Sometimes a reading rut is a wonderful thing. For the past month or so, I haven’t been able to lose myself in a novel like I usually can. I’d read a few chapters and then move on. But my inability to commit has led me to read a wide variety of genres I normally might not reach for: science, memoir, audiobook. My rut turned into an opportunity to try something new. Here are the fascinating and refreshing books that filled my reading void last month.
When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, New York writer Jessie Sholl must return home to help her prepare for surgery and make her house a safe place to recover—which will be difficult, since her mother is a compulsive hoarder. This is a riveting and heartfelt memoir about coming to terms with a parent’s mental illness and attempting to salvage a broken relationship.
I picked this one up at the planetarium giftshop as I was waiting for the eclipse to begin. This collection of brief, accessible essays about the laws of our universe is a mind-expanding experience. Neil de Grasse Tyson makes complicated science understandable and fun, whether he’s talking about the Big Bang, the mystery of dark matter, or the search for life beyond Earth.
I’ve read many retellings of “The Lottery,” my favorite short story, but none ever seemed to quite capture the essense of the original—until now. Shirley Jackson’s grandson has managed to adapt the story in a way that not only preserves its tone but heightens it. Miles Hyman’s rich illustrations lend a sense of claustrophobia and stress how mundane the lottery is in a way that makes the tale even more unsettling.
On Sarah Jane’s wish list
THE LOTTERY has always been a favorite of mine, so when I heard that it was being adapted into a graphic novel by Shirley Jackson’s own grandson, I was hooked. I can’t wait to see a fresh, visual interpretation of the iconic story.
This audiobook is the perfect companion for a long drive. The engrossing story tells of the McCauslands, newly rich thanks to a lucky lottery ticket, and their neighbors the Massimos, who are extremely wealthy—perhaps from unsavory dealings. Over the years, their annual competition for the best fireworks display develops into a dangerous obsession with shocking consequences. The narrator brings life—and humor—to the characters, and it’s a thoroughly fun listen.
Read by Tim Sample
After reading Kerry’s recommendation, I couldn’t resist picking up this compelling combination of true crime and Edgar Allan Poe biography. Daniel Stashower skillfully weaves together the mystery of Mary Rogers’s murder and the tumultuous life of Poe, who eventually wrote his own take on the infamous case. It is also a fascinating and layered portrait of New York City in the mid-1800s and of the roles that journalists and the poorly organized police force played in solving crime.