Weekend recs

city-and-city

The City and the City, by China Miéville (Random House, 2010)

It’s hard to explain what is so cool about this book without giving the whole thing away. Set in a reality almost like our own, it follows a murder investigation through two city-states that somehow overlap or coincide. Citizens spend their whole lives in their own city, never seeing or interacting with the other city even though parts of the two cities are physically co-located. Some readers see a metaphor for Islamic immigration in Europe, but I think it’s much more interesting than that: an anthropological approach to metaphysics, posing questions about how we all participate in maintaining an order we want to believe is simply natural. — Dave

jane franklin cover-001

Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore (WW Norton, 2013)

It’s a Shakespeare’s Sister sort of story: What happens if you tell the tale of America’s founding not from the point of view of its representative man of letters, Benjamin Franklin, but of an ordinary woman — who happens to be his sister? Jane’s world was much, much smaller than that of her internationally famous older brother, and we know what little we do about her only because she was his sister. But Lepore takes that miniscule amount of information and recasts the American Revolution from the point of view of someone whose sex determined that smaller sphere. Franklin wrote more letters to her than anyone else, Lepore tells us early on. If she was half as spirited as this utterly compelling book makes her out to be, it’s not hard to see why she holds that pride of place. — BW

And what were your favorite reads this year?

3 responses to “Weekend recs”

  1. Dave says:

    I would love to hear what other people have enjoyed reading. I have been getting back into some fiction reading after many years of not much of it. (Although, yes, I currently have several nonfiction books I’m more or less reading as the mood strikes.)

  2. Josh K-sky says:

    No reading recs but since comments are closed on this post, allow me to mention here that I had a really nice time writing today to “Joy…Sadness…Joy” by Between from that mix.

  3. Mark says:

    I just got the book “Song of Spider-man” from the library the other day. It covers the fiasco that was the making of the Broadway play. I haven’t had a chance to crack it open yet, but I’m looking forward to it.