"Gentleman Overboard" by Herbert Clyde Lewis published in 1937 slipped into forgotten books land as so many good books do (and shouldn't) until it was rescued. It's the story of Henry Preston Standish, who finds himself floating in the Pacific Ocean, sure the ship he fell off of will turn around and pick him up. It's ingenious tragicomedy with an objective. You've got to read it.
These good books: from gripping to inspiring
Here you'll find stories to savor and characters you'll love so much you'll have to put the book down and walk away, to get ready, when things get tense. Also, a memoir about growing up on the largest block of unfenced wilderness in the lower 48 states, and a new novel I'm thinking may just be a spring break beach read.
Paris’s 19th century institutionalized female hysterics
The Salpêtrière hospital in Paris functioned as a city within a city, an enclosed asylum for women whose nerves were shot. That's my modern speak for what then neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot termed hysteria. In "City of Incurable Women," author Maud Casey lets their stories be known. Read more about her new book here.
Now reading: poetry, nature, true crime, and J.S. Bach
For too long, Ilya Kaminsky’s “Deaf Republic” sat on my reading table, a story told in poems that’s not only profound but now so very timely. Also in this blog post you’ll find a compelling mix of fiction and nonfiction, with authors writing about love for the natural world, truth in a murder investigation, and the St. Matthew Passion.
What I’m reading, plus promising new books
I’m deep into the fictional lives of Guy and Harriet Pringle in Olivia Manning’s classic trilogy, but I'm also looking forward to some interesting new books out this month and next. They include a novel narrated by a book (the narrator being Joseph Roth’s “Rebellion”), a small gem exploring 19th century women hysterics, a psychological thriller, a reissued story collection from the 1970s, and more. Read about the books here.
Mahmood Mattan’s tragic story
"The Fortune Men" is a fictionalized account of a gross miscarriage of justice that sent a Somali sailor to the gallows in 1952 Cardiff, Wales. Shortlisted for Britain’s 2021 Booker and Costa literary awards, it’s received much attention and praise. Here’s a review.
My 10 favorite books of 2021
A surprising mix of novels became my year-end favorites for their morally conflicted and inspiring characters: from scientists to petty thieves, French Algerians to Chilean dictators, an Indiana farm woman to a Black female executive. And then one book, simply put, I didn't want to end.
What to read next: books now and to anticipate
Here you’ll find an intriguing mix of fiction, memoir, and graphic nonfiction. One of the novels is by an internationally acclaimed Irish author. Another is by “the other Elizabeth Taylor,” a British author whose writing career unfortunately began just as the American Elizabeth Taylor came to fame in Hollywood. Her novels are considered to be a well-kept secret.
The sad, mad world of housewives in the 1960’s and 70’s
Author Hilma Wolitzer has gained a reputation as one of our best fiction writers who, according to The Washington Post, “raises ordinary people and everyday occurrences to a new height.” Thirteen stories are collected for the first time in her new book since their publication in magazines during the 1960s and '70s. They're funny, heartrending treasures about an unforgettable couple, Paulette and Howard, and others. Read more about them, here.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winners 2021
Since 2006, this significant prize in literature has celebrated the power of the written word to promote peace. Here are the 2021 winners: one adult fiction and one adult nonfiction, both of World War II and lives revealed, both riveting reads.
“Lean Fall Stand,” a new novel by Jon McGregor
Jon McGregor is an award-winning British novelist and short story writer. His newest novel to be released this month tells the story of an Antarctic research expedition gone wrong and the far-reaching consequences. Gripping and insightful. Here's a review.
Books to anticipate this September: part one
The 2021 fall season is jam-packed with new books from favorite authors. It's a promising unleashing that will keep readers well stocked in good stories for themselves and their book clubs. One novel in this list has been described as “a plumber’s Mrs. Dalloway.” Who could resist that? Here you'll find five September books with five more coming soon, in part two.
“You come from here, but this is not your home.”
Alice Zeniter's new novel THE ART OF LOSING marries the present-day Parisian life of a young career girl with the mid-20th century legacy of her father and grandparents. It's an epic drama about French Algerians before and after the war of independence. Moving and memorable.
What I’m reading now: fiction by Madeleine Bourdouxhe, Mollie Panter-Downes, Olivia Manning
I'm betting you don't recognize these 20th century female authors. Each has faded into obscurity for different reasons, but now have renewed and much deserved attention. One wrote a bestseller, one wrote for The New Yorker, and one just couldn't get the critics to love her work. I'm under their spell. Here's what's captivating me.
My 2021 summer reading list: five novels by essential authors
What are you reading this summer? I’ve assigned myself carefully selected books as a nostalgic nod to those long-ago summer reading requirements for school. These novels, however, are much more exciting, no slogging through “Advise and Consent” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Here’s the list, including plot summaries.