Reading Round-Up: April

We asked everyone in the office to talk about their favorite books from last month. Take a look at our favorite reads from April, and let us know in the comments which books you’ll be adding to your to-read list. From poetry to physics, there’s something for everyone here!

Human Hours by Catherine Barnett


Page count: 80
Genre: Poetry
Publish date: 2018

I picked up Catherine Barnett’s Human Hours after hearing her read her work here in Seattle. I was first taken by her reading voice—quiet and carefully holding the poems’ words—and I find that the experience of reading her poems on the page is similar. Her work is arresting in its simplicity and directness, its refusal to hide that it seeks something. Even when it doesn’t explicitly ask, or when it isn’t set off by a question mark, her poetry is a question of sorts, an invitation to hushed conversation.

The first line of Barnett’s poem “Epistemology” reads, “Mostly I’d like to feel a little less, know a little more.” And her poems, for me, stitch the gap between feeling and knowing. They can make emotion seem orderly, for a moment; they can make thought felt.

— Emma, Editorial Intern

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene


Page count: 569
Genre: Nonfiction; Science
Publish date: 2003

This March, I read the Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. Theoretical physics is a difficult topic for most people, but Greene is one of the few authors who’s able to make it accessible to the average reader. In this book, he launches into an exploration of spacetime that challenges our fundamental conceptions of reality. His use of metaphor and analogy allows for a reader with little to no background in science to follow complex topics such as Einstein’s theory of general relativity, quantum mechanics, and string theory.

While the book is overall accessible, it ramps up in difficulty as it goes along, and the last section is particularly challenging and requires multiple reads to understand. Still, the topic is fascinating, and Greene is a fantastic writer. This book will challenge you and open your mind to new, unbelievable ideas.

—Anna, Editorial Intern

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett


Page count: 412
Genre: Fiction; Fantasy
Publish date: 1990

After trying—and failing—to read through a nonfiction book in March, I looked to my fellow book-loving colleagues to point me in the right direction and found myself speeding through Good Omens. The novel puts a spin on the classic “end of the world” scenario and asks, “What if no one knew what they were doing?” Heaven and hell behave akin to disgruntled colleagues or roommates, demons from hell don’t actually know how the world works, and an angel loves sushi too much to want Armageddon to occur. Gaiman’s and Pratchett’s writing styles perfectly complement one another, and I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book. I very much enjoyed Good Omens—it was the perfect novel to get me back in the swing of reading.

—Kate, Marketing Coordinator

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders


Page count: 368
Genre: Science Fiction
Publish date: 2019

Set on a tidally locked planet where humanity has settled in the distant future, Charlie Jane Anders’s second novel explores themes of colonialism, trauma, climate change, and social justice, and carries icy echoes of Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic The Left Hand of Darkness. Anders has a gift not only for wildly imaginative world-building but for revealing her characters’ (often troubled) interior states with vivid realism; there were moments when I had to put the book down and take a deep breath. There’s bleakness and brutality in the future Anders has imagined, but there’s beauty too, as well as dark humor. Most strikingly, The City in the Middle of the Night offers the possibility of a paradigm shift in the idea that “to join with others to shape a future is the holiest act. This is hard work, and it never stops being hard, but this collective dreaming/designing is the only way we get to keep surviving.”

—Jules, Editor

Witchmark by C. L. Polk


Page count: 318
Genre: Fantasy; Romance
Publish date: 2018

This April, I read C. L. Polk’s debut novel Witchmark. Set in a charming world that combines magic and modernity with the aesthetics of Edwardian England, it follows Dr. Miles Singer, a psychiatrist in an underfunded veteran’s hospital, as he tries to escape his past and conceal his magical abilities. However, when a dying patient—and fellow mage—reveals Miles’s true identity to a handsome and mysterious stranger named Tristan, he is forced to decide between maintaining his anonymity and learning to control his abilities. From there, Miles and Tristan become embroiled in an increasingly high-stakes conspiracy that reveals shocking truths about the corruption plaguing their society. Equal parts romance, murder-mystery, paranormal drama, and political thriller, Witchmark left me both satisfied and wanting more. I will definitely be picking up the sequel, Stormsong, when it is released in 2020.  

—Marissa, Edorial Intern

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett


Page count: 265
Genre: Fiction; Fantasy
Publish date: 1988

“There’s nothing wrong with cackling. In moderation.” — Esme Weatherwax

I was given Wyrd Sisters for my birthday and now all I want to do is read Pratchett’s “Witches series” over and over again. Wyrd Sisters features Esme “Granny” Weatherwax—now one of my favorite characters—and the two other members of the infamous Lancre coven, Gytha “Nanny” Ogg and Magrat Garlick. It’s a fun take of a motley of Shakespeare plays, notably Macbeth and Hamlet: we get the three witches from the former and a play within a play for the latter.

This book had me cackling out loud so frequently that I was side-eyed and shushed more than once. I’ll never forget Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg’s utter confusion watching a play for the first time (the concepts of acting and fourth walls and such are completely unknown to them), and young Magrat nervously informing Granny that, in theatre, “all the women are played by men”—because Granny Weatherwax has “Views.”

I’m so excited that I have four more “Witches” books to read, though I’m struggling with whether to greedily gobble or relishingly savor the rest of the series.

—Sam, Head of Marketing

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston


Page count: 204
Genre: Autobiography
Publish date: 1975

This month, I read The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. The book is a series of stories based on Kingston’s experience as a Chinese-American woman and focuses in detail on her mother’s experience both in China and in the United States. While partially autobiographical, Kingston incorporates elements of fiction into the narrative, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.

It took me a little while to get into this book, but I ended up enjoying Kingston’s stories. I was especially interested in reading about the narrator’s mother, whose outlook on life is complicated and unconventional. The stories detail the difficulty of bridging traditional and contemporary values, illustrated by the narrator’s perception of her mother. The beautiful prose made it all the more readable.

—Mary, Editorial Intern

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton


Page count: 351
Genre: Fiction; Classic
Publish date: 1905

This April, I read Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, which tells the story of Lily Bart, a self-possessed socialite looking for a comfortable life without compromising her values—which, let’s be honest, sounds perfectly reasonable. However, we see Lily’s desires contend time and again with the restrictions imposed on her class and, in particular, her gender in Gilded Age New York. Wharton’s novel is a heartbreaking tragedy and poignant indictment of a society whose debilitating limitations destroy a spirited woman.

—Wes, Managing Editor