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Tag: what we're reading (1-10 of 12)

What We're Reading Now: 'Arts & Entertainments' by Christopher Beha

Arts-and-Entertainments

Have you met Jacob the Intern? You should, especially if you like to read, as he is full of suggestions. I spent a little time at his desk last week and in the middle of explaining something I needed help with he quietly asked what I was reading / what I like reading / did I want to borrow Arts & Entertainments?

I did, I discovered, after he finished explaining why he liked it (his review for EW can be found here). I did, also just now discover, that I never finished explaining what I needed help with…bold move, Jacob, you’re trickier than I thought.

Social commentaries aren’t necessarily right up my alley, but as someone who oscillates between reality TV binging, crying at the love between Kim and her sisters, laughing hysterically at the Real Housewives of WhereverTheyAre, and alternatively scorning Ryan Seacrest Productions’ roster, hemming and hawing about the rise of the Reality TV Star — a book about all the weird mechanics of fame today is perfect.

Beha gives Eddie Hartley, our failed actor at the novel’s center, everything and nothing that he wanted. He gives him fame and failure and longing and a pregnant wife and a sleazy agent and as many fans as haters. Along the way, we see the intricacy of modern fame: the 24/7 star, whose tabloid antics, social media presence, and relationships are as (or sometimes more) important than any of their work.

It’s short and fun and and was an easy read, but there’s also something to chew on. We definitely recommend you add it to your list.

What else should we be reading? What’s on your nightstand?

What We're Reading Now: 'Friendship' by Emily Gould

Friendship

No post last week, as I assumed we were all off reading The Constitution with our nearest and dearest, but we’re back together again to discuss the much (much) lauded Friendship by Emily Gould (EW‘s review is here.)

The way I came by reading Friendship is this: Stephan popped by my desk asking, “Do you like reading books about yourself?” I giggled a little—wholly unaware there were any books about me—and just as I was about to flip my hair, give a little wink, and mutter something mind-blowingly witty, he quickly clarified that what he meant was, “Do you like reading books about youngish ladies working in publishing in New York City living the messy, crazy struggle that is working in publishing in New York City as a youngish lady?” READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Fourth-of-July-Creek

Book sharing is at an all-time high here in the EW offices — maybe it’s the lazy summer days (do people really have those?), the afternoons spent languishing by the pool (are there pools by which one can languish in the city?) or the casual pace people adopt heading into July (casual as in only elbowing three people as they shove onto the subway instead of ten…) or, maybe just maybe, it’s that books are really good right now.

Either way, Editor Matt has pulled 1Q84 off my desk and into his travel bag. Deputy Editor Kristen B snagged The Southern Reach Trilogy‘s next installment before I could even begin detailing why I, like, totally need it first. And, Executive Editor Meeta and I had to jockey for Fourth of July Creek (which Matt raved about the whole time he was reading and EW reviewed here).

Lucky for Meeta, there were two copies floating around and we could all get on with our day.

This book is stunning. The language, the setting, the characters, their spirit, their damage. All of it. Everyone is splintered. Everything needs a helping hand. I don’t generally get drawn to books with obvious moral messages, but the notion that we all need help before we need judgement…well, that’s not so hard to get behind. READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: 'The Vacationers' by Emma Straub

summer-reads-the-vacationers

I’ve been moaning about wanting the perfect summer read for a while now (let’s not count the number of posts I’ve mentioned it in, mkay?). Everything was falling a teensy bit short of expectations: a flat character here, a lame plot twist there, something always sitting a bit wrong. I’d all but dashed my hopes for the season when Stephan came across this one, emailing me immediately about having the book for me / this blog / any upcoming trips / summer days / lazy afternoons / quiet moments by the pool / longish hours on the plane / do you get what I’m saying?

I didn’t want Stephan to get a big head, thinking he was my only book-friend in this office so I wagged my finger, chiding him, “Maybe someone else wants to give me a book this week.” The Vacationers would have to wait, or so I thought.

And then…

Well… READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: 'China Dolls' by Lisa See

china-dolls

So I went into this one a little biased. I’ve read Lisa See’s other works — happily falling into Shanghai Girls and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, passing them around to any girlfriend I had jumping on a plane, heading to a beach, laying around their pools…you get it – and I generally enjoy the large, colorful brushstrokes See uses in crafting her worlds.

So when I heard music editor Leah Greenblatt was reviewing China Dolls for the magazine, I patiently waited outside her door, tapping my foot and making subtle sounds of indignation, until she finished. This one, I wanted.

Unfortunately, my biases did me no favors. READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: 'Console Wars' by Blake J. Harris

Console-Wars

Are you a gamer? Is that what the kids are calling people who…uh…video-game?

If that opening didn’t give it away, I’m not a member of this club. I don’t know what most of the popular games are. I feel like the controller never does what I ask. Why is Wii Tennis so tiring? Do all these people have to die? Am I trying to destroy this mythically evil world or save it?

Yeah, PS3(4?), Xbox, and the like are not my forte. Rather, I carry a dread akin to something Seth Rogen touches upon in his portion of Console Wars‘ foreword (co-written by Evan Goldberg). In reference to Sega and Ninetendo he writes: READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: 'The One & Only' by Emily Giffin

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So the other day I wander into Tina Jordan’s office –  it’s full of books and a cozy rocking chair and she doesn’t (seem to) mind when I want to sit and rock amongst her books — and in the middle of telling her about my weekend (because, duh) I spot Emily Giffin‘s new book, The One & Only.

Immediately, I stop telling her about Memorial Day Weekend in the Midwest (weirdly, she hasn’t asked me to resume the stories), rip the book from her shelf, and when it’s finally in hand, ask if I can borrow her copy.

