Five good reads: Katie Spielberger

This week’s list of Five Good Reads was submitted by Katie Spielberger. To submit your own list, email


The dilemma of a good book: you want to lend it to a friend, but then you miss having it around. Here are five books I’ve released into the world that I wish were still on my shelves.

1. “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell

Set on an island in the Everglades, this tale of the decline of an alligator wrestling family — and the theme park they depend on for the livelihood—carefully walks the line between the real and the fantastic. Although it takes place at the opposite end of the country, I couldn’t help but see Alaskan parallels in this story of a tight-knit family struggling to survive in a harsh and isolated (yet touristy!) environment.

2. “Vox” by Nicholson Baker

The entire novel consists of a single phone conversation — probably the sexiest, most intelligent one you’ll ever read — between two people who have never met. Nicholson Baker is a master of minutia and, as it turns out, also writes extremely witty erotica.

3. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

I’m currently enjoying Donna Tartt’s new novel, “The Goldfinch”— and already plan to pass it on when I’m done — but doing so has made me mourn my lost copy of her earlier “The Secret History” all the more. Dark, thrilling, and really smart, this is the best novel set in a college I’ve ever read.

4. “Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin

This captivating tale of an envoy to the planet of “Winter” includes fascinating meditations on gender and society, as well as lots of adventuring and shivering, which we can all relate to. My copy was on loan itself, but once I read it, I talked about it so much another friend asked to borrow it (I’m sorry, original owner, I promise to return it eventually).

5. “Finite and Infinite Games” by James P. Carse

When I worked at Hearthside Books in 2006, it seemed like all of Juneau was reading this book, thanks to the urging of my coworker Michael Hunter. This engaging little book presents a powerful framework for understanding life as an “infinite game,” full of possibilities, and after reading it, you too will probably want to recruit fellow players.


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