Tagged: book recommendations

Classics Club #16: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The house was a sepulcher, our fear and suffering lay buried in the ruins. There would be no resurrection. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a masterpiece of suspense that should not be missed by anyone who loves atmospheric settings, classic mysteries, or gorgeous prose. Ranked as the 9th greatest mystery novel of all time by the Mystery Writers of America, Rebecca entrances the reader with its lyrical sentences as the story slowly unfolds, picks up speed, and then builds into a page-turning climax. I enjoyed every sentence of this haunting...

Alfred Hitchcock’s Hard Day at the Scaffold

Hard Day at the Scaffold is a solid collection of short stories edited by Alfred Hitchcock that I read over the course of a year for the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge. Hitchcock’s anthologies always feature darkly humorous stories with a generous dose of creepiness, and this one was no different. Though this collection had fewer memorable stories than others I’ve read, it was still enjoyable. My favorite was “One on a Desert Island” by Donald Westlake, the tragicomic story of what can happen to a man’s...

Advent Wreath

Resources for the Beginning of Advent

Advent is upon us, our annual invitation to living with hope and expectation. As we begin this sacred time of waiting and watching, here are some resources to help us in our preparations for Christmas: America Magazine offers An (Unconventional) Advent Playlist for those who like to wait until the actual Christmas season to play Christmas music. Busted Halo has updated their Advent in 2 Minutes video: Dynamic Catholic is once again offering their daily video mediations, The Best Advent Ever. And if you’re looking for a good...

Classics Club #15: Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol reaffirmed one thing for me: I really don’t like classic satires. From Candide to Gulliver’s Travels to Zuleika Dobson, they hold very little interest for me. I’ve had a bit more success with modern satires like the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett, but in general satire is not a genre I appreciate. Dead Souls is an episodic story in which the main character Chichikov travels to various Russian estates trying to purchase “dead souls.” It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Dead souls are peasants that...

The Violent Land by Wayne D. Overholser

The Violent Land by Wayne D. Overholser

I had thought of this country as the big range, but now, I told myself, I would rename it the violent land. That was it, a violent, savage land. It had changed me since I had come into it. The Violent Land by Wayne D. Overholser is a classic of western fiction, but it would be a mistake to limit its value to a single genre. Part adventure, part romance, part Bildungsroman, Overholser’s award-winning novel is outstanding in every respect. The plot is tight, the characters are believable and...

Some of Nick's Nonfiction Favorites

Handprints on the Wall of My Soul: Nonfiction November 2017 Week 4

Nonfiction November 2017 continues with a prompt about favorite nonfiction books hosted by Katie of Doing Dewey: Nonfiction Favorites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone?...

M. R. James Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James

All this time a growing feeling of discomfort had been creeping over him—nervous reaction, perhaps, after the delight of his discovery. Whatever it was, it resulted in a conviction that there was someone behind him, and that he was far more comfortable with his back to the wall. I read Ghost Stories of an Antiquary over the course of this past year as part of the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge. Each week I would draw a card from a deck of playing cards, and if it...

The Worm Ouroboros detail

Classics Club Book #14: The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison

Abase thee and serve me, worm of the pit. Else will I by and by summon out of ancient night intelligences and dominations mightier far than thou, and they shall serve my ends, and thee shall they chain with chains of quenchless fire and drag thee from torment to torment through the deep. The Worm Ouroboros might be called world-building fantasy in the tradition of The Lord of the Rings but for two details: it was published 22 years before Tolkien’s trilogy, and it is much darker. In fact, though Tolkien himself...

David Bellos Les Miserables Novel of the Century

Nonfiction November 2017 Week 2: Book Pairing

It’s time for another Nonfiction November post. After reading last week’s posts my TBR pile has already grown! For a roundup of last week, see the links at JulzReads. This week Sarah at Sarah’s Bookshelves hosts one of my favorite events of Nonfiction November, Book Pairings: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to...

The Story Knife by Fr. Brad Reynolds, S.J.

Late last year when I was trying to find books for the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge, the hardest to find was a book whose title included “an item of cutlery.” After a lot of searching I finally settled on a book I had last read in 1996 when it first came out, The Story Knife, a mystery by Fr. Brad Reynolds, SJ. Fr. Reynolds is a Jesuit priest (like Pope Francis), and he happens to have grown up right here in Spokane, Washington, where I live. I...

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

What’s a clergyman to do when murder is committed in his home? Start investigating, that’s what, especially when Miss Marple lives next door. Leonard Clement is the vicar in St. Mary Mead, a small English village. He’s also the narrator of The Murder at the Vicarage, the first full length novel to feature Agatha’s Christie’s elderly sleuth Miss Jane Marple. When Colonel Protheroe is murdered in Clement’s study, the difficulty is not in finding a suspect, but in sorting through all the people who wanted him dead–including the vicar...

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: A Deal Me In Challenge Status Report

One of my favorite reading challenges this year has been the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge. Every Sunday I look forward to drawing a random card from the deck to see what story I’ll be reading this week. At this point in the year I only have nine cards left, which means I’ve read 43 stories. I’ve enjoyed this challenge so much that I’m already looking at anthologies to use for next year’s challenge. If you’ve been following along, you might remember that my theme is year...

Tolkien Books on Shelf

What Happened to the Magic? On Modern Fantasy Literature

Lory over at Emerald City Book Review has a wonderfully thought-provoking post about the her relationship with the fantasy genre. I began to leave a comment there but it ended up growing too long for a simple comment, so I offer my thoughts here. Here is how Lory began: When I was growing up, I almost exclusively read fantasy. C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Ursula LeGuin, Madeleine L’Engle, E. Nesbit were the writers I read again and again, devouring every one of their books....

The Man Who Was Poe by Avi

I recently took a detour from my 2017 Reading Challenges to read The Man Who Was Poe by Avi. My daughter’s seventh grade class is reading it together and my wife and I wanted to share the experience with her. Plus, I find Poe a fascinating writer and I was looking forward to seeing him as a character in historical fiction. The story takes place in Providence, Rhode Island in 1848, when Edgar Allen Poe is reluctantly drawn into helping a young boy find his missing mother, sister, and...

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

The Man in the Brown Suit is a mystery novel, but it also reads like a grand adventure. There’s a murder to be solved for sure, but there’s also espionage, a perilous sea voyage, diamond smuggling, kidnapping, a journey across Africa, and romance. Looking back, I’m amazed at how much Agatha Christie was able to fit into the novel. And yet, it didn’t seemed forced or crammed in. Here’s how the publisher describes the book: Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes...