The Space Force Announcement Brought You Joy
You loved — or hated — "The Prom" or you want a Pride and Prejudice retelling
Hi book lovers,
Greetings from upstate New York, where I’m quarantining with my parents. We have two feet of snow — and more is coming down now. Surprising no one, I’m doing a ton of reading while in quarantine, but we watched “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” last night. It featured an amazing appearance by Elton John, which gave me yet another chance to talk about how much I love his memoir.
I know Christmas looks different for us all this year, but I hope no matter what your plans are this week, you’re able to find some peace, joy and a good book.
Now, on to book recommendations. What to read if…
You’re Still Chuckling About the U.S. Space Force’s Guardians
Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich
It’s been a big week for space nerds (I know because I am one). China brought back moon rocks. Jupiter and Saturn converged. And, the U.S. Space Force announced its members would be known as “guardians.” As the announcement noted, the name was “chosen by space professionals, for space professionals.”
I can’t stop laughing about this.
All the space-related news had me thinking of Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History, which documents the theft of moon rocks from NASA. It’s a rollicking ride, following the heist’s mastermind, Thad Roberts, as he transforms from a shy NASA intern to a thief obsessed with capturing the nation’s lunar rocks. I have some quibbles with this book — it relies entirely on recreated dialogue, and the male gaze is strong — but heist stories are almost always fun, and this is no exception. It’s an excellent, fast read for a holiday week.
You Have Strong Feelings About Netflix’s The Prom
Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey
Reviewers, my friends and random people on Twitter seem to either love or hate The Prom, a movie adaptation of the Broadway musical now streaming on Netflix. The movie musical is about a group of B-list Broadway stars who head to a rural Indiana town that canceled its prom because a female student wanted to take a girl as her date.
Laskey’s Under the Rainbow, a novel, starts with a similar premise: a group of LGBT activists moves to Big Burr, Kansas, a small town recently named the most-homophobic town in America. Laskey shows just how harmful the village’s attitude is — not only towards the new outsiders but also towards its own residents. The book has its dark moments, but without spoiling too much, it ends on a hopeful note.
Readers who enjoy books told from multiple perspectives should give this book a shot. Each chapter is narrated by a different character — ranging from a closeted town resident to the straight teenage daughter of one of the activists.
You Want to Read Pride and Prejudice — With a Twist
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
I know multiple people who reread Pride and Prejudice each winter. If that’s you, consider trying Ibi Zoboi’s Pride, a YA retelling of the Jane Austen classic. The book follows Zuri Benitez, an Afro-Latino teenager in Brooklyn and Darcy Darius, whose wealthy family moves in across the street from Benitez’s. Zoboi weaves in a discussion of gentrification and race while ably adapting the ultimate enemies-to-lovers tale. There’s a lot to love about this book. The dialogue jumps off the page, and the characters feel real.
Bonus Rec: If you want another Pride and Prejudice option, check out Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal. This book is set in Pakistan in 2000 — and it really brings the world alive. I loved reading the descriptions of multi-day, lavish wedding celebrations and watching the timeless tale unfold in a different setting.