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Introducing: Carve Reads — Staff Picks for Recommended Reading

Welcome to a new monthly series on the Carve blog that offers sneak peeks into the particular literary tastes of the magazine's staff members. Much like those quirky cards taped to the shelves at indie booksellers, the Carve Reads series provides a snapshot of our collective nightstands, giving you a hint of insight into what we're obsessing over at any given moment, the books that have arrested our attention and refused to let go.

Anna Zumbahlen, Managing Editor:

"I recently read The Yesterday Project by Sandra and Ben Doller. It's a blind collaboration: Every day for 32 days the poets wrote, side by side, an account of their yesterdays, which they did not share with each other until a public reading. I read it in one sitting on a rainy Sunday, and though it featured some pretty serious digs at Sprouts and at Courtney Barnett, which are two things I love, I identified with all the polenta consumption, and ultimately, the book is one of the greatest acts of love I have ever witnessed."

Rita Juster, Senior Fiction Editor:

"I'm currently reading a memoir written by Leigh Ann Henion called Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World. Magical places transform Henion as she deals with her marriage and new motherhood. We learn about each place, what creates its distinction, and meet people called to live its mystery. The prose is rendered with a light touch, but isn't lightweight. We see the struggle for courage to actualize one's deepest self and can't help but recognize that same struggle in ourselves. I'm enjoying learning about the awesomeness of our planet while the writer-traveler quotes authors including Rumi, Einstein, and Jung as she grapples with universal questions."

Claire Shadler, Junior Fiction Editor:

"I’m 100 pages into Claire Vaye Watkins’ first novel Gold Fame Citrus, and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s about a young couple trying to survive a drought-ridden world in the not too distant future. Its take on humanity, relationships, and the future of society is captivating. The language and the images are so rich. Each line moves readers in a new direction, nudging them just slightly past what they might be used to reading in the most unique and exciting way."

Lori Feathers, Reading Committee Member:

"Ladivine by Marie NDiaye (translated by Jordan Stump): There is so much to admire in this novel about three generations of daughters. The observations are true and resonate. The language is simply beautiful. On an emotional level, the evocation of the conflicting feelings the daughters carry about their mothers is just stunning.  And the symbolism is deftly handled. A Whole Life by Robert Seethauler (translated by Charlotte Collins): I really loved this little gem, and it is shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker International Prize! It's the poignant story of the simple life of a man of simple means. Its conciseness makes its emotional impact so very great. Beautifully written and translated."

Nancy Devine, Reading Committee Member:

"The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie is a the most original book I’ve read in a long time. It's an exploration of family and love, nature and money, and translation as a career choice — plus squirrels. The protagonist and her relationship with her unusual mother made me laugh aloud. My mother plays some of the same games. The author has been compared to Jonathan Franzen, with whom she was in conversation at an event at AWP I attended, and I came away liking McKenzie more than him. The book is so well written, so energetic, and so much fun, even while plumbing deeper themes. The characters and settings feel so alive I was captivated. Lots of fun with language available on every page. I’m worried that whatever I read next will suffer in comparison."

Eris Young, Reading Committee Member:

"I'm reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I picked it up because one of my linguistics lecturers mentioned it in the context of English and social mobility. It's a historical novel about Thomas Cromwell and the marital struggles of Henry VIII. It's turned out to be an engaging book with evocative world-building; sympathetic, human characters; and absolutely sublime prose."

Thanks for stopping by, and come back for more picks in our next installment of Carve Reads!