2012: My Year In Books (Fiction)

It’s just as important that we feed our minds as it is to feed our bodies, and I like tucking into a book almost as much as stuffing my face with Chocolate Chili.

Last year, I read somewhere in the neighborhood of 56 books, give or take a few I started and abandoned, and a handful of cookbooks I skimmed. I loved some of them. I felt very meh about others of them. And I had new thoughts and ideas and night dreams and daydreams because of all of them.

In case you’re looking for a book to keep you company, here’s the list of fiction I read in 2012. I’ve listed the books in the order that I read them, so you can see I get on streaks sometimes. World War II action! The Sandman Slim series! Atmospheric mysteries!

As always, if you use the Amazon links below to buy something, I get a little kickback. The government makes me tell you that.

I am about to geek out on books in a major way. You know how much I love cumin, right? I love books even more… even the ones I don’t enjoy.

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Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
My love for Jane Eyre is well-documented. I re-read it every January (and sometimes mid-year, just ’cause). It’s entertaining, moving, enlightening, and satisfying every time.

Declare, Tim Powers
Dave and I decided to read this — a spy thriller+fantasy novel set all over Europe with flashes back to WWII — as a just-the-two-of-us book club last winter. It was very disappointing. I hung on to the bitter end, but I didn’t enjoy it much. On paper, I should have loved it, but the magic just wasn’t there.

Knock ’em Dead: A Murder, She Wrote Mystery, Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
Without a doubt, the novelizations of Murder She Wrote (which I adore because Angela Lansbury is the f*cking bomb) are terrible. But for whatever reason, I was looking for the literary equivalent of a big bowl of mashed potatoes in February, and I gobbled this thing up in about a day and a half — laughing at it the entire time, but devoted anyway. Note that the fictional character Jessica Fletcher has an author credit on the book! How completely totally utterly f*cking delightful.

Disobedience, Naomi Alderman
Naomi is the writer behind the wonderful story woven through both the Zombies, Run! app and Zombies, Run! 5K Training Program. She and I were Internet acquaintances way back in the mid-’90s (when I wrote and published the ezine Go, Girl!),  and we reconnected this year when the Zombies app was launched. She’s a tremendous writer, and this novel is beautiful. It has moving things to say about family, independence, following our hearts, and forgiveness. Definitely recommended.

The Flanders Panel, Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Historical fiction, sorta, plus thriller. Should have been just my cup of tea. It was fine; not my favorite. I will say, however, that the big reveal on the bad guy is shocking, and as I recall, it was pretty suspenseful. But I also kinda remember thinking the heroine was annoying and I wasn’t really bummed when bad things happened to her.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
This, on the other hand, was wildly entertaining. I gobbled it up, and it made me wonder why I don’t read more Sherlock Holmes.

books2

The Danger, Dick Francis
Ah, Dick Francis! My love for his tasty little mysteries and strong, silent heroes with a code, never fades. This one is about the kidnapping of an Italian, girl jockey, but really, what does it matter? The plots are always engaging, but it’s the characters that make these books worth reading.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
Creepy. Atmospheric. All-together shocking and dark and disturbing. I was kind of stunned when I finished it. The ending is so… wow. I was lured into buying it by the amazing cover on the Penguin edition, and I should have known it would knock my socks off because the other well-known story by Shirley Jackson is the thoroughly unsettling tale The Lottery.

The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Whenever I read Hammett (or watch the movie version of this story), I feel like I should really love it. And at first, I do fall for the hard-boiled language. But honestly, these are a bit too plot driven for me, or, rather, there’s character development but I don’t like the characters. Anyway. Classic, for sure. Worth the time, but maybe I don’t like it so much as I respect it.

Jurassic Park & The Lost World, Michael Crichton
Super-duper, adventurous fun. I read these while we were in Costa Rica and the books are set in Costa Rica! That entertained me no end, and when we walked down the deserted village street with our friends, in the moonlight, surrounded by the click-clack of the claws of mating Halloween crabs, I regaled them (crabs and friends, alike) with (fictional) factoids from the books. Nothing could have made me happier than that. Nothing.

