Crowdsourced reading (& Friday Links)

Remember a few months back when I shared our new book selection process for bookclub? Well, we switched it up again. We’re back to the host choosing—with a slight variation. The host for the upcoming month makes the pitch for two or three titles and puts it to a vote. Last night was my night to make the pitch (I’m hosting August), and about 45 minutes beforehand I’d narrowed it down to seven choices. So I put the question to Instagram Stories and the DMs came back fairly unanimously in favor of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. I pitched that alongside Sing, Unburied Sing, and A Gentleman in Moscow (which were also the clear runners up and have been on my to-read list for a while now), but the big takeaway has been that this list of seven books is a strong one. So if you’re looking for some books to pick up this summer, I can assure you that each has many fans…

Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
I’m so happy this one won out. It’s been on our selection list for at least a year, and so many of you have raved about it in previous book-related posts. Obviously, I should have just picked it up outside of bookclub, but now I don’t have to! The story “opens in 18th-century Ghana with two half sisters destined for wildly divergent fortunes: Effia, married off to an Englishman, is kept in the relative luxury of Cape Coast Castle; Esi, stolen and sold by rival tribesmen, endures a much less genteel captivity in the dungeons below. They will remain virtual strangers to each other, though the linked narratives that play out over the next 250-plus years are equally wedded to those twined legacies of conflict and loss. Toggling between two continents, Gyasi traces black history from the Middle Passage to the Great Migration and beyond, bringing every Asante village, cotton plantation, and coal mine into vivid focus.” (Entertainment Weekly)

Sing, Unburied, SingJesmyn Ward
Comparisons to Faulkner have made us a little worried that this will be a tough bookclub pick, but it sounds incredible. “Jesmyn Ward’s historic second National Book Award–winner is ‘perfectly poised for the moment’ (The New York Times), an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. ‘Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love… this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it’ (Buzzfeed).” And A Cup of Jo‘s Lexi Mainland wrote  If if you have time for only one book, this is my pick. Jesmyn Ward, who this week was named a MacArthur Genius and won the National Book Award for her last novel, is a massively talented writer about race and the South who really knows how to tell a saga. … Jojo, a 13-year-old boy, and his baby sister, Kayla, go on a road trip across Mississippi with their drug-addled mother and her friend, en route to pick up their father from prison. What ensues is a journey into layers of family history and self identity that is haunting and beautiful.”

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
Some of my most trusted friends told me to put this one on the list, and at least four people used the word “delightful” in their DMs describing it. Brief synopsis: The 30-year saga of the Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is placed under house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow in 1922 when the Bolsheviks spare him from death or Siberia because of his 1913 revolutionary poem written in university. The relationships he forms with staff and guests, his handling of twists of fate, his moral rectitude and his perseverance to go on in the face of his lifelong imprisonment for being a Former Person make for a compelling tale, told beautifully by Towles.

An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
I confess I added this to the list because it’s an Oprah’s Bookclub Pick, and so I know it must hold broad appeal. It stayed on the list for the wonderful reviews. “This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.”

Circe, Madeline Miller
This reimagining of a Greek myth remains high on my list, particularly after having revisited The Odyssey this summer with a wonderful kids’ version, in Italy. EW called it one of the best books of the year so far: “Circe’s wildly peripatetic life—immortal centuries overflowing with romance, witchcraft, and familial strife—finds fresh resonance in Miller’s gifted hands, and her muse’s quest to forge her own brand of independence is rendered with a style that feels both deeply evocative and gratifyingly relevant to today.”

The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin
Also on that EW list, “Four city-dwelling siblings learn the exact date they’ll die, a haunting piece of information that informs the way they’ll carry out what’s left of their troubled, fascinating lives.” Both a “warm, intimate family story” and a tale about destiny and fate, it seems like it could stem some interesting conversation.

The Female Persuasion, Meg Wolitzer
People called it “equal parts cotton candy and red meat, in the best way.” Meg Wolitzer’s last book, The Interestings, was a popular one with our group, and her latest offering, about a college student’s relationship with a feminist icon who becomes her friend and mentor feels especially timely. I’ve seen the brightly-hued cover everywhere—which is usually a good sign.

What are you reading lately? 

Here are some quicker reads, and notable links, to add… 

I get choked up whenever Mr. Rogers sings “You are special” or “I like you.” Love this tidbit about him.

“The forces that Berners-Lee unleashed nearly three decades ago are accelerating, moving in ways no one can fully predict.” From the man who invented the WWW.

West Wing Coming and Goings.

Beautiful quotes On patriotism.

How the ACLU is fighting the good fight. A deep dive into their recent suits filed from the Times Magazine.

“The president’s particular strain of misogyny,” on display again.

The Marshmallow test today. 

I really miss the arepas from Caracas in the East Village. Found this recipe to try.

It might be time to get Skyler a real bed. I love these sheets. 

A new foundation line (40 shades) from Allure founder Linda Wells.

High-end, Outdoor ping-pong table fantasies, here and here.

Keeping up with Nat the Fat Rat.

Such joy. Dancing in movies. (Thank you, Swissmiss.)

And a few posts you may have missed, posted during our vacation…

Favorite games to play with kids

An essential for new parents 

Favorite midi-skirts and dresses

P.S. Hope you had a happy 4th of July! Here’s a photo of the kids and me, with their decked-out scooters, Wednesday, and of our afternoon.

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