Happy Friday, All. One of the most common questions we crime writers are asked at library and bookstore events is: What books do you read? So here, from some of our regulars, are our answers to the questions:
What books do you want to get for Christmas and what books are you going to give?
Kate Flora: When John and I were children on the farm in Union, one of the high points of the holiday season was when the Brentanos catalogue arrived. Each of us was allowed to pick on special book which our parents would order for us for Christmas. It was more magical than the Sears catalogue, and the choice was anguishing. It had to be a very special book, and we wanted it to be one that would last though as much of the school vacation as possible. I still have my volume of Amecrian myths and legends, one year’s prized selection.
These days, despite being passionate about books, there have been years when I didn’t get any books except a cookbook. Now that my sons are older, they choose books for me, and I love the fact that they will often pick something I’ve never heard of or would be unlikely to read. Dan Chaon short stories. Neil Gaiman. The Poisoner’s Handbook. I’ve set aside the two days after Christmas to curl up on the couch and read.
Giving? We have a five year old, so I’ve ordered Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Bendy Wendy by Jo Jo Thoreau, a Maine author who just turned 10. For the dog lovers, Cat Warren’s wonderful book, What the Dog Knows. And someone will get Sparta, by Roxana Robinson, because it is truly wonderful book.
Lea Wait: Books I’d love to get for Christmas? EUPHORIA by Lily King (a Mainer) and THE BURNING ROOM by Michael Connelly. I’m also really looking forward to reading the first in Maine Crime Writer Sarah Graves’ new series, WINTER AT THE DOOR, which will debut on January 6.
As gifts? My younger grandchildren who giggle a lot are getting PRESIDENT TAFT IS STUCK IN HIS
BATH by Mac Barnett and with hilarious illustrations by Mainer Chris Van Dusen. For the granddaughter who still wants to be a princes when she grows up – PRINCESSES ARE NOT JUST PRETTY by Kate Lun and Sue Hillard. The young man who’s just getting interested in American history will be unwrapping Philip Hoose’s WE WERE THERE, TOO: YOUNG PEOPLE IN US HISTORY. (Yup. Phil Hoose is also a Mainer.) And for the older granddaughters, Jacqueline Woodson’s brilliant and moving memoir, BROWN GIRL DREAMING, and I AM MALALA: How One Girl Stood for Education and Changed the World, by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick.
Vaughn Hardacker: I can’t think of a single book that I’d like to receive however, a gift card to a bookstore (although the nearest one to me is BAM in Bangor three and a half hours drive from here) I have sent out a couple of books as gifts though: Lee Child’s latest Personal and Deadline by John Sandford (his latest Virgil Flowers book). I have a couple of books available in eBook format: SNIPER and my book loosely based on my experiences in Vietnam (very loosely) ELEPHANT VALLEY.
Kaitlyn Dunnett: In what’s left of our tiny family, we no longer exchange gifts at Christmas but rather celebrate by getting together, pigging out on food, and catching up on news. The only exception has been our niece and it has been my habit to buy two or three hardcover middler grades books as presents for her. I was all set to order Dreamwalker (Red Dragon Academy Book 1) by Rhys Bowen and her daughter, C.M. Broyles, a fantasy novel aimed at kids in grades 4-8 when the family got together for Thanksgiving and I learned two things. One, said niece has only read a handful of fiction all year. Two, that what she has read is way beyond what I’d have expected for someone in her age group. On her teacher’s recommendation, she read Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. Currently she’s reading a book about a girl from another country trying to adjust to living with an American family. Sorry, I didn’t catch the title or author. My conclusion? Give the kid cash and let her pick out her own present. Maybe it will be a book and maybe it won’t but at least she’ll be happy with her choice.
At her age, I always received a stack of girls’ mystery stories—Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, and all the rest. I was always happy to get them and had probably read them all within a week. Then it was back to borrowing from the library and occasionally buying a title for myself at the local Woolworth’s. These days, when I real almost everything not for research on my iPad, I download a book as soon as I decide I want to read it. Combined with that non-exchange of gifts thing I just mentioned, I don’t expect (or even want) to receive any books for Christmas. An extra piece of apple pie, though, or some leftover fudge . . .
Susan Vaughan: I’m giving my husband THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN, book 4 in the Martin Beck series by Swedish authors Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. He enjoys the Inspector Wallander series by Henning Mankel and other mysteries by Swedish authors (in English) so this seemed a natural. It’s a mass-murder police procedural and thriller I think he’ll enjoy. If the title seems familiar, THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN was made into a film starring Walter Matthau, but neither of us has seen it.
I couldn’t put down Hallie Ephron’s stand-along thriller NEVER TELL A LIE, so I’d like the road the first book in the Dr. Peter Zak series she and Donald Davidoff write as G.H. Ephron. The idea of a forensic psychiatrist as sleuth intrigues me. So Amnesia is going on my holiday list.
John Clark: Now That You’re Here by Amy Nichols.
One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body–his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee–a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.
Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension . . . a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.
Books I’m giving.
My husband Bill told me he had “bought lots of books for Christmas presents.” So, in preparation for this list, I went up and opened the box. They were all for our nineteen month-old granddaughter!
So, I can say without fear of anyone reading this and spoiling their present, this Christmas we are giving
The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, by LeVar Burton
The Night Riders, by Matt Furie
Stories 1, 2, 3, 4 by Eugene Ionesco and Etienne Delessert
Symphony City, by Amy Martin
As for what is on my list
To Dwell in Darkness, Deborah Crombie
The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe, Alexander McCall Smith
Tagged for Death, Sherry Harris
Death with all the Trimmings, Lucy Burdette
More books for my t-b-r list. Thanks.
I want to add two books on the list of “Most Wanted” to give or receive for Christmas.
Earl Smith of Belgrade, Maine authored two gems which are must reading, especially for anyone who looks for books with a Maine setting. The Dam Committee and More Dam Trouble are examples of the finest understanding how Maine towns and Maine people think and act that I have ever read. Any author- transplants who set their stories in Maine (i.e. many who post here) should read these books as though they were text books of how to draw Maine characters and their interactions. In many ways Smith’s ability to weave a Maine story with all the subtleties required reivals, and even surpasses, John Gould – and that is saying a lot. You authors who write about Maine need to read The Dam Committee and More Dam Trouble. Smith sets a standard for writing about Mainers that delighted me and I am glad for the chance to tell others.
get these and you’re in for a treat!.
Mary, We love Earl Smith, who has guested for us a few times. You’re right about his sense of place, and thanks for giving him the shout out.
I am hoping to find “And Grant You Peace” by Kate Flora under my tree. If so I will spend the days immediately after Christmas with Joe Burgess. Can’t wait!