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Berlin Noir Trilogy: March Violets, The Pale Criminal, A German Requiem, Philip Kerr
The Philip Kerr books are like a magic transport to another time: more dangerous, more romantic, more desperate, more stylish, more nuanced. He brings World War II to life in a way that no pure history book can do, and his all-too-human characters, struggling to do the right thing under terrible circumstances, have taught me plenty about politics, history, and the human spirit. His hero Bernie Gunther really got under my skin and stuck in my imagination for a long time.

Prague Fatale, Philip Kerr
See above. I was deep into WWII territory for weeks reading these four books back-to-back. In my imagination, the world was black-and-white and the edges of every scene were softened by a chill fog.

This Body of Death, Elizabeth George
I’ve read every Inspector Lynley novel that’s been published at least once, and the cast of characters created by Elizabeth George now feel like old friends. I feel like she kind of floundered on the last few books, but this was a page-turner and a return to the style and richness of story that I love. If you like British mysteries with a psychological twist (kind of dark and murky instead of the somewhat chirpy, locked-room mysteries of Agatha Christie), you might like these. Start with the first, A Great Deliverance, and work your way forward from there.

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Time Bomb, Jonathan Kellerman
Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels are, for me, like a long-running TV show you read instead of watch. I’m familiar with the characters, I have an affection for them, and it’s thrilling to go along for the ride. This one was about a sniper attacking a school and now, a year later, it seems all the more relevant and sad.

The Lessons, Naomi Alderman
Naomi does it again with a coming-of-age plot about some of the most challenging, difficult characters I’ve encountered in fiction. Parts of it were hard to read, but Naomi’s gift is that she illuminates the humanity behind the sharp words and appalling behavior of the people who populate her story. It’s quite melancholy, but very good.

Mission to Paris & Dark Star, Alan Furst
And then I traveled back in time to World War II. Again. Alan Furst is a thisclose second to Philip Kerr for me. His characters and plots are pretty “masculine,” but he highlights the bittersweet experience of falling in love and making fast friends during the turbulence of war, and sets all of that against make-your-heart-pound action. Plus, his books are big adventures, so they’re vicariously thrilling while they punch you in the gut with emotion.

Mendel’s Dwarf, Simon Mawer
This was an engaging book that had a SHOCKING ending. When I was finished, I wasn’t sure if I liked it, and I felt a little angry about how the story wrapped up. Still, it’s smart and beautifully — if brutally honestly — written. The plot centers around a dwarf, who is a descendent of Gregor Mendel (a.k.a., the father of genetics), and looking for love and respect, both from the world and himself.

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Heartburn, Nora Ephron
This is a sweet, funny, sad look at infidelity and the end of a marriage. Surprisingly, it’s upbeat and sobering at the same time. Nora Ephron’s writing style gets right to the essential details in whatever she’s describing and made me laugh out loud — and shed a few tears — many times. (I’ve yet to see the movie version with Meryl Streep, but it’s on my must-see list because [a.] Meryl and [b.] Nora Ephron.)

Second Wind, Dick Francis
Yep, another Dick Francis mystery! This time, it revolves around hurricane chasers and a mysterious Caribbean island!

The Haunting of Maddy Clare, Simone St. James
This started out as a ghost story and ended up as a sort of romance novel (?). It was decidedly… OK. There were some truly spooky moments that had me reading past my bedtime and wishing I could sleep with a light on — and there was some nice interplay between the lead characters, but there were also some incredibly clunky sex scenes and conversations that made me groan out loud. Nice effort, mixed execution.

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
This was a re-read for me, and man! I forgot how truly great this book is. It has references to Jane Eyre and gothic elements and a heroine who loves books and a mysterious author and long-held secrets. Basically, it has all of my favorite things! LOVE!

