (nearly). —Megan

Moments of Being

Reading Virginia Woolf has always felt like hearing a familiar voice. I love the cadence of her essays, her particular kind of sharp observation, and her attention to the small moments in this world. Reading Moments of Being, her posthumously published collection of autobiographical essays, is such a pleasure. In “Am I a Snob,” Woolf makes an unusual argument for what qualifies as a snob (the prime example involves a member of the English nobility feeding a dog a bloody bone at the lunch table), and then turns the term around in her mind and uses it to think about moments in her life. She is rigorous, compassionate, and also very funny. Come for the lyrical introspection, stay for the scene where she is seated at a dinner party next to a critic who panned her novel Orlando. —Nina

The Cost of Living

This week I am reading the shattering The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy. A memoir of life after divorce, it is uncomfortable, unsettling, and uplifting. The writing is astonishingly good. —Stuart

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

I have loved the work of Alexander Chee ever since I read his beautiful and harrowing debut, Edinburgh. His second novel, The Queen of the Night, is in my TBR pile and I’m excited to get to it, but before then I’m reading Chee’s latest which is a collection of essays entitled How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. Chee examines himself and his writing life against the sometimes horrifying tapestry of the recent history of the United States. I would argue that Chee is one of the most important of our contemporary voices. If you need further convincing, here’s an essay from the collection recently published in The New Yorker, “The Rosary.” —Myf

Unmasked by the Marquess

One of my favorite romance tropes involves a grump falling hopelessly head-over-heels in love with a ray of sunshine, and it’s something that Cat Sebastian knocks out of the park every time. In Unmasked by the Marquess, the grump is a bisexual aristocrat named Alistair and the ray of sunshine is Robin, who is nonbinary and uses she/her pronouns. Robin’s gone above and beyond to help her sister find a proper match, and when she meets Alistair she begins to imagine what her own future happiness might look like. This is a heartwarming story about being true to who you are and discovering that love is worth risking everything for. —Kelly

You Say to Brick

One great thing about this acclaimed biography of architect Louis Kahn is the book’s own architecture: Lesser folds in vivid mini-essays on Kahn’s masterpieces, including the Salk Institute in La Jolla, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Traveling to all the major Kahn sites around the world, she walks the monumental, light-filled buildings and shares her lyric experiences. So rich are these tours, I feel like hopping on a plane and visiting a Kahn design right now. Along with detailed treatments of the architecture, Lesser also explores Kahn’s notoriously tangled personal life: For a long stretch, the Philadelphia-based architect maintained three separate families, having fathered children during long-running affairs with two office colleagues. (One of those children, Nathaniel Kahn, made a superb documentary about his dad, My Architect: A Son’s Journey.) My only quibble with You Say to Brick? I think it would have benefited from greater selectivity when it came to life detail and quoted reminiscence from those who knew Kahn. A little too much notebook material got poured into the chapters. —Phil

Outlander

Diana Gabaldon‘s Outlander has been keeping me great company on some very long flights over the past few weeks. The story is well researched and lush. The heroine is practical, smart, but fallible. The hero is hunky and (for the most part) respectful. The political stakes feel real rather than a backdrop for swooning characters (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Something I particularly respect about Outlander is how it handles Claire’s competing love interests. She loves her husband, Frank, who she left behind in the 20th century, and she is learning to love Jaime in the 18th century. She is attracted to different things about each of them, and struggles through keeping them both in her heart and mind. Usually attraction and love are positioned as a zero-sum game, and I think Outlander asks some really interesting questions about having multiple “true loves.” —Nina

Will in the World

Few writers thriller me so much as William Shakespeare does and as April 23rd is his recorded birthday, I’ve been reading Will in the World. Stephen Greenblatt writes of “how Shakespeare became Shakespeare” with scholarly precision. The prose is never dull but rather brings Elizabethan England and Shakespeare to life. In doing so, Greenblatt allows the reader to peer into the mind of a genius and begin to understand what informed his work and why he wrote how he wrote. Even if you railed against reading Shakespeare in high school, you just might find this book really interesting. Myf

Educated

I inhaled Educated by Tara Westover this past weekend. I could not stop reading about the outrageous upbringing the author endured in the isolated wilds of Idaho: one with no schooling, lots of hard labor, her father’s mental illness and zealotry, and abusive siblings. The writing is beautiful—sparse, insightful, and bordering on detached instead of taking a tabloid turn. But the thing that killed me was the ongoing inner conflict Westover can’t seem to shake, even as an adult with her eyes open: What’s more important, her family or herself? I can’t wait for someone I know to read it so we can discuss it! —Annie

The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray

Our last group book was The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray, a steampunk, dystopian, futuristic, Orwellian and a little bit sci-fi young adult book that hit all the major checkboxes. It was a pure page turner, with adventure, imagination, and excitement. The book offered our group a great segue to discuss our current political, environmental, social climate. We highly recommend this one. It was very entertaining. —Jon

The Bookish Editors
The Bookish Editors are a team of writers who aim to give readers more information about the books, authors, and genres that they love while also introducing them to new titles, debut writers, and genres they never thought they’d read.

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