In this regular feature, we give you a glimpse of what we are reading this very moment.
Here is what the Rioters are reading today (as in literally today). This is what’s on their bedside table (or the floor, work bag, desk, whatevskis). Your TBR list is about to get some new additions.
We’ve shown you ours, now show us yours; let us know what you’re reading (right this very moment) in the comment section below!
How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh: I’m reading a bunch of self-help books this year for a project I am working on and this book was high on my list. I’m not actually familiar with the author; I learned through the book that she’s popular on YouTube. I’m only about three chapters in and she has a very distinct voice, a voice one may appreciate more if they were actually familiar with her work. I’ll keep reading, because it’s fresh and fun so far. (ebook)
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead Books, February 6): An account of immigration, family, and law: Cantú, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, worked as a border patrol agent. This is his memoir detailing how his job upholding the law began to clash with his ideas of compassion and humanity. (hardcover)
A Dangerous Crossing (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #4) by Ausma Zehanat Khan: I love this detective mystery series so much and can’t wait to continue following Detective Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak. While set in Canada, where the detectives work for the Community Policing Section which deals with minority-sensitive cases, the series also travels around the world exploring political and social issues. Khan is a fantastic writer and already the opening of this novel has me fully invested. (egalley)
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff: I have no shame, I had to read this book. And I had to read it immediately. I know there’s some question about the veracity of the revelations, but this book was a juicy, page-turny blast that was both highly concerning and thoroughly entertaining. Wolff might like the word “incredulity” a bit too much but his stories were pretty believable given what information this administration has voluntarily shared with us in their messy Twitter moments and their sloppy fights with the media. (audiobook)
The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael. W. Twitty: It was probably a mistake to start this just after diving back into a low carb lifestyle, but I was eager to jump into a world I really know very little about. As a born-and-raised New Englander who transplanted to the southwestern part of Virginia for college, I wanted to know more about the culture around food in the South. Published in 2017, this nonfiction narrative seemed like the perfect place to start. (ebook)
Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide) by Sarah Knight: I just really need to get my shit together. Sarah Knight’s helping. My favorite tip so far: Make your to-do list, then make a list of those items in order of importance, then make a must-do list for the day. Why didn’t I think of that? (ebook)
Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: My best friend and I just decided to form a two-person book club to recapture the fun of discussing books together during our days as English majors. This was her pick for our first read. I’m only a chapter in, but I love Obama’s narrative approach to the memoir: he’s telling family anecdotes while thoughtfully considering the role retrospect and nostalgia play in our recollection. (hardcover)
Busted by Gina Ciocca: I just listened to a very, very long nonfiction book about DNA, which was good, but I really needed something a bit more fun, so I picked this up. It’s about a high school girl who’s made an accidental career out of catching girls’ boyfriends cheating. (audiobook, courtesy of publisher)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: I bought this book months ago and it’s just been sitting on my To-Read shelf judging me. I recently started a new job and have a lovely longer commute, so after investing in Audible, I used one of my credits for the audiobook. I’m not that far in, but I’m loving this book so far and I’m sensing that once I’m done listening, this will be a book I’ll want to actually go back and read a physical copy. (audiobook)
A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch: Enoch’s historical romances are always a delight. Third in the No Ordinary Hero series, this book is extremely hero-centric. Callum takes center stage every time he’s on the page and, luckily, he’s smart, funny, and so desperately in love with the heroine that I don’t mind his scene-stealing ways. Enoch’s books always venture in directions I don’t anticipate, so I’m anxious to delve deeper into the mystery and scandal of this one. (galley)
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris: This giant graphic novel is about 10 year old Karen Reyes living in Chicago in the 1960s. She narrates her life through her obsession of monsters. The book is a family epic, a murder mystery, and a character study. It’s beautifully drawn with many nods to the monster movies of the 1960s. I had heard about it from a newspaper article in the Chicago Tribune because the author lives in Chicago. Her images of the city are astonishing. I’m loving it so far. (softcover)
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca: A friend recently included this in her roundup of favorite true crime books she read in 2017. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes was the nickname newspapers gave to the real life lawyer and investigator who was America’s first female District Attorney. This book follows Grace Humiston as she attempts to find a missing girl everyone else has given up on. When a friend and I decided to revive our two-person, long distance book club to take on the 2018 Read Harder Challenge, I knew this would be a great fit for the true crime challenge. (hardcover & ebook)
Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield: Being from a family of divorce, the blurb for this book spoke to me. It’s set in 1988 southern California about a nervous 8-year old girl dealing with her parents’ divorce and her new living arrangements. The intro page alone was already so poetic so I’m excited. (egalley)
The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani: People won’t stop talking about this book either here or in the UK (where it has the much better title of Lullaby). So I decided to get my “read more in French” resolution underway when I found the original on Amazon U.S. (ebook)
From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon: After the adorable romcom that was When Dimple Met Rishi, I knew that I had to read her second novel. From Twinkle, With Love is proving to be just as sweet and funny, with a charmingly dorky protagonist who is so into film that the book is written in letter formats to female directors! (egalley)
The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender by Sam Killermann: This a very accessible, entertaining book, with great resources, discussion prompts, and practical graphics to help people better understand the complexities of gender. I lead an LGBT-themed book club for my local PFLAG group and this is our January selection. (paperback)
The Genius of Judaism by Bernard-Henri Lévy: How can you not pick up a book with a title like this one? This is Lévy addressing anti-Semitism in the 21st century and, using anti-Semitism in its modern guise as a backdrop, how he sees the future of Judaism. So far, this book is a great read. (paperback)
Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern: Summer Hours is a book about the cast of characters working at the local library in a town that doesn’t have much else going for it. Included in this cast is Sunny, a local “no-schooler” who has been sentenced to volunteering at the library after attempting to steal a dictionary. I’m only a couple chapters in, but the writing is snappy and funny, tempered with just the right amount of bittersweetness. (egalley)
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin: Predicting the future. Superstition. The occult. Magic. This book has all of this wrapped up in a sweeping family saga that spans fifty years and follows four siblings who, as children, were told the exact date each of them would die. I can’t put it down!
Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau: The webcomic Zen Pencils has endorsed this book, as well as the author. Guillebeau believes that a side hustle—an independent project that earns a modicum of income—can provide means for people to gain more freedom in their life, and extra money for necessities. He illustrates simple steps for readers to learn how to find their side hustle, and implement it. (Kindle ebook)
Warcross by Marie Lu: I didn’t read very much Science Fiction or Fantasy last year, so I decided to start the year off with Marie Lu’s new YA novel about a near future obsessed with a virtual reality game: Warcross. Teenage hacker Emika Chen is broke, desperate, and alone when she illegally hacks herself into Warcross. Expecting arrest, instead the game’s creator asks Emika to join Warcross as a spy. I feel like this type of book often goes way over my head, but I’m about halfway through the book and so far the complex character dynamics have me transfixed! (ebook)
American War by Omar El Akkad: Talk about mind blowing! This is the story of the second American Civil War and it is mesmerizing and terrifying and heartbreaking. If you’re a part of the oil lobby, I wouldn’t recommend reading it. Otherwise, I’d suggest you sit down with this book to discover why it was nominated for so many g.d. awards last year. (egalley)
Shadow Girl by Liana Liu: I’m always down to read YA books by Asian American authors! But the gorgeous cover and haunting premise were pretty darn appealing too. Just getting started on it! (hardback)
Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey: After watching the first two seasons of The Expanse on the SyFy channel I decided to check out the source material. The television series is based on a series of books by a writing duo that goes by the name James S.A. Corey. The first book, Leviathan Wakes, is a mash up science fiction and mystery set against the back drop of space. I loved it! I tore through the 500+ page book in less than week. Since then I’ve been steadily working my way through the series. Now I’m up to book 3, Abaddon’s Gate. Although set in space, it isn’t all space aliens (though there is something alien brewing). There’s political intrigue and mysteries to unravel. And now a character thought to be dead has reappeared. I can’t wait to see where the story leads to next!
Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler: This is my pick for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge category “celebrity memoir.” Because Aisha Tyler is my favorite in everything she does. LOVE HER! (library hardcover)
Battling for News: The Rise of the Woman Reporter by Anne Sebba: I’d found Les Parisiennes a fascinating read, and when I finished that, I headed straight for Sebba’s back catalogue. Battling For News traces the history of women reporters, and delivers some spectacular stories of struggle, growth and bravery in a system determined to deny all of that. It’s taken me a while to get into it, but now that I am, I can’t put it down.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas: I came across this title from an NPR interview about new releases to look out for in 2018. With a publication date in January, this was one of the earliest. The premise (an America in which every embryo is granted personhood and property rights) seemed particularly intriguing in our current political context. I’m only a few pages in, but it’s beautifully written and I’m very much look forward to settling in and going along for the ride.
