Marie Kondo isn’t done helping you tidy up your life. She has trained minions to help you tidy your homes when she’s unavailable. She has created products to help you organize your belongings. She has now turned her attention toward developing your kids’ organizational skills.
What do a thriller about a perfect family, a high school rom-com critiquing sexism, and a criminally delicious cookbook have in common? Hopefully, one major thing: they’re all headed straight for your bookshelf. Summer is a time of excitement, adventure, and discovery—whether or not you have the luxury of a three-month break or a long weekend at the beach! Missing out on a good book would be criminal… though not more criminal than some of our protagonists! We’ve got a creepy thriller starring one controlling mother’s descent into mental instability, an LGBT+ romance filled with alternate identities and elaborate pranks, and a killer cookbook based on the recipes of one of cinema’s most famous crime families. These enormous stakes come with just as enormous rewards—the delicious payoff of reading this week’s selection.
Check out Bookstr’s Three to Read, the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week!
OUR HOT PICK
From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.
The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.
Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.
It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?
The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…
Kaira Rouda, acclaimed author of Best Day Ever, has delivered again: Kirkus Reviews calls her protagonist “impossible to love but equally impossible to look away from,” a car crash of a human being whose keen insight into human behavior is punctuated by dark humor. A PopSugar Best Book of Spring and one of Oprah’s Buzziest Books for May, The Favorite Daughteris a truly outstanding psychological thriller, subverting the notion of a perfect family with complex character development. Everyone loves a protagonist whose character arc, if drawn out, looks so much like the slippery slope they ultimately find themselves at the bottom of. Rouda’s mastery of prose will entice readers to sympathize with Jane and her increasing distance from her family—before horrifying us with a selfishness and sick desire for control we’ll be startled (and delighted!) to have initially missed. Publisher’s Weekly‘s starred review says that “suspense fans will be amply rewarded,” that is, rewarded AND chilled to the bone. If it feels impossible to look away from this book once you’ve finished, check out Bookstr’s exclusive live interview with Kaira Rouda herself!
OUR Coffee Shop Read
A fiercely funny, queer romantic comedy about two girls who can’t stand each other, but join forces in a grand feminist plan to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school.
Harriet Price is the perfect student: smart, dutiful, over-achieving. Will Everhart is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?
Award-winning author Erin Gough’s Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a funny, smart, and all-too-timely story of girls fighting back against power and privilege–and finding love while they’re at it.
When we imagine a high school romance, we envision that all-encompassing bubble of first love, impervious to the sharp edges of the world outside that one other person. But sometimes, those edges are pretty sharp. Gough juxtaposes a confrontational depiction of sexism with a fun opposites-attract romance for some light reading that packs a heavy punch. Kirkus Reviews lauds the novel’s “skewering of sexism and institutional hypocrisy,” and the novel touches on issues of race, class, and ethics in a manner far more nuanced than most high-school romance novels… because most of these books never address such topics. Shortlisted for nearly a dozen respected Australian book awards, Amelia Westlake Was Never HereIS now here in the United States—and, yes, it’s unapologetically queer. With Pride Month coming up, a hilariously witty LGBT+ high school romance with thoughtful societal commentary is a read that’s just as fun as it is socially relevant. (That’s both extremely fun and extremely relevant.)
OUR DARK HORSE
Become part of the family and make recipes no one can refuse with the official Godfather cookbook!
The Godfather trilogy is widely recognized as one of the greatest movie series of all time. Now, you’ll finally be able to make your very own family–inspired meals with recipes for Mama Corleone’s famous pastas, sauces, meatballs, breads, and desserts. Immerse yourself in the classic story of the Italian immigrant family determined to keep their long-held traditions intact in the new world. Featuring 75 authentic Italian recipes for infamous dishes such as “the best in the city” veal Marsala, Clemenza’s Sunday sauce, and of course, “Leave the gun” cannoli.
Elevating the strong themes of loyalty, family, and tradition, The Godfather: Mama Corleone’s Family Cookbook sheds new light on the legendary trilogy. Including images and quotes from the films, this in-world cookbook is an absolute must-have for all fans of The Godfather – especially those with a taste for the finer foods in life.
