What are you reading?

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I just started Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A., the other day, but I’m tearing through it. Babitz is a favorite writer of mine—she was seemingly everywhere and knew everyone in 1960s and 70s Los Angeles, and wrote about the various scenes she encountered there smartly and hilariously, and with no small amount of insight into the human condition. Babitz has also led a very colorful life—she’s the naked lady in this famous photo of Marcel Duchamp playing chess, and she once inspired an ex to say that “In every young man’s life there is an Eve Babitz. It is usually Eve Babitz,” which is one of my favorite lines ever, and gives you a sense of her rich and varied love life, which included such partners as Jim Morrison (about whom she wrote this classic and brilliant piece for Esquire), Steve Martin, and Harrison Ford (who was, according to this book, a popular pot dealer before he hit it big). Anyway, the book, which is by Lili Anolik, is hugely entertaining, satisfyingly gossipy, and quite readable, and I’ll be sad when it’s over. Now tell me: what’s your book of the moment?

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85 Thoughts on What are you reading?
    amber
    29 Jan 2019
    10:17pm

    A Man called Ove- Fredrick Backman. Took me a bit to get into, but once I did, wanted it never to end. Blends sadness and sweetness and the sharp edges of life so beautifully.
    The Expats- Chris Pavone. All around great suspense/espionage, which is not normally my first choice, but the action moves quick in this one and keeps you flipping pages like mad. Love it
    The Age of Innocence- Edith Wharton. I heart this book so much, it’s one of my very best friends. Been through 2 copies of it already, so…
    The Silent Wife- A.S.A. Harrison. Another book I can re read ad naseum. She writes with such a satisfying simplicity that makes me feel like I walk beside Jodi and Todd every tragic step of the way. Sadly this is the author’s only novel published. She died in 2013 while working on her second.
    I love reading and seeing book recommendations like this MAKE ME SO HAPPY! My list of must reads is deliciously long now. Such lovely hours to look forward to.

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    Karen Kay Chappell
    22 Jan 2019
    8:46pm

    Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI By David Grann and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

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    Eve France
    27 Jan 2019
    8:01pm

    I just finished reading “21 Lessons for the 21st century which is fascinating. by YUVAL NOAH HARARI.

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    Theash
    17 Jan 2019
    7:27am

    Currently reading (and loving) The Nix by Nathan Hill. Next up is Kudos by the incomparable Rachel Cusk.

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      Eloise
      17 Jan 2019
      10:26am

      Loved The Nix!

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    Sue
    17 Jan 2019
    7:50am

    Just finished Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife. Loved. Also The Friend by Sigred Nunez. Written by and featuring interesting women!!

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      c.w.
      17 Jan 2019
      8:45am

      Also just read The Friend and am so glad Sigrid Nunez it getting the kudos she deserves.

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      Kim France
      17 Jan 2019
      10:22am

      Loved The Wife.

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      Julia
      17 Jan 2019
      1:44pm

      I just finished reading one of Meg Wolitzer’s all time favorite books (that she read, not wrote) It’s called Mrs. Bridge, and I can’t reccomend it highly enough

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    judy
    17 Jan 2019
    7:55am

    Just finished “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. I couldn’t put it down. Unbelievable and true.
    From a review: You will not want to put this riveting, masterfully reported book down. No matter how bad you think the Theranos story was, you’ll learn that the reality was actually far worse.”

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      LisaC
      17 Jan 2019
      9:32am

      I read “Bad Blood” at the end of December and couldn’t put it down!

      Now I’m reading “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink. Not loving it. Am rereading Pema Chodron’s “fail fail again fail better” in parallel.

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    AuntieMame
    17 Jan 2019
    8:35am

    Funny, I’m currently reading Babitz’s Sex and Rage. I didn’t know much about the author when I picked it up, but I get the sense that this novel is highly autobiographical.

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      Kim France
      17 Jan 2019
      10:22am

      Yes, you are correct. I’ve read that all of her novels are highly autobiographical.

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    c.w.
    17 Jan 2019
    8:49am

    Read Leap of Faith by Queen Noor which I don’t recommend with the caveat that if you need a primer on the history of the Middle East from one perspective, this is a good way to get it. For fun I’m reading Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran––if you like mysteries, this one is worth your time. Also Thirteen Days in September by Lawrence Wright about the meeting between Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin back in 1978. Lawrence Wright is brilliant. Next up is Educated by Tara Westover.

