What We're Reading

Take a Breather From the News and Pick Up a Book

Here's what our editors have been reading.

By The Editors June 5, 2020

Image: Shutterstock

Sometimes you just need an escape—and there's nothing better than a good book to satisfy that craving. Here's what our editors are reading right now; if you want more suggestions, be sure to take a look at our list of books set in Sarasota. There's something for everyone.

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler and The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

With no live performances to attend, and plenty of time in the evenings and on weekends, I’ve been gobbling up both library books (thank heaven for curbside service!) and television programming. As far as the former, I whipped through Anne Tyler’s latest, Redhead by the Side of the Road, in record time, loving her mix of humor and heart, as usual. A much longer read, but worth it, is Hilary Mantel’s conclusion to her trilogy about King Henry VIII’s main man, Thomas Cromwell, The Mirror and the Light. Packed with historic detail, and yet amazingly relevant to today’s world in several ways. —Kay Kipling

Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett

Beckett may be most famous for Waiting for Godot, but, in addition to his plays, he wrote several novels and stories. I'm currently making my way through a volume that combines three short novels he wrote right after the end of World War II: Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable. In them, Beckett abandons many of the conventions of traditional storytelling. The plots are trivial, the settings are nondescript and the characters are difficult to keep straight. But the way Beckett conveys how a mind operates is astounding. In Molloy, he describes the sensation of sucking on small stones gleaned from a beach for five pages and you never once grow bored. —Cooper Levey-Baker

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich. It’s a fictional work based on an ugly true moment in the 1950s, when Erdrich’s grandfather rallied his fellow members of the Chippewa tribe to successfully fight against a U.S. senator’s push to move Native Americans off their reservations and reclaim their lands. (It was called the Terminate Bill, but the protagonist in Erdrich’s book says you might as well put as "ex-" in front of it.) In novel after novel, Erdrich, a National Book Award winner, opens a whole world to me with her vividly and sensitively written characters. —Ilene Denton

The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia by Paul Theroux

Lately I’ve been looking through my crowded bookshelves at all the books I’ve meant to read and never managed to open. I finally picked up the 45-year-old classic travel memoir, The Great Railway Bazaar, by Paul Theroux. Filled with wonderful descriptions of place, wry observations of human behavior and weird, uncomfortable moments, the book is a great, entertaining read. You’ll feel culture shock, less because of the people he met and places he traveled, than because of the era of hyper-sanitation and fear of strangers that we seem to have these days. —Susan Burns

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

I read Samantha Irby's last book, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, through half-shut eyes because I was laughing so hard. So as soon as Wow, No Thank You was released, I made sure to get my hands on a copy. This book is exactly what we all need right now: a spit-out-your-drink-funny, needle-sharp look at social norms, career success and life when you're supposed to be a grown-up but don't feel like one. Highly recommend this and all of Irby's work. —Megan McDonald

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