What We’re Reading: Katie and KCM Staffers Share Book Picks

book recommendations

You won’t be able to look away from these pages!

Summer is the perfect time for reading, right? Well, it certainly is for us: The KCM team is buried in all manner of books right now. Maybe it’s the humidity, or our excitement about Katie’s upcoming memoir, but for some reason, we can’t look away from these pages!

If you’re searching for some book recommendations, read on to find out what Katie, Molner, and the rest of the KCM team is reading. It’s a mix of humor, mystery, sci-fi, memoir, and even a little bit of history — but we find it all enthralling. And we think you’ll love our picks, too.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

I love Curtis Sittenfeld and really enjoyed American Wife, a fictionalized book about Laura Bush.  I didn’t rush to read Rodham — perhaps because I covered the real Hillary for so long — but I’m so enjoying it. It’s about what might have happened if Hillary Rodham never married Bill Clinton, and it really gets you thinking. – Katie

Inside Money by Zachary Karabell

I’ve been reading Zachary Karabell’s history of the legendary private investment firm Brown Brothers Harriman. Karabell tells the story of the firm’s “central role in the story of American wealth and its rise to global power.” While I’m only halfway through the book, I have not seen any mention of me, even though I was a general partner of the firm before starting KCM with Katie four years ago! Oh well! I still highly recommend it. – Molner

Cultish by Amanda Montell

I happen to be fascinated by cults, but even if you’re not, I highly recommend this book. It breaks down how leaders and companies use language to amass a following. It’s not just about cults — it’s about everything relatively cult-ish, including fitness companies, wellness brands, religions, social media influencers, and so on. Every page features a fun, fascinating factoid that will change the way you shop, support, and share. But it will also change the way you hear the people you surround yourself with — whether you become more empathetic toward those who are easily influenced or suspicious of those who strive to influence. – Maggie

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner

Singer, writer, and guitarist of the indie band Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner, published her first memoir, Crying in H Mart, which is an expansion of her original 2018 New Yorker essay. I finished this memoir a couple of months ago but it truly seems to be the book of the summer, at least in the New York scene. I couldn’t ride the subway or Amtrak or lay on the beach without seeing the bright red cover covered in noodles everywhere. Zauner chronicles the grief of losing her mother using their shared connection to their Korean culture and Korean food, especially their trips to Asian supermarket chain H Mart. To say Crying in H Mart is a lesson on how to deal with tough grief wouldn’t do it justice. It’s a lesson on how to honor a lost loved one and how to use their memory to find joy in everyday things and finding happiness with yourself. – Clare

Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashely C. Ford

I just started this book, so my thoughts are only slightly formed, but so far I’m hooked. Journalist and media star Ashley C. Ford makes her literary debut with her first memoir Somebody’s Daughter. It details her life growing up as a Black girl in rural Indiana and her complicated relationship with her mother and grandmother, and how her incarcerated father’s absence colors her upbringing. Ford goes on a journey to uncover the details of her past while giving the reader an insightful lesson on learning how to confront and cope with family trauma. – Clare

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I just read The Dutch House a few weeks ago and loved it, so I went off in search of other Ann Patchett books for more of the same. The summary on the back cover was bizarre: How could a book about a lavish birthday party taken hostage by guerilla fighters be romantic or mesmerizing? I decided to read it anyway and was, of course, mesmerized. It’s a book about art and love in all their forms, and for some reason I can’t explain, Patchett’s style is unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a hauntingly beautiful look at human connection beyond language and background, and it has an ending that will stay with you for days. – Ciara

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Fellow KCM staffer Emily Pinto recommended this book to me. We bonded over our love of horror and Stephen King (we’re totally normal, I promise!) and started an unofficial Stephen King book club. 11/22/63 is about a time traveler who attempts to prevent the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. It’s a mix of supernatural, historical fiction (and nonfiction), and philosophical and sci-fi musings. To say it’s a page-turner is an understatement. – Julia

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

I don’t know if any of you out there are Charlotte McConaghy stans, but if you are, DM me — I’d love to be friends! McConaghy is an Australian writer who published her debut novel Migrations in 2020 (it’s incredible and one of my top 5 favorite books of all time — a must-read if you love beautiful writing, a thrilling storyline, a complex female main character, and books that have you thinking about them for days after you finish reading). Once There Were Wolves is McConaghy’s latest novel — a pulse-pounding story set in the Scottish highlands that centers around Inti and her twin Aggie. Inti is leading a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing 14 gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal the dying landscape, as well as her sister from the trauma that drove them from their life in Alaska. – Julia

An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang 

Katie recently interviewed New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang about their explosive new book, An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination, a brilliant behind-the-scenes exposè of the tech giant’s fall from grace. I got to sit in on the fascinating conversation and afterward, immediately went out and bought the book. Kang and Frenkel are incredible reporters who spent over 1,000 hours conducting interviews with around 400 sources, including Facebook executives, former and current employees, investors, and advisors to Facebook, as well as lawyers and activists who’ve been battling the company for a long time. It’s an eye-opening, and at times infuriating, read that you won’t want to put down.  — Julia L. 

