Staff Reads: October 12

Staff Reads: October 12

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

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I know, I know. I’m the last person on earth to read this book. As a reader, I frequently save books that I believe I’ll love for special occasions when I can truly take time away to savor them (anyone else do this?) and I’d been doing that with The Hate U Give for months. After receiving some good news, I decided to treat myself to the gorgeous hardcover and then I sat down and was swept away. It’s hard to say anything new about one of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed books of the last few years. It is truly a masterpiece. I knew from the first few pages that this book was something special. It follows teenager Starr Carter in the wake of her childhood best friend’s murder by a police officer. It’s hard-hitting and gutting, but it’s also a story filled with light, humor, and life. Angie Thomas calls out systematic racism, police profiling, and the villainization of the Black Lives Matter movement, while also celebrating Starr, her family, and her community. Thomas truly captured this important moment in our history where we need to confront wrongs and speak out against injustice, and still make time for those healing and human moments of pure joy. Shortly after reading, I had the opportunity to see an early screening of the adaptation, and I’m very happy to report that I gave it the bookworm “Starr” of approval. Read the book, see the movie, and share, share, share both with everyone in your life. —Kelly

Witches of America by Alex Mar

In between the autumnal equinox and the full moon, I started Alex Mar’s Witches of America. Mar is a journalist and documentarian who researches and profiles communities of believers. She is drawn to believers of all kinds, people sure enough of anything, spiritual or otherwise, to throw themselves into an unusual life with certainty and abandon. Witches of America details her five-year journey into different strains of contemporary paganism, from Feri Samhain celebrations to Gnostic Masses to PantheaCon. The witches and priestesses that she meets and the rituals she participates in are fascinating and compelling. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t really wrestle with some of the thornier aspects of paganism in the 21st century. Mar doesn’t engage with the appropriative nature of white people using Voodoo and Hoodoo practices, or praying to Santa Muerte, let alone the number of white people with dreadlocks. This book also has an aspect of cultural voyeurism that can rub readers the wrong way, and rubbed members of the pagan community the wrong way. But Witches of America is at its most compelling when Mar is interrogating her own complicated relationship with belief and faith. She, like many other 21st century modern, educated, urban women (myself included) wants to believe. —Nina

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

I absolutely devoured Bad Blood, about the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ blood-testing company Theranos, this week. John Carreyrou’s book is nonfiction, but it truly reads like a thriller. I was riveted by this tale, and found myself talking about it to anyone who would listen (sorry, everyone). This book combined some of my favorite things: science/technology journalism and deeply human issues like pride and ethics. —Elizabeth

For the Duke’s Eyes Only by Lenora Bell

Enemies-to-lovers, and mutual pining, and secret identities, oh my! Lenora Bell put all of my favorite tropes and more into this delightful romance. The book follows India Rochester and Daniel Bonds, who stole my heart from their brief appearance in the first book in this series, What a Difference a Duke Makes. For the Duke’s Eyes Only is their love story, and it reveals the painful history behind their constant sniping: India’s heart was broken by Daniel, and Daniel broke her heart to protect her after he became a spy for the crown. After years apart, the two unexpectedly join forces when an artifact that India, an archaeologist, is looking for disappears. The romance is sizzling and the adventure is thrilling, but one of my absolute favorite aspects of this book was the mutual respect and admiration these two had for each other. They’re couples goals, for sure, and I’m happily moving this title to my favorites shelf. —Kelly

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Inspired, as I have often been, by the wisdom and enthusiasm of the folks behind Pop Culture Happy Hour, I decided to dip a toe into the world of YA with Grave Mercy. Medieval assassin nuns who serve the God of Death? Sounds about right for the season. Plus, I’m just about always game for some toxic femininity (I’m a stan for Thelma, Louise, and Valerie Solanas). Newly trained assassin nun Ismae must work with the mysterious (and, of course, extremely attractive) Gavriel Duval to secure the safety of Brittany from invading forces. There are plots to be foiled, double-crossers to discover, and longing glances to give. And, a lot of different kinds of poisons and weapons in the hands of a woman who knows how to use them. —Nina

The Collected Stories of Diane Williams by Diane Williams

I believe I actually swooned when I saw that The Collected Stories of Diane Williams was on NetGalley. I have been reading and writing flash fiction since around 2002 (don’t know what flash fiction is? Here’s a good place to start reading some: SmokeLong Quarterly). In fact, I love it so much that I wrote my master’s thesis on it (which included an exploration of some of Diane Williams’ work from her collection Excitability). Revered NOON editor Williams is a master of the form and these stories are each excellent examples. This collection, featuring an introduction by Ben Marcus, is a gift for Williams’ fans and will surely be a delight for those who are new to her work. —Myf

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Happy almost-Halloween, readers! This month I’ve decided to lean into the spookiness of the season and read books about murder and monsters. Dread Nation seemed like a fitting start, especially after Kelly raved about it earlier this year. I have to say, she was right. From the very first chapter I’ve been utterly hooked, and sneaking extra pages at every opportunity. Fans of zombies, alternate histories, and kickass YA heroines will definitely want to pick this up! —Stephanie

Dopesick by Beth Macy

After finishing Bad Blood, I couldn’t imagine picking up anything other than another work of narrative nonfiction. With this in mind, I chose Beth Macy’s Dopesick, which examines the tragedy of the opioid crisis. I am only a couple of chapters in, but I look forward to learning more about this devastating crisis and how it might be solved. —Elizabeth

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