Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Great fall reads

Fall and winter are great times to curl up with a good book, and these eight books would all make for great reading on a crisp fall evening.

Note: As per usual, I am listing books in the order I read them and clicking on the title will take you to a description on To read previous "Book Nook" posts, click here.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson. Fiction. Yes, yes, I finally caved and read it -- and was not disappointed. Though I kept having a sense of déjà lu. An excellent thriller, featuring a journalist, set in Sweden. What's not to like, except for lots of innocent women being raped and murdered and knowing that somewhere there is someone who could hack into your computer or your bank accounts in a second and steal whatever they want? Still would definitely recommend to mystery buffs (even though I have no desire to read the rest of the Millennium Trilogy nor see the movie, in Swedish or in English).

The Girl Who Chased the Moon
by Sarah Addison Allen. Fiction. A wonderful, magical, modern-day fairytale set in the South. Not as strong as Allen's previous two books, Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen, which I LOVED, but a charming, quick read about growing up, second chances, and finding magic in the every day.

The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece
by Edward Dolnick. Non Fiction. The title pretty much says it all, in terms of a quick summary. What it doesn't say is that the author, an investigative journalist, is a brilliant writer, who gives readers a first-row balcony seat to one of the greatest art thefts -- and recoveries -- in recent history, of Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. Along the way, Dolnick tells of other impressive art thefts and the men and women behind them. Although the work is non-fiction, it often reads like a mystery or thriller. I highly recommend, especially if you are interested in the art world.

The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick. Non Fiction. It seems as though September is Art Heist Month, at least in my house (though I have yet to rent either version of The Thomas Crown Affair, both of which I have seen). Another fascinating look at the art world and art forgery and art theft, this time around the time of World War II, by investigative journalist Edward Dolnick. You don't have to be an art lover to appreciate or enjoy this book, which, like The Rescue Artist, is meticulously researched and very well written.

The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone. Non Fiction. With subtitles like these, who needs descriptions? A must read for you Eleanor of Aquitaine and strong women in history buffs. A bit hard-going in spots, but a fascinating look at an overlooked 14th Century queen who wielded considerable power, despite constant attempts by the men around her to subdue and dethrone her.

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson. Non Fiction. Again with the subtitle. Anyway... If you are an Audrey Hepburn or a Breakfast at Tiffany's (the movie) buff, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. is MUST reading. Another non-fiction book that reads like fiction. I couldn't put it down.

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
by Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo. Non Fiction. Because, like I said, it's Art Heist Month here at J-TWO-O Central -- and after reading about art forger John Myatt in The Rescue Artist, I wanted to learn more. A total page turner.

The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson. Fiction. I literally could not put this book down. (Finished it last night.) A work of historical fiction, set in modern-day England and early 17th Century England and Morocco, about two women separated by 400 years, embroidery, and pirates, The Tenth Gift (bad title) made me want to immediately book a flight to England, so I could spend some time in Cornwall, and then take a plane to Morocco, which I've been wanting to visit (and photograph) for years.

Have you read any good books lately? Please let me know via the Comments. Note: I am still looking for books that will make me laugh at loud (as opposed to plunging me further into depression) -- and Chelsea Handler just doesn't do it for me.

Wishing you all good reading...


Another David S. said...

Cool list, J. If you're still into the workings of the thief-and-criminal set, I highly recommend The Ballad of the Whisky Robber, by Julian Rubinstein. It's an extremely entertaining account of a charismatic Hungarian bank robber (think George Clooney with an accent) during the initial post-Communist era who became a kind of folk hero to the disenchanted former proletariat coming to terms with what it truly means to be a capitalist. You can't help but start rooting for this charming, but kind of pathetic, former hockey player.

Constance said...

In honor of art heist month, start with the biggest thieving in Lynn Nicholas's The Rape of Europa, made into a very serviceable PBS documentary.

J. said...

Thanks for the excellent suggestions!