Strange (and creepy) events captured on VHS, a hacker's advice on how to be safe from people like himself, and re-creating the Big Bang in a laboratory are among the books our editors are reading this weekend.
I’ll be taking three February titles home this weekend, and if I know me, I expect to get to one. First is John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester, the Mountain Goats singer’s follow-up to his National Book Award-nominated Wolf in White Van. This comes first because the novel seems to have elements of David Cronenberg’s mediaphobic masterpiece, Videodrome (unconfirmed), and the advance reading copy arrived in an old-timey VHS clamshell case. (Also, Mr. Darnielle is a hell of a nice guy.) Second is George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo. So far I have learned two things about it: it’s Saunders’ first novel, and bardo is the state between life and death in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The third is Six Four, a bestseller in Japan that promises THE NIGHTMARE NO PARENT COULD ENDURE. THE CASE NO DETECTIVE COULD SOLVE. THE TWIST NO READER COULD PREDICT.
It’s supposed to be a cold weekend so I’m taking home a stack of February titles including these three, which have absolutely nothing in common. Caraval by Stephanie Garber: a debut YA novel about two sisters caught up in a legendary event that is dangerous, magical, and totally unpredictable. My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry: a psychological thriller about secrets and murder. The first two pages have me ready to hide under my desk and read more… The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick: the author of Ghost in the Wires and arguably the world’s most famous hacker will likely be freaking me out in his new book with all the ways we are being tracked, monitored and generally spied on. And then he’ll explain what can be done about it.
So many books; so little time! Top of my TBR pile is Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty, a SF novel about a clone waking up on a spaceship and realizing that there's a killer on the loose. This storyline has all the trademarks of the type of exciting space drama that I love. On the science but not fiction front, I'm going to crack open A Big Bang in a Little Room, in which scientists are striving toward re-creating the Big Bang in a laboratory setting. Sounds like a terrible idea to me, but I want to read more before making my definitive judgment. And then if I have time, I'd love to read Michael Lewis' The Undoing Project, which I've been casting soulful gazes at since the book came out last month.
Sarah Harrison Smith:
Caught in the Revolution has been calling to me while I read other books the way chocolates call to you when you’re trying to avoid sugar (thanks, Gary Taubes, for escalating that dieter’s conflict into an outright war between good and evil). Helen Rappaport plunders the diaries, letters and articles written by British and American expatriates in the Russian Empire’s capital, Petrograd, at the start of the Revolution to create a portrait of life in the city in a time of increasing privation and turmoil. Many of these Angophone writers, diplomats and journalists among them, had enjoyed the luxury and dissipations of life under the czar – and then found themselves (or at any rate their servants) waiting in bread lines for basic foodstuffs. I enjoyed Simon Sebag Montefiore’s book on the Romanovs last year, but like chocolate, I seem to always want more of pre-Soviet Russia, and Rappaport presents a perspective that’s appealingly new to me.