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
Also a re-read because after The Thirteenth Tale, I wanted to stay with moody, atmospheric storytelling. The Woman in White is widely recognized as the first mystery novel, and it’s spooky, beautifully written, and — to keep things interesting — is told through the voices of many narrators. Each chapter moves the story forward by having a different character share their tale. There’s a little bit of a lag in the very last section, but it picks up full steam just before the end.

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The Big Over Easy, Jasper Fforde
I bought this for $1 at our local library book sale, and since I liked The Eyre Affair (the second time I read it but not the first, which just proves that how you feel about books is influenced by where you are in your life at the time), I thought I’d give it a go. It was a fun jaunt through a world in which nursery rhymes are true — and poor Humpty Dumpty meets a not-very-pretty end. There are more books in this series, so if you like this one, you can hang out in that world for a while with the other installments.

Planet X, M. J. Friedman
Put this in the same guilty pleasure list as the Murder She Wrote novel above. With this book, my geekdom is on full display: it’s a mashup of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the X-Men. It was truly awful. But I read the whole thing.

Inamorata, Joseph Gangemi
I bought this book while in Philadelphia because the story is set in Philadelphia, and I love to read novels that take place in the cities I visit. It started out strong: a young man gets caught up in investigating a potential medium at the height of the Spiritualism craze during the 1920s. Unfortunately, about halfway through, I felt like the book got confused about what kind of story it was trying to tell. Meh. I finished it because I wanted to see what was going to happen, but I didn’t love it.

The End of the Jews, Adam Mansbach
This, too, was acquired during my Philadelphia trip, and I expected to love it. The reviews couldn’t have been more glowing, and it’s got stuff I adore: a loving-and-loud Jewish family, a girl from Prague, musicians and poets, photography, and secrets. But I felt like it was trying to be too smart sometimes, and the writing got in the way of the story. I didn’t love it, but it did make me think, and I read every word, sometimes wanting to be able to turn the pages faster, to see what was going to happen next. I think, honestly, that part of my diminishing affection for the book was the result of the author doing really mean things to the characters. Sometimes I want my fiction to be a little more gentle than real life.

Sandman Slim, Richard Kadrey
Brilliant! Back in the day, I was Richard Kadrey’s manager at a big, corporate web development company in San Francisco. Even then, it was ridiculous that I would “manage” him because he could write circles around everyone. Now he’s a New York Times best-selling author and has written four Sandman Slim novels. His version of Los Angeles is tawdry, corrupt, undeniably appealing somehow, and, haunted by real demons as well as other unsavory characters. Our (anti)hero Sandman Slim is the perfect blend of should-be-evil and can’t-help-doing-the-right-thing. There’s sex, violence, romance, mystery, humor, and — underneath it all — a moral code. Highly recommended series.

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Kill the Dead, Richard Kadrey
Aloha from Hell, Richard Kadrey
Devil Said Bang, Richard Kadrey
See above. In the interest of full disclosure, the first book was my favorite. Kill the Dead was almost as good. I didn’t like Aloha from Hell as much as the first two because Sandman Slim is in Hell, instead of LA, and I like the story more when he’s with his circle of friends that form his ragtag, family-by-choice. BUT… the third book needed to happen for the story to advance to the fourth, The Devil Said Bang, which was a 100% return to awesome. So… read them all. In order. They’re wicked good fun, and amidst all the action, Richard slyly slips in his point of view on life, death, religion, friendship, and loyalty. Action adventure with brains and heart. And demons. So, yeah.

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
It was my third time to read The Historian, and this time, Dave joined me because… this spring we’re going to a handful of the places mentioned in the book. (Croatia and Slovenia, here we come!) I really enjoyed being able to talk about each chapter as we read it, and we found this cool web site (called Vampire Travels!) that has photos of many of the sites mentioned in the novel.  For those of you that haven’t read it three times, it tells the story of academic researchers who begin to suspect that Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a., Dracula, is real, and maybe still alive. It’s told through letters and diaries, and includes romance, adventure, travel, food, and plenty of spine-tingling surprises. Here’s what I’ve said about this book before: This book instantly engages my imagination. It’s just spooky enough to make me think twice about walking into the darkened backyard without a flashlight, and the travel descriptions are so evocative, it makes me want to write lengthy letters home from a train somewhere with foreign accents.

