Short Take: Good Company

Author of The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s newest novel, Good Company, opens with main character, Flora, finding the wedding ring her husband Julian told her he’d lost years ago. Dropped into the middle, a moment in time that will affect the future and shade the past, Sweeney immediately pulled me into the narrative. I wanted to know how Julian lost the ring? If he lost it, why is it here, in the back of this old filing cabinet? What kind of relationship do Flora and Julian have? Do I like Flora, or Julian, or their daughter Ruby? What about best friend Margot and her husband, David? As the narrative goes on, and Sweeny moves between the present and the past, New York and Los Angeles, the theater world and the television studio, each character is slowly fleshed out in all their complexities. I loved how the assumptions I made in the beginning about each of them was gradually replaced by a deeper understanding of their motivations, helped by the fact that the point of view moves around to all five of the main characters. Sweeney is spot-on in her understanding of the underlying emotions at play in a variety of relationships, not only romantic ones. This would be a perfect read for anyone who likes novels about complicated families and an excellent choice for book clubs. We currently have signed copies!

— Lori

When To Stop Reading a Book

It’s abundantly obvious that I love books. I work in a bookstore. Books are one of my favorite things to talk about. Every day that I go to work I see more things I want to read, or I read about things I want to read, or am reminded of books I want to read. A day does not go by where I don’t read something, be it a novel, nonfiction, or a magazine. And I’ve been like that since I learned to read when I was small.

But.

There are too many books, in the world, on my shelves. I physically can’t read them all, and, more to the point, I don’t actually want to read them all. I don’t like everything. I’m better than I used to be about figuring this out before I actually start a book. I know, generally, the genres that don’t work for me and stay away from them. I check out which authors have quotes on the covers of a potential read, knowing if they’re ones I’ve enjoyed it’s worth a second look. If they are writers I already know I wouldn’t read, then it’s likely that this title won’t work for me either. Even the covers can give me a clue. If the design is similar to other books I’ve liked, then this one is worth a try as well. And then there’s always Cindy’s “first page test.”

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Short Takes: Dusk Night Dawn

I was a little embarrassed to realize that a new Anne Lamott book, Dusk Night Dawn, was coming out and wasn’t even on my radar. But what a treat to add to my TBR pile for March! And the subtitle, “On Revival and Courage”, felt like just what I needed, coming out of winter into the first tentative days of spring. Even the cover is lovely. Diving into Lamott’s essays one evening, I was immediately reminded of why I am so fond of her. She writes so movingly about the day to day of life, how we are all affected by the events of our country and the world, but keeps bringing her focus back to what is possible to do on the individual level. She acknowledges how helpless we can all feel, yet is able to find the small places where we do have power and agency. And in the midst of all of that, she continually lays bare her own insecurities and the ways in which she is, daily, simply an imperfect human being, trying to do her best, failing sometimes and succeeding at others. She asks for help, sometimes as a last resort. She keeps hoping, even when it seems to be foolish. Experiencing Lamott’s humanity on the page gives me permission to be honest with myself. I laugh with her, and feel like I’m not alone. Each essay is loosely connected to the next, in her trademark style. This is one of those books that would benefit from a slow reading, one section at a time. I couldn’t stop myself the first time through, but I look forward to a second reading, with more time to think over what each essay brings up for me.

We still have signed copies available. Stop by and pick one up!

— Lori

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