Lost Light, by Michael Connelly. 354 pages.
Detective fiction, which is a genre we have largely left untouched over the years. Robert says: “Connelly is my favorite crime fiction writer. He writes police procedurals that follow the career of Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch, an LAPD homicide detective. I’ve read all the Harry Bosch books – there are about a dozen in total – and I picked this one as representative of the series.” Probably a bit different from a Bosch painting, I’m guessing.
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 176 pages
A list of the awards this book has won would be about as long as the actual book. Framed as a series of letters to his teenage son, this is part-autobiography, part-meditation on the changing nature of race relations during his lifetime. I just don’t have anything snarky to say here. Sorry. I’ll do better next time.
The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. 657 Pages
A buddy comedy between a golem and a genie (AKA “Jinni”), where hopefully the golem will be a day away from retirement and “too old for this shit.” Set in turn of the century NY, mixing Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature. Mike B says: “Pretty much everyone raves about this. Some recommendation-engine overlap with Night Circus and Jonathan Strange, which is a great sign.”
The Night Sessions, by Ken MacLeod. 263 pages
Set in a future after the “Second Enlightenment,” which separated religion from politics and terrorism is a thing of the past. A church bombing leads a detective to uncover a dangerous mystery. Everett’s QuickTake: “Murderous, Calvinist robots on the loose.”
Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. 656 pages.
A teen-age psychic becomes involved in a secret war played out at the margins of the regular world. Mitchell appears to be weaving multiple narratives across history, as is his wont. Pros: Getting really good reviews, and his other books have been great. Cons: Weighs 1.2 pounds.
The Sellout, by Paul Beatty. 304 pages
Another highly decorated book (Man Booker Prize, I believe the first won by an American since they relaxed the rules) Described by the NYT as having “the most caustic and most badass first 100 pages of an American Novel in the last decade,” it is the story of man, disappointed by his sociologist father who performed racially charged sociology studies on him as a child, who decides to literally put his town on back on the map by resegregating his high school and reinstating slavery, landing him at the Supreme Court.
The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. 504 Pages
The story of a woman who becomes entangled in a supernatural battle taking place in London, complete with conspiracies, secret organizations and apparently a guy with four bodies. Mike B says: “Supposed to be funny, gripping, and well-written. Detective story with supernatural elements. Everything that the Atrocity Archives, The Manual of Detection, and the Leftovers fooled me into thinking we were going to get.” I hear it’s supposed to be way better than “Gentlemen of the Road,” too.
Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems, by David Rakoff. 240 Pages
As you can likely tell from the impressive subtitle, David Rakoff takes a tour of first world cultural excess to explain why we are all horrible people going to hell, but, you know, in a funny way.
The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt. 356 pages.
The Swerve is a non-fiction account of the change wrought on the world upon the medieval discovery of “On the Nature of Things,” a Roman text suggesting atoms and rationalism over religion. Mark says “One of my favorite books. And I'd happily read it again. An easy, quick, fascinating read; not pedantic even though it covers a lot of history. I'd love to hear what you all think of it.” Mark is trying again with this suggestion. Seriously, throw the man a bone.
The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. 384 pages
Won the Pulitzer Prize (among many others) for fiction in 2016, the story of a communist double agent half-French, half-Vietnamese man, who comes to America after the fall of Saigon and reports back to communist Viet Nam. Part spy novel, part examination of American identity.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson. 480 pages
A non-fiction account of the (spoiler alert!) sinking of the Lusitania focusing on the politics of the time, boat building, and war history. A number of awards for this one as well.
People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. 372 pages.
Brooks won the Pulitzer (albeit not for this). A rare book expert from Sydney gets a call that a missing Jewish religious text has been found in Sarajevo. She travels there to authenticate the text and meets the sexy, sexy Muslim librarian who initially found it. Narrative time travel ensues to 1940 and 1480, tracing the history of the text and the relations of Muslims, Jews and Christians. Warning: May involve discussion of forgery and forgers.