By Black Balloon Publishing

The Black Balloon office on Fridays (Actually “Sunday Reading in a Village School" by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, via Wikipedia)

We wouldn’t go so far as to consider ourselves celebrities, but we’re sure that you, dear readers, occasionally have some questions about the folks that fly this, The Airship and Black Balloon Publishing. Does Ryan still wrestle on the weekends? Is Arv too poor to afford a new cellphone? Does Michelle listen to musical theater in the office?

We can’t divulge all of our secrets (though we will say this: Michelle likes the Rent soundtrack), but if you want to get to know our staff’s reading habits, you’re in luck. Read on for advice on what to bring next time you head out to the beach — and which books are best left at home.

Arvind Dilawar, Senior Editor (The Airship): Women by Charles Bukowski

I’m sure I’m going to get some flak for this, but thus far Women has been disappointing. It seems so childish, the writing about writing and drinking and sex, like the kind of stories boys write in college workshops (I’ve written my fair share of it). I imagine Bukowski was revolutionary during his time and that fiction today is indebted to him for that, but Women feels like a prettier, more sincere version of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. I’ve still got about 30 pages left and I’m really hoping for some true wisdom there, but I’m honestly not expecting it at this point.

Janna Rademacher, Managing Editor (Distribution): Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

I’m dipping in and out of this indescribable book, which I can only read in small doses so my brain doesn’t explode while looking at the illustrations. Also reading: The Everything Store by Brad Stone, which is both fascinating and terrifying, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt because everybody else has already read it and I have to keep up.

Lori Shine, Managing Editor (Production): Things I Didn’t Know I Loved by Nazim Hikmet

I’ve been reading Hikmet’s poems from this collection, translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing. Many of the poems were written when he was imprisoned in Turkey for his dissident views. I adore their precision, their childlike ability to summon wonder and joy, and the way their conversational nature draws the reader in.

Freddie Moore, Editorial Assistant: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

I’ve read a few essays from the collection in the past, but this is the first time I’ve read it as a whole. It’s gorgeous. I picked it up partly as a means to convince myself not to idealize California after visiting San Francisco for the first time last month. There could be no bigger reality check than these stories (e.g. “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream”), and I’m anxious to see how “Goodbye to All That” reads after seeing the collection in its entirety.

Ryan Deshon, Lead Developer: “Street Fighter II: An Oral History” by Matt Leone

My relationship with Street Fighter II is a bit of a tempestuous one. Being from Chicago, Mortal Kombat was the fighting game of choice — but we all knew it was second best, given praise for the blood and gore. It was like comparing The Evil Dead to The Shining. So I was curious about how the concept for a game where Dhalsim (a "yoga" master from India who breathes fire and stretches his limbs to throw kicks and punches — I want to get into whatever yoga he teaches) and Guile (a USAF special forces operative with the worst haircut of the ‘90s) fight in a bath house in Japan. Turns out the characters who came up with the idea for Street Fighter II were just as animated as the game itself. Plus, what's not to love about developers sleeping in closets?

Adina Applebaum, Intern: How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith

Considering that my love of zine-making reached new heights last semester (I made a small zine about the life and times of Nathanael West for each student and the professor of an English seminar when we read Miss Lonelyhearts), I decided that it was time to graduate from my standard stapler-and-stolen-computer-paper methods. I picked this book up recently and have found myself totally lost in the beautiful layout and example zines of its pages — and they’re all completely doable. If you haven’t found yourself wanting to make a book out of old postcards before, you will after reading this.

Happy Friday Reads! Give us a shout-out on Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below to let us know what you’re reading this weekend and what you think of our choices.

Black Balloon Publishing is an independent press headquartered in New York, NY, with both print and digital distribution channels. We've published literary fiction, nonfiction and memoir, and we're willing to grow our reach in any direction that suits. Our books evolve, rotate, get mapped onto cities and light up your screen. We champion the weird, the unwieldy and the unclassifiable. The Airship is our blog and chief propaganda vehicle.

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