Okay so I’ve got some long flights coming up and I need some great books to read on them. Something in the vein of:
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (yes I know I tell everyone they should read this. Well, they should.)
Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
And/or mysteries of basically any sort, as long as they’re compelling. What’ve you got for me?
Those are three books I read and really liked! “The Barn at the End of Our Term” from Vampires in the Lemon Grove was one of my favorite short stories in recent memory and I also tell everyone they should read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (in fact, I actually told a friend that THIS MORNING.)
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - I have been pushing this on everyone. It’s my first great read of 2013. I liked it SO MUCH that I bought it once, mailed my copy to a friend, and then bought it again. And (UGH, NERD ALERT) I sent an email to the college prof who first had me read Ozeki letting her know how much I loved this and how I probably wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t taken her class. MINUS FIFTY COOL POINTS FOR EACH YEAR I’VE BEEN OUT OF UNDERGRAD.
We Live in Water by Jess Walter - An acquaintance said,”If short stories are the Guided By Voices songs of literature, then this is literature’s Alien Lanes,” and he was right. This is good, sad, weird, and compelling. It’s super short, but stays with you for sure.
PopCo by Scarlett Thomas - So, I’ll be upfront and say that there are some (politically reductive) things that I don’t like about this. BUT, BUT there are so many things that I do like — a mystery about a woman who designs code breaking kits for a toy company? And who was raised by family members who specialized in cryptanalysis and upper level theoretical mathematics? Who is smart, funny, weird, and sad (my favorite traits in both books and people!) In general, I recommend Thomas’ books for flights. She writes mysteries with an academic bent. If you want light but compelling plane reads, check out her series of books starring Lily Pascale, the pulp mystery writer/literature instructor.
Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis - Perfectly executed science/historical fiction about graduate students who use time travel to research their theses on WWII topics (code breaking, shopgirls, nannies for evacuated children.) I burned through these during my first couple of lunch breaks when I first started to work at the Museum.
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray - Who doesn’t want to read a book about a kid that keels over in a donut shop and his friends’ attempts to harness their (limited) understanding of string theory to try and bring him back? A perfect coming of age book about kids probably for people who are not kids anymore.
Also I will read anything by Carol Goodman, even the “sexy” mysteries she writes under the pseudonym “Juliet Dark.” She pretty much only writes mysteries about folklore scholars who are struggling to finish their PhD and take up teaching positions at private girls’ schools or enter into residencies at writers’ colonies where they get drawn into a mystery. I would suggest The Lake of Dead Language and Arcadia Falls.
What do you do when everything is garbage and you just want to curl up on the floor and never leave yourself again?
I guess you eat a maple donut and listen to all of the songs that used to make you feel good.
The English Beat are playing a benefit show at the Beachland next week. It’s suggested donation $10 and all proceeds are going to the Cleveland Courage Fund to benefit Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus but (oh, the irony, the tragedy, the sheer disgustingness of it all) I’m afraid to go anywhere alone anymore and my Facebook feed is clogged with awful Cleveland dudes whose treatment of women makes my skin fucking crawl talking about they “can’t wait to see The Beat!”