What We’re Reading: February 26

What We’re Reading: February 26

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 Book Thief

I’m embarrassed it took me so long to read this book. Thanks to our 2016 reading challenge, I’m finally getting around to it, and I’m loving it. Liesel’s story is captivating, but Death is who I keep turning pages for. As a literary figure, Death is often seen delighting in the morbid job of the collector of souls. But this narrator is different. Markus Zusak’s Death is fascinated with the colors of the sky and describes them vividly. This Death experiences a quiet and sobering grief over the number of souls collected throughout the war and the Holocaust. The glimpses into Death’s perspective add a fascinating and poignant layer to this moving novel. —Kelly

The Elegant Universe

It will probably surprise no one that I’m diving into some more pop science, but this time instead of reading about brains, I’m reading about string theory. I’ve heard amazing things about Brian Greene‘s writing, and I’m excited to see how much of this I can really grasp. It’s been a long time since I took a science class, so cross your fingers for me. —Elizabeth

No Country for Old Men

It’s been almost 10 years since I read No Country For Old Men and all this time I’ve retained images from Cormac McCarthy‘s Texas landscape descriptions, bits of dialogue, and a sense of the prose’s taut, declarative rhythms. I wanted to dive back in and see if this stuff still grabbed me. So far, the same stuff is indeed sharply registering. This is actually the only McCarthy book I’ve been able to finish, as I find his earlier novels too ornate and The Road too elemental, I guess. But this novel—every etched descriptive sentence and every exchange has a curious vividness, and these things, and the suspense, override the extreme violence, which I don’t enjoy. Inside these carved, beat-perfect paragraphs, I see his scenes and hear his people speak. —Phil

Gone Again

Thrillers continue to be one of the fastest growing genres today. As a reader of them, as well as an attendee of the annual ThrillerFest in NYC, I have chosen a legal thriller, a genre within a genre. I am now reading Gone Again by James Grippando—perfect for me since I am also a fan of Scott Turow and John Grisham. —Bob

War and Peace

I’ve read a lot of the “big books,” but this is one I always avoided, even though I love the Russian prose writers – arguably the best in world history. I felt much more drawn to the wildness of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the droll surrealism of Mikhail Bulgakov (whom I got to represent as an agent), even the bizarre worlds of Fyodor Gladkov and Nikolai Gogol. By comparison, Leo Tolstoy seemed very… 19th century. But a friend recently called me out on my provincialism, so, suitably armed with what has been called the best current translation, here I go… —Joe

The Power Broker

I’ve lived in New York long enough now that Robert Caro’s massive book on Robert Moses has been on my “books I’m embarrassed not to have read” list for a while. The New York Public Library’s exhibit of the maps and documents that contributed to Caro’s research was just the impetus I needed to finally tackle it. I’m fascinated by urban development, history, and political machinations, so I’m looking forward to spending some time with this. —Anita

Frederick the Great: King of Prussia

History was and is my favorite subject, as well as my major in college. I am extremely excited about the new biography Frederick the Great: King of Prussia by Tim Blanning. Between 1500 and 1900, Europe was built and dominated by the strong monarchs from Spain, England, France, and Russia. While other European countries had far less impressive and dominant rulers, there was one exception. The Prussian/German monarch Frederick the Great was the one personality who pulled together the various Prussian and German lands into a major European power that would be key in the the tumultuous wars the 20th century. —Bob

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