The Joy of Reading

In the spring and fall, publishers release some of the best new books of the year, the ones that most support the joy of reading.  This year’s releases have been no exception.  The past few months have brought an abundance of great new fiction titles. Sometimes, as is currently the case, my recommended books appear to be lifted straight from the best-seller lists.  Generally, I select my reading material from professional reviews published or posted in advance of publication, or through word-of-mouth by friends who read and review galleys, or advance readers copies.   Whatever the source,…


The Book Club

The secular book club, or reading discussion group, is a long-standing American tradition, dating back to the late 18th century.  Earlier versions of reading groups were generally religious oriented.  Today, 88% of participants in private book clubs are women, almost two thirds of whom have advanced degrees.  Women today account for 80% of all fiction sales. There are many forms of book clubs.  Publishers of popular books sometimes will include a discussion guide, printed in the book itself.  There are national reading groups, touting specific books recommended by celebrities, such as Oprah or Reese Witherspoon.  There…


Love Story

A good love story can fill one’s heart, and such was the experience of Saturday’s performance of Marguerite and Armand, a San Francisco Ballet premiere. First created by choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton for the Royal Ballet, Marguerite and Armand is a classic piece first danced by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. The iconic pair danced this love story for the San Francisco Ballet in 1964, one year after it was created.  What a performance that must have been!  This year’s performance by the SF Ballet, however, did not disappoint, performed by Missa Kuranaga and Joseph Walsh,…


Books and Reading

Books and reading are a lifelong habit for me.  While not every book I read (mostly novels but some non-fiction as well) has lasting literary value, reading is a wonderful source of entertainment and pleasure. Toward the end of the calendar year, critics, writers, readers, and review publications select their top books of the year.  I took a quick look at some of these lists and selected a few of the titles I had read and enjoyed over the past year.  The Washington Post 2023 “Best” list included a category for mysteries and thrillers.  And sure…


So Many Books, So Little Time

Finding time and space to settle down and read a good book can be difficult, depending on one’s circumstances, but the phrase “so many books, so little time” has never seemed truer.  The quote is widely attributed to the late composer and musician Frank Zappa, and has been used on T-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise for decades.  The quarantines and shut downs over the past year and a half due to Covid turned people’s lives upside down.  For many, anxiety and stress challenged the ability to read for pleasure, and would-be readers turned to audio-books, podcasts,…


Landscapes of the Suspense Novel

Brooding landscapes are often a staple of the suspense novel.  In some cases, the shadowy, mysterious house at the center of a country estate is a key character.  Perhaps it is haunted by the ghost of a sophisticated, beautiful, deceased first wife.  Rebecca, by the late Daphne Du Maurier, is a modern classic.  Most suspense novels use scene to set a foreboding mood. Suspense novels In John Banville’s Snow (Handover Square Press, 2020), his first mystery novel written without a pen name, the setting is bleak rather than menacing.  A violent, desecrating murder takes place in…

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More About Books: Mystery and Suspense

Books and reading are among the most satisfying pleasures in life, and this year’s offerings are an inspiration to write more about books. Starting with Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful novel, Gone Girl (Crown Publishing, 2012), psychological suspense has grown as a popular book genre.  As an early fan of the works of Daphne du Maurier, including the classic, Rebecca, I am drawn to the genre, but have been disappointed by many of the contemporary novels. There is nothing disappointing, however, about novels written by Jane Harper.   Most recently I read The Lost Man (Macmillan, Flatiron Books,…

About Books and Reading
Bedside reading

About Books and Reading

Each year, I look forward to the fall months for news about books and reading.  Magazines, newspapers and trade organizations choose the fall to announce their selections for “best books” of the year.  It is a good time to compare our favorite books with these lists, hoping to add undiscovered gems to our reading lists. Many prestigious book awards also are announced in the fall.  The National Book Awards were unveiled in November; the Man Booker Prize was announced in October.  The publication of outstanding books and the awarding of prestigious prizes, however, are by no…

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