It’s that time of year when we’re all clearing the decks, so to speak, trying to sort out what’s done, what’s in progress, and what’s to come in the last ten days of the year. I imagine I’m not the only one who’d like to do blog tidying as we get ready to ponder reading goals for 2016.
I have read three really great books in the past month, all very different from one another but all equally compelling. The first is Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Almost Famous Women: Stories. I am a short story fan. The best can be just as emotionally complicated and absorbing as any novel. These stories captivated me. They each are inspired by a different real life woman (or women, as is the case with the first story, about conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton.) These women are complicated, intriguing, or problematic, according to your point of view. You may have heard of a few of them – perhaps Butterfly McQueen, most famous for her role in Gone With the Wind? Or maybe you’ve read the new novel about writer and adventurer Beryl Markham, Circling the Sun. I’d never heard of most of these women, but after each story I went straight to Google and did some digging to find out more. I added quite a few biographies to my TBR! These are fierce, lovely, and (sometimes) sad stories, and I am eager now to read Bergman’s previous collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise.
The next page-turning read is Michael Connelly’s The Crossing. It’s the 20th (!) in his best-selling Harry Bosch series. I’ve read every one of these, and will continue to read them as long as he puts them out. I love a good mystery, and find former Detective Bosch a compelling character. This one was especially good, since he reluctantly teams up with his half-brother Mickey Haller, a.k.a. The Lincoln Lawyer (of the Connelly book series and movie with Matthew McConoughey.) Bosch doesn’t want to cross over to the “dark side” of defense law, as a former cop, but he is such a bulldog for justice that his half-brother convinces him that his client is innocent. Good stuff! (Definitely start with the first one in this series, The Black Echo. You really need a chance to get to know Harry.)
Finally, I recently finished The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. I really enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for a well-written family saga anyway, and this one was so engrossing that I read it quickly once I got the chance to dig in. It focuses mainly on the oldest son, Cha Cha, and the youngest daughter, Lelah, from a family of thirteen children in present-day (well, 2008) Detroit. Their father has passed away, their mother is ailing, and they need to figure out what to do with her house, which is sitting empty in a declining neighborhood. Lelah’s got a gambling addiction, Cha Cha’s seeing a “haint,” and we also get to glimpse the beginnings of their parents’ marriage back in the 1940’s. There’s a lot going on but I was never confused, just thoroughly entertained. I can’t wait to see what else Ms. Flournoy writes in the future.