It’s November in Pittsburgh, which means that it’s pitch black at 4:45 PM, the wind rips through your jeans until you can no longer feel your legs, and it’s been raining for the last week. All in all, it’s dismal outside, but it is great reading weather. The tea is practically brewing itself as we make our way through our shelves.
Let us know what you’re reading in the comments below!
This month all of my picks were entertaining reads that I finished in less than a week. I would recommend them to anyone looking to knock out some quick reading. That being said, An American Marriage was the standout.
Epic Survival by Matt Graham
You might recognize Matt Graham from dual survival. This is his memoir. In it, Graham details how he ran the Pacific Crest Trail in just 58 days, came in third place racing ON FOOT against horses in a three-day race, and how he deepened his connection with nature and struggled to define what an “authentic” primal experience looks like. Overall it was a pretty fascinating read. I’m not ready to go off the grid, but it did inspire me to get off my butt and go for a walk in the park.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Oprah recommended this book to me. An American Marriage details the relationship of a young, black couple in the south — Roy and Celestial. Roy is falsely accused of rape and is sentenced to twelve years in prison. Just when the couple has settled into their new reality, Roy’s conviction is overturned and he’s released seven years early.
Jones dives deep into her characters. The tour de force of the novel is a series of letters between Celestial and Roy during his time in prison. In the letters, you can see their relationship unraveling.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
The novel follows Mae who gets a coveted job at The Circle, a cutting-edge tech company. Mae is blown away by the super modern campus, the friendly people, the humanitarian work, and the free swag. As a result, she’s desperate to maintain her status and to please the company.
The Circle slides a little too neatly into its commentary. Direct quote: Privacy is stealing. It felt a little too on the nose. I wish that there was a little more nuance.
This month, my book selection is rather all over the place. I just finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which got me wanting even more non-fiction. I decided to pick up The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson and get back into Gulp by Mary Roach, which I had on my book lists a few months back but didn’t get a chance to finish. Then we have the usual suspect, Terry Pratchett, who provides some lightness and escape.
The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
The Ghost Map is about how physicians stopped the 1854 cholera outbreak in London, a problem that no one seemed to be able to figure out until devastation had already hit. I really love this sort of thing. It’s both history and adventure. Our real-life characters struggling to overcome a serious mystery. I really look forward to diving into this one.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
100 years ago this month, World War 1 ended. Despite the fact that we refer to the event as The Great War, it’s pretty surprising how little many of us — especially in the US — know about it. I hope to personally change that within myself. All Quiet on the Western Front is a literary classic that I believe we all read too early in school. In fact, I barely remember it. With the 100-year anniversary just entering the rear view mirror, I figure it’s time I picked this book up again.
The Truth by Terry Pratchett
After finishing Going Postal, I wanted to find some more Discworld books that take on a known industry. This time, William de Worde, an operator of a small newsletter, finds himself creating the first city newspaper after dwarfs discover a way to make a printing press. Twists and turns take place and now Worde is looking into a possible murder investigation. This book has been delightful so far — I’m about 1/3 of the way through —and I can’t wait to sit down and finish it.
This month has been kind of a busy one. Between The Arcanist, returning to music for the first time in ages, and sorting out the familial algorithm that is the holidays, I haven’t had too much time to scope out many new reads. So, I’ve returned to some old, formative favorites.
Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier, Hakim Hasan, and Ovie Carter
This not-so-slim little volume was required reading for my freshman anthropology course. Sociologist Mitch Duneier takes an intense, immersive look at the unhoused community that populates Greenwich Village, and the very real contributions they make to the character and well being of the community. Panhandlers, homeless book and magazine vendors, even drug addicts take center stage in Duneier’s pensive dive into the complexity of urban life.
Hip Logic by Terrance Hayes
Rife with playful homages to Mister T, pick-up football, and Big Bird, and rounded out by lyrical movements akin to a work of art, Terrance Hayes accomplishes something miraculous with Hip Logic: he makes poetry drop-dead sexy. I was fortunate enough in my college days to hear professor Hayes speak twice, and both times I’ve walked away feeling changed for the better. If you only ever read one collection of poetry, let this be the one.
Ultraman by Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Remember that silver-and-red, almost-a-power ranger looking thing from the toy store? That’s Ultraman. He fights Kaiju, and saves the day. Once upon a time, he looked pretty low-tech, more under-roo’s than super-suit. But that was then. The most iconic superhero in Japanese Sci-fi is getting a face-lift, and it’s everything you’ve ever wanted. Captivating illustrations by Eiichi Shimizu, high-octane action, and all kinds of bad-assery await in this on-going reboot of a cult classic. What’re you waiting for?