what I’ve been reading lately:

  • The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

    This was absolutely the cozy middle-grade mystery I needed to read right now, and there are so many things I like about this book. It’s set in a small town called Martinville, where the library mysteriously burned down twenty years before the start of the novel. At the start of the book we meet some…

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  • All the Wrong Places by Philip Connors

    All the Wrong Places is Philip Connors’s memoir of his early twenties in NYC and his struggles to understand/come to terms with his younger brother having taken his own life. Though he says he and his brother “weren’t close” as young adults, they were “an insesparable pair” in early childhood on their family’s farm in…

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  • Just Kids by Patti Smith

    This is one of those books I’d been meaning to read for ages: I heard about it when it first came out, and then I was reminded of it again in 2015 when I read what Nick Hornby had to say about it in More Baths, Less Talking. Then I found a copy of it…

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  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, translated by Frederick Paul Walter

    In some ways/at some moments I liked this more than I liked Journey to the Center of the Earth, because some of the descriptions of underwater/oceanic sights were vivid or lovely—but sometimes it felt like more of a slog. When the novel opens, it’s 1866 and boats have been seeing something big in the water:…

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  • The Roommate Risk by Talia Hibbert

    (Spoilers ahead/maybe don’t read this if you haven’t read this book and are planning to.) There’s a moment in The Roommate Risk that gave me Mastermind vibes, but different: our female lead, Jasmine, admits to Rahul—her best friend of seven years—that she saw him at the library when they were at uni, a week before…

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  • The Illiterate by Ágota Kristóf, translated by Nina Bogin

    My husband makes fun of me for being drawn to short/small books on the new-books shelves at the library, but I don’t know, I appreciate concision, and I loved this very brief memoir from its very start. The back cover of the edition I read said this book is “Kristóf’s memoir of her childhood, her…

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  • The Box (Second Edition) by Marc Levinson

    I probably would have appreciated a more pop-history version of this “history of containerization”, which makes the (prolonged) “argument that tumbling transport costs were critical in opening the way to what we now call globalization,” but I nevertheless learned a lot about shipping and shipping containers and ports and freight costs. Levinson sets the scene,…

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  • Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel

    When I’m on my way home from a trip in another country, if I find myself with a little cash left in some foreign currency, I like to stop at the airport bookshop and see if there’s anything that catches my eye. This time, coming back from Rome, what caught my eye was Beyond Black…

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  • Watermark: An Essay on Venice by Joseph Brodsky

    I bought this book at the gift shop of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and read most of it on a train from Venice to Florence; I’d thought, after reading Two Cities by Cynthia Zarin, that I should read something by Joseph Brodsky, and when I saw this in the gift shop it seemed the obvious…

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  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    I read a lot of this book on an airplane a few weeks ago and it was excellent plane reading for me: the plot speeds along and I was pretty engrossed. The premise: Evelyn Hugo is a major movie star who hasn’t given an interview in years, but who, when the book opens, has just…

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