The Affair, Lee Child
As you can tell from this list, when I’m not reading moody fiction set in either exotic locales or World War II, I’m reading “potato chip” thrillers. And Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher is in my top five investigators with whom I like to kill Saturday afternoons on the couch. (See also Elvis Cole, Gabriel Allon, Joe Pike, and Inspector Lynley.) This was classic Reacher action, including the requisite smart, bombshell cop to distract Reacher with her sex appeal, as well as people who may or may not be what they seem. Action packed and satisfying.

Books I Abandoned

I’m not going to say too much about these books, but bear this in mind: I read the entire Murder She Wrote and Star-Trek: The Next Generation novels, so for me to abandon a book, I’ve got to really not like it.

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Crossbart, Jesse Bullington (Too gross.)
The Devil’s Oasis, Bartle Bull (Too plodding.)
Larry’s Party, Carol Shields (Too depressing.)
A Dead Man In Istanbul, Michael Pearce (Too plodding.)
Twelve, Jasper Kent (Too dull.)
The Prague Cemetery, Umberto Eco (I just cannot make myself like Umberto Eco’s work, which makes me wonder if I’m too dumb.)
Aunt Dimity’s Death, Nancy Atherton (I almost made it all the way through, then bailed with, like, 50 pages to go.)

Have you read any of the books above? Interested in reading any of them?

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Comments

  • Does your geekdom run to video games and sci-fi movies? If so, then you MUST read READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. All geeks should read it. It’s so much fun and so well-written!

    • Mel says:

      I’ve thought about that book, and my husband Dave read it, but here’s the thing: I never really played video games and my only sci-fi that I REALLY, REALLY love is Star Trek: The Next Generation… so it’s on my “maybe read some day” list but it’s not on my “read these books next” shelf. Thanks for the recommendation — I know people LOVE that book.

      • understandable. I just got ST:TNG 365 which is a big chunky hardcover filled with behind the scenes photos and stories. I’m a huge Next Gen fan, but I’m still learning stuff I never knew!

      • Amy says:

        I’m half way through a sci-fi series I think you would love. It has a kickass female protagonist who navigates another dimension of space/time with her brain and is incredibly witty. She would totally be a rollergirl had she been born a few centuries earlier. The first book is “Grimspace”, the author is Ann Aguirre (yay a female sci-fi author!).

      • Casey says:

        If you ever listen to audiobooks, then you should listen to Ready Player One instead of reading it. It’s narrated by Wil Wheaton 🙂

  • LauraG says:

    I agree completely with you on “The Sandman Slim” series. Love the first two and … finished the 3rd just because. I’ll definitely go back to him & read “Devil Said Bang” now. Thanks 🙂

  • Mom says:

    Jack Reacher. Every one. Sigh!

  • Dina says:

    I can’t get my friends to read The Historian. Perhaps because the characters are academics and not vampires but they are missing out. Also it touches on my deep love of doing research in a actual library with stacks of books around. Adore.

  • melissa says:

    ooh, good ideas for me to look for at the library!

  • De23 says:

    So many books, so little time. *sigh* The Sandman Slim books look really interesting. I need to read The Historian, too!

    I’ve been reading a lot of YA/Intermediate books this year – if you feel like reading one of those I rec Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It’s about a girl with Cerebral Palsy, who gets a talking device that finally lets her communicate what’s on her mind. It’s moving, but also optimistic, and Melody’s characterization is wonderful.

