What to Read This Weekend

By | October 10, 2020

Welcome. The weekend, again, and with it, time, perhaps for escape. For some, car trips, screenless forays into spaces beyond home. For others, streaming: hit-or-miss Netflix originals, dependable procedurals, maybe some carefully portioned reality. A couple weeks back, I asked you what you were reading and, as usual, the responses were thoughtful and inspired. No surprise: Many of us are reading as refuge, to get outside of the head or the house. “Some books seem like a key to unfamiliar rooms in one’s own castle,” Kafka wrote. Now, when the rooms feel all too familiar, books can open things up.

Diane Whitney of West Hartford, Conn., is reading “Dr. Zhivago.” “It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the movie,” she wrote. “The book is different and the writing is poetic.”

“I am into distraction and “Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby did it for me big time,” wrote Penni Wisner of San Francisco. Holly Smith Barry and her 17-year-old daughter in Irving, Texas, are reading Shakespeare. “We mispronounced everything, misinterpreted the plots and laughed about everything. Even the tragedies became comedies. Sorry Shakespeare, but we had some fun at your expense,” she reported. Jim Moher of San Leandro, Calif., recommended Josephus’s “The Jewish War.” Helen Frazer of New Meadows, Idaho, took the recommendation of our own Sam Sifton and got hooked on the Bruno, Chief of Police series by Martin Walker (Laurie Danahy in Sisters, Ore. loves it, too.)

“I just finished ‘Foe’ by Iain Reid. This is a quick read, a short but psyche-grabbing story that will keep you wondering, ‘What’s next?’ I have not been able to get into reading since the plague hit but this book has reignited my love for one of my favorite activities,” wrote George Vance from Portland, Ore.

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Sherri Danger of St. Louis loves the essay collection “On Immunity: An Inoculation,” by Eula Biss. Several readers recommended James Baldwin — “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone” and “Up Above My Head.” Lyn Banghart of Easton, Md., is losing herself in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series and thinks you should, too.

Margo Armstrong of West Suffield, Conn., is rereading some old favorites and just finished John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meaney.” “I first read this book more than 30 years ago when I was a recent college graduate. I love the characters, their relationships and how, at the end, you learn that there was a reason for the various tragedies they experienced in their lives,” she wrote.

Anne Moore of Chicago’s recent favorite is “A Burning” by Megha Majumdar. She also loved “What Happens at Night” by Peter Cameron: “A New York couple travels to an unnamed wintry place to adopt a child. Patrons of the hotel — picture a Wes Anderson set — help and hinder. For all the misadventure, I came to care deeply for this couple and their quest.”

And Bailey VandeKamp, a student at Grinnell College in Iowa, found comfort in “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh: “The book is about a woman who tries to sleep for a year. During this time when we are all being encouraged to stay in our homes as much as possible, and many of us yearning for outside connection, I found it interesting to read about a character who is purposefully retreating inward, isolating herself from friends and the outside world. But the ending is probably what comforted me the most, when her year of rest and relaxation is up, the narrator moves on. She again becomes part of the world. It’s a reminder to me that this period of isolation will not last forever — we will all eventually be together again.”

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The election is just weeks away, and we’re hoping to document democracy in action for an upcoming edition of At Home. If you are voting in the next weeks, either by visiting an early voting site or mailing in an absentee ballot, please take a picture of yourself in action, or wearing your “I Voted” sticker afterward, and share it with us. You can find all the details here.

And drop us a line and let us know what you’re reading or watching or thinking: athome@nytimes.com. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. More suggestions for leading a full life at home or near it appear below. See you next week.

Credit…Angie Wang


Credit…Zoom Where It Happens
  • Watch “Zoom Where It Happens,” a weekly live event with all-Black casts performing script reads of throwback sitcoms like “The Golden Girls,” starring Alfre Woodard, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sanaa Lathan and Regina King.

  • Stream “Black Box” on Amazon Prime Video. Phylicia Rashad stars in the film, which the critic Glenn Kenney says “brings some devilish ingenuity to its variations on ‘Memento’ and other ‘Who am I?’ thrillers.”

  • And if you’re looking to get in the Halloween spirit, we have a guide to new horror movies coming this month.

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Credit…Beth Coller for The New York Times
  • Vacation in groups has always been challenging, but the coronavirus has made it even more so. We have tips for splitting costs and calling dibs on bedrooms if you’re considering vacationing with another family.

  • Up your bedtime storytelling game with tips from the experts. Their advice? Use your whole body, encourage audience participation and add a soundtrack.

  • And while you may be starting to calculate menus and deciding on how many guests are safe to host for Thanksgiving, turkey farmers and retailers are trying to guess just how many whole turkeys Americans will cook this year.

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