Staff Reads: January 11

Staff Reads: January 11

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

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Over the holidays I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Her newest book Circe was on so many best-of-2018 lists, but before I jumped into that newer book, I wanted to start with her debut. Song of Achilles is a fabulous telling of the Trojan War, which shares a lesser-known viewpoint. Told by loyal and honest Patroclus, this book is all about the famed Achilles. But rather than singing the praises of a capital-h Hero, Patroclus tells us about the man—what he was like as a child, as a student, as a lover, and as a fighter. It humanizes Achilles and other Greek heroes in a way that makes it easy to understand their natures, beyond the heroics. As soon as I was finished with Song of Achilles I did move straight into Circe, and am enjoying it just as much. —Kristina

The Likeness by Tana French

Kelly has created a monster. I read In the Woods by Tana French at her recommendation, and right on the heels of finishing that, I began The Likeness, which is the second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I’ve loved getting inside Cassie’s head since the previous book was narrated entirely by Rob. It’s been a while since I’ve found a series I was excited to work my way through, and I’m really relishing the experience. I’ve been listening to the audiobooks for these novels, and I can’t wait to get to the end of the day and curl up with a warm drink and my headphones. —Elizabeth

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

I started reading Alyssa Cole in 2018, and it was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve been particularly addicted to her Reluctant Royals series (the second in the series was a best of 2018 for me), and I was thrilled learn that one of my favorite side characters was getting a novella of her own. In Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, Likotsi is enjoying a brief respite from work when she runs into Fabiola, the woman who broke her heart. Likotsi isn’t in New York City for long, and Fab offers to show her around. The chapters alternate between their whirlwind romance and their reunion, slowly filling in the details of what went wrong and why. Novellas can be tricky, but Cole delivers fully-formed characters and an emotional and swoon-worthy romance in 106 pages. Likotsi, in particular, was so smooth on her first date with Fabiola that I was blushing. This book can definitely be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading the entire series. —Kelly

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I’m just going to throw it out there that this is my favorite Christina Lauren book that I have read, as well as my favorite romance read of 2018 (and I read a lot of them). Macy is a doctor, and when she is out to coffee with her college best friend, she runs literally runs into her childhood best friend and first boyfriend, Elliot. The two haven’t spoken in ten years and ended on very bad terms, but the reader doesn’t know why. Macy’s engaged, but her relationship is mainly one of convenience. After Eliot runs into Macy he immediately breaks up with his girlfriend because Macy was always the love of his life. This story is told in chapters alternating between the present and past, making the mystery of what led to the demise of their relationship all the more enticing. Compared to Christina Lauren’s other novels, Love and Other Words is much more emotional and character-driven. I was in tears when the breakup scenes were revealed. There was something so raw and painful about that chunk of the novel. While different from their other novels, this one was by far my favorite! —Dana

The Many-Headed Hydra by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker

My friend recently acquired a very cheap sailboat and has formed an extremely motley neighborhood crew of wannabe sailors. Most of our experience with boats and ships is from Moby Dick, so we’ll see how we fare on the open water. But, before the weather is warm enough to move the boat, we’re starting a reading group. The Many-Headed Hydra is about resisting capitalism, centralized power, and national borders. There are stories of pirates, religious utopias, and enslaved people, women, and other marginalized groups rising up against oppressive powers with the ocean as their stage. The best part, so far, is the description of a ship full of Puritans who shipwrecked in Bermuda and then got into big fights with the shareholders of the Virginia Company who wanted them to get back on the boat and set sail for what is now the United States. The Puritans refused because they (correctly) assumed that they were just going to be exploited by the Company once they landed in the colonies and that there wasn’t enough food to go around. —Nina

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel by Harper Lee, adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham

My dad bought me a copy of the To Kill a Mockingbird graphic novel for Christmas. I have been a huge To Kill a Mockingbird fan ever since I was a kid and read it for the first time (seriously, I have a tattoo homage and a dog named Scout). I was embarrassed to admit I didn’t realize they released a graphic novel, and thought of the gift as more of a novelty, since I have never read a graphic novel before. This weekend my curiosity got the best of me and I cracked the cover and never turned back. It was great! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I thought the illustrator, Fred Fordham, did such an amazing job of bringing the characters to life and adapting the original text. I was so happy to be in the world of the book again. One of my reading resolutions was to try reading more genres I don’t typically read, so I’m now on the lookout for more graphic novels! —Amanda

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Several years ago in one of the seminars for my MFA program, I had the opportunity to meet Jenny Zhang. When her book of short stories came out in 2017, I mentally added it to my list of titles I was interested in checking out. Having come to the end of Sour Heart, I will say that I have a lot of respect for Zhang’s ability to make the reader feel a full range of emotions. Some parts of this book warmed my heart; other parts put a visceral pit in my stomach and made me almost physically uncomfortable. Zhang’s prose and images have a lot of power, and even when I didn’t “enjoy” a story, I was aware of how intensely I was reacting to her words. —Elizabeth

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

There are always those books that get so much buzz that they immediately intimidate me. Romancelandia hyped up The Hating Game so much last year that I was afraid that it would underwhelm me, but the romance community has never steered me wrong. This enemies-to-lovers romance follows two assistants working at the same publishing house. Lucy and Joshua have the most amazing chemistry throughout the story with their witty banter. Sparks fly as they compete for the same promotion, but it’s when Lucy shows interest in another coworker that Joshua’s true feelings for her begin to show. This book was so difficult to put down and the slow burn of the romance makes you need to read to the end. Lucy and Josh had such great character development from beginning to end. If you’re like me and waited to pick this one up, now is definitely the time with Sally Thorne’s sophomore novel, 99 Percent Mine, coming out this winter. —Dana

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to interview Arwen Elys Dayton about this fascinating YA collection. Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful takes readers into the future and explores how humanity changes with the evolution of technology. The possibilities presented here are sometimes breathtaking and sometimes frightening, even more so when you realize how inevitable some of them feel. Our relationship with technology isn’t going away anytime soon, and after closing the book, I was left thinking about how it’s already changed the way we live our lives, the potential for it to make our lives better, and the dangerous repercussions of abusing it. —Kelly

Re-Enchanting the World by Silvia Federici

This collection of essays from Marxist feminist thinker Silvia Federici charts two current trends: the ways that neoliberal global interests are taking land for use in the global market by invoking the language of “environmental protection,” “women’s rights,” and “progress;” and the creative ways women across the world are maintaining communal lives to resist these encroachments. Federici talks about reproductive labor—the labor that’s needed to reproduce life. She means childbearing and rearing, of course, but also cooking, cleaning, farming, and everything else that we need to sustain ourselves. For her, reproductive labor is being transformed by women around the world to create communities that are more deeply connected to each other, to their natural surroundings, and to the natural cycles of the world. If you like the way that Rebecca Solnit maps out pockets of resistance, resilience, creativity, and community, I recommend picking up Re-Enchanting the World. —Nina

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