  • Renee says:

    Well, that was fun! I just finished reading The Night Circus and was looking to see it on your list. I could swear I saw it on a previous sidebar of “what I’m reading now.” Maybe you read it in 2011 – have I been following you that long?? Anyhow, LOVED it. Reading Girl Gone for my book club right now and it’s really good so far, thought not that far in. And speaking of good, dinner tonight was one of my favorite quicky dinners: saute a diced onion, diced tomato, 1 1b. ground pork in chicken broth. Add a couple splashes of coconut aminos and Red Boat fish sauce. Add 1 whole cut of cabbage and cover for about 10-15 minutes until the cabbage is cooked down. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste. Thanks, as always, for continuing to inspire with your books, recipes, and delightful personality.

  • Robin says:

    The Historian is one of my all time favorite books! I just re read it for the third time also. I really enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale. I have read all the Michael Crichton books at least once. Right now, I’m reading all the Sherlock Holmes stories and am really enjoying them.
    I completely agree about Umberto Eco, I have tried with 3 different books of his and I just can’t do it.

  • Katie says:

    Have you read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon? I think you might like it. It’s an atmospheric, “book mystery” set in post-World War II Spain.

    Thanks for your post! I just got The Historian out of the library. Also, I’m loving your cookbook!

  • Tami says:

    I love Lee Child’s books! I usually end up staying up until 3 A.M. because I just can’t put them down.

    I’ll have to check out Elizabeth George, those sound good.

    Jane Eyre is in my TBR pile this winter. I’ve never read it.

  • Rachna says:

    I recommend that you consider reading “The Spellman Files” by Lisa Lutz. She is one of my favorite author’s and her books make me laugh out loud:)

    • Shelley says:

      I second the Spellman books by Lutz. I just love a defiant, take no prisoners, anti-heroine. Then there’s the whole crazy disfunctional family thing. Fabulous.

  • Emily says:

    Awesome! I kept track of my reading for the first time ever in 2012, and managed to finish 43 books. I’m setting a goal of 50 in 2013! I read more nonfiction than fiction last year, so I want to up the ratio of fiction for this year. I WAS an English major, after all! Thanks for sharing your list and recommendations!

  • Steve says:

    I love Philip Kerr and Alan Furst. If you haven’t read Furst’s first book, “Night Soldiers”, you should. I’ve read his first 7 books and it’s still my favorite. Did you see Philip Kerr when he was at Book People in Austin last year (I think – maybe it was late 2011)? Very British and quite funny I thought.

    In grad school I worked at a coffee shop in Boulder, CO and Jesse Bullington was one of our regulars (as in everyday, for hours). Really nice guy; I was surprised when I found out he was a writer – I didn’t think he looked the type haha. Haven’t read any of his stuff because it doesn’t look to be my sort of thing.

    I read “The Name of the Rose” by Eco and really liked it, but I’ve started “Foucault’s Pendulum” several times and put it down – I have to be in the right head space for his stuff.

  • Sydney says:

    Too funny, I was a bit through the list, saw the mention of Jane Eyre and thought, “Hmm, I should recommend Jasper Fforde”. And there he is just a few lines down 🙂

    Alright, popping over to Goodreads…

    The Art of Racing in the Rain is a BEAUTIFUL book told from the perspective of a dog. But, have the Kleenex handy.

    For cheap thrill mysteries, I enjoyed “If You Can’t Stand the Heat” by Robin Allen, which is a murder mystery set in a restaurant. Food AND intrigue!

  • NJ Paleo says:

    I will definitely have to try these Philip Kerr books as they sound like they’re right up my alley! I read The Historian and it totally freaked me out — but I couldn’t put it down!

  • karen says:

    I love Dick Francis books – I wrote a ‘fan’ letter to him after reading a few, and I received a written response from Mr. Francis himself! Sorry he has passed on, but so far his son Felix has done a good job in filling the void.