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan: When I finished the first in this series I immediately pushed it into the hands of my husband and as many friends as possible. Now I’m desperately trying to catch up since they’ve all already finished the series. The good news is that the second one is just as good as the first. Maybe even better. Because, let’s face it, more Kitty Pong makes everything so much better. (hardcover)
When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele: An emotional and insightful memoir about Khan-Cullors early life in Van Nuys, CA, experiencing everyday racial and systemic injustices that led her to become one of three creators of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The writing is poetic in its simplicity—accessible and profound. I received the ARC on Netgalley and will definitely purchase for my personal collection. (egalley)
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing: Lessing is an author I’ve admired from afar; always problematic, as it makes it hard to read objectively. But serendipitously picked this up again at the same time as my book club! A multi-layered old-fashioned novel of Big Ideas whose protagonist—just like Lessing, or indeed any author—is searching for unity in the fragments of life. (paperback)
Himself by Jess Kidd: This is the latest choice for my mystery book group. I’m 30 pages in and loving it, partly because it’s set in Ireland where I’ve recently done some traveling and also because it’s an intriguing story so far. (paperback)
This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins: I met Morgan a few months ago after a long time following her work online and watching her opine on Twitter. She was as wonderful in person as I’d imagined her to be. She read the first essay from this collection aloud and I felt my heart constrict. Now reading her book for a review, and I’m continuing to find both what she shares from her personal life and her thoughts and opinions about the wider culture and time we live in to be absolutely incredible. Incredible not because it’s easy or magical but because she’s so incredibly smart and has put so much thought into both herself and the world at large. She’s a truly incredible writer and commentator. (ARC)
The Job of the Wasp by Colin Winnette: I was sent an advance copy of this by Soft Skull Press and the cover and premise sounded intriguing so I decided to give it a go. It’s like if Shirley Jackson wrote Lord of the Flies. It’s a gothic thriller which will by turn intrigue and revolt you. A bizarre ghost story and whodunit set in a boarding school for orphan boys. (ARC)
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu: Over the Christmas season I worked a few shifts at my local indie bookstore, and I picked up an advance copy of this novel by Canadian author Kim Fu. The story of a group of girls at a sleep-away camp who experience a shocking and traumatic event on a kayaking trip, this novel is not to be missed. It’s an evocative, haunting, sharp look at how tragedy shapes lives. Available February 13. (ARC)
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight: After a spate of “meh” mysteries and tepid thrillers, I’m now hellbent on reading a good one. This was recommended to me years ago, and I finally stopped procrastinating and picked it up. Kate Baron is a high-powered single mother working at a prestigious law firm in Brooklyn. She’s proud of her work, but more so of her relationship with her daughter, 15-year-old Amelia. Kate’s life is shattered when Amelia commits suicide by jumping off the roof of her school, but it’s absolutely rocked when she receives a host of anonymous messages telling her it was murder, not suicide, that ended her beloved daughter’s life. Kate throws herself into an investigation of what really happened, desperate for one last chance to vindicate the daughter she feels she failed. (hardcover).
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: I mean, the title pretty much says it all. In a series of essays, Oluo breaks down how—and why—we should discuss issues of race, from privilege to intersectionality and everything else you could possibly think of. I’m only a few chapters in and already I can tell this book is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. Everyone needs to read this. Everyone. (egalley)
God: A Human History by Reza Aslan: I’ve been meaning to read Zealot for a couple years and then I recently spotted this newer addition to Aslan’s bibliography so decided to start with it instead. So often, books on the history and origins of religious thought are a muddied by the author’s own bias (either for or against religion), but not so with this one. Aslan’s goal is not to validate or invalidate belief in God, but to probe history and the human psyche to reveal how and when such spiritual impulses may have developed. So far, the narrative is tightly woven and Aslan is an engaging narrator. (audiobook)
Mary Kay McBrayer
Carrie by Stephen King: I’m fascinated with how terrified men are by menses, and how the women-are-witches-and-chaos trope keeps going. Carrie gets control over her telekinesis when she gets her period, but she still can’t control her emotions. (Okay, so that analysis is only part of the truth…I’ve always been a little jealous of how Carrie gets to exact her revenge on people who done her wrong. How awesome would it be to make your seventh-grade crush who asked you out because he lost a bet LOSE HIS GRAVITATIONAL PULL? Pretty awesome. So, no, it’s not canon, but it’s REAL entertaining.)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: I received this book as a gift, and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf since then. This year, I am on a mission to read the books on my bookshelf, and this book was my first choice. I am only two chapters in, but Esi’s experiences in the dungeon made me sad and angry about the trauma my ancestors endured during the Atlantic slave trade. There will be many more similar emotions while reading the novel, but I know the book will be an amazing and powerful read. (hardback)
