What We’re Reading: April 8

What We’re Reading: April 8

Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations; have you read any of them? Tell us in the comments what you’ll be reading this weekend! If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Spring Previews for a look at the best books of the season.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Of all the books in the Harry Potter series, this is far and away my favorite. I used to listen to Jim Dale’s audiobook version at night before bed, and I completely wore through the tape that covered the chapter in the Shrieking Shack. Rereading this as an adult, I’m finding that I’m even more affected by the story. I’m torn apart thinking about how young Harry truly is and how he is forced to confront the circumstances around his parents’ death. And don’t get me started on Remus Lupin. I’ve always loved his character, but reading this now I’ve realized just how difficult this year must’ve been for him. —Kelly

The Most Human Human

This book is about artificial intelligence, the Turing test, and (surprise, surprise…) the human brain. What makes our brains different from AI software programs? Will Brian Christian be able to win the “Most Human Human” award at the 2009 Turing test in Brighton, England? What does it mean for AI software to successfully imitate a human being in conversation? Christian addresses these questions and more in this nonfiction book. I’m only about 30 pages in, and I’m already having a blast. —Elizabeth

Spain in Our Hearts

I’m reading Spain in Our Hearts which is fascinating—I knew little about the Spanish civil war except that Ernest Hemingway covered it as a reporter and in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Adam Hochschild does a great job of developing the context around the conflict through the mechanism of following a few individuals, and I can’t wait to read more this weekend. —Michael

Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles

Like the author of this wonderful book, I too moved from New York to L.A. and once there did a lot of walking. The low humidity, magnifying light, broad avenues, low-slung buildings—I loved my L.A. walking years. In Sidewalking, David Ulin brilliantly reflects on the city as experienced by someone with a need to walk, a need to savor streetscapes, registering signage, vistas, vegetation, fellow citizens. And while Ulin walks, he thinks: processing traces of history, architectural styles, street plans, demographics, changes. A longtime L.A. Times book critic, Ulin, intimately familiar with the best that’s ever been written about this sprawling, layered city, also artfully folds in the perceptions of others. Memories, observations, bygone L.A., 21st-century L.A.—Ulin’s superlative tapestry makes this the latest of great literary takes on the City of Angels. —Phil

The Genius of Birds

Birds, both wild and domestic, have always intrigued me. As a child, I’d visit country farms near my house to observe them. So I am very interested in Jennifer Ackerman’s book. —Bob

As I Lay Dying

A friend warned me that this book is essentially about a road trip where absolutely everything goes wrong. I have a complicated relationship with William Faulkner: I read The Sound and the Fury too young, and understood very little of it. As a result, I’ve long harbored the suspicion that I just don’t “get” Faulkner. Granted, this might still be completely true, but I’m going to find out for sure. —Elizabeth

The Murder of Mary Russell

Sherlock Holmes stories are most often set in Victorian or Edwardian England, though their appeal is timeless. This is the 14th book in Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. —Bob

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