What We’re Reading: May 13

What We’re Reading: May 13

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 Spring Previews for a look at the best books of the season.


I’m loving May’s Reading Challenge to pick up classic books because it’s giving me a reason to finally read great books like Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis. Her tale is shocking, moving, inspiring, and incredibly relatable. Her search to feel at home again after returning to Iran felt particularly poignant to me. I’m glad I can check one book off of my challenge list for the month, and even happier that I’ve finally read this incredible book. —Kelly

Dating Tips for the Unemployed

I read Iris Smyles‘ last book, Iris Has Free Time, and liked the narrator’s evolving voice (from annoying undergrad to wiser adult). I’m about halfway into this one, and I’m having a little trouble with the narrator. That said, I had a similar experience with Iris Has Free Time, and Iris (the narrator) totally redeemed herself by the end. I’m rooting for her here. —Elizabeth


I was the sports book buyer for Waldenbooks in 1986 when this New York Times bestseller came out. It was my first buy, and holds a special place in my heart. I’m reading it for a second time to experience this thrilling true story about the strength of the human spirit. —Bob

Stay Awake

A friend recommended this. A friend with a refined palate for darkness: Patrick McGrath, early Ian McEwan, Michael Haneke movies. I scarfed a hundred pages last night. Quality gloom! With its small-town and suburban settings, in a world of car accidents, suicides, creeping insanity, and fractured families, Dan Chaon’s Stay Awake feels to me like Stephen King meets Raymond Carver, set in the Midwest. In the opening story, a child keeps screaming in the dead of night, and there’s a very guilt-ridden father (fittingly employed by UPS: all day weighed down by burdens). In the next story, a man resides in the family home where both parents took their own lives. Stories three and four feature car-crash survivors. Life goes black in an instant, or you endure a long slide into an alienated gray zone: two of the main options on offer in this fictional universe. The book gets its juice from intense moods (foreboding, threat, mystery) and from Chaon’s ability to construct whole stories rooted in detached mental states, in his characters’ anxious, regretful, quietly desperate interiors. —Phil

And I Darken

Literary villains have always been fascinating to me. Why do they act the way they do? What delight do they find in cruelty? What motivates and drives them to be evil? Needless to say, I was intrigued by the premise of this book: Vlad the Impaler recast as a girl named Lada. “Heads will roll”—the jacket promises. I can’t wait to see this girl in action. —Kelly

Tall Tail

I love books where pets, particularly cats, play a significant role in the story. Rita Mae Brown is now on her 25th book in her mystery series featuring a feline. —Bob







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