As you can imagine a lady with thousands of books would, she said yes, but did so while warning me that she wasn’t a fan. READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: All the Light We Cannot See; Anthony Doerr

all-the-light-we-cannot-see

Do you ever feel like inanimate objects are following you?

Maybe that wasn’t my best opener, and maybe it has you shrinking away from your computer, murmuring various concerns for my sanity, but I’m serious. Do you? Because ever since EW reviewed All the Light We Cannot See, I feel like this book is everywhere.

Peeking out from the corners of various EW staffers’ desks (at the moment, mostly buried under Jessica Alba covers) — stacked at various angles on office bookshelves — mentioned/heavily praised in a string of meetings…

Like I said, everywhere.

all-the-light-we-cannot-see.jpg

I finally pried one out of someone’s hands (“But you already read it!” I whined, securing their copy under my arm and scampering away) and am completely lost in the story.

To begin, All the Light We Cannot See must be the best title of 2014. It’s inviting and seductive (in the way that sometimes literary things can be literarily-seductive) and once you learn that half the narrative is told from the perspective of a young blind girl it sort of slaps you in the face with its depth.

Europe, escalating from international tension and political unrest to World War II comes to us from opposing narrators; Marie-Laure, our young, blind, exquisitely imaginative French girl or Werner, our orphaned German boy with a curious knack for wiring radios and higher levels of math than I can even name. Marie-Laure comes to join the resistance, Werner folds into the Hitler youth and each ensuing chapter builds towards the moment their paths cross.

I have never wanted two characters to meet as much as I wanted it for Marie-Laure and Werner. The lead up, in terms of plot structure as well as character development, is fantastic.

I have also never contemplated plagiarism as strongly as I have while reading Doerr’s prose; the title is merely a precursor for his rich writing and I am, truly, ripe with envy. Almost every page has me running around, looking for someone to read aloud to (making so many friends, I swear). Passing co-workers, roommates on the couch, calls to my sisters and grandmother — they all get hearty doses of, “Listen to this!” and, “How did he do that?”

Describing Marie-Laure’s Great Uncle, “Stillness: this is what he radiates more than anything else. The stillness of a tree. Of a mouse blinking in the dark.”

Werner, arriving at training camp, “Not in the clearest hour of Zollverein’s clearest day has Werner breathed air so unadulterated by dust.”

You don’t just picture a scene when those words cross your eyes, you feel it.

I’m not finished (please, let me savor it) and not only that, but I’m desperate for it not to end.

What’s everyone else reading? Tell me you’ve found something good.

What We're (Re-)Reading Now: Everything Joan Didion Ever Wrote

Joan-Didion.jpg

I’ve been conducting an experiment, of sorts. It’s very high-minded, slightly medical and far above my 24-year-old pay grade: Hoofing around New York City sans headphones.

Maybe you’re from around here, in which case, pick your jaw up off your desk because 1) Gross, get yourself together! You’re at work! and 2) As I’ve just discovered, it’s totally possible to commute without music blaring in each ear. The world doesn’t end, your brain doesn’t spontaneously combust and no one kills you / makes eye contact.

Maybe you aren’t from around here, in which case I should explain that New York is full of people shuffling, sprinting, dodging, ducking and on some occasions, shoving their way through subway terminals, sidewalk streets, elevator banks — you get it — and they all share the common accessories of headphones and music loud enough to drown out the hum of the city. READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: The Secret of Magic; Deborah Johnson

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Do you know what feeling I love?

Sitting in the glow of a warm window. Afternoon streams in, warming the nape of your neck, the tops of your shoulders, somedays even the corners of your soul.

It’s the simplest of simple pleasures.

There are a million metaphors I could use to describe Deborah Johnson’s writing in The Secret of Magic – but all of them are inadequate in conveying the ebb and flow of her phrasing or the care in crafting her characters (guess you’ll just have to, like, actually read it) but that attempt above is as close as I can get.

JoJo Marshall recommended it to me, having reviewed it for EW earlier this year. Handing me her copy, she gave me a hearty, “If you liked The Help, you’ll love this one!” I over-enthusiastically nodded my head in return, made a few exclamatory sounds, probably threw in an awkward wink and scooted off, never copping to having committed the ultimate Book Club faux pas: Nope, I haven’t read The Help….

In her review, JoJo writes that Magic is about, “…the troubling duality of the Jim Crow Era South.” It follows Reggie Robichard, a black female NAACP lawyer from New York who travels to Mississippi to investigate the (alleged) murder of Joe Howard, while navigating “the town’s segregated social structure with equal parts horror and wonder.”

It is also about local mythology and politics and the town matriarch, her convoluted definition of “family” and the legacy of slavery in Revere, Mississippi.

And, as JoJo’s first sentence claims, it is troubling. For all those pretty words, it is troubling. Troubling because the brutality and racism (or rather, the brutality of racism) ingrained in this town and tale remain such important parts of our current national dialogue. I read about Reggie taking in Jim Crow Mississippi and want to sigh in relief, grateful that such a time has passed. I want to shake my head and mutter “How could it have ever been so?” but, I, and we, can’t. That awareness, for me, was present throughout the entire experience.

On a more literary level — the cadence of Johnson’s writing is an absolute joy. I know that seems contrary to the weight of my prior paragraph but I stand by both notions and refuse to take either back (!). I can’t think of any other recent book in which I have so enjoyed an author’s actual stringing-together-of-words (is there where you tell me to read The Help?).

What about for y’all? What book has been the most enjoyable to actually read?

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