By Leslie Budewitz
“I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges
A few favorite books discovered in the past year — not all published this year, but all fairly recent.
The Bartender’s Tale, Ivan Doig (2013) Doig, Norman Maclean, and Richard Hugo are probably the writers most responsible for drawing attention to the literature of Montana in the 1970s. Doig is at is best when he’s writing in the voice of a young boy — his memoir, This House of Sky, and earlier novels English Creek and The Whistling Season — and he’s back at it with this tale of a 12 year old who returns to Montana to live with his father, an old-style bartender, in about 1960.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein (2008) Don’t let the idea of an animal narrator turn you off. Enzo is one of the wisest and most endearing characters I’ve met in years.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley (2008) and the rest of the Flavia de Luce mysteries Post-war England through the eyes of a most delightful young girl — chemist and detective, blending naivete and sauciness. The audio books are wonderfully narrated by Jayne Entwhistle. The 6th comes out in early 2014 and I’m already waiting!
The Beautiful Mystery, Louise Penny (2012) Surete officers Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy de Beauvoir investigate murder in a remote monastery. Love this series.
A Spark of Death, Bernadette Pajer (2011) (first novel) Seattle in 1901, featuring a widowed father and professor of electrical engineering.
The Book of Killowen, Erin Hart (2013) and The Body in the Bog, Sheila Connolly (2013) Two mysteries set in Ireland featuring bodies found in bogs — but not as similar as they might sound, and each a fun substitute for a trip across the Atlantic.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain (2012) Nonfiction, well-researched and thoughtful.
Cooked, Michael Pollan Had to get a foodie book in there, didn’t I? Seriously, he rocks.
What books did you read this year that still have you thinking?
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the national best-seller Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, published by Berkley Prime Crime in 2013. She’s hoping it makes your list! The second in the series, Crime Rib, will be published July 1, 2014.
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I’m reading mostly older books to try to catch up on the genres in which I write (late to the party known as writing novels), but one might as well learn from the masters, right?
Two that stood out for me were “A Drink Before the War” by Dennis Lehane and “Mayday” by Nelson Demille and Thomas Block. Lehane for his unique characters and powerful prose. Demille and Block for an incredible nail-biter plot.
Sorry I’m so late to reply, Chris — missed your message! Love all Lehane’s patrick & Angie books — good choices!
Reading “Sacred” now. Equally as good as the earlier Kenzie/Gennaro stories.