What We’re Reading This Week

bethany what were reading


if he hollers let him goIf He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes

This 1940s novel about a black man working in a Los Angeles shipyard during World War II is incredibly moving, powerful, and unlike anything I’ve read before. It closely follows the inner life of the protagonist, Bob Jones, through four emotionally turbulent (yet typical) days as he struggles against the limitations that his society imposes because of his color. “All I ever wanted was just a little thing—just to be a man,” but achieving dignity is impossible and as the reader I felt by turns his frustration, his anger, his pain, his fear, and his hope. The writing is completely absorbing, and I can’t wait to read his detective novels about Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones! Copies of If He Hollers Let Him Go are available through special order and via bookpeople.com


hand that feeds youThe Hand That Feeds You by AJ Rich

“In the summer months I prefer books that meet the following criteria:  they have to be fast-paced enough that they keep me awake in my pool-side chaise longue; they can’t be so deep and involved that I can’t keep up with the plot in my sun- and margarita-induced languor.  This is that book!  Morgan Prager comes home to find that her beloved dogs have mauled and killed her fiancé.  Just as the shock wears off, she discovers that he isn’t at all who he seemed—he has several fiancée’s, all of whom know him by different names, different careers, different home towns.  The more she digs into his background, the more she realizes how he has duped her and a host of other women.  This is the perfect summer read for fans of crime fiction and chick-lit alike!” You can find copies of The Hand That Feeds You on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


the president and the assassinThe President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century by Scott Miller

“I am reading The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century by Scott Miller and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the presidencies (and subsequent assassination) of William McKinley, the beginnings of the US as an industrial nation and really just a deeper look into America at the turn of the 20th century. The book is a detailed look into a time period often glossed over in history class – I’m only about halfway through and have learned more about Cuban War of Independence, the Spanish–American War, the Haymarket Massacre and the politics of industrialization than in any class. The book was written by a journalist, and along with being well researched is also a fairly straightforward read – in spite of the large amount of material Miller covers, the book doesn’t feel dense or esoteric. And at a time when, as a nation, we are still witnessing the battle between big business and workers over rights, wages and representation, and debating the depth of our involvement in international power struggles, the historical subject matter is eerily relevant to modern issues.” You can find copies of The President and the Assassin on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


curse on dostoevskyA Curse On Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi

After finishing up The Meursault Investigation, Kamel Daoud’s post-colonial rewrite of The Stranger from the perspective of the Arab murder victim’s family, I decided to continue the theme of classic literature rewritten for modern, global concerns with Atiq Rahimi’s A Curse on Dostoevsky, which sets up the murder and redemption plot of Crime and Punishment and then fractures it into an absurdist commentary on the post-Soviet invasion civil wars raging across Afghanistan in the early 90’s. From bombed out buildings, to sharia courts, to opium dens, Rahimi depicts a population paralyzed by decades of war, yet resistant still to complete sublimation to increasingly conservative ideology. Bleak, mystical, and biting – kind of my ideal read. After I finished it, I was compelled to fill the void it left in my soul by reading up on Afghanistan’s incredibly depressing recent history. I recommend this book as the human antidote to the stats-heavy and Western-centric view of Afghanistan we regularly get from the news.” You can find copies of A Curse on Dostoevsky on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


wild bill wellman Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel by William Wellman, Jr. 

“‘Wild Bill’ Wellman was a Pre-Hays Code Hollywood director that created standards by making a ruckus with such films as Wings (1927), Public Enemy (1931), and Wild Boys of the Road (1933). He was an audacious bastard and an innovative craftsman. His legacy can be seen in Herzog dragging a boat through the jungles of Peru for Fitzcarraldo (1982) and George Miller crashing cars in the African desert in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Wellman was gutsier though, his exploits were in the sky!” You can find copies of Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

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