What Editors Like: To Read Now

When the pandemic hit, our bookshelves became an escape hatch. Here are some of the narratives we’ve crawled into.

Cultured Magazine


In keeping with quarantine-era-overachiever syndrome, I’m reading too many books at the same time: The Unknown Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac, Poso Wells by the wonderful Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán, Cultural Amnesia by Clive James, Água Viva by Clarice Lispector, A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. I recently finished Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje, which was stunning and utterly original. It is his first “novel,” following several collections of poetry, and the influence of the latter on his prose is inspiring, to say the least. I bailed on Lydia Davis’s Essays I; I appreciate the value of her economy with words, but her focus on form sometimes feels myopic. – Eugenie Dalland, Contributing Critic

So far in quarantine, I’ve made it a point to read many of the untouched books on my shelves—some classics like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night and popular bestsellers past their prime like Patti Smith’s Just Kids, which is fittingly nostalgic for old New York haunts, long since disappeared. Next up, I’ll attempt War and Peace. – Erin Leland, Contributing Writer and Photographer

Two books I’m enjoying at the moment: The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch— she’s an insightful writer and a total badass in all that she’s overcome—and Untamed by Glennon Doyle, written with so much humor and honesty with powerful reminders of what’s important. – Lori Warriner, Associate Publisher

I’m re-re-re-reading one of my favorite books, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. It’s magical realism meets historical fiction, tracing a single Chilean family across four generations and many a life (and world) -changing upheaval. What makes the story so mind-bending, at least to me, is the way it captures the political and social transformations of a whole century while staying close to a handful of core characters and the smallest details of their lives. It’s a book about change, interconnectedness and the importance of knowing and learning from history. Needless to say, it fits for right now. – Isabel Flower, Executive Editor 

I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite writing samples, probably in search of something that feels familiar. Recently that includes: re-reading chapters in My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, that one part in Harry Potter when Harry gets all fussy because he’s been wearing the Horcrux and Jia Tolentino’s 2018 New Yorker feature “The Promise of Vaping and the Rise of Juul” (it’s my favorite Jia piece). It’s been difficult for me to sit down and actually start a new book. I just don’t have the emotional investment in anything new these days…which I think is okay for now. – Katie Brown, Art Director