e-Staff Picks: The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone
Emily says: One of my favorite books from last year is now out in paperback! Goldstone delves into the myth and reality of Joan of Arc, and perhaps even more fascinatingly, she illuminates the importance of Yolande of Aragon, who most of us have never heard of, but who was hugely influential at the time. When asked why no one has written about this connection, Goldstone writes, “There is no more effective camouflage in history than to have been born a woman.”
e-Staff Pick: With our Without You by Domenica Ruta
Simone says: Domenica Ruta grew up under the authority of a drug-addled, somewhat psychotic mom, which makes her memoir dramatic enough to read like a scandalous novel — but all the more gripping because it’s true. Her portrayal is compassionate regarding her mother but also clear-eyed on the reckless behavior both observed and shared, the damaged characters who pass through their family orbit, and the dangers of a parent living on the edge.
e-Staff Picks: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Molly says: “While waiting impatiently for Stiefvater’s sequel to The Raven Boys, I’m making my way through her backlist. The Scorpio Races centers on a an annual horse race that’s like nothing I’ve ever imagined: the islanders of Thisby race sea horses, carnivorous brutes that come from the ocean but are wickedly fast on land. Stiefvater weaves the stories of two orphaned riders, the mythology of the horses, and the isolated chill of the island into a book I really couldn’t put down. Equal parts introspective and exciting, it hovers in that magical place between fantasy and reality, past and present.”
For your rainy day perusal, a stack of books that various members of the staff have been meaning to get to forever but haven’t quite managed yet. (Which prompted a round of “OH MY GOD YOU HAVEN’T READ THAT YET??” from other staff members. Of course.)
Sarah says: “I grabbed this book in high school – nothing entices a 16-year-old as much as a cover full of lurid sprinkles – and have been thrusting it into the hands of friends and family ever since. Cupcake Brown manages to walk the line between gritty reality and optimism without making me puke. For bonus points, you’ll learn tons of hilarious street terms to sprinkle into your everyday lexicon. If you love memoirs, or just want to lose yourself in someone else for a bit, pick up this book.”
It’s a week til Mother’s Day! Need a recommendation?
Says Jenn: I’ve been recommending Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine for three Mother’s Days in a row now, and I will probably never stop. Rosa is the worst mom ever, and also the sharpest and most entertaining. Wild is a natural pick — Strayed’s recounting of her relationship with her mom is beautiful and tear-jerking. And we have signed copies, for that extra wow factor. Mom & Me & Mom might seem a little obvious, but this is no fluffy feel-good piece of marketing. Angelou’s recounting of her mother’s own history, as well as their relationship, is powerful and not for the faint of heart, and absolutely perfect for celebrating strong women. And then there is Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings — what is not to love about this novel? It’s not about moms, but it’s funny and frank and moving and engrossing and your mom will love it.
e-Staff Picks: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Molly says: “In Ruth Ozeki’s new novel, a writer named Ruth finds, on a cold Canadian beach, a parcel containing a watch, some letters, and a journal. As she reads the journal, growing obsessed with the young woman who wrote it, Ozeki’s book shifts, so we read along with Ruth. The journal belongs to Nao, a Japanese girl who in turn is interested in the life of her grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Ozeki knits her two tales together with unexpected threads: quantum mechanics, Schrodinger’s Cat, Buddhist practices, cultural divides, the internet, and the reader are all pieces of the whole. A Tale for the Time Being is both lonely and comforting, and very aptly named. It’s a story that could only be written now, but it’s a bridge between times.”
Christine says: “What was it about this one that kept making me tell everyone I was reading a book that was SO, SO GOOD? Was it the intricate web of friendships and romances and petty jealousies (and not-so-petty ones) that reminded me of my own close friends? The story made me feel like I was back in the ’80s, maybe watching The Breakfast Club or something similarly important and memorable, the characters were people I knew, they were me, they were my people, and they have stuck with me now, months later. It’s just everything a good read should be — it made me smile and made me think and made me nostalgic and made me sad. I loved it.”
e-Staff Picks: A Good Man is Hard to Find & Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Emily says: “If the last time you read an O’Connor story was in high school, I highly recommend revisiting her. Her stories are dark and violent and absurd (like Russell), darkly funny and twisted (like Gonzalez), eerie and elegant (like Hall), and, quite simply, classic. She was a master.”