Want to be a killer chef? Honor one of the greatest film trilogies of all time with The Godfather: The Corleone Family Cookbook. And the recipes are as excellent as the cinematic marvels—though cookbooks aren’t generally Bookstr’s territory, this one is delicious enough for us to make an exception. The criminally well-curated cookbook includes quotes from the Corleone family and copious references to the film (“this pasta shape is… hearty and thick, thick enough to strange a priest apparently”). Even if you somehow aren’t a fan of this iconic trilogy—which is a crime in and of itself—the recipes describe the historical context of the meal and offer humorous tips outside of your typical step-by-step cookbooks. Are these phenomenal Italian recipes to die for, perhaps? Well, you should be dying to get your hands on this book. And if you cook any of these meals, it’s a guarantee you’ll be dying to eat them.
Deadline reports that Oscar-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody, Darkest Hour, The Theory of Everything) will write an adaptation based on the acclaimed Three Identical Strangers documentary that debuted last year.
Three Identical Strangers tells the true story of Robert Shafran, David Kellman, and Eddy Galland, three complete strangers who discover that they are identical triplets that were separated at birth. The film documents how the three nineteen-year-olds’ reunion catapulted them to international fame, but also led to a chain of extraordinary, yet disturbing, events that followed.
Image via wviff
The documentary premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Prize for Documentary Storytelling, the DGA Award for Documentary, and prizes from Critics Choice and National Board of Review. It was also nominated for a BAFTA, but didn’t quite nail a Best Documentary Academy Award nomination.
McCarten will adapt the documentary into a feature-length narrative film, after his next project, The Pope, which stars Anthony Hopkins, releases later this year.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
― Albert Einstein
It’s a popular assumption (or at least should be) that while most of the population retreats to the comfort of literate depreciation, devouring B-Macs and B-movies, intellectuals feast upon gold. The written word, written well, is the gilded currency of the realm. Knowledge is power and books are brain food. To quote a little-known dwarf from fictitious history:
“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That is why I read so much.”
The most illustrious entrepreneurs and CEOs devour puissant semantics and syntax—communing with minds, not unlike their own. Tech titans such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Melinda, and Bill-fricking-Gates have openly expressed interest in books sprung from the minds of creatives like David Foster Wallace, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo Da Vinci. The best way to avoid the mistakes of the past is to examine it and the minds engrossed within it—their souls on the paper.
The wealthiest, most ambitious, and most successful (regardless of your definition) people in the world tend to read more than the average bear. Being a voracious reader, the aforementioned Microsoft magnate has admitted to a weekly reading goal of ONE—one solid behemoth of a book per week. One can imagine the tech titan settling into his reading corner the way a blacksmith goes to work, the weight of uncertainty hammering wrought pieces into something malleable. As one would imagine, his ambitious reading list is no vacation.
This past Monday, Mr. Gates announced a list of five books he wishes to read with us this summer, which he often does via his blog, Gate Notes. These are not leisure reads. All of the books seem to concern the theme of sudden change—in a world carrying the weight of uncertainty, perhaps he wishes to embrace the productivity of malleable and uncertain public opinion.
“I’ve recently found myself drawn to books about upheaval… whether it’s the Soviet Union right after the Bolshevik revolution, the United States during times of war, or a global reevaluation of our economic system.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Jared Diamond’s book analyzes problem-solving tactics to solve major national crises—similarly to the way one would deal with losing a loved one or other such personal crises. The book has been bashed by The New York Times but not by Mr. Gates. On his blog, he calls it:
A discipline-bending book that uses key principles of crisis therapy to understand what happens to nations in crisis. [Jared Diamond] reminds us that some countries have creatively solved their biggest problems. Jared doesn’t go so far as to predict that we’ll successfully address our most serious challenges, but he shows that there’s a path through crisis and that we can choose to take it.
Gates has invested money in diagnostic blood tests designed to detect diseases like Alzheimers and cancer; he has previously recommended books like Bad-Blood about the Silicon Valley diagnostics company Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. He’s clearly fascinated by blood. That being said, Rose George’s book looks at the relationship business and health. The title refers to the amount of blood in the human body and Gates aim to emphasize the importance of that fact. The ways in which blood in the body affects the lives of women in particular. Gates mentions:
George writes about girls in poor countries having sex with older men simply so they can afford pads and tampons. “It’s called ‘sex for pads,’ and though it is hidden, it is common,” she writes, citing a report from a field officer in one African slum that 50 percent of the girls she encountered there had turned to prostitution to afford sanitary pads.
But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that the book is all doom and gloom. Many aspects of the book were uplifting, especially the parts that reminded me of the life-saving innovations that emerge from a better understanding of blood and its component parts. Blood tests have already made it easier and faster to diagnose diseases and predict when a pregnant woman will deliver her baby.
