Hadley's Summer Picks
Detective Ralph Anderson is certain that pillar of the community Terry Maitland murdered a local child, so certain that he arrests him in front of nearly their entire town. But as more evidence emerges, it's clear Terry would have had to be in two places at once to commit the murder. If you already like King, you're sure to love The Outsider. But if you pick up his books only here and there like me, this book is very much worth your time. King's writing makes this grisly material unexpectedly fun, and it's a perfect summer mystery, as the events take place amid the brutal July heat in Oklahoma and Texas; the descriptions are so good you'll feel the desert dust in your mouth and the sun on the back of your neck. When you're done, binge the HBO series, which takes a darker spin on the material.
If you haven't read this true crime classic, you're missing out; if you haven't read it in many years, consider picking it up again. Helter Skelter is way more than a kill count. It's a work of American history that describes the crimes that marked the transition from the fancy-free (white) America of the '60s to the terror-stricken '70s: the Manson family murders. Written by the prosecutor on the case, this hefty book is surprisingly readable, and it's an excellent companion piece to the 2019 Tarantino masterpiece Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood.
Toni Morrison was among America's most brilliant novelists, but she also penned and spoke about revolutionary cultural critiques, discussing racism in America, black folks' right to self-determination, and the necessity of women's self-regard. The Source of Self-Regard includes a selection of the best of these. If you've read her novels (and you should, especially if you're trying to learn more about race in America), you'll recognize these themes, but now you'll get to read about them in the context of Morrison's life. Follow up this outstanding collection with the beautiful and unconventional documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, released shortly before her death last year and among her final interviews.
This jaw-dropping book is FINALLY in paperback, which is the excuse you've been waiting for to check it out. Bad Blood, a shocking investigative account of a blood testing startup based in lies and falsehoods, has everything: scams and cons, magical thinking and cult-like loyalty, scientific and medical untruths, billions of dollars, thuggish lawyers, and regular people just trying to make things right. But most importantly, it's a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when we put too much faith in Silicon Valley. Oh, and the trial of Elizabeth Holmes--the primary con artist of this story--is set to begin this fall, so now is the perfect time to get caught up! Once you've read the book, follow it up with the podcast The Dropout.
When the thick, muggy Mid-Atlantic summer hits, don't you just want to leave it all behind and camp out in the snow with the sound of the rushing Yukon River filling your ears? OK, OK, that's probably just me. Jokes aside, The Sun Is a Compass, a memoir from Van Hemert about her and her husband's 4,000-mile trek to the north coast of Alaska and across to the west coast of the state, will indeed take you away to places barely anyone has seen while grounding you deeply in truths and questions about the day to day--how we chart a course through life, choose our roles in our relationships, cope with loss, and more. It's an excellent pick for a recent college grad, too. And if you do need to cool off, you'll find this book filled with gorgeous photos of the otherworldly Arctic and awe-inducing natural descriptions. Grab an ice pop, head outside (safely, of course), and dive in.
Since the first edition The New Jim Crow was first published 10 years ago, it seems that little has changed in the criminal justice system's relationship with black people; to say the least, it's timely that the 10th Anniversary Edition was published this year. If you're not black, you might attribute mass incarceration of and police brutality against black people to military-style police departments or the War on Drugs. Truth is, as Alexander lays out in her book, the mass incarceration of black folks is just the latest version of an effort that's hundreds of years old. The New Jim Crow isn't a light read, and it's not a slim crash course on race relations in America, either. But if you feel compelled to get the real and in-depth story of how we got to where we are, at least in terms of the criminal justice system, you can't do much better than this book.
The Factory is a short little book that follows three workers recently employed at a highly segmented, ultra-powerful organization that seems to be embedded in every aspect of its employees lives (Oyamada actually wrote this novella after her experience working for one such company). One shreds paper, another proofreads documents entirely out of context, and another is trying to figure out the optimal way to lay moss around the organization's campus. Is something sinister going on? And what's with all the weird birds on the property? I'm not going to sit here and tell you this book isn't bizarre. But if you're like me and you're open to a little absurdity and ambiguity, pick this up; I promise you'll have a blast.