9 books you should be reading Memorial Day weekend

About to have some downtime over the long weekend? Here are some recommendations that you can read wherever you are this MDW.

Knopf (2), Doubleday, Dutton, Ecco, Pantheon, Penguin, NYRB Classics, Simon & Schuster; Illustration by Ladders

Need a getaway during Memorial Day Weekend? Maybe you’re not heading off for a quick vacation but trapped at home hoping for brighter, warmer weather than what spring’s had to offer.

Here are nine nonfiction and fiction book recommendations that you can read wherever you are this Memorial Day weekend.

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell (Amazon)

orange world
Knopf

The Pulitzer Prize finalist (Swamplandia!) is a master of twisting reality into imagination. Her third short story collection dives into wackier premises like “The Bad Graft,” where a woman becoming infected by a Joshua tree after visiting a national park. Others stories tackle more magical realism through ways of tornado auctions and falling in love with a 2,000-year-old bog girl. The stories’ length makes them quick reads before dinner, but long enough to keep you thinking well after.

Spring by Ali Smith (Amazon)

spring
Pantheon

While Spring is the third entry in Smith’s seasonal quartet of novels, her latest installment, like Autumn and Winter, can be read as a standalone work. The Scottish novelist’s focuses on modern Britain and the world’s current affairs like climate change, Brexit, and many others. Spring takes another turn at the news through today’s migrant crisis and nationalism through four characters from different generations.

Outside Looking In by T.C. Boyle (Amazon)

outside looking in
Ecco

In his 17th (!) novel, Boyle’s new trippy novel explores LSD’s mind-alerting possibilities. Part historical fiction, the novel centers around a young graduate student who falls under renowned psychologist and psychedelic drug wiz Timothy Leary’s magic. He leaves school and follows Leary around through an LSD-induced adventure.

My Friends by Emmanuel Bove (Amazon)

My Friends
NYRB Classics

A lonely World War I veteran searches for a friend or some type of connection in postwar Paris. First published in 1924, the New York Review Books edition brings Bove’s first and arguably most famous work back to life.

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner (Amazon)

K baseball
Doubleday

Whether you’re a baseball junky or just someone interested in something really particular, Kepner delivers a nasty hook to hook anyone. The New York Times baseball columnist interviewed nearly two dozen Hall of Famers to ask them about insights on the pitches that helped fame their careers. From fastballs and screwballs to spitballs and knucklers, Kepner details the dynamics and history in which pitchers have mastered their craft.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke (Amazon)

from scratch
Simon & Schuster

Locke’s memoir explores food, love, and tragedy through an Italian backdrop. Recently pegged as Reese Witherspoon’s latest book in her “HelloSunshine” book club, Witherspoon called it a “beautiful memoir” that also has “lots and lots of Italian food.” Sounds good to us.

The Ghost Ships of Archangel: The Arctic Voyage That Defied the Nazis by William Geroux (Amazon)

ghost ships of archangel
Penguin

For history buffs, William Geroux delivers another World War II hit. He takes readers to the multinational convoy PQ-17, which sailed through ice-filled waters to deliver supplies to Soviet allies in WWII. Aside from dodging dangerous sailing conditions, the 35-ship convoy had to escape another nightmare: pursuing German bombers and U-boats. The acclaimed author of The Mathews Men delivers another adventure through one of WWII wartime.

Working by Robert Caro (Amazon)

working
Knopf

Caro’s works on Robert Moses and multi-volume work of Lyndon Johnson are considered the gold standard for biographies. In a series of essays and interviews, Caro shares details behind the research and interviews that make the deeply committed and focused writer. It’s for those interested in power, history, and how we tell stories.

Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brian Jay Jones (Amazon)

becoming dr seuss
Dutton

American icon Theodor Geisel, best known as Dr. Seuss, was loved by millions for delivering children’s classics like the Grinch, green eggs and ham, and countless others. “Becoming Dr. Seuss” captures the man behind the brilliant imagination. The lengthy biography (496 pages) draws upon Geisel’s steps before becoming Dr. Seuss and takes the reader on a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of America’s complicated geniuses, a must for all Dr. Seuss lovers.


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Kyle Schnitzer|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at kschnitzer@theladders.com.