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Miller, a Classics scholar, tells the story of the Trojan War from the perspective of Patroclus, the legendary Achilles’ wartime confidant and lover. I’m always impressed when an author can compellingly tell a story in which everyone generally knows the ending: Song of Achilles does that so well. If you’ve been in a rut and are trying to get back into reading, this is the one for you. It awakened my inner 12-year-old who was obsessed with Percy Jackson, and made her feel really sophisticated. If, like me, you finish it and instantly want more, pick up Miller’s other bestseller, Circe, next. – Mary Kate

We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman

How much should what you do for work define your identity? The New York-based playwright at the center of this novel explores that question as she decamps to Los Angeles after a disturbing scandal blows up her career. When she strikes up a friendship with the filmmaker who lives next door, she’s drawn into a complicated documentary project with a unique subject: a group of teenage girls who partake in their very own “fight club,” a la the Brad Pitt movie. I love the book’s thoughtful take on personal performance — the way we frame ourselves differently depending on who we’re talking to, what we’re doing, and what we want people to see. – Ryan 

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

This nonfiction bestseller was released in 2019, but until recently, I’d been too busy doing something (or a lot of somethings) to read about doing nothing. I’m so glad I finally got around to this book: It’s a reflection on social media and “resisting the attention economy,” but it’s not a preachy treatise encouraging you to throw your iPhone in a river. Odell talks about the pleasure of doing nothing — or at least nothing “productive,” in a financial or career sense — in such a convincing way, you may be inspired to take up birdwatching, too (one of her favorite hobbies). Whether you’re tech-addicted or already prone to ignoring your Instagram messages for days at a time, Odell makes a vibrant case for building a life offline that’s meaningful — and ultimately productive, in its own special way. – Molly

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson

I loved Denis Johnson’s novella Train Dreams and his famous short story collection Jesus’ Son. So I picked up The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, his last book, which was published in 2018 after Johnson died of liver cancer. The stories are heavy — they focus on loss and mortality — and as in previous works, they’re beautifully written and dotted with Johnson’s black humor. – Rachel

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

I should probably be scouring The New York Times Best Sellers list for my latest read, but instead, I always find myself going back to one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris. His book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, is probably one of my favorites and is one I’m re-reading at the moment to get a break from all that’s happening in the world. It’s a collection of essays inspired by his move to Paris, France. I found his stories about trying to learn French particularly hilarious and relatable. – Tess

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

One of the things you learn pretty quickly in the city is how to fill your time commuting. For me, that means always having a book packed. Given the state of the world recently, an escape was exactly what I needed and I found it in Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens. The apocalyptic story of an angel and a demon working together to stop Armageddon had me hooked. But it was the dry humor, smart references, and footnotes — along with the banter between the lead characters — that had me almost miss my stop on the subway. I’m excited to binge the TV series that came out recently on Amazon next and see if they did it justice. – Aneri

IT by Stephen King

My coworker Julia and I are both big horror fans, and she was shocked and appalled to hear that I’d never read IT. A couple of days after I told her, a huge package arrived on my doorstep: She’d sent me her copy, all 1,300 pages of it. Despite how long the book is, I tore through it in less than a week (not literally, I don’t think The Incredible Hulk himself could tear this beast of a book in half). Nobody spins a yarn like Stephen King, and even though the story is definitely a thrill — it’s about a supernatural clown who eats children, after all — his commentary on humanity, friendship, and the complexity of growing up is nothing short of profound. – Emily P. 

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Lisa’s first book, Three Women, spoke to me. Lisa Taddeo is a genius, and a very cool one, at that. The way she writes about love and sex is so unfiltered and honest. Three Women is graphic, raw, dark, and revealing — and Lisa’s second book, Animal, delivers on all four fronts. To anyone looking for a thriller: this look back on one woman’s life and relationships will leave you perturbed and needing to hash it out with anyone else who’s read it. – Adriana

Rivers of Power by Laurence C. Smith

Inspired by my love of another book, History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, which explains world history through the lens of six culturally and historically defining beverages, I just started reading Rivers of Power with a similar theme. Rivers of Power explores “how a natural force raised kingdoms, destroyed civilizations, and shapes our world.” For the curious history and anthropology nerd who finds science more fascinating than fiction, this one is for you. – Laura