What We're Reading

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What We're Reading

WQ editors share the reads they're curling up with as autumn deepens.

Read Time:
2m 28sec

Cullen Nutt: It’s nearly summer in Zimbabwe, and President Robert Mugabe’s campaign for reelection in 2012 is heating up. State television and radio outlets are said to feature a new song in which Mugabe—three months shy of his 88th birthday—sings about the injustices of white rule and the importance of economic development for blacks. The book I’m currently reading, Peter Godwin’s memoir Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, gives vivid evidence of why Mugabe’s musical message still resonates for many of his countrymen, even three decades after the advent of majority rule and Mugabe’s rise to power. Journalist Godwin grew up in white-ruled Rhodesia. He was raised in a fairly liberal household, but—the reader is reminded—much of white society oppressed and abused the black majority.

Godwin’s book doesn’t lack for boyhood innocence, what with his many colorful African adventures and mishaps. If it weren’t for the tragedies that ensued—war in the 1970s, mass killing in the 1980s, and then spectacular economic collapse and election violence in the 2000s—one might be tempted to call Mukiwa an apt read for the Zimbabwean summer.

Sarah L. Courteau: I’ve been reading Jeffrey Kluger’s The Sibling Effect: Brothers, Sisters, and the Bonds That Define Us, in an effort to understand the myriad dynamics of my own large family. I’m the oldest of seven, and have two older siblings through my dad’s first marriage. That’s 55 one-on-one relationships playing out at a given time. Kluger, a journalist at Time magazine, explores the benefits and drawbacks of birth order, the sometimes-brutal reality that most parents have a favorite child, and sibling rivalry. His breezy magazine writer’s style can occasionally grate, and even he admits that some of the findings are speculative (psychology is a squishy science), but it’s impossible to read this book and not see your family—and yourself—with fresh eyes.

Megan Buskey: You know you like a book when, the day after staying up late to read the first chapters, you return to the bookstore and buy another copy for a friend. So went my experience with Pulphead, a new collection by essayist John Jeremiah Sullivan, which is culled from his work for publications such as GQ and The Paris Review. The publisher pitches the book as “a tour of America’s cultural landscape” and with pieces on such disparate subjects as Michael Jackson, a Christian rock festival, and Andrew Lytle, the late don of Southern letters, it certainly fits that bill. But what brings this collection together, and will send you stockpiling copies to give as Christmas presents, is Sullivan’s dry, funny voice and his implicit pledge to never stop thinking.

Photo credit: book + fire by futurestreet via flickr