What We’re Reading: October 16

What We’re Reading: October 16

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 Fall Previews.


Carry On

This is Rainbow Rowell’s first attempt at fantasy writing and it’s fascinating to read. At first, the spells cast (As you were!, Some like it hot!) can seem a bit odd or even silly, and then she explains how magic comes from the power of words. The more popular a phrase is in the world, the easier it is to cast that spell. If a phrase falls out of fashion, the words lose their power. But, as with Fangirl, the characters remain my favorite elements of the book. Penelope is everything I aspire to be: smart, driven, and full of fire. Simon is a blockhead at times and I love him for it. And Baz… Oh, Basilton. He’s tortured and surly and perfect. I’m excited about the mystery that’s unfolding at the heart of the story, but all I really want is for these two fools to realize how in love they are and just kiss already. —Kelly


This week, I’ve been watching Joshua Cohen write (in real time) this novel inspired by The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. As a writer, this is sort of my worst nightmare, so I’m impressed Cohen can stand to have the internet watching him write and edit. For anyone struggling with the writing process, watching Cohen smoke and gnash his teeth might make you feel a little less alone. —Elizabeth

City on Fire

This book is a major debut and has been the talk of 2015. It introduces readers to a historical event in New York in the ‘70s and follows a cast of characters that truly reflect the city. —Bob

Monster: Living Off the Big Screen

A well-done movie business memoir is one of my favorite subgenres, and John Gregory Dunne’s Monster: Living Off the Big Screen is reminding me why I love to read these things. It chronicles Dunne and wife Joan Didion’s Hollywood experience as screenwriting partners on the 1996 movie Up Close and Personal starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford. The script went through 27 drafts over eight years as stars came and went, producers came and went, contracts were redrawn, executives departed, and Team Dunne-Didion were subjected to endless studio notes encouraging them to push the story away from its source—the sad, tumultuous life of network news correspondent Jessica Savitch—toward something more mainstream-friendly. The givers of notes wanted a star-vehicle script with drama and inspiration, not a cinematic story faithful to Savitch’s life, with its drug use, same-sex relationships, and suicide attempts. In the end, viewing script work as a way to fund their book-writing, Dunne and Didion did a great deal of well-compensated reworking while turning out books and articles and other, less supervised scripts, and Jessica Savitch was turned into smalltown Nevada spitfire “Tally Atwater,” bound for stardom. —Phil

Brown Girl Dreaming

This poetry collection won the National Book Award, the Newbery honor, and the Coretta Scott King Award. Everyone was talking about it last year, and I was both excited and terrified to read it. I assumed I’d love it, and was also worried that I wouldn’t. I always get intimidated by highly acclaimed books because no one likes being that one reader who just didn’t “get” it; no one proudly tells the world that they didn’t enjoy Harry Potter (if such a person does exist). Thankfully, my fears were wildly unfounded. This book is beautiful and soulful and emotionally evocative. I found myself near tears over some poems, and holding back laughter over others. I wish this was a book that could be in every classroom. It deserves to be widely read, and I think there are a lot of young readers who could use its powerful messages. —Kelly

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Strong Light of Day

Once again, Jon Land is getting terrific reviews. Steve Berry calls hims “a writer’s writer,” but I think he’s also an excellent reader’s writer. —Bob


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