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.
This novel focuses on a young girl, Rachel Walker, whose family is a part of a Quiverfull community (think conservative fundamentalist Christians). Slowly, Rachel begins to realize how poorly she fits in with those around her, and she starts to wonder about the world outside of her church. Author Jennifer Mathieu did intense research for this book and it truly shines through. I found myself captivated by Rachel’s story, and after finishing this I quickly went to the internet to learn more about the Quiverfull movement. With similar stories popping up frequently in the news, this book easily could’ve been sensationalized, but I felt Mathieu handled Rachel’s story with great respect and sensitivity. I’ve had this on my TBR for a while, so glad I finally made time to pick it up. —Kelly
I’ve heard and read a fair amount about this book, so I was excited to see it on the reading list for one of my seminars this semester. Aside from the chuckle-worthy title (trying reading this one on the subway…), I’m not yet sure what to think of this tale of the unusual relationship between Chris and Sylvere and Dick. I am enjoying Kraus’s narrative voice, however, and can’t wait to see where this story goes. —Elizabeth
Movie adaptations have become a major factor in helping me discover books and authors. After I saw The Talented Mr. Ripley, I read the book and author Patricia Highsmith and her wicked writing put a spell on me. I look forward to the same thing happening when I start reading her novel Carol (originally titled The Price of Salt), since I loved the movie last weekend.—Bob
I’m loving Julian Barnes’ Levels of Life, though I think it’s a failure. In 2008, Barnes’ wife of 30 years, a London literary agent, died of cancer after a short illness. Five years later, Barnes sketched the story of their life together and his devastation when she departed—56 pages about grief and mourning whose emotional honesty, precision of sentiment, and reflection on loss floored me when I read them today and will floor me again when I reread them this weekend. This essay, the book’s last third, is so strong I want to go through it again. What I won’t revisit are the book’s first two sections. One tells the true story of a French balloonist who pioneered aerial photography in the mid-1800s, and one imagines a love affair between actress Sarah Bernhardt and an English explorer, two more people who went up in balloons. There are links between the three parts, but to me the ballooning stories do not expand the power of the shattering final section, and in that way act as a drag on the book’s searing grief memoir core. —Phil
This is one of those books that generated a lot of buzz when it first hit shelves in 2007. It tells the story of a high school boy who receives a package of cassette tapes from a girl who committed suicide. On the tapes she shares the thirteen reasons why she took her life, and he might be one of them. I wanted to read it at the time, but never picked it up. I desperately wish I had because I think it would’ve resonated quite strongly with me back then. But, reading it now, I still found myself emotionally connected to the story and characters. The formatting is also unique and kept me turning pages quickly to find out how everything was connected. This book is a prominent part of a canon that tackles bullying in schools. I’ve read books that exist because they were inspired by this one, so I’m glad I finally sat down to read this important title. —Kelly