While we love tech at Lifehacker, the best format for reading is still the humble paperback - readable in bright sunlight, light enough to throw in a bag, easy to share with mates. But whatever format you read in, here are the books the Lifehacker staff recommends this winter.
Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor:
I really enjoyed Christie Aschwanden’s Good to Go, which is a look at fitness “recovery” trends. It’s ideal as a relaxing read because it turns out that napping and loafing around are among the best recovery modalities science has to offer.
Joel Kahn, Senior Video Producer:
Though it might be very niche, I’m reading When Brooklyn was Queer by Hugh Ryan. Yes it’s a history book. Yes it’s all about one specific part of one specific city. Yes it’s about queer people from 1855-1969. But even if you have no interest in any of those topics, the storytelling, anecdotes, and insights into an under-reported part of American life at that time is simply fascinating. Plus it’s fun to walk around and be like “See where that IKEA is? Well lemme tell you what used to happen there....”
Melissa Kirsch, Editor-in-Chief:
Everyone should read Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. Whenever someone asks for a reading recommendation, I hearken back to the time I read this divine memoir in the 100-degree sun in Madrid. You may think, “Why do I want to read a book about a chef I have maybe never heard of or maybe don’t care about or maybe I’ve only heard of her in regard to some sketchy #MeToo behaviour, why is this for me?” Trust me! The writing is beautiful. The story is gripping. The gorgeous descriptions of food will cure you of your restrictive eating hangups. If you don’t want to take my word for it, take Anthony Bourdain’s, who said of BB&B, “Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever.”
Josh Ocampo, Staff Writer:
Want to openly salivate while reading? One of my favourite winter reads is the late Chef Anthony Bourdain’s memoir, Kitchen Confidential, and while re-reading it after his passing feels like a punch to the gut, it’s a perfect book. Learning of his pre-culinary school days washing dishes in a Provincetown kitchen up until his time as Executive Chef at Brasserie Les Halles, food and food service have a new vocabulary thanks to Bourdain. You’ll read the novel in his familiar, very convincing voice and wish the book wouldn’t have to end; luckily, you can still eat at a number of restaurants he visits.
Claire Lower, Food Editor:
I am currently stuck in five different books. But the last book I remember getting truly lost in was 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, which is incredibly beautiful and vivid and also completely insane. It feels like reading someone’s dream, if anyone was capable of describing a dream in an engaging way.
Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor:
The last book I read was an audiobook: Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming. Clocking in at 19 hours and 3 minutes, it kept me company during my maternity leave. I’d be lulled by relaxed voice of the former FLOTUS while washing breast pump parts. Obama shares compelling stories about her entire trajectory, including how she grew accustomed to being the only woman of colour in her classrooms and workplaces, how she struggled with work-life balance as mum (she’s just like us!), and how she’d experience brief moments of anonymity as First Lady by retreating to the ski slopes in head-to-toe snow gear. I was sad and a little disoriented when it was all over. It was as if she had become a friend.
Lisa Rowan, Finance Writer:
It’s not light and fluffy, but Self-Portrait With Boy by Rachel Lyon will keep you turning the pages wherever you are this season. This novel about a young artist struggling to determine her moral center while trying to “make it” in the early 90s New York art scene is one of those books I thought about for a long time after I finished it. As you can see, I’m still thinking about it! Please, now you go think about it.
Meghan Walbert, Contributing Writer:
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love is my new favourite memoir by one of my all-time favourite writers, Dani Shapiro. The author discovers a long-hidden family secret (it’s not really a spoiler to say she finds out her dad is not her biological father), but nearly everyone who could explain the hows and whys is already dead. She wrestles with how biology, memory and experience define us as she goes on a quest to connect with her biological father, and she tells her story in a raw and beautiful way. When you finish it, you’ll want to check out her podcast Family Secrets, which is a collection of interviews with guests who’ve uncovered their own buried truths.
David Murphy, Tech Editor:
I’ve really wanted to read Ship of Theseus, which has always tempted me from the bookshelf. I’m worried it’s going to be a huge, herculean affair, but I think that the payoff from author J. J. Abrams will ultimately be worth it. I mean, you have to decode a book? How cool is that? Otherwise, I might go old-school and break out my Folio Society copy of Dune. So pretty.
Abu Zafar, Video Producer:
Before I go see a movie adaption of a novel, I always read the original text. I love to dissect the changes a story undergoes when it jumps off the page and onto the silver screen. I did this with Ready Player One. I did this with Alita: Battle Angel. Now is your chance to do this with the classic sci-fi novel Dune. Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) is bringing the epic adventure of House Atreides to the big screen in fall 2020. Sure, you could put off reading Dune until next year, but why miss the hype? Once the trailer drops, Dune-mania will be in full swing. Theories, speculations, petty grievances against the star-studded cast, and much more geekiness awaits us all in 2020. Best be prepared.
Heather Hass, Creative Producer:
The Revolution Will be Hilarious and Other Essays by Adam Michael Krause. A great read that gives you something real to think about and perhaps put a fire under your arse. With our environmentally unconscious administration, and the rapidly deteriorating health of our planet, everyone should take a minute to dig our heads out of the beach sand and into this book. Also you wind up feeling smarter without having to try too hard.
Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor:
This was recommended by absolute everyone in the world already, but My Year of Rest and Relaxation was just fantastic. I tore through it in a way that I rarely do with fiction, and have since picked up a short story collection by the same author (Otessa Moshfegh) that’s on deck to be one of my books this year.
Nick Douglas, Staff Writer:
My favourite reading is big escapist novels with fantastical elements: A Game of Thrones (bonus: wintry), One Hundred Years of Solitude, Foucault’s Pendulum (bonus: you’ll have to look everything up so you’ll also read fifty Wikipedia articles). This year I recommend Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke’s fantasy pastiche of Regency and Victorian novels. If Charles Dickens and Jane Austen co-wrote a book in a world where magic is real, this would be that book. It’s slow for the first few chapters, but on purpose, and I promise you’ll feel a satisfying release when the magicians actually start doing some goddamn magic. And the chapters set on the front lines of the Napoleonic War remind me of Gabriel García Márquez.
Right, let’s get reading!