Magazines, Essays, and Some Romance | What We’re Reading

This past week, Library Journal and School Library Journal staffers went to BookExpo
America (BEA), and we are still feeling its throes. Guy and myself are going without books for a time, and Bette-Lee got her hands on a new title that will make her fellow romance fans jealous.

Mahnaz Dar, Associate Editor, LJ

I just finished reading Curtis Sittenfeld’s Sisterland (Random). I had been eagerly looking forward to it (I have a near obsession with her debut work, Prep), and her latest did not disappoint. Though it’s the story of two sisters with psychic abilities, it’s thoroughly grounded in realism, and Sittenfeld soars, as always, in her details of the seemingly mundane.

I’ve started on Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura (Soho), a tale of an old man, bitter at his impending death, who decides that his youngest son will be a malevolent cancer to plague society and begins to educate him as such. In the vein of novels by Koji Suzuki or Natsuo Kirino, it’s eerily wonderful so far.

Guy L. Gonzalez, Director of Content Strategy and Audience Development, LJ & SLJ

Do magazines count? They should! I’m reading, and loving, the Summer 2013 issue of Oxford American. Jeffrey Rotter’s short story, “Charlie Cousins,” and Nickole Brown’s poem, “F**k,” are particularly noteworthy. I’m halfway through Stanley Crouch’s essay, “Tarantino Enchained,” and am on the fence about it. I like his take down of Django Unchained (so overrated!) but can’t connect at all with his love of Jackie Brown.

Bette-Lee Fox, Managing Editor, LJ

I made several BEA attendees green with envy as I carried with me the latest (and last) book in Grace Burrowes’s “Windham Family Saga,” Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Oct.). Comparable with the second title, The Soldier, which I thought so highly of I nominated it for an LJ Best Book of the Year in 2011.

Molly McArdle, Assistant Book Review Editor, LJ

Like Guy, I’m all about nonbook reading this week. There’s something about BEA (or rather, the too-many books I seem to accumulate there) that makes me wary of the printed page. I’m all over my phone on the long train rides to and from Javits, digging deep into my Instapaper reading list. Right now I’m in the middle of Colson Whitehead’s four-part series for Grantland about the World Series of Poker, and his description of the large, echoing room the tournament takes place in sounds eerily similar to the convention center here. I’ve also just finished, and loved, an essay by a college friend of mine, Vy Ho, about Sailor Moon, feminism, and being a child of divorce.

Henrietta Thornton-Verma, Reviews Editor, LJ

Any BEA-goer can tell you that the neighborhood around the Javits Center, the home of the convention, somehow has its own microclimate: 90 degrees all the time. Appropriately, I’m reading Inferno (Doubleday), Dan Brown’s follow-up to his blockbuster The DaVinci Code. Like its predecessor, Inferno is a great story; it’s not winning any literary awards, but it certainly keeps you turning the pages. On my Kindle, I’m at last trying Richard Lloyd Parry’s People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo—and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up (Farrar). True crime isn’t my usual fare at all, but Ann Rule this is not. The book got a lot of press at the time of its release for being truly frightening. I see it as not only an interesting story or a look at a culture I’m fascinated by, but as an entree to a fiction genre that’s on my to-do list—horror—by way of what I already love: nonfiction. Here goes.

Wilda Willams, Fiction Editor, LJ

Ironically it’s been a crazy busy week for reading (or rather not reading) as LJ‘s Day of Dialog and BEA have pretty much consumed my precious reading time. However, I picked up a very heavy print copy of the third edition of Publishers Lunch‘s Buzz Books anthology. The 2013 edition (which is also a downloadable free ebook)  features excerpts of the 40 top fall/winter titles generating buzz at this year’s show, including new novels by Wally Lamb and Amy Tan and notable literary historical debuts like Hannah Kent’s Burial Rights (Little, Brown; Sept.). So as I ride the subway to the convention center each morning, I dip into this volume and sample some of the promising books. From Kent’s Burial Rights, which is set in 19th-century Iceland and is about a woman charged with a murder and condemned to death, here’s a little taste:

They said I must die. They said that I stole the breath from men, and now they must steal mine.

Molly McArdle About Molly McArdle

Molly McArdle (, @mollitudo on Twitter) is Assistant Editor, Library Journal Book Review. She also manages the Library Journal tumblr.