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What to Read Next (No. 250): This and That
Substack chat, books on my radar, a master list, and more.
Happy Friday, readers!
This week I have a bit of a grab bag for you. Substack launched a couple cool new features that are taking this newsletter up a notch. I’m also featuring some new books on my radar, as well as a new article that I wrote for a bookish newsletter.
Let’s jump right in! Don’t forget to let me know what you’re reading and enjoying right now.
I. An article on Louise Penny and Armand Gamache
A while back I mentioned that I’d be contributing to the Louise Penny-focused newsletter called Notes from Three Pines. My article, focused on the idea of reading Penny as a latecomer and first-timer, was published this week. Here’s a snippet:
“Armand Gamache is not just another literary detective. He’s a person. Jean Guy Beauvoir is not just another underling. He’s a guy at work you might be friends with — or not. Clara Morrow isn’t just a two-dimensional “townsperson,” she’s my neighbor. And in a world of increasing polarization and increasing immersion into a virtual existence, we could all use a bit more humanity.”
II. Read More Books now has a free chat space!
Substack just launched a cool new chat feature, available only in the Substack app. It’s kind of like a group chat or live hangout or this Discord thing that you’ve undoubtedly heard about. I’ll post short prompts, thoughts, and bookish updates, and you can jump into the discussion.
To join in (again, it’s totally free), you’ll need to download the Substack app — that’s were the convo happens, not email.
How to get started:
Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Chat is only on iOS for now, but is coming to the Android app soon.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it! Jump into my first thread to say hi, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.
III. All of my book reviews in one spot
Substack also recently rolled out a feature that allows me to provide a unique link to each of my book reviews — since each of my newsletters has 2-3 reviews, this is enormously handy.
Ergo, I’ve spent a lot of hours in the last couple weeks compiling all my book reviews — hundreds of them — into one spot.
I arranged them by category, which inevitably isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of crossover between categories and there’s also a number of authors you’ll find in 2-3 categories. Oh well.
It was surprisingly interesting putting the list together. Looking at and reading old newsletters was much like going through an old journal. There are editions from when the pandemic started, when George Floyd was killed and galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement, when insurrections tried to overtake our democracy, even the announcements of my two youngest kiddos. What a trip!
From a data perspective, it was surprising to see how many memoirs and self-improvement books I’ve featured, despite the fact that I don’t *think* I enjoy those genres very much. Maybe I like ‘em more than I thought? There’s a glut of history and biographies, which I expected, and way fewer politics and current events books than I thought there would be.
Okay, enough about that. I’ve put a permanent link to this list on the top menu of my Substack home page, which can always be accessed at readmorebooks.co:
You can also get to it by clicking here:
IV. New books on my radar
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
I haven’t actually read any of Kingsolver’s acclaimed work (most notably, The Poisonwood Bible), but this re-telling of Dickens’ David Copperfield is getting rave reviews, which has it firmly on my radar.
The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy’s first novel in 16 years is getting all kinds of press — will it be any good though? I generally love his books, but not all of ‘em; which way will this one go?
The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler
“Humankind discovers intelligent life in an octopus species with its own language and culture, and sets off a high-stakes global competition to dominate the future.”
Sounds Michael Crichton-esque, which is always going to grab my interest.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham + Abraham Lincoln as his subject matter is a combination I cannot and will not resist.
Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman
I think I’m ready to start reading some books about the politics of our last seven years. This big biography is high on my list, as is Peter Baker and Susan Glasser’s equally comprehensive The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021. These two appear to be on a different level of quality than the numerous tell-all type books that have flooded the book market in the last handful of years.
That’s all for me this week! Join me over on Substack chat and thanks so much for the time and inbox space — I deeply appreciate it.