Do you wonder what the Bookish team is reading? Do you want to take a peek at our bookshelves? You’ve come to the right place. Here are the Bookish staff’s personal weekend reading recommendations. Tell us what you think in the comments!
If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Spring Previews for a look at the best books of the season.
I’m reading Marlena by Julie Buntin. It’s one of the novels we featured on the spring fiction preview, and I’m really enjoying it. The subject matter is dark, but the characters are so vividly drawn that I feel like I know them personally. I can already tell that I’m going to be devastated by the end of this book. I know where it’s headed, but I still can’t put it down. —Elizabeth
Our March reading challenge is to pick up a book published in the decade you were born. For me, that’s the 80s. What a time for books! I had some great options to choose from (everything from The Color Purple to Matilda), and I decided to pick up John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. To be fair, this is a reread for me. I was completely blown away by this when I first read it, and I’m curious to see how my interpretation has changed over the last 10 years. —Kelly
Octavia Butler’s Kindred has ended a bit of a reading dry spell for me. I purchased a copy about five years ago, and last weekend I decided I would try to read at least the first 20 pages. I don’t know how much time passed from when I sat down to when I finally looked up, but I do know that by then I was 142 pages into the story. Kindred tells the tale of a modern African-American woman who gets pulled backward through time to pre-Civil War America, where she meets one of her ancestors (a white slaveholder) and realizes that his life is in her hands, but if she doesn’t save his life then she won’t exist. As the reader you get to experience the main character’s shock over the contrast between modern culture and pre-Civil War era slave culture, and fears and frustrations as she tries to adapt to that new version of “normal.” I had a difficult time putting this book down, and look forward to finishing it soon. It is easy to see why this is considered a modern classic. —Alyce
I’ve read a lot of writing-craft books over the years, and I’m happy to say this one is right up there with my favorites. Benjamin Percy is one of those rare hybrids, someone who began as a writer of literary fiction and over time realized he wanted to move beyond lit-mag naturalism and write big novels with suspense, darkness, and perhaps a supernatural element—work more like the kind of thriller and horror fiction he scarfed when young. He explores this evolution in several of the chapters and has strong opinions, which makes for a fun book. Most of the material was first formulated as craft lectures, and that gives humor, personality, and vivid voice to the proceedings. Topics include writing about violence, how to ratchet up your story’s tension, his dislike for the device of “backstory,” and what full-scale revision of a novel actually looks like (demolish your house of words and rebuild it with a better blueprint). Thrill Me is also full of passionate takes on stories, novels and writers Percy loves—I’m enjoying these as well. —Phil
I’m reading In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. This book, set during World War II, is a mix of war story, mystery, and historical fiction in the British manor house style. This is a pretty light read which was just right for a vacation week cruise. There were a few sections that plodded along a bit, but it was worth the effort. The characters are well developed with the usual intrigue inherent in small town life in the British countryside. The story is peppered with the historical references to MI5, Bletchley Park, and the Royal Air Force. The ending was foreshadowed to some degree, but included a few surprises. This is my first book by Rhys Bowen, and I will likely try another. —Doug
Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star questions the universe’s impact on one’s life through main characters Daniel and Natasha. Natasha is an undocumented Jamaican immigrant who is doing everything possible to keep her family from being deported. Her analytical and pessimistic mind keep her from believing in luck and the universe’s role in her life. Daniel uses his poems to express ideas such as love, making him the exact opposite of Natasha. Once the two meet, their personalities change to incorporate each other’s beliefs. This novel is a nice quick read that I cannot wait to finish. —Anne Marie
I just finished rereading the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, which takes place in the same world as the Mortal Instruments series. I read both series for the first time a few years ago, and in rereading the Infernal Devices, I’ve picked up on little details that I missed before. In particular, I loved Infernal Devices for the portrayals of Tessa Gray, Charlotte Branwell, and Sophie Collins. Their strong-willed personalities created a fascinating contrast between them and what was usually expected of women back in historical London. I also loved getting to figure out all the connections between both series that Clare expertly wove throughout the storyline. Overall, this series was very enjoyable to read and I am looking forwards to rereading the Mortal Instruments series next. —Jillian