Staff Reads: August 16

Staff Reads: August 16

Staff Reads

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

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

During a long car ride, I listened to the audiobook of Norse Mythology, narrated by Neil Gaiman himself. His retelling of the myths was witty and engaging, and his reading style was delightful. It was especially fun to listen along with my daughter, who has gobbled up all of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series and loved hearing about some of the same characters. Dare we dream that Gaiman might give the same treatment to Greek and Roman mythology? We’d be so lucky! —Lindsey

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room is capacious in scope. It tells the deeply specific story of Romy Hall, her San Francisco youth, her mother and her son, the circumstances that landed her with a double life sentence in prison, and her life in prison. It also gives us glimpses into the lives of the women that Romy is incarcerated with–rendered with full humanity that does not deny that they have committed crimes, but acknowledges that their crimes are a small part of their story. Plus, the prison English teacher. It is funny and bleak. The violence that surrounds Romy outside of prison and inside is casual and systemic. More than any other piece of fiction I have encountered, it makes a compelling case that our carceral system is fundamentally dehumanizing. If you’re not a prison abolitionist yet, The Mars Room might turn you into one. —Nina

Flashed by Zoey Castile

Zoey Castile’s latest delivers sizzling heat alongside a tender story of recovery and forgiveness. Patrick Halloran lives alone on his Montana ranch haunted by the memories of an accident that scarred his mind and body and nearly took his brother’s life. He reluctantly hires a housekeeper, but is far from welcoming when she arrives. Lena Martel initially ignores her new boss’s strange behavior, focusing instead on her goal of earning enough money to pay for college and help her sister back in New York. Like Patrick, she’s weighed down by her past and unsure of how to move forward. I’m a sucker for anything inspired by “Beauty and the Beast” and Castile’s take on this tale as old as time was one I didn’t want to put down. I loved the strong focus on the power of found families and way Castile showed how recovery isn’t linear–both Patrick and Lena have ups and downs as they attempt to move forward. Readers looking for a steamy read packed with heart can pick this up when it hits shelves on August 27! –Kelly

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

I am currently making my way through Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms series, which I wrote about recently in Staff Reads. I read the sequel even faster and loved it even more than the first book. Rhodes raises the stakes constantly as the book progresses. It’s been a while since I’ve read a genre novel where an author has no problem killing characters—even those that you expect to be series regulars. It reminds me so much of watching Game of Thrones. I also love Rhodes’ character development, which she excels at even though there are multiple POVs. Cleo, Jonas, and Magnus are by far my favorite characters because their stories feel the most important. In the first book, Cleo was a weak princess who seemed stuck up and unable to speak up. But she truly grows into her own person in this book as she thinks for herself and her kingdom. I go back and forth over whether or not I like Magnus, which I think shows how lifelike and believable Rhodes’ characters are. She’s created this character-driven story that makes you second-guess everything. Jonas takes on a leadership role in this book and has stolen my heart in the process. I just started book three and clearly I am obsessed. —Dana

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

There’s nothing I love more in fiction than reading a story told by a narrator who most people would probably deem a little weird upon meeting them for the first time. Keiko, the eponymous convenience store woman, is one of those quirky and slightly unlikable characters and boy, was it interesting to get a glimpse into her world! This is one of those short books that’s probably best read in just one sitting in order to feel completely absorbed by the unique and subversively Gothic atmosphere of the convenience store. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before and I’d highly recommend it! —Karlotta 

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu, illustrated by Janet K. Lee

Sadly, I haven’t made it to the beach this summer. Luckily, I did get the chance this week to do a little armchair traveling with Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer, and her trusty sidekick, Cap’N Bill the one-eyed cat. After a day at the beach, the two find themselves transported to an underground kingdom where Sea Sirens are locked into a heated battle with the Serpent King and his snake army. Middle grade readers are sure to be swept up in the action and adventure of this graphic novel, and I dare any reader not to fall in love with the adorable Bill. –Stephanie

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I first read The Art of Fielding when it came out in 2011, and remember spending many happy afternoons on the campus of the fictional Westish College. I recently decided to revisit this old favorite and experience it all over again. I never would have guessed I’d be so taken with a book about baseball, but the larger-than-life characters, Herman Melville tidbits, and beautiful campus are just as engrossing the second time around. —Elizabeth

Discretion by Karina Halle

I’ve read a few of Karina Halle’s romances and I’ve really enjoyed them. Discretion was no different! I read this in one sitting with pizza and a glass of wine and it made for a truly fantastic Friday night. This is the first in a new series following the Dumont family and this book follows Sadie Reynolds who’s backpacking through Europe and gets mugged. Sadie is saved by a mysterious and handsome man named Olivier who takes her to his hotel to recover and pays for her hospital costs. Olivier Dumont is a hotelier and from a family who owns a fashion house on the level of Chanel. He has a lot of family drama concerning transgressions from his youth making his growing relationship with Sadie difficult. I love Halle’s ability to write chemistry between her characters and her portrayal of European settings. It’s such a fun adventure reading her books. I’m interested to see where Halle goes next with this series!—Dana



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