1. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
We just put out our annual Books Issue, and I’m taking this week off to relax at the beach. Together those factors led me to think about all the things I’ve been meaning to read, what I should pack and what I’ll actually pick up. I’m a couple chapters into Lahiri’s short-story collection but I’ve been moving pretty slowly on it. Hopefully I can focus on this Pulitzer Prize winner.
2. Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi
I remember the excitement of my friend, WFDD reporter Bethany Chafin, when she told me that she would be interviewing Sethi about this book. Chafin explained that Sethi spent time living in Winston-Salem, but the subject matter of this one is what really drew me in.
3. Prodigals by Greg Jackson
I kinda know Greg Jackson — he slept on an air mattress on my floor, and we attended the same, small New Year’s Eve party once. But what convinced me to buy Jackson’s book wasn’t our Facebook friendship, but a compelling review of Prodigals in the New York Times. This work of fiction, more than almost anything on the list, may be the thing I finish first.
4. Elle’s cover story on Taylor Swift
A full year ago, Elle magazine put Taylor on its June cover with the header, “Taylor Swift: National treasure: Grown-ass woman!” An epically stupid title, but I readily admit to my fandom and a friend snagged me a copy of the mag. It’s been in my backpack for months, but I still haven’t cracked it open.
5. Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives by Nia King
My old friend Nia King, who runs a similarly themed podcast called “We Want the Airwaves,” wrote this book a while back. I used to be a non-fiction only sort of guy, and I would’ve consumed this immediately, but after years as a journalist, free reading time mostly goes towards fiction these days.
6. Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon
It’s a classic. I actually own two copies of this seminal text, and I know I’m supposed to read it. But just like Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Blood Done Sign My Name, it’s been sitting on my shelf for quite some time now, and I’m not sure when exactly I’ll take it down.
7. Food & Wine’s Travel Issue
The bright pink cover featuring dumplings is more than enough to catch my eye. Food & Wine’s Travel Issue has been sitting on my coffee table ever since my girlfriend brought it home, and maybe on this trip we’ll actually get around to leafing through it. What’s more relaxing than thinking about food and travel?
8. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I really want to be able to say that I finished this classic, but I’m stranded on page 271. Friends say the pace improves after the protagonists reach California, but I’m not convinced. This is one reason why I usually pick shorter books.
9. The Bible (but just the Jesus parts)
Yes, I’m totally serious. Jesus said some pretty cool things, and considering how much he’s referenced or quoted, I figure I should make it through his portions of the Bible. I’m Jewish (just like him!), but I’m pretty sure I’d agree with much of what he preached. There’s even a copy sitting on my bookcase, waiting.