“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P.J. O’Rourke
As word-lovers and wordsmiths, we love curling up with a good read, whether that means an audiobook, an eBook, or an actual paper book (imagine that). We love to read, and as writers people often ask us for recommendations. We’re beating you to the punch—here’s what’s on our nightstands, screens, and minds right now.
What is Janelle reading?
I’ve never been one for thrillers, but reading In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware opened my eyes to a fun new genre. I loved the spare writing style, and the “can’t put it down” pacing. The excitement takes place at a hen weekend (you can always learn new words) in the British countryside. The psychological twists and snarky dialogue definitely sucked me in. As a first novel, it’s not without its failings — the build up was definitely better than the wrap up— but I found it solidly entertaining. Think beach read or when you just want an escape. And, hey, that’s important reading, too.
What is Mouncey reading?
Paul Johnson blows my mind. I’m just finishing his A History of the American People right now. This is my third book by Johnson, the first two being A History of the Jews and A History of Christianity, which were both fantastic, if occasionally depressing. They are all very long, but that’s okay when he’s strafing you with powerful insights every page or two. He covers the development of ideas and peoples with equal flair and pith. He’s simply one of the best expositional stylists I’ve ever come across, certainly in league with more contemporary titans like Malcolm Gladwell (Johnson’s heyday was the 1970s and 80s). Be warned, Johnson is a political conservative (although he was a leftist as a young man), and his political leanings become increasingly prominent as he follows the U.S. into 20th century (he’s no fan of FDR or Kennedy, and defends Nixon). Still, I learn a lot from all his books. This is general interest history that provides a richer context for the world around me.
What is Kat reading?
My favorite thing in the world is to finish a book and feel changed by it. Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale is one of those stories. The story begins, “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” Set in German-occupied France during WWII, it’s the story of two sisters who follow very different paths in their struggle for survival. The Nightingale unfolds with mounting tension, thrill, and heartbreak. It’s a beautifully crafted page-turner, soaked in rich emotional insight. It’s one of the few books my dad and I both love—it’s about women, but it’s not just for women. It lays bare the choices people must make in war, and the price they pay. If you’re looking for something to crack your soul a little, pick up this book.