Staff Reads: September 28

Staff Reads: September 28

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.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

I read so many glowing reviews of Friday Black that it got to the point where I couldn’t imagine not reading it. I was especially excited that George Saunders, one of my all-time favorite authors, had written an enthusiastic blurb. I’ve only just picked up this short story collection, but I’m already very caught up in Friday Black’s vivid images and strong voice. —Elizabeth

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

An Extraordinary Union is the first book in Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series. It follows Elle Burns, a former slave with eidetic memory working as a Union spy, and Malcolm McCall, a white Union spy and Scotsman, as they work together to uncover Confederate secrets. These two are partners in every sense of the word, which makes their blossoming romance truly satisfying. They support, respect, and save each other in equal measure. Both are fantastic characters, but Elle truly shines as an empowered heroine. She’s underestimated by nearly everyone around her, and uses that to her advantage. She believes in herself wholly, and uses all of the skills in her possession (her intelligence, her strength, her anger) to complete her mission. I’ll be making a trip to my local indie to pick up the second book in this captivating series, and definitely preordering the third (which hits shelves next year). —Kelly

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

The long summer of 2018 has been the summer of the scammer, as far as I’m concerned. And the latest installment for me is the story of Elizabeth Holmes and her blood testing company, Theranos. Theranos promised to revolutionize blood testing, using only a pinprick of blood and machinery that patients could put in their homes. Holmes had agreements with grocery chains, pharmaceutical giants, and even the US military. She raised millions from investors, hired some of the heaviest hitters in Silicon Valley, and was self-styled as the next Steve Jobs. The problem is that the technology never worked. Bad Blood is the story of a terrible boss surrounded by witless CEOs, wealthy family friends, and social connections in the hothouse of Silicon Valley egos. It’s one of the rare stories where a bad boss gets their comeuppance and the foibles of startup CEOs are shown to be both patently ridiculous and dangerous. —Nina

Educated by Tara Westover

I swear I had this book on my TBR list before I read that one of my favorite readers, Barack Obama, had it on his list of summer reads. This memoir has completely blown me away. It details Tara Westover’s childhood growing up in the mountains of Idaho with an unhinged survivalist father and a mother who is a talented herbalist and midwife who starts to lose her grip on reality after a horrible head injury from a car crash. Westover is the youngest of her siblings and so it is especially poignant to follow along as some siblings depart the roost, leaving her behind. She finds some solace in her gift for singing (which even her father is proud of) and in her keen observations of the terrifying life around her. Even though the subject matter is dark, Westover makes each page glow with her stunning prose. —Myf

Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

The first book of the Earthseed Trilogy, Parable of the Sower, is one of the most politically affecting books I’ve read in a long time. It was optimistic about the human capacity to change, to trust one another, and to build a new world together in the midst of crisis. So, naturally I was thrilled when my library hold for the sequel came in. Parable of the Talents picks up years after Lauren Olamina founded her small Earthseed community, Acorn. This part of the saga is much more complicated and asks thornier questions: What does a new religion look like five years in? What does it mean to be the daughter of a visionary? What happens when your partner wants to give up the communal experiment and settle into a more comfortable life in a stable(ish) town? Who or what do we have loyalty to? I am unequivocally here for the ride, and for Butler’s critical eye and compassion. And I’m putting the collection of short stories inspired by Butler’s work, Octavia’s Brood, on my TBR list! —Nina

Relish by Lucy Knisley

In the last staff reads roundup, I talked about reading Lucy Knisley’s Something New, a graphic memoir about love, tradition, and feminism. The artwork and storytelling captivated me and sent me hunting for more of Knisley’s books. This week I picked up Relish, which follows Knisley through the kitchens, dining rooms, catering events, and on-the-go snacks of her life. It’s a book that explores the importance of food in both a personal and universal way, and left me thinking about some of my own memories around food. I particularly loved that Knisley included recipes, and I plan on making her chocolate chip cookies as soon as possible! —Kelly

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I am revisiting Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs (which I read when it came out and loved), as all of the buzz around Small Fry (which is at the very top of my TBR pile) has reignited my fascination with the contradictions between Jobs’ personal life and public image. I can’t wait to pick up Small Fry next! —Elizabeth

Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James

After a long week, there’s nothing better than curling up with a love story. I’m currently halfway through Seven Minutes in Heaven and hoping to finish it this week. This book tells the story of Eugenia Snowe, the head of a governess agency, and Ward Reeve, who is looking for a governess for his two siblings. The first two governesses that Eugenia provided were dismissed, and Ward soon believes that only Eugenia herself could help him. I haven’t read the other books in this series, but I have a feeling I’ll want to pick them up once I finish this! —Stephanie


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