Has there ever been a better time to read?
There is likely significantly more reading occurring these days and I am here to proffer more choices for all of you new bookworms.
The first will be appreciated far more now that we are all practicing social distancing. “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel tells the incredible story of Chris Knight, who at age 19 walked off into the woods of Maine and spent 27 years in isolation. He spoke only one word in all that time.
“Apeirogon” by the acclaimed Irish writer Colum McCann is a superb read. Equal parts sobering, thoughtful, and uplifting, it is based on the true story of two men from opposing sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict who each lost a young daughter in the fighting they live with daily. The men are now friends, and the region and its troubles are seen through the lens of music, art, writing, science, even photography.
In historical nonfiction, “18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics” by Bruce Goldfarb is a fascinating story of how one woman’s determination fueled the entire field of forensics. Just after reading this, her legacy was featured in the plot of a TV crime procedural (my husband makes me watch “NCIS”).
“The Man in the Red Coat” by Julian Barnes is a biography of Samuel Pozzi, a renowned surgeon during the Belle Epoque. This is heady, intellectual writing — weaving in the likes of Proust, Wilde, Whistler, even Sarah Bernhardt — that is not a light read.
On to fiction, “The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Daré is an ultimately victorious tale of a girl who is thwarted at every turn as she seeks education and self-worth in Nigeria. You will celebrate Adunni and admire her grit and determination. On the flip side of the education spectrum, Bruce
Holsinger writes of parents using questionable judgement and actions in securing a spot for their offspring in “The Gifted School.” I guarantee you will recognize some parents you have known in this book.
Moving to a totally different setting, James McBride pens an ode to old Brooklyn with “Deacon King Kong.” The nest of lives in the projects are intermingled in mutual benefit in this snapshot of the old neighborhoods before drugs took over. (If you have not read McBride’s first book, “The Color of Water,” stop what you are doing and read it immediately. I insist.)
Set in Boston, “Writers & Lovers” by Lily King is a beautifully written portrait of Casey, who has lost her mother and her bearings. She wants to write her novel but is waiting tables and can’t find her true self. King’s writing has a lyrical quality and I enjoyed her first book, “Euphoria.” Jenny Offill, another newer writer, pens a slip of a book in “Weather.” Our protagonist becomes an armchair therapist when she is asked to answer her friend’s work emails. But she has her own life to contend with. Offill’s spare prose makes this a furious and intense, sometimes comic, read.
North Carolina is the setting for Therese Ann Fowler’s disquieting tale of seemingly slight offenses gone horribly awry in “A Good Neighborhood.”
Aravind Adiga, whose book “White Tiger” was set in India, goes to Australia in his new book “Amnesty” to show us the plight of Danny — an illegal from Sri Lanka who works as a house cleaner and thinks he knows who killed one of his clients but is fearful of exposing his status if he goes to the police.
For murder-mystery fans, Jess Montgomery looks to “The Hollows” of Southeast Ohio in the mid-1920’s and reveals insular communities, racism and sexism. For fans of the writing duo Preston and Child, the newest tale featuring Agent Pendergast is “Crooked River.” Once again, an impossible situation arises and is dissected most ably by our arch and erudite Pendergast. The authors tempt with a lead to the next case set in Savannah. I can’t wait.
Keep reading, walking at a distance and washing those hands!
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.