We asked some of the most bookish people we know to share what they’re enjoying these days, from the latest unputdownable novel to their current movie obsession. We’re excited to hear from Kathryn Monaco, Content Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House! Read on to hear in her own words what she’s reading and recommending right now.
I’ve always loved reading because it allows me to escape into someone else’s story and learn about places I hope to visit. As a manager on the content marketing team, I’m grateful that my job involves raving about books online through our website and emails! My love for books comes from my mother, who has the ultimate book taste. We share a love for slow, sad literary fiction — the sadder the better. When I don’t have my head in a book, I love to play the piano, take long walks in my cute Brooklyn neighborhood, daydream about traveling to a new city, and attempt to cook elaborate dinners.
I could not stop thinking about this novel for weeks after I finished it! The main character pulls you into her world of quiet, intense observations in her journey to find her estranged husband who disappeared in Greece. As she carefully watches others, the reader uncovers more about her, her husband, and their relationship. It’s not quite a thriller although it can feel like one at parts.
Full disclosure, I picked up this book because of its cute cover; I thought it would be a light and cozy book. It most definitely is not! Choi Eunyoung shares intimate stories oftentimes about young women and minority groups in South Korea. Each short story conveyed many emotions and made me see the world around me slightly differently.
Author Elizabeth Miki Brina shares her own story and the story of her parents, an Okinawan war bride and a white, American Vietnam veteran, with empathetic honesty. I love that within these personal stories, she also shares the history of Okinawa. She connects her own and her family’s experiences against the broader backdrop of racism and colonization.
The Warmth of Other Suns shares the history of the Great Migration, an event in which many Black Americans, with or without their families, moved across the country in search of a better life. This epic book may seem daunting (yes, it is 640 pages), but it is made up of so many detailed personal stories that you soon forget you’re reading a history book.
This novel centers around a crime involving a wakaresaseya, a person hired to have an affair with one’s spouse for a more favorable divorce outcome. We see the case through the eyes of the daughter, Sumiko, who tries to understand what happened to her parents and the circumstances that led to a terrible act. I loved how atmospheric and haunting this book is, a perfect story to read on a cold, slow day.
I listened to this on audio, which I highly recommend! Chanel Miller narrates the book, bringing you into her heartbreaking story about her assault, the infuriating trial that followed, and her healing process. While the subject matter is incredibly sad and relatable for many people, I finished this book feeling uplifted and hopeful, which speaks to the incredible writing and character of the author.
This novel is a great way to see history through storytelling, and it led to the classic movie by the same name. At an old age, Fugui recounts his life growing up completely spoiled and the events that led to him losing all the privileges he was born with. This guy has truly seen and experienced it all, with his circumstances changing dramatically through each upheaval in recent Chinese history.
Another classic that was made into a movie, The Remains of the Day is told through the perspective of a butler, Stevens, who lives in England after World War II. This is not normally a subject matter I’d be interested in, but I ended up being completely immersed in this man’s world as he reflects on his life and the nature of the person he served for so many years.
A Tale for the Time Being follows two storylines, young Nao who struggles with being bullied at her school in Japan, and Ruth, a novelist, who finds Nao’s journal washed up on her small island. Ruth Ozeki is a Zen Buddhist priest and shares wisdom subtly through this both devastating and hopeful story.
If you’ve never read poetry by Mary Oliver, this is a great place to start. This anthology contains poems from several of her works at different stages of her life. Her poems always amaze me, especially in the ways she connects us with the natural world and reminds us of our place within it.
What are you watching?
At the start of the pandemic, I watched my first K-Drama, Crash Landing on You, and I never looked back. Now my sister and I split a Viki membership, and I’m 10+ dramas deep. Crash Landing on You follows a woman who falls into North Korea and seeks help from a very attractive soldier in order to find a way back across the border. It’s got romance, action, history, and great outfits. In addition to CLOY, I recommend Reply 1988 (if you love pop culture and slice-of-life dramas), Mr. Sunshine (if you love epic historical fiction), and Coffee Prince (if you love romance – with Gong Yoo as the love interest, swoon).
What are you listening to?
I’ve been listening to “Being Biracial” after meeting Kate randomly on a trip and bonding over being mixed! Kate and her co-host and friend Maria interview different biracial people in Australia and allow them the space to share their stories. Each person is unique in their different relationship to their parents, heritage, and racial identity. I’ve learned many new perspectivities and histories through the podcast.
What are you cooking?
I was recently gifted an electric hot pot, the perfect accessory for winter! I love trying out new recipes, and can’t wait to test them out and host more gatherings around a bubbling soup pot in the coming months. My go-to is this sukiyaki recipe from Just One Cookbook.
Thank you, Kathryn!