Kick off July with ‘Best Seat in the House’

 
Only one non-fiction book this month and it is a fast and entertaining read, “Best Seat in the House” by Jack Nicklaus II. Not a golf book, rather a tribute to Jack the parent who made a herculean effort to be there for his five children in spite of the demands of travel. Barbara is his worthy co-parent.
 
“The Plot” by Jean Korelitz is a book that builds its story slowly. Early on I thought it was a dud. I was wrong, it is a thrill! Even if you guess a key player, it is still a jaw dropper. “You Love Me” by Caroline Kepnes is the sequel to “You,” which was a popular Netflix series. 
 
“The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Harris is another thriller in the genre of “Get Out,” the movie. Though meant to highlight race issues in publishing, this story is universal for everyone who was the eager new star at a job only to find the next new person is gunning to overtake their ascent. Office politics is universal.
 
The “Cave Dwellers” by Christina McDowell will be particularly appealing to anyone from the Washington, D.C. area. In fact it was recommended to me by a friend from there. The social manipulation and unethical politics of those who need power and prestige like they need oxygen. 
 
“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid also derides a local social class, this one in LA/Hollywood. Sports Illustrated swimsuit supermodels, surfers, singers, and tennis champs mixed heavily with drugs, alcohol and sex in a surprisingly well constructed story make for an engaging read. Also set on the West coast, though this one is in Palm Springs is “The Guncle” by Steve Rowley. Imagine Will from “Will and Grace” having temporary charge of his young niece and nephew. Rowley is a hilarious observer of social morés, but he also takes on loss and grief and handles it with sensitivity and honesty.
 
Set in 1950s Jaipur, “The Henna Artist” by Alka Joshi follows Lakshmi as she escapes her abusive husband and makes a life for herself as a sought-after henna artist to the ladies of the highest social class. As she perseveres, she encourages and champions those around her.  
 
“Great Circle” by Maggie Shipstead has dual settings starting in 1914 with a shipwreck. Marian Graves and her brother end up on a Montana ranch with an uncle. She goes on to achieve fame as an aviator. In the current day, Hadley Baxter is the film darling cast in the movie depicting Marian’s life. Parts of this book were interesting, but large sections needed editing. Overall, I found it to be a rather lifeless telling of what should have been a fascinating saga of women in aviation. 
 
“Outlawed” by Anna North begins, “In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.” Ada is married at 16 but when she is unable to become pregnant, she is labeled a witch and threatened with hanging. She wisely looks for other living arrangements. Thus begins an odyssey leading her first to a convent and then to a band of similarly fated women and their life of robbery in order simply exist. This is a dark but gripping tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.
 
Go online to beckysbookclub.com.
 

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