Hey hey, reader friends! We’re back from the holiday break, and I am rested, recharged, and all read-up. I’m excited to share the latest highlight reel with you and hear about what you’ve reading (hit up the comments, yo). I also have some news! After this week, Inbox/Outbox will be in the capable hands of Book Riot’s managing editor Amanda Nelson. I’ll still be here at the Riot, just working on some new projects, and I’m sure I’ll be back for the occasional guest spot in this column. Let’s go out with a bang, shall we?
Inbox (Books Acquired)
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (Random House, August 23)– The pitch for this debut novel had me at “the intersection of Americanah and the fiction of Amy Tan.” Then it kept me on the hook by being a story about two very different marriages chasing the American dream. The buzz has already been building for a while, and the book isn’t out until August. I’ve got way up high in the sky hopes.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi-At the age of 36, just as he was preparing to finish his training as a neurosurgeon, Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. In this memoir, shepherded to publication by his wife after his death in 2015, he explores mortality and what gives our lives meaning through the lenses of his experience as both physician and patient. This is going to be a difficult read, and ugly crying is a given, but I’ve heard too many good things about it to pass it by.
Outbox (Books Finished)
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa-This novel takes place on one day in 1999 during the WTO protests in Seattle. One main character is a young man back in town three years after he ran away from home to wander the globe. Another is the chief of police, accompanied by two of the cops who report to him. There are activists who organized the protest, and there’s a diplomat whose day of meetings they successfully disrupt. Like magic, Yapa uses this handful of perspectives to create snapshots that allow the reader to imagine who else was there that day and what they were doing, thinking, and feeling. This is a remarkable debut with heart and something to say, and I can’t imagine a better book to have kicked off my year in reading.
Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy-Social psychologist Cuddy, well-known for her TED talk about how body language shapes behavior, pulls together extensive research about what makes us feel present and powerful and what makes others perceive us as such. This blend of self-help and business book is right in my wheelhouse, and I found a lot of interesting overlap with experiences from practicing yoga and meditation. Fans of Brené Brown should take special note of this one!
In the Queue (What I’m Reading Next)
Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian-When Orhan’s grandfather dies and leaves the family home to a woman no one in the family knows anything about, Orhan finds himself traveling thousands of miles to meet her and unearth family secrets. I’m about halfway through this novel, which alternates between Orhan’s life in the 1990s and his grandfather’s early life in 1915, and I couldn’t be loving it more.
Okay, pals. What have you been into lately?