1) Yes, Please by Amy Poehler: I am a nosy person, and nosy people love memoirs. I want to know where someone came from, whether they get along with their parents, and if and where they went to college. I like getting thousands of words in someone’s real voice, rather than in little interview soundbites, and I really like reading about how successful people became successful. This book isn’t going to set the world on fire, but I enjoyed getting to know Poehler and learning about her life.
2) Old School, by Tobias Wolff: A 1950’s prep school hosts a series of writing contests that each reward an audience with a famous author. As the boys compete, reading and judging each other’s stories, feeling alternately superior and insecure, it’s hard not to read into the story and assume that these are Wolff’s own feelings about being compared to his peers. At this stage in my writing, where I’m so self-conscious that I’m tempted to put that word in quotes, it was kind of refreshing to learn that someone this lauded and successful has the same doubts.
3-5) The Darkest Minds, Never Fade, and In the Afterlight, by Alexandra Bracken: Does this happen to anyone else? Every time a book in a trilogy comes out, I have to re-read the earlier parts before jumping into the new release. It can be annoying, like here, where I had to plow through 1,500 pages (don’t even get me started on what Harry Potter was like near the end), but I just like reorienting myself to what was happening in the story and refreshing those little details that authors work so hard on.
Ruby survives IAAN, the mysterious virus that killed off most of the children in the US, but is left with strange abilities that she cannot understand or control. After six years in a rehabilitation camp, she busts out and joins other teens on the run from the government, bounty hunters and scared civilians. Ruby and her friends hope to free the remaining campers, but they will not be welcomed back into the civilized world until a cause and cure are found. That’s why they must seek out the Slip Kid, who claims to have all of the answers.
6) The Andy Cohen Diaries, by Andy Cohen: Arthur and I have a deal: I will never go on a reality show, unless I am asked to be a Real Housewife, in which case I will say yes immediately. I bought this chronicle of a year in Cohen’s life hoping for behind-the-scenes dirt on various Bravolebrities, and it delivered. There was also a lot of name-dropping about Cohen’s famous friends, which I could care less about. Overall, it was a good reminder that while I’ve lived in and near New York for the past seven years, some of its residents are living in a whole different city.
And the best thing I read this month…
7) The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, by David Grann: This collection of long-form articles deals with the strangest of the strange. An expert in Sherlock Holmes is apparently murdered in an extraordinarily Sherlockian fashion. A missing teen returned to his family turns out to be a fully-grown French con man. A New York fireman, the only member of his company to survive 9/11, has no memory of the day and is obsessed with figuring out whether he acted in bravery or cowardice. The stories—which all appeared in The New Yorker over the past ten years or so—were so compelling that I found myself wondering how they could possibly not have been more widely reported. If you like good writing and strange, true stories, check out this collection, and Grann’s other book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.