Is it really Wednesday already?  I can’t believe it.  Well, I am back from Spring Break vacation, my inbox is at full capacity and my Kindle is about to explode with “need to reads!” Still, I wanted to take some time and share with you a Wednesday Top Five. This one’s called “What I Read on Spring Break.” 


1. April’s Vanity Fair.  Vanity Fair is one of my favorite magazines because it deftly straddles the fence between entertainment (pop culture) and journalism (maybe not the right word, but what else can you call articles about politics and economics?). There are few magazines that can publish an exposé on Bernie Madoff alongside a photo spread starring Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd (whom I heart) and Jason Segle.  This month’s edition also featured an article about a French luxury cruise ship, Le Ponant, that was high jacked by Somali pirates and a piece about how Iceland’s economy collapsed (side note: did you know that before you start an aluminum smelting plant in Iceland you have to have the land inspected for gnomes?!?).   I’ll admit that there are certain times when I don’t read VF cover to cover. Usually that’s when I feel that I can’t stomach another insight on our current economic crisis, but most often than not VF strikes a wonderful mix of fresh-angle-but-oh-so-relevant editorials and informative, worldly articles with just enough of a shout out to Hollywood to show you that they know what going on at the box office. Rock on Graydon Carter (as a Canadian, it’s my duty to inform you that Carter is one as well).



2. The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti I was given this book for Christmas by Lauren Olson, who sits across from me in Browne & Miller’s open floor plan, downtown Chicago office.  I am embarrassed to say that it took me this long to pick it up, but once I did, I could not put it down.  Tinti, whose short story collection Animal Crackers was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award, crafts a delightful and transporting gothic fairy tale in her first novel.  The Good Thief tells the story of Ren, an orphan without a left hand who becomes the ward of skilled swindler Benjamin Nab, after Nab convinces the monks at St. Anthony’s, the orphanage where Ren was abandoned as an infant, that Ren is his long lost brother.  The duo embark on a tour of 1800’s New England – a dismal place populated with grave robbers, eerie surgeons, loner dwarves and questionable mouse trap factory workers – in search of Ren’s true identity.  Tinti’s writing in this Dickens meets Harry Potter tale is crisp, engaging and grounded, which makes all of Ren’s adventures, no matter how odd, feel tremendously real.  It’s an Alan Rickman, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton movie waiting to happen!

 3. The Face by Angela Hunt As much as possible when I travel, I like to take along a book by a Browne & Miller author that I may not have read during the editorial process. Though we edit a lot of author work in house, we don’t get involved with every book. Since I like being up to speed on as many agency titles as I can, that means that I am never without a B&M book.  Plus, The Face was named one of Publishers Weekly’s “Best Books of the Year,” so it was a logical choice for a vaca read.  In this awesome thriller we meet Sarah, a brilliant CIA operative who was born with a severe facial disfiguration and Renee, Sarah’s aunt who was told throughout her life that her brother’s only child died.  Desperate to locate the only family she has left, Renee applies for a job with “the company” hoping that it will bring her to Sarah. Needless to say, both women’s lives are forever changed once Renee’s application is approved!  Fast-paced and gritty, The Face is completely absorbing and peopled charismatic and relatable characters


4. Laurell K. Hamilton.  This entry will be a little odd as I am not sure which one of the 16 Anita Blake novels I had on my iPod during my drive from Nevada to Arizona, but I know it was a more recent one as the book was all about sex. I had never read (or listened to) an Anita Blake novel and have been curious for some time. From what I can gather (and please correct me if I’m wrong) Anita started out as a pretty standard, butt-kicking vampire hunter, but somewhere along the line the series took a turn for the erotic and Anita was transformed into a hybrid vampire that feeds off sex (if I’m getting this wrong, please forgive me, I’m going off the background info I received in the audio book).  As I’ve stated before, I am a fan of pretty much all things vampire, but I have to be honest and say that I couldn’t get into Anita Blake. In fact, I didn’t return to the book, despite not having had finished it, once I arrived at my destination.  I guess I wanted less sex and more vampire hunting. 

 5. An Editorial about The R-Word.  The start of my vacation found our President in some trouble after his late night appearance on Leno.  Needless to say the controversy surrounding his comment comparing his bowling game to a Special Olympics event sparked a lot of debate about what is an isn’t politically correct during my travels. I was delighted to find this editorial in the Chicago Tribune calling for a ban on the word “retard.”  The article discusses the Special Olympics’ Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, which launched yesterday, and which calls for banning the r-word from our collective vocabulary.  Click here to read it.