  • Cami Sebern says:

    Mel,
    Can’t wait to read the Sandman Slim series. I hope you have The Gargoyle on your list for 2013. I really want to know what you think of it. One of my favorites of all time. I love your book reviews as much as your Paleo blogs. Thanks for keeping me in good reading material.

  • Several books to add to my reading list–yay!

    I read the first Sandman Slim book on your recommendation and I enjoyed it. If you haven’t tried them already, you might like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books. Harry Dresden is a little nicer than Sandman Slim but has a wicked sense of sarcasm, and Jim Butcher is an entertaining storyteller.

  • Rachel says:

    I positively loved The Thirteenth Tale! I read it in a (now defunct) book group.
    Though it’s funny about literature and preferences – I couldn’t get through The Historian at all.

  • suzy says:

    Historical fiction is one of my favorite categories. Suggest Iain Pears, An Instance of the Fingerpost.

  • Meghan E. says:

    Did you read The Night Circus in 2011?? Am I that far behind the times? I remember seeing that you were reading it and I picked it up in the fall… didn’t get around to it until this weekend. AMAZING!!!!!!!!

    Can’t wait to see what 2013 brings in your literary life!

  • Tim Huntley says:

    Thanks Melissa! I am on a mission to discover, and in some cases rediscover, books that I should have read in high school. Jane Eyre was a free download for my new Kindle from Amazon. Yay.

    I also added Sandman Slim to my list to download.

  • Kelly says:

    After reading that you’re on your third round with The Historian, I picked it up at my local library. Thanks for the tip! Loving it!!

  • Tania Stanwood says:

    Wow what a great list you put together! Many great suggestions, many I will take with me. But I also like to leave one Blood Land by RS Guthrie, I just finished it, and it was a Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Thriller…So many words to describe it. But it was fantastic! rsguthrie.com if anyone wants to take a peek. Thanks again for your list, I have added several to my own!

  • noblepower says:

    You forgot to mention The Night Circus (didn’t you read it this year? I have only followed you since July and I could have sworn that was the book you were reading when I started)! That was my favorite book of the year by far.
    I have one to suggest as well: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore.

  • Kristen says:

    OK, I am rereading Jane Eyre right now, and it is taking me FOREVER. I taught the book for four years at an all-girls school, and I loved reading it and teaching it then. Here I am, however, five years later, and I can’t get past how long Jane takes to tell the story. And Rochester is not as interesting as I once thought. I reread Wuthering Heights last month, however, and I am still just as in love with Heathcliff as ever.

  • Susan says:

    I also loved The Thirteenth Tale. In the same vein, you might also like The Sisters Mortland by Sally Beauman and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.

  • Lisa Van Damme says:

    My book club has read a bunch of duds this year. Thanks for the thoughtful reviews. I can’t wait to read some. I’m also going to keep track of my reads this year.

  • Laura says:

    Love this list!!! Thank you!!! I m getting back into reading after a long hiatus. I bet you would like one of my favorites– “The Stolen Child” by Keith Donohue. Like nothing else I have ever read, very dark, gritty, well-reserached tale about re-incarnation and the “changelings” that live among us. Great twists to the plot. After I read it, had me examining my own life & others thinking… could it happen? LOL. Loved it. Gotta say I have been a lurker here on your blog for weeks now and have made many of your recipes, so thank you for everything!!! Oh BTW another favorite: “Travels” by MIchael Crichton.

  • Michelle says:

    I’ve always wondered if I’m too dumb for Umberto Eco’s books, too. However, my sister-in-law is a scary smart astrophysicist, and she can’t get into them either. I don’t think it’s an intelligence thing.

  • Amanda says:

    I have had a copy of The Historian sitting on my shelf for a while now but have never picked it up. Thanks to your review, I’ve started it and am enjoying it immensely! In return, I’d like to recommend a book that I think you might like – The People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. It takes place in many different times across all of Europe and is about the history and mysteries of one book and all the people who it has touched. For a book lover and a history lover it’s a treat!

