Staff Reads: June 15

Staff Reads: June 15

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.

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

I’m reading The Golden House by Salman Rushdie. This is my first foray into a Rushdie novel, and I’m captivated. The Golden family is full of mystery and intrigue. They’re running from their past, and our narrator—a neighbor that is secretly researching the family—keeps alluding to a crime in their future. The characters are intriguing and broken in so many ways, lending a sense of voyeurism to the narrator’s, and our own, interest in finding out more about Nero Golden and his sons. —Kristina

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Happy Pride Month, readers! If you are looking to celebrate Pride with an LGBTQ+ read, allow me to recommend a book you may recognize from our Best LGBTQ+ YA Books of 2017 roundup: Autoboyography. I adore writing duo Christina Lauren, and they completely blew me away with this book. It thoughtfully explores coming out in a small Mormon town through the eyes of a high schooler who is falling hard and fast for the teaching assistant in his writing class. The leads are wonderful: Tanner is a relatable and engaging narrator—he’s snarky, hilarious, and willing to be vulnerable and put his heart on the line. Sebastian’s journey of self-acceptance is nuanced and heartfelt, making him a character I rooted for every step of the way. A strong thread throughout the story is the importance of supporting the people you love and the idea that a safe place isn’t always a location, it can often be a person. Overall it’s a beautiful and touching story that I can’t recommend highly enough. I’ll sign off with one of my favorite quotes from the novel, “You are an exceptional human, with depth and heart. Don’t let anyone—or anything—dim that light inside you.” —Kelly

Circe by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller’s Circe makes a classic feminist literary intervention. Like Wide Sargasso Sea and The Mists of Avalon before it, Circe takes as its central character a marginal, maligned woman from a well-known tale. You might remember Circe the dangerous witch from The Odyssey who turned men into pigs. But in Miller’s novel, that’s only a small part of the story, and we hear it from her perspective. We see what drove her to turn men into pigs, and frankly, I’m on her side on this one. Circe takes the gossipy intrigue of Greek mythology, characters I’ve known since I was very young, and adds deeper meditations on femininity, power, patriarchy, and sexual politics. —Nina

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

I’ve been reading and loving The Library Book by Susan Orlean. I remember how blown away I was by Orlean’s writing when I first read The Orchid Thief. Orlean has the unique skill of being a kickass journalist who is able to empathize and write with amazing clarity and beauty. On the surface, The Library Book is about the Los Angeles Public Library fire of 1986, which was the largest library fire in the history of the United States. Imagine how many books were lost! Digging deeper, this book is also a love story about libraries in general. I related to the opening of the book where Orlean writes of feeling as though she grew up in libraries because that’s where her mother brought her. I was that same kid, and I remember sleeping on the bottom shelves in the stacks when my mother would volunteer. Later in my life, I became the president of my local Friends of the Library group. I have always felt at home in the stacks, but even if I hadn’t the beauty and power of this book would speak to me. —Myf

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Maurene Goo is slowly turning this fantasy-lover into a contemporary YA reader. I adored Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love, and I leapt at the chance to dive into The Way You Make Me Feel, a book that’s beautiful inside and out (that cover!). The Way You Make Me Feel follows Clara Shin, who is forced to give up her summer to work in her father’s Korean and Brazilian fusion food truck alongside insufferable know-it-all Rose Carver. Clara uses apathy as a shield to keep herself from getting hurt, but with the help of Rose and a cute boy named Hamlet she begins to let her guard down. Goo nailed the awkward conversion from strangers to friends, the fear of showing enthusiasm and being seen as uncool, and the freedom that comes with allowing yourself to experience emotions that you’re afraid of (be it love, anger, joy, or sadness). After reading, I had the opportunity to interview Goo and learn about the inspiration behind the story, her love of frenemies-to-BFFs plots, and her thoughts on her readers’ major crush on Clara’s dad (who is welcome to cook for me any day). If you’re looking for summer read, you can’t go wrong with The Way You Make Me Feel. —Kelly

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Daniel Mallory Ortberg put it best when he appeared on the podcast Thirst Aid Kit, when he described the taxonomy of his literary thirst objects. He discussed his attachment to “withholding jerks who are obsessed with you” and “capitalist-exception [fantasies].” Both of which describe the hero of Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal fairly accurately. The Duke of Ashbury is fabulously wealthy, wildly protective of the heroine Emma, and has some serious hangups about his appearance after an injury at the Battle of Waterloo. The Duchess Deal is the oldest story in the world: Duke proposes to outspoken seamstress with a past, promises her a marriage of convenience and a life of privilege, seamstress accepts, they have wild sex in Regency England, fall madly in love, and also play badminton. The Duchess Deal is an enjoyable romp. —Nina

A Carnival of Losses by Donald Hall

I have been reading beloved poet Donald Hall’s moving memoir A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety. Hall’s late wife, Jane Kenyon, is one of my favorite contemporary poets, so I have a soft spot for Hall anyway, but when I read his essay “Between Solitude and Loneliness” in The New Yorker a couple of years ago I was brought to my knees. This essay is now a chapter in A Carnival of Losses, and it’s a pretty great example of what you will find in this book, which is basically one part grieving love story, one part reflection on things past, one part shaking his fist at God, and one part Andy Rooney curmudgeonliness. It’s also a book about aging and continuing to write as one does. Simply put: It’s a heartbreaking beauty of a book. —Myf

The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates

The summer seems like the best time to kick back and dive into a fantasy world. Currently I am reading The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates and loving the return to the rich world of political intrigue and magic created in The Waking Land. Even though this is a sequel, it really reads more like a companion book: The tone of this book is a bit darker than the first, and the view of this world comes from a new lens, switching the first-person narrative from Elanna to a different character, Jahan. Exploring a world you’ve come to know from a different point of view adds extra texture and layers, but also risks changing the engagement of the reader depending on how they feel about the new narrator. Since Jahan was a bit of an aloof and enigmatic character in the first book, I am curious to see how the new point of view will play out. So far I am intrigued by the continued exploration of family dynamics and the unique style of magic, as well as the mysterious reasons for Jahan’s secretive nature. —Susan

The Doomsday Girl by Dave Stanton

I’m a bit late coming to Dave Stanton’s Dan Reno series, but I’m catching up quickly! I love crime and mystery TV shows, and each book in this series feels like the best episode of my favorite crime show. Dan Reno is a private eye living in Lake Tahoe who is hired to investigate the abduction of a 10-year-old girl. Every clue seems to lead Dan and his always-pushing-the-limits ex-cop partner Cody in a new direction. Conspiracy theories, Russian mob ties, and smuggling… I mean, what more could you ask for? This book is quick-paced yet easy to follow, and I simply couldn’t put it down. This is very quickly becoming one of my favorite PI mystery series! —Alicia

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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