What We’re Reading: January 5

What We’re Reading: January 5

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 Bone Witch

I just downloaded The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco from NetGalley. This is one of the most popular books on NetGalley right now, and I can’t wait to really dive into it! I was hooked by the prologue—so dark and mysterious. Monsters, magic, a story-collecting bard… I can tell this will be a good read on these long winter nights! —Kristina



Outer space isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least that’s what this police officer finds in Tom Gauld’s graphic novel. For a short and fast read, this book will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. As more and more lunar families decide to move back to Earth, our hero finds his days becoming empty and meaningless. But it isn’t utterly hopeless; wry humor helps lighten the tone and makes the story amusing. Thought the text is minimal, I’ve been thinking about this book and what it says about human desires, connections, and behavior for days. —Kelly

The Moth Snowstorm

My favorite book of 2015 was Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk. When I saw Macdonald loved The Moth Snowstorm, I knew I had to check it out. Like her book, it combines memoir and nature writing, and the writing is excellent. Michael McCarthy, a former environmental writer for two of England’s top newspapers, also weaves in climate science, a lament for the worldwide reduction of habitat and dying out of species (“The great thinning,” he calls it), and an argument for what we should do in response. He contends the joy we feel in nature is unique, profound, and necessary to our species, and since I passionately agree, I am enjoying this book very much. McCarthy opens Moth with memories of being seven and loving butterflies. I had the same love at that age and his book is bringing back memories I haven’t visited for years. —Phil


Do you remember the first time you read the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver? This bit always punches me in the heart: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Then there is this line from her poem “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches”: “Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”​ ​Oliver’s poetry certainly speaks to me but it also soothes something that needs soothing within me. I often read “The Buddha’s Last Instruction” aloud to comfort myself after my mother died. So when I heard Oliver had a collection of essays coming out, I decided it would be ​the perfect Christmas present to get for myself. I have barely scratched the surface of this book and already I find it as compelling as Oliver’s poetry. Her emotional connection to nature has been evident on nearly every page so far. Already I can sense that this is a book that I will heavily dog-ear and return to time and again when I need inspiration​ and comfort. —Myf


I’m currently reading Downstream by David O’Hara and Matthew Dickerson. A memoir about standing waist-deep in rivers, casting to brook trout, and reflecting on the beauty around us is the perfect read for this time of year. As winter sweeps across the Northeast, I am looking forward to settling in near the fireplace and reading about fly fishing, friendships, and conservation. —Doug


One of the best books I read recently is Stephen King’s 11/22/63. It had been recommended to me several times, but the enormous size of the book put me off. This is not one of King’s horror stories. Instead, it’s a thought-provoking look at time travel. Even at its size, the book kept my attention the entire time. It also left plenty of room at the end for a sequel. —Barbara


Notes and Tones

I’m reading Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews by Arthur Taylor. Art Taylor was a jazz drummer who used his access to some of the greatest jazz musicians of our time to collect interviews that range from quick Q&As to in-depth discussions about race, the evolution of jazz, and the creative process. As a musician himself, and friend to his subjects, Taylor captured an honesty of opinion and voice from each musician. The book includes 29 interviews with heavy hitters like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, and Thelonious Monk. I highly recommend listening to each artist’s music as you read these interviews! —Kristina

Saint-Germain-des-Pres: Paris’s Rebel Quarter

On the outside, this may appear to be a travel guide for a small section of Paris. Why would you want a book about one section of the city? Read this and you’ll understand. John Baxter brings Saint-Germain-des-Prés to life through his narrative of those who lived there in the past. He covers the seedy hotels and brothels, as well as the history of the arts, literature, politics, and architecture in the area. The book is so well written that you can picture the people Baxter describes sitting in a café or lounging in a salon. I have been to Paris many times, but I have never been so thoroughly engrossed by an area. I can’t wait to go back so I can explore Saint-Germain-des-Prés more thoroughly. —Barbara

Before the Fall

I’m not sure what to say about this book. It was recommended by my local indie bookseller, which gave it lots of credibility. It started slowly, ramped up my adrenaline for a chapter or so, then went back to being a tough slog. The story has an intriguing premise: A private jet heading from Martha’s Vineyard to Teterboro, NJ disappears and crashes 18 minutes after takeoff. Two of the 11 people aboard survive—a 40-something painter and a 4-year-old boy. How? Why? It’s sort of a classic whodunit.

There are some story lines here that are interesting, and it is layered. There’s money, power and the lack thereof, witch hunts, and heroes and villains. This book tries to explore the gray areas that exist in those intersections. I really tried to power my way through, confident that author was going to eventually bring me to a place of self discovery. But, he didn’t. What he did do was bring me to a place of contemplation. What do I want in a read? Thrills? Enlightenment? Insight? This book has something for everyone who reads fiction, but I recommend that it stay on your TBR pile, as it doesn’t reach its potential. —Fran

The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore is a thought-provoking story about how two people born in similar circumstances can turn out differently. It’s the real-life story of Wes Moore, a man who grew up in Baltimore and later became a Rhodes Scholar and successful author. As an adult, he meets another man named Wes Moore, who also grew up in a neighborhood in Baltimore. This Wes Moore is being held in prison for robbery. The book describes how the two men get to know each other and the small differences that impacted their lives. I can’t wait to finish the remaining chapters! —Anne Marie







  1. Thank you for your recommendations. I just bought “Upstream.” I love Mary Oliver’s poetry and figured her essays are probably comparable to the poems. I am a member of 2 book groups and Stone’s “JFK” and the “Wes Moore” books are on the lists for the year. I look forward to your suggestions and comments and I am in the middle of the Outlander Series as well as my book group choices. Happy New Year

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