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      kathyj
      17 Jan 2019
      12:23pm

      Educated is really good.

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        Sara
        17 Jan 2019
        12:39pm

        I’ll third Educated. It is a new American classic memoir, up there with The Glass Castle, The Liar’s Club, and This Boy’s Life. I am astonished anyone survived this childhood. Also just finished My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which is great in a totally different way.

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      Amy
      17 Jan 2019
      1:52pm

      Educated was excellent. Reading the Library Book now.

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    Ruth Harris
    17 Jan 2019
    8:59am

    The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters. The success of James Bond wasn’t an accident. Ian Fleming was a disciplined writer and a shrewd, savvy promoter who know how to get attention for his books. Lots of insider publishing info, too. By Fleming’s nephew.
    Also loved The Wife and ditto The Great Alone.

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    Kimberly
    17 Jan 2019
    9:05am

    I’m on the third Elena Ferrante Brilliant Friend book. (Also the HBO miniseries did a fabulous job bringing the first one to life!)

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    Jenny
    17 Jan 2019
    9:07am

    I’m currently reading Rebecca by Daphen du Maurier (so good). I’m looking forward to In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin next.

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      Carrie
      18 Jan 2019
      10:50am

      Rebecca is one of my favourite books… I just asked my husband to read it since he’s never had the pleasure yet!

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    Sara
    17 Jan 2019
    9:30am

    I just read the Magpie Murders which I thoroughly enjoyed. Last night I just started The Serpent of Essex, and so far it’s drawn me in. Love the discussion of books and getting recommendations for what to put on my reading list 🙂

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      Carrie
      18 Jan 2019
      10:51am

      Yes me too re the list!! Mine is growing by the minute

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    savory
    17 Jan 2019
    9:43am

    How to be alone: if you want to, and even if you don’t by Lane Moore. Fantastic!

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      Sasha
      17 Jan 2019
      8:03pm

      I’ll second this rec! You will laugh and cringe. Outstanding words.

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      Sara
      18 Jan 2019
      7:50am

      This is in my to-be-read pile! 🙂

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    Jamie
    17 Jan 2019
    9:46am

    I’m currently reading An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, who also teamed up for last year’s The Wife Between Us (very good, twisty thriller).

    Over the past weekend, I blazed through My Sister, The Serial Killer, which was FANTASTIC.

    And! Just have to mention the best book I read in 2018, because I can’t stop telling people about it (and I read it in January 2018)—-The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld. SUCH a gorgeously written, lovely, terrible, elegant book. It’s about a woman who finds lost/kidnapped children, but don’t let that stop you. It’s well worth reading.

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      Judy
      17 Jan 2019
      7:34pm

      I also read “the child finder” right after it came out and thought it was a great story and so lyrically written. I hope she continues with her characters.

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    Stakra
    17 Jan 2019
    9:55am

    Just finished Little Fires Everywhere and currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

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    Jacky
    17 Jan 2019
    10:00am

    The Great Alone. Great read, I look forward to finding time to read it each day.

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    Jenny (another one)
    17 Jan 2019
    10:02am

    Just finished Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny, which I think is one of her best. Reading Why does he DO That, by Lundy Barcroft about angry and abusive men, as I am in the process of divorcing one. Next up, Educated by Tara Westover for book group, and I’m really looking forward to the Claire DeWitt series that c.w. recommended.

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      Jamie
      17 Jan 2019
      10:25am

      I love Louise Penny!! I’m further back in the series, though, and am savoring every single one.

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      D
      17 Jan 2019
      3:51pm

      I love the Louise Penny series! Each time one comes out it feels like you’re visiting with quirky old friends. I agree the newest is one of the best.

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    Eloise
    17 Jan 2019
    10:25am

    I’m reading Becoming. I was hesitant but it is REALLY well (and I choose to insist not ghost) written, so much so that when she talks about Barack, I here his voice.

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    y.k.
    17 Jan 2019
    10:31am

    I just finished The Secret History by Donna Tartt which I was inspired to read after The Goldfinch. The Goldfinch was good but Secret History was incredible – I loved it, I remember everyone was raving about it in the 90s . Less by Andrew SEan Greer is next.

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      Mimi
      17 Jan 2019
      11:16am

      I’m reading Less and it’s funny and smart.

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      Jen
      17 Jan 2019
      11:25am

      I came here to recommend Less. It was my favorite book of last year.

