What is A/S Reading? A new series on Shells

Over here at Armchair/Shotgun, we’ve decided to get to know you better. And we want you to know us better, too. And call us old fashioned, but we’re still partial to the timeless icebreaker, “read any good books lately?” Frankly, we have. So welcome to our weekly blog segment, What is A/S Reading?


Managing Editor and Distribution Coordinator Adam Read-Brown is making his way through David Foster Wallace’s veritable tome Infinite Jest:

After a hiatus of a few weeks, I am bearing down on page 400. So far the biggest surprise has been how consistently readable and hilarious the book continues to be despite its gargantuan-ness. One by-product of reading IJ has been a renewed interest in crossword puzzles as a way to take a break from reading.

Non-fiction Editor Kevin Dugan is in the middle of The Big Short, by Michael Lewis:

Let’s say there was an event, or a series of interrelated events over a relatively small duration of time, that negatively effected nearly every single human being on the planet, and it would continue to do so for roughly a decade or so afterward. This would probably be something that most people would be interested in parsing! Well there was, and that was the sub-prime crisis of 2008, and most people don’t, because it originated from the deliberately complex world of derivatives and bond trading. Michael Lewis’ The Big Short is a great way to begin to understand, through a series of case studies, the great depths of human stupidity and hubris. He wrote Liar’s Poker, which is fabulous, and The Blind Side, which I have no interest in reading, but this is well written and funny! But not joke funny. More like this-is-how-the-world-lost-trillions-of-dollars-practically-instantly funny.

Managing Editor Laura McMillan is juggling two books at the moment, The Talented Mr Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith and Fasting Girls, by Joan Jacobs Brumberg:

As usual, I’ve got a novel and a non-fiction book going at once. Fasting Girls is a sort of social history of anorexia nervosa. I think her thesis overreaches a bit–she explains the food-abstention of medieval saints, Victorian “fasting girls” and modern anorexia as socially-determined expressions of the same adolescent tendencies–but the historical research is fascinating. I’ve just reached a climactic moment in The Talented Mr Ripley–the book does a delicious job of holding the coming violence just out of reach. And when it comes, the ease with which Ripley tips over into the pathological is scarier than the murder itself. Both are worth picking up, though as bedtime reading…eh, who’s got time for sleep?

Distribution Manager and Editor-at-Large Aaron Reuben is reading A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold:

The back of the book says “better than Thoreau” and it’s true.  These musings on life, nature, and farming crappy land in Wisconsin represent the best call for conservation that I’ve ever read.  Makes you feel oddly compelled to watch birds, cut good oak, and shoot game.  Brilliant.

Poetry Editor Evan Simko-Bednarski is reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and also the Haynes Repair Manual for the Volvo 850:

Cloud Atlas is rich and beautiful in such a seamless way that I can’t quite describe it for you. I’ve been told to read it for years now, and would regret having waited so long if it wasn’t the perfect thing to follow up the multiple-narratives of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin which I just finished last month. Mitchell creates the feel of his different epochs within the first few sentences of each section, and they feel quite authentic, yet perfectly accessible. I’m only a little more than a quarter of the way through, but so far this is excellent. As for the Haynes Manual, all practical necessity aside, there’s something great about phrases like “camshaft journal” and “oil gallery”.

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