Waiting-room Reading

Because our next issue doesn’t come out until May 17,
and because your to-read book pile can never be too high.

The best way to choose a book is by spending four to five hours in an independent bookstore obsessively plucking books from shelves and reading page 70 of each one until you find the book you can’t put down.

The second, less time-intensive way is to ask a friend with good taste for a recommendation. We asked our Barter Members — for who is friendlier and has better taste than a Pipe Wrench reader? — is to tell us what the last books they read and loved were. Here are some of their recommendations, with the opening line of each book for further decision-making support.

cover of the book "the island of missing trees" by elif shafak. A graphic, bright yellow and blue tree snakes up the book against a darker blue background.

Once upon a memory, at the far end of the Mediterranean Sea, there lay an island so beautiful and blue that the many travelers, pilgrims, crusaders, and merchants who fell in love with it either wanted never to leave or tried to tow it with hemp ropes all the way back to their own countries.

Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees

The cover of the book "Girlhood" by Mellissa Febos, with the word "GIRLHOOD" in white on a black background.

“What do you like?” the men would ask. “Spitting,” I’d say.

Melissa Febos, Girlhood

Cover of the book "Two Trees Make a Forest" by Jessica Lee. The title is in white, against a colorful illustration of a hilly landscape in shades of green, pink, and blue.

I have learned many words for “island”: isle, atoll, eyot, skerry. They exist as archipelagos or alone, and I have always understood them by their relation to water.

Jessica J. Lee, Two Trees Make a Forest

The cover of book "The Invisible Life of Addie Larue" by V.E. Schwab. The book title is in ornate gold script on a black background.

A girl is running for her life.

V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

Cover of the book "The Past" by Tessa Hadley, featuring green text on a white background over a photograph of a young White girl with blond hair running across a grassy field.

Alice was the first to arrive, but she discovered as she stood at the front door that she had forgotten her key.

Tessa Hadley, The Past

The cover of the book "Hex" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, with bright blue text layered over a moody illustration of a young woman wrapped in ragged robes floating over the rooftops of a village.

Steve Grant rounded the corner of the parking lot behind Black Spring Market & Deli just in time to see Katherine van Wyler get run over by an antique Dutch barrel organ.

Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex

The cover of the book "Luster: A novel" by Raven Leilani, featuring orange and white text over a close-up photograph of a black woman's bare shoulder and hair.

The first time we have sex, we are both fully clothed, at our desks during working hours, bathed in blue computer light.

Raven Leilani, Luster

The cover of the book "Something to Tell You" by Hanif Kureishi, featuring dark red text surrounded by simple stick-like figures un various amorous situations.

Secrets are my currency: I deal in them for a living.

Hanif Kureishi, Something to Tell You

Happy reading! And if you’re wondering what it means to be a barter member: learn more and join us.

Note: all links are to bookshop.org. Buying there means that your purchase supports independent bookstores, and we receive a wee affiliate fee (at no added cost to you) that helps keep the lights on.