Reading To Save My Mind

May 27, 2020 at 10:50 pm (Book review, books)

As of the start of Lock Down – March 10 here in Maryland, if memory serves – we all knew we were going to have to develop strategies for staying sane. Mine, unsurprisingly, was to disappear into books.

Below are the results:

BOOKS READ SINCE 3/10

Contemporary Crime Fiction

Children of the Street and Murder at Cape Three Points by Kwei Quartey. I’m currently reading the next title in the Darko Dawson series, Gold of Our Fathers. There’s only one more entry; then Dr. Quartey switches to what I assume will be another series featuring a female private detective, Emma Djian. The first entry, called The Missing American, is truly excellent – but I still want more Darko Dawson!

Wolf Pack and The Bitterroots by C.J Box. Set in Wyoming, Wolf Pack is the twentieth entry in the Joe Pickett series: The Bitterroots takes place in Montana and features Cassie Dewell as a sheriff’s investigator. (I have a soft spot for the Wyoming novels, as my son and daughter-in-law got married in that gorgeous place in 2008.)

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. This book just won the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Novel. I read it; it’s sort of an old fashioned British crime story of the type that I frankly love. The writing was excellent, and the plot was riveting – I had trouble putting it down. But I have to say that the ending – the solution ,to the mystery, arrived at rather suddenly – didn’t completely satisfy me. I was left feeling rather empty. Nevertheless – recommended. (You may have a completely different reaction that I did.) Oh, and the version I downloaded includes an excellent discussion guide.

Trouble Is What I Do by Walter Mosley

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

An Honorable Man and The Good Assassin by Paul Vidich

The Last Hunt by Deon Meyer. I had  the privilege of meeting Mr. Meyer at Crimefest in England in 2011. He was an excellent speaker and a pleasure to talk to. In preparation for that excursion, I read the suspenseful and absorbing Thirteen Hours; The Last Hunt was even better. One reviewer opined that this new novel should gain Meyer the following he deserves. I certainly hope so.

Classic crime fiction

Signed, Picpus by Georges Simenon. It is my custom to turn to Simenon’s Maigret novels whenever I’m stressed. They always help. This one did the trick, as expected.

Murder in the Mill-Race by E.C.R. Lorac. The British Library Crime Classics series continues apace, with its wonderful cover art and delightful period pieces. This is one of my favorites.

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie. Being as I’ve been immersed in the lore and history of ancient Egypt lately – a Life Long Learning class in the Art of Ancient Egypt, plus viewing a Great Courses lecture series on the subject with the marvelous Bob Brier – it seemed the right time to read this; it’s Agatha Christie’s sole work of historical fiction.

Birthday Party by C.H.B. Kitchin

The House of the Arrow by A.E.W. Mason

Historical fiction

The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel. A fitting conclusion to Dame Hilary’s monumental Wolf Hall trilogy.

Fiction

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Old Lovegood Girls by Gail Godwin. When I first joined the Fiction/AV staff of the library in 1982, one of the first books that my colleagues urged me to read was the new novel by Gail Godwin (of whom I’d never heard), A Mother and Two Daughters. I’ve  been enjoying this author’s thoughtful, gracefully written works ever since  then. When I saw that she had a new book out this year, I downloaded it at once. That, and  the Hilary Mantel, have  definitely been sanity saviors!

Nonfiction

Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell

These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Life of Emily Dickinson, by Martha Ackmann

Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln by Edward Achorn

Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade

Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life by John Kaag
****************

So, what am I reading now? In addition to  Gold of Our Fathers,  the mystery mentioned above, several other items.

An analysis – at times, a psychoanalysis – of the Snow White story and its different meanings and iterations in a variety of  cultures:

 

This novel is a bit staid and slow moving, but I love the re-imagining of ancient Rome:

I am so loving Bob Brier’s Egypt lectures!! This is rather arcane subject matter, but Professor Brier brings it to life rather nicely:

Okay, well this is about the incredibly destructive, fast moving, and horrifying Camp Fire that occurred in California in 2018 and decimated this most ironically named small city. It’s a slightly odd thing to be reading right now, but all the same, it’s riveting.

This post came about as a result of a reading list I’m compiling for a program of book talks that I’m scheduled to present in July.

1 Comment

  1. Shell-Shell's🐚tipsandtricks said,

    “Reading to save my mind” is right!! Thank you for sharing, looks like some great books!

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