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      Kimbersam
      18 Jan 2019
      11:13am

      The Secret History was a recommend from a friend about 10 years ago. While I was reading the book he kept telling me, “I am jealous of the fact you are getting to read this for the first time.”

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    kimbersam
    17 Jan 2019
    10:46am

    The Film Diaries of Richard E Grant

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    Liz
    17 Jan 2019
    10:47am

    Ooh, I love Eve Babitz. That book is on my list. Right now, I’m slogging through Vanity Fair. It’s good but long and I’ve already seen the adaptations so I know how it ends. I’m trying to finish so I can read what I REALLY want to read, The Boys From Brazil.

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    Jen
    17 Jan 2019
    10:50am

    A book I seriously cannot recommend highly enough: Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel, a biography/history of five women Abstract Expressionists and their mid-20th-century New York milieu: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan (whom I’d never heard of and whose work is amazing; in the period she was probably the best known of all of them, and Frank O’Hara’s BFF to boot!), Joan Mitchell (love her, though she was a maniac), and Helen Frankenthaler. Krasner and de Kooning are best known as wives of famous men (Jackson Pollock and Willem de K.) but were major artists in their own right. It’s a riveting, endlessly fascinating book. When it first arrived I was shocked to see what a huge heavy tome it was, but I ate it up and was so sorry when it ended.

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      D.Morgendorffer
      18 Jan 2019
      12:36pm

      Thank you for mentioning this. I recently read and loved Power Up, a book about female pop artists, who were often overlooked in the “official” pop art canon (wanna guess why). So, I’m now really interested in the broader topic of overlooked women in the visual arts. I will definitely seek this title out. Though, I first have to get through an Alan Bennett book, the poetry of John Clare, a book on German New Objectivity, and Two By Two by Eve Babitz. The consolation of late winter is that it’s book-rich.

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    Kelly Rose
    17 Jan 2019
    11:06am

    For the past 2 weeks, I saw quite a few references to The Power by Naomi Alderman on Instagram. I started it Monday. It does not disappoint. Highly recommend!

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    Mimi
    17 Jan 2019
    11:14am

    I’m reading and loving “The Far Field” by Madhuri Vijay, a stunning debut novel set in India. The young American author, who has an often funny and irresistible voice, obviously (thankfully?) chose not to write another novel about the immigrant experience. Her story is entirely fresh, deftly blending the personal and the political in a thoroughly engrossing story.

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    Summer
    17 Jan 2019
    11:15am

    I second the recommendation for Ninth Street Women. Best nonfiction book I read in 2018. Best fiction was The Overstory by Richard Powers.

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    Joannawnyc
    17 Jan 2019
    11:21am

    I read a lot, but I am the worst with recommendations because I never like anything and when I do, everyone else doesn’t. Read Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh and liked it (for example). Looking forward to Rachel Cusk’s Kudos which I will eventually get from the library. Just started Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Matias Enard (trans. Mansell) which is about a fictional episode in the life of Michelangelo (imagining he goes to Constantinople and executes a commission for the Sultan, an invitation which he in reality refused on the grounds he couldn’t work for a Muslim and for the Pope) and has lovely prose and very short chapters. The Eve Babitz book sounds interesting!

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      Viajera
      17 Jan 2019
      12:02pm

      Those can be the best recommendations of all, once others figure out the calibration! Keep ‘em coming.

      I am pretty ignorant about current fiction though so I am no help at all.

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    Jennifer Barger
    17 Jan 2019
    11:46am

    I just read “Marlena” by Julie Buntin. She’s a first-time novelist, and the book is a terrific, well-written exploration of teenage friendship, addiction and memory. I think it flew under the radar, but it’s a five star read.

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    Viajera
    17 Jan 2019
    12:08pm

    I have a friend who’s in two and a half book groups, which is 2.5 more than me. I rely on her recs. She says The Warmth of Other Suns was excellent – it is non-fiction about Jim Crow, and she says it will blow my mind.

    I admit I don’t put enough effort into my book reading, and tend to favor writers I already know, such as Agatha Christie. Although maybe I am still recovering from the last Cormac McCarthy I read, which was at least 10 years ago. I’m kind of a wimp. Too much reality can be such a bummer.

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      Morgan
      17 Jan 2019
      5:04pm

      I tore through The Warmth of Other Suns during a surgery recovery. It is a truly stunning piece of work. Everyone should read it.

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      Mimi
      18 Jan 2019
      2:30pm

      The Warmth of Other Suns is an excellent book. I learned a lot and it’s a good read.

