All right, all right. Last month, I introduced a new feature called ChitChat. Here’s how it works: Each month I’ll ask a panel of people a question. And they answer it. It’s pretty simple. 🙂
Anyway, this month’s question is: What was the last great book you read?
I am known to devour books in two or three sittings so I am always on the lookout for a great book. The panel did not disappoint.
Moira: The last book that I read and really enjoyed was The Likeness by Tana French. It’s the second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, each book featuring a different detective from the squad. The Likeness is the story of Detective Cassie Maddox, who is a main character in the first book in the series, In the Woods. Maddox is no longer on the murder squad, but goes undercover after a body is found and the victim looks exactly like Maddox. Not only does she look like Maddox, the victim is also using an alias that had been created for Maddox when she was an undercover cop. Maddox assumes the identity of the victim, and lives her life to find her killer.
While I did like the first book in the series, In the Woods, I was riveted by The Likeness. I was unable to put it down and stayed up late to finish it. French is a great character writer, her characters are strange and different, like no one you have ever met, yet you are easily able to imagine them being real. Her mysteries make you think and wonder and up until the end you still aren’t sure what exactly happened. French writes with depth and has mastered the psychological mystery. While it is not necessary to read the first in the series before reading this book, I would recommend it as it gives insight into Maddox’s character and situation. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!
Hartley: I recently devoured The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt while on a sailing trip around the Greek islands. The protagonist Theo Decker’s adventures kept me glued to my book even as we saw the most beautiful sights — I was so antisocial while I was reading it! (Apologies to my husband.) I would highly recommend the Pulitzer-prize winning book to anyone who doesn’t get intimidated by 700+ pages and enjoys the occasional esoteric discussion of antique wooden furniture, Ukrainian slang, and New York City’s WASP-y upper class. (God, I’m making this book sound miserable already. Just promise me you’ll read it before you see the movie*.)
*Runner up goes to: This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper, and is currently in theaters.
Aubrey: I’m in school pursuing a joint degree in clinical psychology and law, so I currently don’t get to do much reading for pleasure. However, I did read The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court over the summer, and it was one hell of an entertaining read. In his book, Jeffrey Toobin covers the Supreme Court from the late 1990s to the mid 2000s. He is able to pierce through the veil under which the Court so often shrouds itself to reveal a world of oddball personalities and high stakes political wrangling. Through interviews from a variety of sources,Toobin fashions a life story for this set of real characters that helps explain each member’s worldview and decision making process. He crafts a tale in which the Court’s more moderate voices eventually drown out those drawn to political extremism and legal formalism. It provides some hope that the Washington of today will eventually give way to a political temperament attracted to workable solutions.
I understand that Supreme Court jurisprudence isn’t everyone’s bag, but if you have an interest in learning more about major legal decisions that have had a direct impact on the Country, then I suggest this entertaining and often funny (yes, funny) journalistic accomplishment. Trust me, reading about constitutional law can often make you wish you were carrying a loaded gun. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court feels like a pleasure read that you can take to bed or absorb while sipping your favorite spirit.
Mary: I recently finished Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and it blew me away. It’s the story of twins, born co-joined and out of wedlock in Addis Ababa, sons of an Indian Catholic nun who is a nurse and an English surgeon, both essentially missionaries in Africa. The story grabbed me immediately, told in the voice of one of the twins, and kept me hanging until the last word, and then I was sorry it was over. The characters were amazingly well-developed, the descriptions of Ethiopia and its politics and lifestyle from WWII on to present day were mesmerizing. It was one of the best written novels I’ve read in a long time and it has stayed with me ever since. I also took it out of the library in audio book form to “re-read” and the narration was one of the best I’ve heard. Highly, highly recommended if you are looking to learn about medicine and surgery, African politics and lifestyles, a great story of love, and sorrow, and triumph. Read it, read it, read it!
Chelley: The last great book I read gave me even more insight to different types of dwarfism and the controversial medical practice of limb lengthening. The book Dwarf by Tiffanie DiDonato is a memoir of pain and suffering, life and overcoming obstacles. While the story pained me at times, I am honored to know the author and to know that she, most importantly, is happy with her decision to alter her body. I suggest this read to parents… it’s a great story about making decisions with our children, and how we are strong enough to support them, even in the hardest of times. (Check out a great blog post about Dwarf on Chelley’s blog, AisforAdelaide.com)
Elizabeth: The last book that I have read that really wow’d me was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. There were so many twists and turns that I wound up staying up for two days just to finish it! It’s about a man and his wife disappears on their 5th wedding anniversary. It is hard to explain more without giving it away. It is about to be released as a movie with Ben Affleck! I really recommend it if you like suspense and thrillers!
I hope these recommendations gave you some new books to add to your list! I can personally vouch for Gone Girl, Cutting for Stone, and The Goldfinch. All wonderful books in their own way. Now tell me, what is the last great book YOU read? You can’t take ideas from this list without sharing with the rest of us! 🙂