If you are like me, you’re always looking for a good book to read next. I’ve been reading a lot this year, primarily due to a prolonged period stuck at home before and following major back surgery, and I want to share some of the best reads that got me through the year from hell.
But first, a quick update on my debut novel, “The Port Stirling Secret”. I have finished the second draft/rewrite, which was more extensive than I’d planned. Being new to this process, I was surprised at how much more difficult the revision is compared to breezing through the first draft. Live and learn.
My book is now ready to face the world, and I have begun the search for the right literary agent to represent me. I have a list of a few agents I met at a writer’s conference last August who expressed interest in my book concept, and I will start with them. I hope to get an agent and go the traditional publishing route. However, I have an internal rejection meter – no, I’m not going to tell you the number – and if I reach my rejection limit, I will self-publish on Amazon, and start work on the second book in the series, which is titled (for now, to get me going) “The Secluded Inlet”.
Now, for some recommendations for your summer reading.
One of the cleverest hooks I’ve read in years was English writer’s Ian McEwan’s The Nutshell, which is narrated by a baby-in-the-womb. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but it’s so smart and funny. It’s a play on Hamlet, with the fetus overhearing his mother and uncle plotting to kill his father. The baby develops a love for his mother’s wine-drinking, particularly a fine Sancerre. You just have to trust me on this one; it’s a delightful, enchanting book.
Another terrific English writer (this may be a trend) is Fiona Barton, and her novel “The Widow” is a taut psychological thriller. Be sure you read this one all the way to the end!
O.K, one more English writer and then I promise to move on to other nations: Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling. If you haven’t been introduced yet to the Cormoran Strike novels that Rowling writes under the pseudonym of Galbraith, I envy you, as I sit here waiting and waiting for the next one to be published. Read these devilishly-good-fun mysteries in order – The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil. If I’m honest, The Port Stirling Secret was inspired as much by detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott, as it was by the real-life murder that first caught my attention.
Rebecca Sherm’s Unbecoming pissed me off, because it’s her debut novel and it has no right to be as good as it is. Harumph.
If you tire of mysteries and psychological thrillers, try Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling, and laugh your head off. Seriously.
While we’re in the travel vein, I also enjoyed Elaine Sciolino’s The Only Street in Paris: Life On the Rue Des Martyrs. Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief for the NY Times, is not my favorite writer in the world, but her view of her pet Paris street will have you packing your bags.
One of my favorite writers is Louise Penny. Penny is Canadian, and her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries are all set in small-town Quebec. As a budding mystery novelist, I aspire to be half as good as Penny, both from a characterization standpoint, as well as delivering a sense of place to her stories. Do yourself a favor; go to her website and pick the first in the series, pour a favorite beverage, and find a good place in the shade.
I was probably the last person in the country to read Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, but if it’s really you, what are you waiting for? This suspense story was one of the biggest thrill rides of my year.
Fans of literary fiction will want to pick up The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. It’s not the book you think it is, but I guarantee it will charm you and leave you feeling warm…after quite the adventure.
I’ll have more reading recommendations later on, but this should get you through summer. Happy reading!