How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD: My doctor would not shut up about this book during my last appointment. And if it’s good enough for him… (library hardcover)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: I recently decided to turn a writing-in-progress from an adult to a young adult novel, so one of my resolutions this year is to read more YA—specifically SFF YA—so I have a better idea of writing in that field. I’m starting with An Ember in the Ashes after hearing so many good things about it. And I see why! I’m only 10% in but I’m already hooked! It’s immediately suspenseful and engaging. (library ebook)
Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life by Peggy Orenstein: I’ve loved Orenstein since her seminal work Schoolgirls, and have read almost everything she’s written since. Her essays are smart, insightful, witty, and just so darn readable, and I’m really loving this book. She writes about various activists, motherhood, miscarriage, cancer, relationships, and more. Cultural commentary and critique, personal essay, politics—no one blends these so seamlessly as Orenstein. I’d say this is a must-read. (ARC)
The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley: A reading goal of mine this year is to read historical romance. The Bittersweet Bride is my second historical romance of 2018 and my first novel by Vanessa Riley. So far this second chance romance is quite engaging as I try to determine if the hero, Ewan, will win me over by the end of the book. (eARC)
The Little Book of Life Hacks: How to Make Your Life Happier, Healthier, and More Beautiful by Yumi Sakugawa: The colorful, completely adorable design and illustrations (and cover) are what first caught my attention when I saw this book in the “New Nonfiction” section of my local library. The content is what made me check it out. It covers everything from beauty and fashion, decor and cooking, to positive affirmations and self love. I have not finished my first read through yet, but I’ve picked up a few handy tricks already, and have seriously loved looking through this book.
A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee: Anytime I see anything along the lines of “several interconnected storylines” or “told through four varying points of view” in a book blurb, I have to pick the book up. This book is a series of interconnected novella-like sections, each one following the story of a different character in contemporary India. The writing is beautiful, and the unusual form has me dying to know how it all ends. (library hardcover)
Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson: I’m not a huge biography reader—not because I don’t enjoy learning about individual histories but because years in academia conditioned me to think of non-fiction as exam prep and that, in turn, stresses me out even though I know intellectually I’m no longer being tested. Isaacson’s book is far, far too delightful for me to be concerned about anything other than reading more. Personal and honest, Isaacson obviously admires this template of the Renaissance man but doesn’t shy away from painting the complete picture (as it were). I’ll actually be a little sad when I’m done with this one and already have Isaacson’s biography of Einstein on hold the library.
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones: I’m currently on a fae-like binge it seems! I read The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson and I was craving more! A fellow Rioter recommended Wintersong and I decided to pick it up. This one is about goblins, not faeries, but I’m enjoying it all the same! I knew when there was a Christina Rossetti quote at the beginning that I was in for a treat. Jae-Jones’s writing and world-building is beautiful and so far I’m completely taken by the main character Liesl!
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi: I read Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin last year, and they were two of my favorite books of 2017. Both books take place in Nigeria, and deal with topics of feminism and gender roles in Nigerian families. This book also takes place in Nigeria, but instead of dealing exclusively with family and a woman’s place within her family, Freshwater deals with identity, and where a woman exists within herself. It also deals with mental health, and I’m just coming down from reading The Vegetarian, so I think I’m in the right state of mind to take on this book. I’ve been told it’s sublime. (eARC)
Weird in a World That’s Not by Jennifer Romolini: I never thought I’d enjoy a career book as much as I’m enjoying Romolini’s. Her writing is clear and concise. She makes real suggestions throughout the book (I’m almost done with it), not just motivational tips. I don’t remember how I came across this book last week, but it came right when I needed it. (library book)
Witchmark by C.L. Polk: Witchmark isn’t out until June, but I couldn’t help picking it up as soon as I got a copy. So far my intemperance is paying off: Witchmark is an utter delight. It’s gripping from the first page, with a compelling story that unfolds in an intriguing, well-imagined magical world. (egalley)
Annika Barranti Klein
Fast-Draft Your Memoir by Rachael Herron: This is a great, fun book full of exercises that Rachael admonishes the reader to actually do, and of course I am not. But! I am not writing a memoir! I am, however, working on a story that’s based on something from my life, and I’m getting ideas from this guide. (egalley)