Category: Biography & Autobiography

Bookstr’s Three to Read This Week 5/15/19

Not sure what to read this week? We have a suggestion: something unlike anything you’ve read before. You may be grappling with finals or watching in agony as students prepare to do what you wish you could (not have to wake up early every damn day), but one thing’s for sure—you need a book as hot as the impending summer.

Our picks for this week are as unique as you are: a look into the unapologetically political and astoundingly insightful The Handmaid’s Tale, an ambition sci-fi read that peers five years into a more recognizable future, and a groundbreaking work of lesbian fantasy. (My fantasy? More lesbian rep on the best-seller list.) Grab a copy of these books and take a look… when you glance up disoriented several hours later, you’ll thank me.




'The Art and Making of the Handmaid's Tale'



Explore the world of Gilead with this behind-the-scenes look at the award–winning show The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Handmaid’s Tale—the groundbreaking show produced by MGM Television and based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel—has drawn rave reviews and attention worldwide. Now, this comprehensive book details the process of bringing the story to the small screen with forty-five exclusive cast and crew interviews, backstage and set photography, concept art, costume design, and more.

Delve deep into the dystopia of Gilead as interviews with the show’s cast and creators provide insight into the inspiration behind the characters, settings, and themes, as well as its parallels to the real-world political climate. Showcasing striking visuals and insightful commentary, The Art and Making of The Handmaid’s Tale is the definitive exploration of one of television’s most critically acclaimed shows.



The popular TV series The Handmaid’s Tale will return for its third season on June 5, and the timing couldn’t be more poignant. This season includes pivotal scenes shot in Washington, D.C., further emphasizing the inherently political nature of the show and its source material. Currently, The Handmaid’s Tale is trending on Twitter—of course, there’s a historical precedent. The story trended directly after Donald Trump’s inaguration, coinciding with the historic Women’s March. Currently, the story is likely trending in part because of recent decisions in Alabama and Georgia on the subject of reproductive rights. The former state’s law is particularly stringent for reasons we won’t mention here, as they may be deeply upsetting. (Imagine how upsetting they are when they result in unwanted pregnancy.) The Art and Making of the Handmaid’s Tale captures the essence of these troubling times, featuring rich and thoughtful bonus content such as interviews with Margaret Atwood herself. Other exclusive interviews feature Elisabeth Moss (the actress who portrays Offred) and Warren Littlefield (executive producer)!




'Last Tango in Cyberspace' by Steven Kotler



Hard to say when the human species fractured exactly. Harder to say when this new talent arrived. But Lion Zorn is the first of his kind–an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the we. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen.

It’s a useful skill for a certain kind of company.

Arctic Pharmaceuticals is that kind of company. But when a routine em-tracking job leads to the discovery of a gruesome murder, Lion finds himself neck-deep in a world of eco-assassins, soul hackers and consciousness terrorists. But what the man really needs is a nap.

A unique blend of cutting-edge technology and traditional cyberpunk, Last Tango in Cyberspace explores hot topics like psychology, neuroscience, technology, as well as ecological and animal rights issues. The world created in Last Tango is based very closely on our world about five years from now, and all technology in the book either exists in labs or is rumored to exist. With its electrifying sentences, subtle humor, and an intriguing main character, readers are sure to find something that resonates with them in this groundbreaking cyberpunk science fiction thriller.



New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler is as ambitious and impressive as his latest novel: a multiple-time Pultizer Prize nominee whose work has been translated into over forty languages, Kotler offers journalistic insight into a surprising range of timely topics. Since Last Tango in Cyberspace peers only five years into the future, it’s a striking and uncanny exploration of the world we might inhabit, playing on real fears and questions that we have as people living in 2019. The novel discusses ecological and animal rights issues alongside more traditional sci-fi topics, the more familiar neuroscience and technology. Sci-fi fans will appreciate Kotler’s expert balance of references to the genre at large and unique new additions to the genre. Lion Zorn is a charismatic and nuanced protagonist, and readers are sure to appreciate him just as much as the novel’s conceptual striving.



OUR dark horse


'Ash' by Malinda Lo




In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.



