It's been a week, hasn't it? Let's talk about books for a little while. We could all use a break, couldn't we?
The most life-affirming, well-intentioned, heart-squeezing read of the week is Fredrik Backman's Anxious People. It's the story of a bunch of folks who go to an apartment viewing and end up in a hostage crisis. It's also the story of how people with absolutely no connections form connections, and it's also a story of hope. It's good.
Meanwhile, Jay Shetty's Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day is out this week. Shetty, whose podcast On Purpose brings transformation and joy to many folks every week, spent some time with Vedic monks, learning how to be purposeful and quiet in the mind. You know, he thought, after many months with the monks, this is a pretty rad experience and I could dig this for a long time. And no one was going to stop him from doing so, and he did.
After more time, he thought: You know, I bet some other folks would be keen to learn what I've learned. Maybe I should go out and spread the word? And since no one was going to stop him, he did. Et voila, as they say in the philosophical syllogisms course, and now the world is learning what Shetty learned.
Shetty is not the first person to ever attempt this sort of dissemination of ancient and timeless knowledge, but he's got a wonderful accessibility to his approach, which makes all the hard stuff about finding "peace, calm, and purpose" seem attainable. Give Think Like a Monk a try. What's the worst that could happen? You might have your heart opened and your mind expanded.
We call those "wins," by the way. In any year. But they're especially good wins this year.
Also, we have David Chang's Eat a Peach. Chang, who is the chef behind Momofuku and the star of Netflix's Ugly Delicious, has written a memoir about his journey through the cutthroat world of culinary creativity. It's bright. It's lively. It's got fabulous footnotes that are entirely non-essential, but very spicy reading. It's difficult not to think of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential here, of course, but Chang's journey is different enough that Eat a Peach is its very own thing. And who doesn't love a tasty lesson in creating new gastronomical delights?
Chang'll slip onto the shelf next to Bourdain (of course), Eric Ripert, and Edward Lee. We think it's a good fit.
Oh, and Danny Trejo. Look, Machete has a taco book. It probably doesn't have as many footnotes as Chang's Eat a Peach, but the knife tips are probably much more useful.
And speaking of curiosity, John Cleese has penned a short, but informative, guide to being creative. It's not all lemurs and Spam jokes, mind you. Creativity may seem like a fickle illusion, one that is always tantalizing you from the other room, but there are ways to lure it close so you can shove it into a hat box and make it—*Ahem* Anyway, Cleese, as you may know, has been doing creative stuff for a very long time now, and it's delightful to have some insight into how he's managed to do so for all these years.
Let's go check out the nail-biting reads. Ruth Ware is back this week with One by One. The set-up is familiar for anyone who has read her earlier books (or any Agatha Christie novel, for that matter), but Ware does a fine job of isolating the characters (a sexy chalet in the French Alps), setting the stakes high (the group are the founders of an up-and-coming social media company that is debating whether to sell out or make a run at an IPO), and ratcheting up the tension. One by One may be the distraction you need this weekend.
And speaking of weekend distractions, J. D. Robb is back with the fifty-first (!) Eve Dallas novel, Shadows in Death. This time around, it's personal, as an old family enemy sets his sights on Roarke, Dallas's sexy and competent and attentive husband. Now, Dallas has put in a lot of time (forty-plus books worth of time, in fact) on this dude, and she's not about to let some crummy assassin with a personal axe to grind take a shot at her sexy mancake. No, no, no. There are, of course, exotic locales, adrenaline-fueled action scenes, and lots of things blowing up. Robb knows the routine by this point (fifty-one books!), but she's still having a lot of fun.
And the latest Jesse Stone novel is out this week. Mike Lupica has graciously stepped in to fill Robert B. Parker's shoes, ensuring that we get more adventures of the laconic, ex-alcoholic small-town sheriff. In Fool's Paradise, Stone and crew deal with a mysterious dead body and a hail or two of bullets. It's never as bucolic as you might think in rural Massachusetts.
And speaking of how it never rains except when it hails, there were only a dozen or so new titles this week that are relating to the current administration, both in how it got here and where it might be going. We'll trust that you know better than us as to your level of interest in being informed about these states of affairs. We can get 'em, of course. Just let us know.
And finally, here is Nancy Pearl's latest book (co-written with playwright Jeff Schwager), The Writer's Library. In this book, Nancy and Jeff talk with a welter of American authors and find out what books influenced them. There are lots of marvelous discoveries to be found in this one, as you never know who was influenced by what, as well as lots of books you might never have heard of. Great for those who are curious about how writers become writers (and how their style and body of work may have been influenced), as well as an interesting rabbit hole for those who are always on the lookout for interesting reads.
We'll tell you some of ours. Mark says Thurber's The 13 Clocks and Wilson's The Philosopher Stone. Evelyn was keen on Julie Andrews Edwards's Mandy and Burnett's The Secret Garden.Rich couldn't decide which Harry Dresden novel to pick, and so he settled on the whole series, as well as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Nancy says Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and Art Spiegelman's Maus have given her a lot to think about over the years.
We'd be curious to hear about the books that you found formative. Send us notes! Stop by and tell us!