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      Joannawnyc
      19 Jan 2019
      2:47pm

      Everyone should read The Warmth of Other Suns!

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    sharon
    17 Jan 2019
    12:17pm

    Have really enjoyed (to the detriment of all those tasks that needed accomplishing) N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi fantasy or not, this is a remarkable, multiple award-winning series by a woman of color, addressing issues of race, class, ecology, and relationships in a fantastically original story. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/books/review/nk-jemisin-stone-sky-broken-earth-trilogy.html

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    Candy
    17 Jan 2019
    12:18pm

    I second “Bad Blood” and another nonfiction one, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” a fascinating tale about the Osage murders and the start of the FBI. For fiction, I really enjoyed “There There,” by Tommy Orange about Native Americans in Oakland, each chapter told from the perspective of one of the characters. The writing is powerful, moving and original.

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      c.w.
      18 Jan 2019
      8:22am

      There, There is amazing. A must read.

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    EmilyTL
    17 Jan 2019
    1:07pm

    I love this post. I just purchased Hollywood’s Eve. Just finished The Great Passage about a Japanese lexicography department putting together a dictionary over 15 years. It was quietly absorbing and demonstrated the reverence for language that I appreciate. Before that, it was The Feral Detective by Jonathem Lethem, who is one of my favorite authors. I still don’t know how I feel about it, but can’t stop thinking about it. It was worth the read.

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    Francine
    17 Jan 2019
    3:58pm

    Holy smokes, you guys are impressive. I’m happy with my US Weekly and an occasional foray into Philippa Gregory.

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    Hannelore
    17 Jan 2019
    4:45pm

    Just finished The Beastie Boys Book and it was so good; I loved every single word of it. Super interesting, often funny, sometimes poignant.

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    Morgan
    17 Jan 2019
    5:02pm

    Just finished Severance, which filled the hole that Station Eleven left, sort of. Just started A Gentleman in Moscow, which is so far overwritten but starting to grow on me 50 pages in.

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      deb
      18 Jan 2019
      11:34am

      Station Eleven was my favorite book that I read last year. Now I’m eager to check out Severance. Thanks!

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      Jen
      18 Jan 2019
      12:53pm

      Thank you for introducing me to Severance – I had never heard of it and now it’s next on my list (currently reading, and enjoying, The Friend). I fucking loved Station Eleven and so this recommendation is right on!

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    Sara M
    17 Jan 2019
    6:02pm

    I am reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. It’s a deep dive into what sleep is, what it does for us, & why need as much of it as we can get. I *highly* recommend it. If you can’t bring yourself to do it, TL;dr is be in bed for a full 8 hours, don’t skimp, and don’t take sleeping pills – it prevents all the good benefits.

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    p.v.
    17 Jan 2019
    6:51pm

    Still plowing through Rebecca Solnit’s “Wanderlust” – it’s a non-fiction history of walking, but I just enjoy her style so much. Also still trying to get through some Susan Sontag essays, but that’s not really nightstand literature. For a classic but light read, I highly recommend Isaac Asimov’s short stories. They’re Sci-Fi, but very accessible and fun.

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    Gablesgables
    17 Jan 2019
    9:02pm

    Re-reading the Mary Poppins stories.

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    Lori in Toronto
    17 Jan 2019
    9:44pm

    Hons and Rebels, Jessica Mitford’s memoir. Becoming’s on its way. Off to read up on these other great suggestions!

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      Christiana
      22 Jan 2019
      6:44am

      I’m reading Andrew Roberts’ Churchill bio, and Municipal Dreams, a history of council flats. Over the holidays, I really enjoyed Jeannette Winterson’s Christmas Days and Viv Albertine’s newish memoir, To Throw Away Unopened.

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    Karin
    17 Jan 2019
    10:21pm

    Just finished Hollywood’s Eve. Not sure how I felt about it; it’s definitely not your typical biography. Also just read and LOVED Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries (which made me look forward to your book even more, Kim!)

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    anastasia Christou
    17 Jan 2019
    11:25pm

    just re-read some of Joan Didion books/essays – love her writing SO much! Currently reading light hearted book ‘nine perfect strangers’ by Liane Moriarty who also wrote ‘Big Little Lies’…its Summer in Australia so need something not too serious for beach reading!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    18 Jan 2019
    2:29am

    I’m proud of myself for reading a WHOLE DAMNED BOOK! (Depression is a bitch…that “focus” part) I just finished Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett, one of my favorite writers, and I’m starting Becoming, which my youngest daughter proudly gifted me for Christmas. Also, snippets of Being Mortal, here & there when I think about aging parents. I seriously need a dose of David Sedaris!

