24 Mar Kathy’s Random Reads
I’ve been focusing my reading on the World War II era, since the novel I’m currently working on is set during that time. But I frequently get side-tracked when I come upon a title that looks interesting.
Here are a few not-to-be missed books.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Set in 1870 Texas, in the turbulent Reconstruction Era, this is a beautifully written work of literary fiction that combines the elements of setting, plot, character, and theme into one deeply satisfying whole. For an author seeking to grow as a writer, the book is both inspiring and intimidating. For a review of the book click here.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In the author’s first novel, he has crafted a beautiful story, as well as a history lesson revealing the hideous face of slavery, as it rips and tears apart the bonds of family and friendship among the Tasked (slaves), solely to protect the interest of the Quality (masters). For a review of the book click here.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
This is a fascinating novel that begins in 1922, when a Bolshevik tribunal sentences Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov to confinement in the Metropol, a luxury hotel across from the Kremlin. The story continues through the next three decades of Russian history, during which the Count, from his shrunken world, tries to live out his goal to live a full and rich life. His guiding principle: “If one does not master his circumstances, one is bound to be mastered by them.” For a review of the book click here.
The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg
This book is as much about blue-collar culture as it is about cooking. Rick Bragg is an entertaining writer who I was fortunate enough to see at the Book Marks Festival in 2018, when he presented a tribute to Pat Conroy. For a review click here.
Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino
This is a disturbing account of the 1898 Wilmington coup that re-established white supremacy in North Carolina. The brutal facts cause the reader to want to look away. However, the author encourages us to confront our skeletons in the closet and to refuse to allow them to determine our future. For a review of the book click here.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo is a novel based on the true story of the death of “Willie” Lincoln, a son of President Abraham Lincoln, who died in 1862 of typhoid fever at the age of 11. The novel opens in the bardo, which is an intermediary state between life and the afterlife. The book is original, unique, poetic, and ambitious in purpose and technique, as well as a bit confusing at times. Still worth the read! For a review click here.
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is a story-within-a story set in Barcelona at the end of the Spanish Civil War, with a host of memorable characters whose relationships create a tension that carries the plot forward and makes the novel a page turner. For a review of the book, click here.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
The prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, the lesson learned from Watchman is that by confronting our own bigotry and narrow-mindedness, we can no longer demonize and blame others for the social and political problems of the day. Consequently, we are free to drop our self-righteousness and get on with the business of finding common ground and lasting solutions. For a review of the book