What We’re Reading: February 19

What We’re Reading: February 19

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

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Remember that time you got polio? No? That’s because of Henrietta Lacks. I’ve been meaning to read this book for three years, and I finally picked it up because of our 2016 Reading Challenge. This book is about a lot of things: patient consent, racism, scientific discovery, and greed. But the part that captivated me most was the story of Henrietta’s daughter Deborah. At the core of this book is a very human story about a daughter desperate to know who her mother was and how she can honor her memory. This book is inspiring and heartbreaking. The story sticks with you long after you’ve turned the final page. —Kelly

The Two Kinds of Decay

There are two kinds of medical books I get particularly excited about: books about brains, and books about autoimmune disorders. Sarah Manguso‘s The Two Kinds of Decay has both, although her depression is explored less than her battle with an extraordinarily rare and very scary autoimmune disease. Manguso’s tone is measured throughout the entire book, which only heightens the reader’s awareness of her pain and discomfort. Fans of Brain on Fire, this one is for you. –Elizabeth

West of Eden

Jean Stein’s Edie: American Girl is one of my favorite biographies. Stein is terrific at delivering compelling oral histories, so I’m very excited to read her latest book about Hollywood and Los Angeles. —Bob

Alloy of the Law

It’s a little odd to wander into a fully formed universe several books after the author created it. But I heard a lot about Brandon Sanderson and wanted to check him out, so I bought this when it popped up on my radar. I wasn’t disappointed: Sanderson is a very inventive writer, with a credible, compelling world where some people have certain powers related to various metals. The rules are complicated but consistent, and if I had realized in advance that I would be reading about the world of Mistborn it would have helped. The plot was propulsive and engaging without any context, and the main character, Wax, was complex enough to make me wonder what would happen next. A fun diversion. —Joe

Rosalie-Lightning

Rosalie Lightning

Full disclosure: Both books I read this week made me cry on the subway. This one is a graphic memoir about a father experiencing the stages of grief after the death of his two-year-old daughter. I kept coming across glowing reviews of this book on various sites, so I decided to check it out for myself. It’s incredibly moving, a stunning tribute to a wonderful little girl. The portrait of grief is both unique and relatable. Readers who have experienced loss will surely see themselves on the pages and feel connected with Tom Hart and his wife as they recover. —Kelly

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Ordinary Affects

It’s hard to know how to describe this book, because it seems to weirdly defy summary. It was written by an anthropologist, Kathleen Stewart, and looks at everyday, ordinary moments that are somehow charged or overdetermined. The form is kind of unusual, as Stewart works in a series of vignettes and employs some of the language of electrical circuits to make her points. Still confused? Me too. –Elizabeth

Playing to the Edge

It’s an election year, and the topic of U.S. security continues to be a concern for many Americans. To learn more about the issue, I’m reading this memoir by Michael V. Hayden, former Director of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. —Bob

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