  • Mercedes Fleischman says:

    Mel,
    I loved reading The Historian! But if you can get your hands on the audio, it is a MUST listen to!! I found it at my local library, and I have to say that I found it just as enjoyable as reading the book-maybe even more. I highly recommend.

  • Meg says:

    Thanks for sharing these! I’m not into thrillers and mysteries as much as you are, but a few of these reviews intrigued me. Looks like I’ll have to branch out a bit! 🙂

    I borrowed my friend’s copy of “The Historian” after the last time you mentioned it on the blog, and it’s still in my to-read pile. To be fair, though, my to-read pile is pretty big, and my friend is in no rush to get her book back – she said she couldn’t get past the first 100 pages (I get the feeling I’ll enjoy it more than she did).

    Lately I’ve been rereading old favorite series to see if I enjoy them as much as I did last time. One of these series is Thursday Next. Did you ever read past “The Eyre Affair”? If not, I’d definitely recommend it. I also enjoyed Jasper Fforde’s recent sci-fi novel, “Shades of Grey”, which my husband was embarrassed to read on the bus in case people thought he was reading “50 Shades of Grey”. However, that book is the first in a trilogy, so there is a LOT left to be resolved at the end and it pains me that I’ll have to wait years to see how it ends!

  • Suzanne H says:

    Have you ever read any of Helen MacInnes’ novels? She wrote spy thrillers in the 30s-50s. I really enjoy them.

  • Martine Lille says:

    Don’t give up on Umberto Eco. “The Name of the Rose” is a wonderful mystery. I loved your reviews and I’ve made notes on new books to read. Thank you!

  • Jackie says:

    My new years resolution this year was to read 100 classics! I just finished Pride and Prejudice and I’m starting To Kill a Mockingbird. I haven’t read these books since highschool!

  • Ann Wendel says:

    I loved Sandman Slim, and of course, The Night Circus! I just finished reading The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman – recommended by the other Melissa in my life(Hartwig) and I found that to be very well written – it made me think a lot about how little we actually know the circumstances of people’s lives (blog post in the works right now).
    I am about to start The Bloodletter’s Daughter by Linda Lafferty – 513 pages! Have you read it?
    One of my all time favorite winter books is the 800+ pg “The Crimson Petal and The White” by Michael Faber. Absolutely engrossing, and I finished it fairly quickly.
    Ann

  • Tracy says:

    It has taken me awhile, but I have come back to this post about a thousand times to look at your list. It was perfect timing as I was looking for something new to read. I have now read Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead and am halfway through Aloha from Hell.

    I also just finished listening to a Jack Reacher novel during my commute over the last week and will start March Violets by Philip Kerr tonight on my way home.

    Thanks to you I now have at least 3 new authors to go to that I had never heard of before… and I plan to continue going through your list.

    Now I have a suggestion for you as I haven’t seen it mentioned… my favorite author is Neil Gaiman. You can’t go wrong with any of his books, but I suggest starting with Neverwhere. Then Good Omens, American Gods… and really I could just keep listing them all.

    Thanks again for sharing. Oh, and I cooked the Bora Bora Fireballs for the first time last week, and then again over the weekend. Very Tasty!

    • Mel says:

      This is so great! Thanks for taking the time to let me know you like my reading list. I’m never sure if anyone cares about books and Smudge, and it’s awesome to know you found some new favorites. Do you like March Violets? I really enjoy Kerr’s style — and his heroes are so… hero-y.

      I’ve considered Neil Gaiman — I should give him a shot!

      • Tracy says:

        Food, books and cats… I have a deep love for the first two and a love/hate for the last, so your whole site thrills me to no end. The whole package makes me (not so secretly) want to be your new best friend.

        Since I’m listening to March Violets on my commute it took me a little while to warm up to the delivery, but as of this morning I was really loving it. Kerr will without a doubt be added to my frequent read list.

  • jen says:

    This post was such a fun read. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I picked out a few books from your list that I don’t think I would have stumbled on otherwise.