What We’re Reading: January 15

What We’re Reading: January 15

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.

My Brilliant Friend

Elena Ferrante, where have you been all my life? I have no idea why it took me so long to hop on the Neapolitan novels bandwagon, but man, am I glad to finally be on board. I was blown away by this first installment, and I can’t wait to pick up the next. —Elizabeth

The Wrath and the Dawn

I’m a big fan of Sarah J. Maas, so when she told me during an interview that this book was a must-read, I took her word as law. It’s the first in a duology inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. Renée Ahdieh’s ability to transport the reader to this faraway world is incredible, and she handles the retelling perfectly by taking just enough elements from the original story and building on them in surprising ways. Plus, that cover is gorgeous and one of my favorites of 2015. —Kelly

This Census-Taker

I’m in the mood for a genre I haven’t visited in a long time, so the book I’ve chosen to read this weekend is the fantasy novella This Census-Taker. —Bob

Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art

One of the things I’m learning, writing an art-themed book, is that a lot of art writing, in both books and magazines, is leadenly, tiresomely theoretical—stirring memories of my time studying literary theory in grad school. So I’m enjoying novelist Julian Barnes’ theory-free collection of art essays, a book written with a feel for the music and the limitations of language, and propelled by a love for visual art and by an interest in seeing what his words can do to communicate his passion and express his indifference. (“Warhol is an artist rather as Fergie is a royal,” he posits.) Wearing his knowledge lightly, and looking at artists from the nineteenth century forward, Barnes responds memorably to color, form, and line, and has an instinctive grasp of how creative people transmute life and learn from predecessors. Certain phrases sparkle with a special wit, as when he praises the vibrant still lives of Swiss fin-de-siècle painter Felix Vallotton by saying Vallotton is “formidably good at red peppers.” —Phil

Complications

I’m only about 30 pages into this book, and it’s freaking me out. Atul Gawande writes well (and terrifyingly) about the difficulty of training new surgeons while also taking care of patients. I wasn’t in a hurry to be operated on to begin with, but this book is making me extra nervous about surgery in general. Eek! —Elizabeth

Falling Into Bed with a Duke

As 2015 ended, I began making grand plans for my reading schedule in 2016. But when the new year arrived, none of the books I had so eagerly shelved managed to hold my interest. The worst had happened: I started 2016 with a reading slump. Thankfully, I know a little bit about how to overcome even the worsts of slumps. My go-to strategy is to reach for a romance novel with a happiness-built-in ending. I picked this book up because we named it one of the must-read romances of 2015, and I’m glad that I did because Miss Minerva Dodger is a bit of a badass. She doesn’t care about being a spinster, is willing to slug anyone who speaks ill of her, and doesn’t let anyone make her feel bad about being exactly who she is. Now to see if the handsome Ashe can keep up. —Kelly

The Dirt on Ninth Grave

I’m a fan of escapist novels, and once again find myself drawn to Darynda Jones, a favorite author of mine. —Bob

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