Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Michelle Anne Schingler

What is it about read­ing a great book that feels so in­dul­gent? For­get the dry re­solve of work­ing through a book that you have to read: I’m talk­ing about the books that you feel lucky to have read.

These are the books that trans­form our ex­pe­ri­ences—and vice versa. I won’t pre­tend that I don’t save the ti­tles I’m most ex­cited about for par­tic­u­lar read­ing sit­u­a­tions. I held off on a much-an­tic­i­pated third-in-a-se­ries novel re­cently be­cause I had a trip to Ice­land com­ing up, and I knew that the book would be all the richer if it were read un­der far-north skies. And it was. In a land where the sun never sets, stay­ing up un­til three with a story you adore is like be­ing wrapped in won­der: the world goes quiet around you as you plunge for­ward to­ward the end, never los­ing the light be­hind you. It will go down in my an­nals as a cher­ished in­stance of de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion. I won­der if I won’t be able to shake the im­pres­sion, on my next visit to that ti­tle, that pre­served Nordic night air is spilling out from the pages.

A book that I had to read might have been more bear­able in that setting, too, but it’s the per­fectly matched ti­tles that trans­form read­ing mo­ments into mem­o­ries. Spend a night curled in your fa­vorite read­ing chair with a book worth ex­alt­ing and your ex­haus­tion the next day is worth it; that same night, spent stiff-up­per­lipped over a book that you mostly feel that you have to fin­ish, is sim­ply work. I’ve taken books I love out on the town to read over din­ner and drinks and have pressed those ex­pe­ri­ences into my men­tal scrap­book; I’ve also read books at bars that are mostly bear­able be­cause of the pint placed next to them.

When we’re selecting ti­tles for the mag­a­zine, it’s the ex­pe­ri­ence-giv­ing books that we’re most in­ter­ested in, and we de­light in match­ing them with re­view­ers who’ll revel in what they have to of­fer. We know that our re­view­ers will read thought­fully re­gard­less, but when we get the word back on a book and it’s couched in love terms—when we know some­one’s made a book mem­ory there, and not just formed an opin­ion—it’s the best re­ward we can get. It’s al­ways worth­while to have read a book; it’s viv­i­fy­ing to have loved do­ing it.

In­dulge us this flaunt­ing: there are over 170 op­por­tu­ni­ties here for that kind of ex­pe­ri­ence—the per­fect night, the va­ca­tion made, the time spent that you can’t stop talk­ing about. Our po­lit­i­cal and so­cial sci­ence fea­ture and our trans­la­tions fea­ture are packed with hori­zon-ex­pand­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties; the fea­tured sci­ence ti­tles may lit­er­ally al­ter the way you un­der­stand the uni­verse. The nov­els we’ve cov­ered bounce around the world, al­ter­nately en­gag­ing in se­ri­ous mo­ments and wink­ing ones; the art books we’ve cov­ered play with col­ors, shapes, and fa­mil­iar no­tions in dizzy­ing ways.

The chal­lenge is to you now: Find the story that’s just wait­ing to be­come a part of your story. Dive in. En­joy.

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