What is A/S Reading? – No. 18

We have been reading! It is a miracle of epic proportions! Especially considering how busy we have been working on our super secret radio drama for Lit Crawl NYC. Don’t worry, the full radio drama details will be unveiled Monday. And, it is going to be–for lack of a better, more perfect, and, well, REAL word–amazeballs. (No, seriously, there will be sound effects and everything!) In the meantime, this is: What is A/S Reading?


Publicist Vicki Lame isn’t reading anything for fun right now because she is being buried alive–figuratively speaking, thanks to e-readers–by manuscripts. However, she is very excited to start reading Kristin Cashore’s Bitter Blue this weekend.

Bitter Blue is the sequel to Graceling (which I devoured) and a companion book to Fire (which just made me want even MORE), and I thrilled to finally have a copy in my hands to read. The writing and world-building are phenomenal and I just can’t get enough of the characters. Unfortunately, I know, KNOW, that I will want to read it all in one sitting, so… well… don’t talk to me this weekend!

Managing Editor Adam Read-Brown is continuing on his quest to learn how to take over the world just by thinking about “big” issues. He is currently reading the new tome, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.

They are basically pulling a Jared Diamond here and presenting “The Big Theory of Why the World Looks Like It Does.” Only instead of guns, germs, and steel (or phasers, rage, and adamantium), they argue it’s all about political institutions. (They actually take apart Diamond’s argument piece by piece, but still managed to get him to blurb the book. That is impressive.) So far it’s an interesting and enjoyable read. However, as with any TBToWtWLLID book, you can find yourself wondering a little about the consistent return over and over again to certain examples at the exclusion of others…but despite that, the argument remains compelling and persuasive and I’m excited to keep reading. Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?

Managing Editor Laura McMillan is reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Oh my god, everybody read this.

It’s a memoir of Walls’ youth, and how she survived some seriously laissez-faire parenting. It’s not a hard-luck story, though–her family is always one exhilarating step ahead of bill collectors and a few agonizing steps away from her father’s outsize dreams of easy wealth and glory. There are cats flung out of car windows, but there are also wise, independent children, tall tales, and stars given as Christmas presents.

And Armchair/Shotgun’s newest staff member Amy Rosenbaum is reading A LOT of books in A LOT of different forms. (This is why we hired her. That, and she can hold her whiskey.)

I used to be the kind of person who started a book and consumed it completely before moving to the next. Now that I’m bit older, I find myself more often in the middle of several things at once. It’s a different relationship with reading—moving slowly—and I’m still working out how to feel about it. Sometimes though, I love it, especially when my picks serendipitously illuminate each other: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander, Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth (whose preference is for all lower case letters).

Besides having lengthy titles in common, these books are all tied deeply to identity and belief. Hearing their distinctive voices meditate on similar themes is soothing, like I’m living in a mini-collective unconscious. It’s also interesting to me that I’m reading each of them in a distinctive way. Nathan Englander’s short stories make me go swoony in the knees, so I’m parceling them out to make it last. I’m thumbing through Apocalypse on my Nook, surprising my fellow subway passengers (and myself) as I giggle at the spot-on teen boy narration. Miseducation is a home book, weighing in at 470 pages with a weighty story to match: a budding lesbian falls in love and is sent to a re-education camp. Humor and pain tag team in these pages, and I’m swept up in all of them, separately and together.

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