Oxford economist Collier argues that three major battles divide contemporary society: cities vs. towns, educated vs. uneducated (at the college level), and wealthy countries vs. fragile states. Basically ruthless capitalism that focuses on profit=bad. Gates, being a billionaire philanthropist, obviously has an opinion on the matter:
I found myself agreeing with a lot of what Collier has to say. I was especially struck by the central idea of his book, that we need to strengthen the reciprocal obligations we have to each other. This won’t directly address the divides, but it will create the atmosphere where we can talk more about pragmatic solutions to them. “As we recognize new obligations to others,” Collier writes, “we build societies better able to flourish; as we neglect them we do the opposite…. To achieve the promise [of prosperity], our sense of mutual regard has to be rebuilt.
Bill Gates never served in the military, like most civilians, he wonders how he would fair in combat…
If I had been just a year or two older, I might have been called to serve in the Vietnam War. I think that’s one reason why I’m so interested in books and movies about the war. I always come back to the same question: If I had fought in the war, would I have shown courage under fire? Like many people who have not served, I have my doubts.
This book takes a look at how American presidents have dealt with war from the turn of the 19th century up until the 1970s (eight conflicts in total). Gates acknowledges the importance of understanding conflict from a historical point of view:
It is hard to read about today’s conflicts without thinking about how they might connect to the past and what impact they might have on the future. Presidents of War is worth reading, whether you are one of the nation’s leaders or just an armchair historian.
Gates’ reflection reminded me of Treasury of the Free World(a book that offers a glimpse into the minds of leading figures during the 1940s), where Ernest Hemingway writes:
We have come out of the time when obedience, the acceptance of discipline, intelligent courage and resolution were most important, into that more difficult time when it is a man’s duty to understand his world rather than simply fight for it.
The novel’s synopsis is as follows (via Goodreads):
A transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel. In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Gates claims, “at one point, I got teary-eyed because one of the characters gets hurt and must go to the hospital. Melinda was a couple of chapters behind me. When she saw me crying, she became worried that a character she loved was going to die. I didn’t want to spoil anything for her, so I just had to wait until she caught up to me.”
“It gives you a sense of how political turmoil affects everyone, not just those directly involved with it.”
Closing musing: I find the number of times Bill Gates mentions his wife, Melinda in every blog post awfully endearing—I see a disjointed, yet beautiful metaphor for how, with the right amount of awareness, compassion, and patience, we can walk hand and hand into an uncertain future…
No? Ignore this bit if I completely missed the mark…
With the unstoppable contender of online retailers, bookstore chains have been struggling to stay afloat. Inspiration from writer Margaret Atwood has given an executive an idea that might make a difference.
Atwood proudly holding a copy of her novel, The Handmaiden’s Tale | Image via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Heather Reisman, the chief executive of Canada’s largest bookstore chain, Indigo, had reportedly met with The Handmaiden’s Tale‘s novelist, Margaret Atwood for some tea back in 2015. After a long conversation Atwood gave her farewell to Reisman, telling her she planned on relaxing with a good book and some comfy socks.
Heather Reisman | Image via Toronto Star
This was where Heather Reisman came up with her idea for a new product, which in 2016 grew into Indigo, a cultural department store for book lovers.
It all started with plush “reading socks“, one of Indigo’s signature gift items.
Indigo currently has a assortment of these comfy socks, in different color and styles. Perfect for any book reading occasion.
According to the New York Times article, Indigo created a whole line of products for their bookstore in addition to their reading socks. Ironically enough, not many of them have a great deal to do with book reading, but they do help to create a comfortable and happy life for readers.
Go on Indigo’s website and you can find products such as fitbits, dinnerware, waterbottles, handcreams, etc. Every book lover ought to take care of their bodies and their homes, no? Of course they sell a whole collection of books and book-related products too.
Currently, Indigo operates 85 superstores and 120 small-format stores. “The concept aims to create an experience for customers beyond the book”, Reisman says in a New Jersey article.
Indigo’s Storefront in Canada | Image via The Hustle
This past Holiday season in the US, Indigo opened it’s first American store in Short Hills, New Jersey.
Canadians were responding so well to this evolution of a bookstore into what we call a book lovers’ ‘cultural department store…We felt given the response Canadians were having to it, that we would have the opportunity” to expand into the Northeast.
So far the store seems to be the talk of the town and doing exceptionally well.
With beloved bookstore chains like Borders and Barnes & Nobles slowly falling to online competition, it’s a relief to see a chain that is on the rise with such a novel idea.
Featured Images British Council Literature, The Fitty