What We’re Reading: October 21

What We’re Reading: October 21

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 for a look at the best books of the season.


The Vanishing Velázquez

This weekend I’ll be reading art critic Laura Cumming’s book The Vanishing Velazquez. It tells the story of an English bookseller in the 1840s who found what he believed was a missing Velazquez painting, became obsessed with proving his theory, was put on trial for fraud, and put at jeopardy everything in his life, including his family, for the sake of this painting. I’m looking forward to learning about both Velazquez and this Victorian art controversy. Cumming, a fan of the painter, was grieving the death of her father as she dove into this mystery, and like a hawk helped grieving Helen Macdonald in H is for Hawk, art here was a consolation for the author. —Phil


All Things Cease to Appear

This book hooks you in from the beginning with the aftermath of what seems like a gruesome murder, and then it immediately snatches you away to tell you equally emotional stories from the past. I’m only in the early chapters of the book, and I can’t wait to flip through the pages and see how all these stories converge. —Amanda


Marrying Winterborne

Does anyone else find that their reading habits are influenced by the weather? This nip in the air has me curling up in my coziest sweater to read romance novels. I’m still a newbie to the genre, so I’m just getting acquainted with the revered Lisa Kleypas. I first read Cold-Hearted Rake and was so captivated by the chemistry between side-characters Helen and Rhys that I knew I had to pick up their book. If my coworkers notice I’m drowsier than usual in the mornings, it’s because this book is keeping me up past my bedtime. Any reader who enjoys this should also check out BBC’s The Paradise, an excellent series about a young woman who goes to work at the first English department store. —Kelly



Glancing at the cover and reading the back copy, I thought #GIRLBOSS might not be for me. I figured I was not the target audience (and if there’s one thing that entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso is great at, it’s knowing her audience). I am not young, not interested in being an entrepreneur, and I have never, ever been one of the cool kids. So what could this book possibly have to offer me? Turns out, a lot. In fact, I found that this book speaks to me and that I felt a kinship to Amoruso, despite our differences in age and life experience. I could see how my unconventional life path has not been so different from hers (other than the fact that she is a multi-millionaire and I definitely am not). Basically, #GIRLBOSS is the opposite of Amoruso’s empire, which was built on the ability to successfully target its customers. Indeed, this book has universal appeal. It’s a quick and uplifting read, which I believe could be particularly transforming for a young person who lives outside of the norm, but who works hard and has dreams. —Myf

a Smile in One Eye

This book is much more complex than the description suggests. Ralph Webster says it was prompted by the Syrian refugee crisis, and that he wanted to tell the story of people who had everything taken from them and were forced to leave their homes, family, and possessions behind. Webster writes the story of a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life and turned out to be the father of the normal family next door. It is the story of the author’s father’s life as a German Jew growing up in the 1930s in what is now Poland. It is a fascinating story that will keep history buffs on the edge of their seats. When I first started reading the book, it felt very much like a love letter from an older son to an even older father. By the time I finished, it felt more like a letter of apology. Perhaps it is the most well written obituary of all time. I cannot claim to know the author’s mind, but this book is one of the best reads I have had in a long time. —Fran


Miles: The Autobiography

I’m reading Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe. I was slightly shamed into reading this because my dog is named after the man and, aside from his music, I don’t know very much about him! His narrative voice struck me immediately—authentic and engaging. I’ve been inspired to look up musicians and songs, clubs he names to see if they still exist, and even stayed up late to attend a jazz jam session last night. From someone who doesn’t read much nonfiction, this is a book that’s been easy to get (enjoyably) lost in. —Kristina


So Sad Today

I’ve been fascinated and entertained by the @sosadtoday account on Twitter for years, and back in 2014 even did an interview with its then-anonymous poster. It’s interesting to see how the voice from @sosadtoday, which the world now knows is the voice of author Melissa Broder, translates to essays. What I’ve read so far has been very dark and very personal—I admire Broder’s bravery in sharing so much with the world. —Elizabeth


Fun Science

I’m a sucker for fun facts. Random bar trivia is my kryptonite, and Charlie McDonnell excels at interesting science facts. Did you guys know there’s a visible heart on the surface of Pluto? A heart! My own exploded from joy upon learning this. It’s called Tombaugh Regio; check it out. Readers who are already fans of McDonnell’s YouTube channel, charlieissocoollike, will eat this up, as will any who enjoy learning and lighthearted fun. —Kelly


Nocilla Experience

This week I’ve been reading Nocilla Experience by Agustín Fernández Mallo. The second in a trilogy of books that became a cultural phenomenon in Spain, Nocilla Experience is a curious hybrid of fiction, science, popular culture, and philosophy—as well as an utterly compelling take on our modern world. Each short chapter is connected, whether through a character or a thematic link, to what has come before or what happens later. It is dizzying, brilliant, high-wire stuff—a novel to read quickly once and then slowly again. —Stuart





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