Celebrity Book Recommendations: What Are They Reading? – Part 1: Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker

SJP loves her books!

As a lifelong reader, Sarah Jessica Parker always has a book or two with her. Whether she is working on set filming And Just Like That, the follow up to Sex and the City, or heading to the beach, her books are as important as her shoes…or her wine! She let’s her fans know what she is reading on Instagram, and here are her choices this summer.

The Plot

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written–let alone published–anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then… he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that–a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

Hailed as breathtakingly suspenseful, Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it. 

Intimacies

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

A novel from the author of A Separation, a taut and electrifying story about a woman caught between many truths.

An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home.

She’s drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim’s sister. And she’s pulled into explosive political fires: her work interpreting for a former president accused of war crimes becomes precarious as their relationship is unbound by shifting language and meaning.

This woman is the voice in the ear of many, but what command does that give her, and how vulnerable does that leave her? Her coolly impassioned views on power, love, and violence, are tested, both in her personal intimacies and in her role at the Court. She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her; it is her drive towards truth, and love, that throws into stark relief what she wants from her life. 

Something New Under the Sun

Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman

Set in a darkly unsettling near-future Hollywood, a novelist trying to fix his troubled marriage reckons with connectedness, ambition, and corruption in the age of ecological collapse in this piercing novel from the prize-winning author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine 

East-coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has come to Hollywood with simple goals in mind: overseeing the production of a film adaptation of one of his books, preventing starlet Cassidy Carter’s disruptive behavior from derailing said production, and turning this last-ditch effort at career resuscitation into the sort of success that will dazzle his wife and daughter back home. But California is not as he imagined: drought, wildfire, and corporate corruption are omnipresent, and the company behind a mysterious new brand of synthetic water seems to be at the root of it all. Partnering with Cassidy–after having been her reluctant chauffeur for weeks–the two of them investigate the sun-scorched city’s darker crevices, where they discover that catastrophe resembles order until the last possible second.

In this poised and all-too-timely story, Kleeman grapples with an issue that is very much front-of-mind: the corruption of our environment in the age of alternative facts. She does so with a meticulous and deeply felt accounting of our very human anxieties, liabilities, dependencies, and ultimately, our responsibility to truth. 

A Thousand Ships

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war. 

A woman’s epic, powerfully imbued with new life, A Thousand Ships puts the women, girls and goddesses at the center of the Western world’s great tale ever told.

The Woman From Uruguay

The Woman From Uruguay by Pedro Mairal

From acclaimed Argentine author Pedro Mairal and Man Booker International-winning translator Jennifer Croft, the unforgettable story of two would-be lovers over the course of a single day. 

Lucas Pereyra, an unemployed writer in his forties, embarks on a day trip from Buenos Aires to Montevideo to pick up fifteen thousand dollars in cash. An advance due to him on his upcoming novel, the small fortune might mean the solution to his problems, most importantly the tension he has with his wife. While she spends her days at work and her nights out on the town-with a lover, perhaps, he doesn’t know for sure-Lucas is stuck at home all day staring at the blank page, caring for his son Maiko and fantasizing about the one thing that keeps him going: the woman from Uruguay whom he met at a conference and has been longing to see ever since. 

But that woman, Magalí Guerra Zabala, is a free spirit with her own relationship troubles, and the day they spend together in this beautiful city on the beach winds up being nothing like Lucas predicted. The constantly surprising, moving story of this dramatically transformative day in their lives, The Woman from Uruguay is both a gripping narrative and a tender, thought-provoking exploration of the nature of relationships. An international bestseller published in fourteen countries, it is the masterpiece of one of the most original voices in Latin American literature today. 

Harlem Shuffle

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

From two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…”

To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask
questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa — the “Waldorf of Harlem” — and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers,
and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share
of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for
all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately
a love letter to Harlem.

But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead. 

Happy All the Time

Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

Guido and Vincent are childhood best friends—third cousins, really—living in Cambridge and dreaming about their futures. Guido plans to write poetry while Vincent feels confident he will win a Nobel prize for physics. When Guido spots Holly while exiting a museum, he can immediately sense that she will be difficult, quirky, and hard to live with. He loves her on sight. Vincent, open-minded and cheerful, meets Misty at work. Though she is a  bored and misanthropic brunette, he finds himself desperate to know her. Through courtship, jealousy, estrangement, and other perils, Happy All the Time follows four sane, intelligent, and good-intentioned people who manage to find love in spite of themselves.

Crying in H Mart

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

This is a memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

In this story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Mayflies

Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

From the widely renowned author Andrew O’Hagan, a heartbreaking novel of an extraordinary lifelong friendship.

Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news.

Mayflies is a memorial to youth’s euphorias and to everyday tragedy. A tender goodbye to an old union, it discovers the joy and the costs of love. 

Aftershocks

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

This poetic, genre-bending work—blending memoir with cultural history—from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma. 

Nadia Owusu grew up all over the world—from Rome and London to Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala. When her mother abandoned her when she was two years old, the rejection caused Nadia to be confused about her identity. Even after her father died when she was thirteen and she was raised by her stepmother, she was unable to come to terms with who she was since she still felt motherless and alone.

When Nadia went to university in America when she was eighteen she still felt as if she had so many competing personas that she couldn’t keep track of them all without cracking under the pressure of trying to hold herself together. A powerful coming-of-age story that explores timely and universal themes of identity, Aftershocks follows Nadia’s life as she hauls herself out of the wreckage and begins to understand that the only ground firm enough to count on is the one she writes into existence.

Franchise

Franchise by Marcia Chatelain

Often blamed for the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among black Americans, fast food restaurants like McDonald’s have long symbolized capitalism’s villainous effects on our nation’s most vulnerable communities. But how did fast food restaurants so thoroughly saturate black neighborhoods in the first place? In Franchise, acclaimed historian Marcia Chatelain uncovers a surprising history of cooperation among fast food companies, black capitalists, and civil rights leaders, who—in the troubled years after King’s assassination—believed they found an economic answer to the problem of racial inequality. With the discourse of social welfare all but evaporated, federal programs under presidents Johnson and Nixon promoted a new vision for racial justice: that the franchising of fast food restaurants, by black citizens in their own neighborhoods, could finally improve the quality of black life. Synthesizing years of research, Franchisetells a troubling success story of an industry that blossomed the very moment a freedom movement began to wither.

Hour of the Witch

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

A young Puritan woman – faithful, resourceful, but afraid of the demons that dog her soul – plots her escape from a violent marriage in this riveting and propulsive historical thriller from the #1 ‘New York Times’ bestselling author of ‘The Flight Attendant’.

Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four-years-old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But here in The New World, amid this community of saints, Mary is the second wife of Thomas Deerfield, a man as cruel as he is powerful. When Thomas, prone to drunken rage, drives a three-tined fork into the back of Mary’s hand, she resolves that she must divorce him to save her life. But in a world where every neighbor is watching for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary – a woman who harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the brazen hypocrisy of so many men in the colony – soon finds herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary’s garden, when a boy she has treated with herbs and simples dies, and when their servant girl runs screaming in fright from her home, Mary must fight not only to escape her marriage, but also the gallows. 

A twisting, tightly-plotted thriller from one of our greatest storytellers, ‘HOUR OF THE WITCH’ is a timely and terrifying novel of socially sanctioned brutality and the original American witch hunt. 

*Please note, all summaries are picked up from Goodreads.

SJP and Me in 2017

Celebrity Book Recommendations Part 2: Barack Obama

2 comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.