Malinda Lo‘s Ash is our Dark Horse this week for no lack of accolades: the groundbreaking LGBT+ YA was a Lambda Award finalist and a Kirkus Best Young Adult Novel. Published in 2009, the ten-year-anniversary edition of this dark, lesbian Cinderella story is actually a re-release, printed due to the novel’s success and cultural significance as an earlier LGBT+ work. The special anniversary release is jam-packed with special features, including a foreward by iconic YA fantasy author Holly Black, a letter from Malinda Lo, exclusive Q&A, and more! If you missed out on this story a decade ago (possibly because you were a small child then), now’s your chance to get in on the (literal!) magic. Even in YA fiction, which has grown increasingly open to LGBT+ characters and stories, lesbians and queer women remain underrepresented. Not in this book! Despite its basis in fairy tale, the novel received an outpouring of praise from sources like Publishers Weekly and The New York Times, praising its originality and deliberate, beautiful language.




All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Made With PhotoCollage.

Susan Sontag in a library

New Biography Claims Sontag Is True Author of Her Husband’s Book

A new biography on Susan SontagSontag: Her Life and Work, makes the claim that Sontag was the true author of Freud: The Mind of the Moralist, previously credited to her husband Philip Rieff.

Benjamin Moser, author of Sontag’s biography, compiled his research, spoke with old friends, and came to the conclusion that Sontag did not only co-author the work but wrote the whole thing. Yes, Reiff did the research. There is evidence that Sontag’s first husband, Philip Rieff, did the heavy lifting- researching and chronicling Freud’s life, but not the writing.

The original 1959 version of the book credits Sontag with co-authoring, but after their divorce in 1961, subsequent editions of the book no longer credited her work. Her name had completely disappeared from any acknowledgements in the book until forty years later, when Rieff specifically mentioned his wife’s help with the book and issued an apology.


Benjamin Moser

image via flickr

Sontag married Rieff at the age of seventeen, just ten days after meeting him at a lecture. After their divorce, her career took off in 1966. According to Moser, there are diary entires and letters that chronicle Sontag’s involvement on the book, from research to the time she invested in the project. Even friends of the couple have commented that she spent hours writing and rewriting from scratch.

Moser is also the author of biography of Clarice Lispector, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, published in 2009.

Featured Image Via The Paris Review

anna delvey

Rachel Williams’ Memoir Outs Fake Heiress & Con Artist Anna Delvey

Forbes reports that former Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel Williams will be releasing My Friend Anna: The True Story of the Fake Heiress Who Conned Me and Half of New York City, a memoir that expands upon on her viral essay about the time she spent with con artist Anna Sorokin.

The memoir will detail her friendship with the infamous Anna Delvey, Sorokin’s con artist persona who pretended to be a German heiress living off a trust fund, staying at luxury hotels, and defrauding New York’s wealthiest. (Well, that last part she didn’t pretend to do. She DID defraud New York’s wealthiest, and she maintained the charade for longer than anyone could have imagined.)


my friend annaImage via Forbes


Williams once joined Sorokin on a trip to Marrakech, which she assumed the ostentatiously wealthy Sorokin would pay for. ‘Delvey’ was known for generosity with her funds, frequently tipping hotel staff $100 bills for tasks as simple as delivering a package. Of course, this was a part of the charade: grand gestures intended to convince other that money was unimportant to her. Williams, convinced of Sorokin’s wealth, ended up paying the $7,000-a-night hotel fee with her own credit card. She was cheated out of $62,000, and her ex-friend never paid her back as promised.

However, karma prevailed. Sorokin was convicted last week of second-degree larceny, as well as theft of services and first-degree attempted grand larceny.

Williams revealed her motivations for writing the book:




The book is being described as Sex and the City meets Catch Me if You Can, and it’s already on its way to the screen. Girls creator and star Lena Dunham is adapting Williams’ memoir for HBO, and Jennifer Lawrence and Margot Robbie have both expressed interest in the lead role. Shonda Rhimes is writing a series about Sorokin for Netflix as well.


Rachel Williams
Image via Forbes


V.P. Editorial Director of Gallery Books (My Friend Anna publisher), Aimee Bell, also praised the memoir as the foremost record of the fake heiress scandal:


My Friend Anna is the definitive account of the Anna Delvey story, with never-before-revealed behind-the-scenes details—from the beginning of the author’s friendship with Anna in downtown New York, to their ill-fated trip to Marrakech, to the Manhattan courtroom where the con woman was convicted.


My Friend Anna will arrive in July of this year.



Featured Image via Rolling Stone