Staff Reads: October 13

Staff Reads: October 13

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 Language of Thorns

All I want is to sit by the fire and have Leigh Bardugo tell me stories. This collection is breathtaking. Bardugo transports you to her fantasy world and immerses you completely in an ancient land filled with danger, magic, and darkness. Each tale is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations that perfectly accompany the tales. The cherry on top of this perfect reading experience was getting to interview Bardugo about these fables, fairy tale tropes, and more. —Kelly

The Golden House

This week I am reading The Golden House by Salman Rushdie. This book is on our Fall Fiction Preview and the setting and author immediately intrigued me. The writing style Rushdie employs lends texture to the reading that can only be accomplished by a talented writer, and at times keeps the reader a bit off-center which makes for a more dynamic read. The storyline leaves plenty of room for intrigue and twists so I am expecting this book to deliver. —Doug


In a very minor way, I’ve experienced two earthquakes. The first was in Los Angeles, a week after I moved there. My mountain cabin briefly shook. A loud thump came from the roof. It was night and I lived in a wooded canyon and my first thought was that a huge, possibly obese, raccoon had jumped from a tree onto my new residence. Ten years later, at the end of Long Island, I was caretaking a colonial-era house and there was a strange creak and the door to my study slowly swung open. Ghost!, I thought. Turned out it was a Virginia-based quake people up and down the East Coast felt. I tell these tales because it goes to a theme in this fascinating, impossible-to-put-down book: The idea of the earth moving beneath our feet is out of mind for most of us. A little shake or odd kinesis in the house, and we blame an animal or phantom first. And yet, as Kathryn Miles details, nearly all of America could experience a destructive quake, and we’re not sufficiently prepared, and we’re actually doing things that increase the risk (fracking, extraction, tunneling, damming, building, and more). Wonderfully skilled at distilling seismic and geologic science, Miles tells you all you need to know on the technical front, without ever drifting into seminar mode, and interleaves gripping stories, colorful profiles, and even an authorial roadtrip to a host of relevant sites above and below ground. It’s popular science at its best: eye-opening, timely, witty, thrilling, and unnerving for obvious reasons. Most of all the book makes you think a lot — a lot — about how terra firma isn’t so firm. Yikes! —Phil

The Girl in the Tower

This beautifully written fantasy novel follows in the atmospheric tradition of the first book in this series, The Bear and the Nightingale, creating a wintry setting so real that even in the summery weather we have had here in New England, you get chills and want to curl up under a blanket. Not only is the atmosphere wonderfully set but the history and folklore are well researched and fascinating. Drawing on Russian traditions that are lesser known in the US than the Grimm fairy tales allows this story to feel fresh and new in a way that many other fairy tale stories do not. Looking forward to finishing it up with a cup of hot cocoa by my side! —Susan

The Night Circus

I’m rereading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. As the weather cools down, this atmospheric novel has everything I want: magic, beauty, mystery, and longing. —Kristina


I’m a sucker for non-standard narration and this one delivers as this story is told by an old red oak tree. The book carries a wonderful message of tolerance at its core, a message that sadly seems to require being told over and over again as the human condition tends to ebb and flow in this regard. A new family moves into town and isn’t accepted by all, what follows is a magical story of nature doing its best to assist humans with their insensitivities towards others who don’t fit society’s narrow mold. This is a short read, succinct and well-written; the pages turn fast and the outcomes are realistic, despite having all the magic of animals and trees communicating in human-like ways. The book finishes in a way that isn’t overly optimistic, which is properly done as far as I’m concerned. Life is messy, and stories that end perfectly involve a bit too much magical thinking. The characters are wonderful, and the author’s ability to keep the story light while addressing such a powerful topic is impressive. —Jon

In a Dark, Dark Wood

I finished reading In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. The story is suspenseful and entertaining with plot twists along the way. I liked this book even better than Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10, which I read first. I find it interesting to read a current bestseller and then go back and read a previous book by the same author. —Alicia


I had the pleasure of moderating an author panel at New York Comic Con last week, and I made it my mission to read through the graphic novels created by the authors I was speaking with. First up was Nidhi Chanani’s Pashmina. This is a beautifully told story about exploring your family roots and learning the importance of being able to make your own choices. I loved the blending of fantasy with reality, and the way color was used through the story. Pri is a heroine you love to root for, and it’s empowering to see her confidence grow throughout the book. I can’t wait to pass this book on to a middle grade teacher I know for her school library. —Kelly

Beneath a Marble Sky

I’m reading Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. It’s a historical fiction novel about the building of the Taj Mahal. The empress has died and her beloved husband is beside himself with grief. Since he can’t bring her back he commissions one of the best architects in the land to build a mausoleum for her. This was to become the Taj Mahal. His two eldest sons fought over the future of his empire: One was a peacemaker who wanted to unite the Hindus and Muslims, while the other was a warmonger who wanted to tear them apart. Their little sister often gets in the middle. This is a great read about longing for recognition and finding one’s place . It’s also a great love story. You’ll have to read the book to find out about that. —Barb

Book Scavenger

This one is for the younger book nerds out there; it’s good versus evil, it’s kids versus adults, it’s about intellect and puzzle solving, it’s about books and friendships and family and it comes highly recommended by my crew’s standards. The central character, Emily, has lived all over the place as her family is a Kerouac-aligned, rolling stone family. Their aim is to live in each of the 50 states with the idea of writing a book off their adventures, and they all seem to be into that lifestyle with the exception of Emily. Their arrival in San Francisco sets many things into motion for the family to help ease them into setting down some roots. The central theme is a treasure hunt of sorts. Emily is really into a game, Book Scavenger, with San Francisco being the epicenter of Book Scavenging. Things take a more serious turn with the game and that’s when the stakes get high and the adventure starts. Quite a page turner, well written, good stuff! We are already a quarter of the way done with the second in this series and are enjoying it very much! —Jon







Leave a Reply