I keep a running tab of “Books I’ve Read” in the Notes app on my iPhone. I like to keep track because I often move so quickly from one book to the next (there’s no time to waste when my TBR pile is overflowing), and it’s nice to go back and reflect on what I’ve read, taking a minute with each book. They all affect me differently—some are pure enjoyment, some make me nostalgic, some teach a lesson. This month’s books were a varied lot, but I appreciated each one for the different qualities they have and I hope you will, too.
This novel was a little outside my norm—I tend to read fiction set on Earth. My sci-fi-loving husband is constantly trying to get me to go to the “dark side,” so I finally caved, and I’m glad I did. With visions of Matt Damon running through my head as I sat down to read, I was honestly carried away. This book is exciting and fun, scientific and technical, emotional and pulse-quickening. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone, and there’s a reason it went from a self-published sensation to a New York Times bestseller.
Stuck on Mars after a space mission gone awry, astronaut Mark Watney makes a desperate bid to survive despite near-impossible odds. The adaptation stars Matt Damon, who has some experience with stranded spacemen—he was in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar just last year. But don’t get the two tales confused: according to Damon himself, The Martian is “totally f****** different.”
Release date: October 2, 2015
A murder mystery inside a murder mystery book. A delightful twist on the norm, MAPGPIE MURDERS follows book editor Susan Ryeland as she searches for the missing pages of the highly anticipated Alan Conway manuscript she plans to publish. As readers, we get to try to puzzle out the whodunit of the missing pages, but also read the Alan Conway mystery itself, which is a classical approach to the genre. Suspenseful, clever, and enjoyable—especially if you like playing detective.
André Aciman’s language and writing prowess blew me away in his debut novel. Though it has a slow start, this coming-of-age novel set in the Italian Riviera is a beautiful, tender, evocative story. Set in the 1980s, Elio starts his summer just as any other, but is consumed when Oliver, a 24-year-old American professor, arrives to stay for the season. Playing with memory, time, and love, Aciman tells the story of Oliver and Elio’s attraction, fascination, and obsession with each other.
For anyone who, like me, binge-listened to the Serial podcast, ARE YOU SLEEPING is for you. Kathleen Barber provides a modern lens through which to explore the thriller genre with this creative story line. Josie Buhrman is your average thirty-something woman trying to hold down a job and an apartment in New York City, while escaping her past. But when an investigative reporter lands on Josie’s father’s murder as her next podcast subject, Josie’s life is turned upside down. Reunited with her estranged twin sister, and once again swept up in the lies and terrors of her past, Josie finds herself at the center of a national obsession. Wonderfully written, and with the pacing of a pro, this debut is an entertaining read with characters who are deftly drawn.
REBECCA was my first foray into Daphne Du Maurier’s work and it certainly won’t be my last. She has a legacy for moody and suspenseful novels, and after reading this stunning book, I can see why. From page one the writing grips you and you settle in with a slow-burning veil of suspense. The setting of Manderley is complete with a labyrinthine house, a wicked housekeeper, and the ever-present ghost of Rebecca. As an avid reader of suspense novels, I loved reading this classic that has informed the way contemporary writers craft their work. Du Maurier pulls off the ultimate creepy novel with themes that still resonate 80 years later.
I watched the classic Hitchcock film of Daphne Du Maurier’s gothic masterpiece starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine for the first time in years the other night, and in loving it was reminded of how much I also loved the book. Is there a first line of a novel more evocative than “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”? Only Hitchcock could do justice to the moodiness and plot twists of Du Maurier’s genius work.