The Book Studio's Reading list for August

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley
If you still haven't read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Bradley's first Flavia book, you have a treat in store. If you have, you know that 11-year-old Flavia is a unique sleuth whose snoopy, charming adventures in rural 1950s Britain mirror big societal changes and issues.
Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell
Caldwell's friendship with fellow writer Carolyn Knapp (Drinking: A Love Story) was a deep one, cut short by cancer -- Knapp died of lung cancer at 42 in 2002. Caldwell manages not to create a memorial but to craft a testament, and it's worth reading by anyone who has ever had a friend.
Stiltsville: A Novel by Susanna Daniel
Every few months -- and how I wish it were more often! -- I find a novel that reads as naturally as breathing. I know very little about South Florida, yet Daniel's story and characters made me feel as if I'd just forgotten that it was down the hall or around the bend. A wonderful debut.
News to Me: Memoirs of an Accidental Journalist by Laurie Hertzel
After reading Hertzel's account of her lifelong affair with words, I found myself jonesing for newsprint. She may deem her career "accidental," but how can anyone who coined the term "Magapaper" for a childhood publication have been destined for anything else? Delightful.
My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, A Daughter, A Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescenceby Lauren Kessler
Many moms (present company included!) wonder about what their 13-year-old children are up to each day. Lauren Kessler decided to stop wondering and start integrating: Into her daughter's middle school, summer camp, and more. Like a reality show, but much, much, much better.
Sympathy for the Devil: by Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Holly Black, et al
Tim Pratt has put together a demonically good collection of stories about he who has many names -- Lucifer, Satan, The Prince of Darkness -- by some of the most gifted writers out there, including King, Chabon, Black, Neil Gaiman, and many others. Great for the beach; after all, it's hot there...
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Forget Jonathan Safran Foer. If you want fiction from a young, hip, male, Jewish perspective, read Shteyngart. Absurdistan trumps Everything Is Illuminated in my book (heh, see what I did there?). This new novel is about a futuristic USA (super), its discontents (sad), and finally, love (true). Buy a signed edition here.
The Four Fingers of Death: A Novel by Rick Moody
Odd and long, like Moody's previous novels (The Ice Storm, e.g.), this book contains only what is meant to be there. You just have to move to Planet Moody for a bit to appreciate it all. Don't know yet if this makes you shudder, or cheer? Why not give it a try? You'll have fun in the process.
I Curse the River of Time: A Novel by Per Petterson
Out Stealing Horses put Petterson on the American map as one of the finest writers of literary fiction -- and he proves that in this new novel about a Norwegian man coming to terms with his failing marriage, stalled career, and family ties. Spare prose, not IKEA-style: Georg Jensen-style.
Rich Boy: A Novel by Sharon Pomerantz
Those of you who have been searching for a big, juicy read need look no further: Pomerantz's tale of a boy from 1960s working-class Philadelphia who makes it big in 1970s Manhattan is absorbing and enlightened, a wise look back that reminds readers why the old days weren't always good.

The Book Studio is a project of, the website for public television and radio station WETA in Washington, D.C.

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