Saturday, February 11, 2012

February is for book lovers

I am truly blessed to live near four excellent libraries. An embarrassment of literary riches. And as my daughter is also a voracious reader, hardly a weekend goes by when we don't drop by one of them. Especially in winter.

In addition, our town library recently started a book group where patrons share book recommendations, which resulted in several of the books below. I also found some gems via Barnes & Noble's weekly book recommendations.

As per usual, I have grouped or labeled books and included a link to, where you can learn more about each title (and purchase it, if you so choose).

File under "Baseball" and "Bromance":

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. This book was so overhyped I was reluctant to read it, even though I love baseball (go Mets!). But I'm glad I did read it, even though I had some issues with certain plot lines (Pella's, Owen's) and character points (wine-colored hair?!). For those of you who thought about picking up the book but didn't because it was about (shudder) baseball, rest assure that while baseball does figure into the story, The Art of Fielding is really a story about male friendships -- or bromance -- and self discovery. It is also beautifully written.

File under "Mystery":

The Case of the Missing Servant and The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall. I loved these two "Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator" mysteries, which are set in India (mainly in Delhi). I loved the whimsical characters, the (Anglo-American) author's use of language, and the humor. (How much did I enjoy these books? I just found out the third book is coming out in July and made a note in pen in my weekly engagement calendar to get it.) If you like a witty mystery set in an exotic locale, check out The Case of the Missing Servant -- and if you liked it, The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing.

Killed at the Whim of a Hat
by Colin Cotterill. Yet another cheekily written mystery, this time set in Thailand. More great characters (including the narrator, a female crime reporter, her body builder little brother, and her uber hacker transvestite older brother) and a plot that keeps you guessing. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, which is supposed to come out this summer.

File under "British Humor":

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise
by Julia Stuart. I would not describe this book as "hilarious" as many reviewers have. (Clearly I do not get British humor.) In fact, I found the tale of love and loss at the Tower of London quite sad and depressing at times. That said, once I got into the story, I rather enjoyed it -- and became quite fond of the main characters by the end. If you are an Anglophile and/or English history buff and enjoy stories about people finding themselves and each other, I recommend The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise (even though it really should be called Lost and Found, for a variety of reasons).

The Uncommon Reader
by Alan Bennett. More (subtle) British humor. A quick read about what happens when Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, discovers books and becomes an avid reader -- much to the dismay of those around her. A perfect bedtime book, especially if you are an Anglophile and/or an avid reader yourself.

File under "American Humor":

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel. You ever read a book and feel guilty about laughing out loud? This is one of those books. Politically incorrect and often annoying (kind of like Chelsea Handler's books), Lunatics is still laugh-out-loud funny. (I am so ashamed.) Another quick, easy read.

File under "Art History" and "La Belle Epoque":

Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X by Deborah Davis. I clearly have a thing for art history books. Also John Singer Sargent (one of my favorite painters). And Belle Epoque Paris. While nonfiction, Strapless often comes across as historical fiction, which I consider a good thing. A fascinating story about the painter John Singer Sargent and "Madame X," aka Virginie Amelie Avagno Gautreau, the subject of perhaps Sargent's most well known -- and infamous -- painting, Portrait of Madame X.

For more great reads/past Book Nook posts, click here (or on the label, below).

And if you have a book (or books) you would like to recommend, please leave the title and author's name in the Comments.


Anonymous said...

Wait for me! by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire

Amazing look at how nobles REALLY lived in 20th century.

Hint: Raising chickens.

Not quite the Upstairs/Downstairs we assume.

J. said...

Sounds like a very interesting book! Will definitely pick it up. Thank you for the comment. (FYI, for some reason your comment did not show up on the post, just in my email, so I re-posted it.)

Bartleby the Harper Collins Scrivener and your old boss said...

I love Sargent as well and loved Strapless.


Hare with the Amber Eyes

Queen of Fashion: What Marie-Antoinette Wore to the French Revolution

The Greater Journey

J. said...

Thank you, Bartleby. All three sound excellent -- and I will be sure to check them out. (Hare, unfortunately, is not at our local library, and there's a waiting list for it at our other favorite library, but the other two are available.)

The Daily Del Franco said...

Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs is fantastic -- and this is coming from a guy who bills himself as the Late Adopter.

Isaacson captures Jobs' persona wonderfully and backs them up great anecdotes. Highly recommend this piece of non-fiction.