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      Sara
      18 Jan 2019
      7:56am

      Had to laugh on your mention of David Sedaris – I often turn to him when a book I’m reading, or the world in general, gets too heavy. : )

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      c.w.
      18 Jan 2019
      8:26am

      Calypso (Sadaris’s latest book) is well worth the read, but…fair warning there are some sections that talk about the mental health of his sister who committed suicide which are not funny (obviously), but deeply moving.

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    karen
    18 Jan 2019
    6:13am

    loved “Less”, one of the best books i read last year…also “The Weight of Ink”, long, requires you pay attention, but worth it. learned a lot, made me think about what i knew and what i thought i knew about my religion, tradition and womens roles in the past and present…and what i’m reading right now, because sometimes I just need to be guarenteed a happy ending and because i need something that doesn’t tax my brain to much…The Winter Street Series by Elin Hilderbrand

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    Karen
    18 Jan 2019
    8:52am

    “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood & the World” by Tom Wright, which is about a $5 billion swindle pulled off by a Malaysian social climber & celebrity-worshiper in his 20s, aided & abetted by Goldman Sachs. So compulsively readable it falls into that category of “non-fiction that reads like fiction.” Just started “Late in the Day” by Tessa Hadley, about two middle-aged couples who are long-time friends, and how the death of one of the husbands impacts all of them. I’m liking it so far. Finally, “Inheritance,” by Dani Shapiro, about the author’s discovery, via one those genealogy “just for fun” DNA tests, that her father was not, in fact, her father. (Not a spoiler; you learn this on the book jacket.)

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    Laurie
    18 Jan 2019
    9:13am

    I’d like to recommend The Great Believer by Rebecca Makkai — I think you’d all love it. A big immersive novel about a group of friends living through the beginning of the AIDS crisis in Chicago in the 80s, plus the present-day life of a woman (whose brother died of AIDS) who’s in Paris looking for her estranged daughter. It’s about family and friendship and art and work and all kinds of things.

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      Stephanie
      2 Feb 2019
      8:19am

      I just finished The Great Believers and loved it!

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      Rachel
      18 Jan 2019
      7:31pm

      Loved this book.

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      Elizaberh
      21 Jan 2019
      11:33am

      SUCH a good book! I recommend it to everyone.

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    Kirstjen
    18 Jan 2019
    10:34am

    I’m currently reading Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy. I’ve also been working on Infinite Jest for about 2 years. And I’m “reading” a book called Styled, which is really just me enjoying photos of beautiful interiors.

    I love this post. I’ve downloaded a few new samples from reading others’ answers…

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    Carrie
    18 Jan 2019
    11:19am

    I’m reading Winterhouse by Ben Guterson which is a kids book but I had read an awesome adult review and thought it sounded interesting and unique. A cozy mystery that I’m enjoying immensely. I just finished Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado which was hugely entertaining. A young American woman travelling and living the good life in France during the 1950’s… this book is full of hilarious sarcasm and the central character is a fascinating young feminist. Both of these are light reads for sure.

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      Carrie
      18 Jan 2019
      11:27am

      Forgot to mention this one that I gifted to myself for Christmas. It’s a beautiful book that I’m slowly making my way through: Art of Feminism: Images that Shaped the Fight for Equality, 1857-2017. I’m planning to gift several more copies!

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      Katy
      20 Jan 2019
      12:26am

      I read The Dud Avocado when I was 15 and adored it. Ever since I read it I have wanted to dye my hair pink, but as I am a brunette I thought I would wait until I was old and gray so I wouldn’t have to bleach first. I guess its good to have at least one reason to look forward to getting old.

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    Jen
    18 Jan 2019
    12:38pm

    How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. Super interesting and different.

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    Tanya
    18 Jan 2019
    4:27pm

    I just finished The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. I loved it which was a great surprise since I haven’t enjoyed his last 3 books. I’m so glad I clicked on the comments, so many books to check out!

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    Fanta
    18 Jan 2019
    4:53pm

    Rising Out of Hatred about a reformed white nationalist. Very hopeful look at how a mind can change for the better!

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    angie
    18 Jan 2019
    10:58pm

    will def read this but I just read An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon and it was amazing.

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About

Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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