Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Book Recommendations

Because I spaced out last week—hey, how’d it get to be Thursday already?—I’m coming in late with my Christmas book list. But I’ve been jotting down everyone else’s reads. What fun!

I have to admit up front that I’m having trouble staying with 2009 publications for my recommendations. The requirement of not knowing the author knocks out quite a few, too. I’d love to put William Kent Krueger’s Heaven’s Keep on my list, but I consider Kent a good friend. So I’m adding it as an extra—it was both gut-wrenching and gripping, a great read.

1. One 2009 book I’ve been raving about to anyone who will listen is The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by David Grann. Grann has woven Percy Harrison Fawcett’s monomaniacal zeal for discovering the lost civilizations of the largest and most lethal jungle in the world with his own growing zeal for finding out what happened to the explorer. Not only did Grann portray the explorers’ ordeals and sufferings in skin-crawling detail, the end is a cultural revelation.

2. Warning: I’m going to stray from 2009 publications. Blink came out in hardback in 2005, but its topic, how people make important decisions in an instant via their “adaptive unconscious” and how the adaptation succeeds and fails made me analyze a lot of my own behavior. Malcolm Gladwell, a compelling writer, is able to identify and dissect human abilities/characteristics in a way that opens readers’ eyes.

3. People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. Brooks fictionalized the passage of the rare and ancient illustrated Jewish text, known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, through time to its discovery in Sarajevo, where it was rescued by a Muslim museum director. Brooks creates a believable tale of the people who contributed, at great risk, to the survival of this volume. Made me want to view the real item. I actually listened to this book on CD, and found the narrator, Edwina Wren, to be excellent—she contributed to the experience. I didn’t want to get out of my car.

4. Six Bad Things, by Charlie Huston. I know, this came out in 2005—but where the hell was I? I am missing some good stuff—absolutely riveting noir. Huston does a vampire series, which I haven’t read. I’m tired of vampires, but have the feeling I’m alone on that one. Six Bad Things has nothing to do with vampires—it’s about a likeable guy who gets way, way on the wrong side of the law. And it just goes downhill from there, kind of like an avalanche. I couldn’t put this down, and I’m going to order his new book, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. Huston has a new fan.

5. Another new author discovery for me: Tom Corcoran. I had the pleasure of meeting Tom on my panel at Bouchercon, and picked up Air Dance Iguana (2006) at the conference. Another How Did I Miss This Author moment. Corcoran has a dry, deadly wit and his characters are desirable, detestable, and everything in between. I’m going to track down his newest, Hawk Channel Chase. If it’s anything like Air Dance Iguana, I’m in for a rockin’ read.

Hope this helps with your Christmas shopping. As my blogmates have mentioned, try and order from independent stores. Free long distance minutes make it easy—I just call the mainland and order from some of my favorite stores: Poisoned Pen, M is For Mystery, Mysteries to Die For, Mystery Bookstore, Aunt Agatha’s, Book Passage, and many others.

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

Great list. Thanks for reminding me that I really want to read Blink