Again! I’m Unstoppable!

1. Perhaps it symbolizes the desire to fly free from the yoke of oppression.

When watching a television show/movie that features a scene with a Latino gang, I inevitably entirely miss the dialogue, so preoccupied am I with sartorial questions. Or rather one sartorial question: what is the appeal of a short-sleeved work shirt with only the very tippy-top button buttoned so that it makes a sort of cape-with-sleeves? A cape seems to strike a harshly formal note when paired with a white undershirt, and the buttoned collar looks awfully restrictive. I do not understand. Will one of the Latino gang members in the audience (Oh come on. There has to be ONE with a secret, shameful addiction to mommyblogs) explain it to us in comments, please?

2. Don’t put money on it, or anything.

I am going to keep doing this, posting three things, any three things I happen to think of, just typetypetypePOST, with no editing, every weekday for a while. I decided last month to start on December 1st, as sort of my own grown-up advent calendar, only with writing, and obviously continuing after Christmas, so…not really very advent-y, then. Anyway, December started on a weekend, so here we are. Or were, yesterday, and are again now. My god, I can’t believe I just have to leave all this up here. This is a very tough love (which I just typed “tough lough,” and then fixed, because I do have standards) approach to curing one’s crippling perfectionism. Does this count as one of my three things? I vote yes.

3. Reading is fundamentally dangerous.

I have started reading again, thanks to the Kindle app on my phone: I can read while I pump, and in dark middle-of-the-night snatches, and while I rock the baby, and it has reminded me just how terrible I am at moderation when it comes to this particular activity. Either I read very sparsely, taking ages and ages to finish a single book, or I read twenty in five weeks. There seems to be no middle ground at all. Frankly, the amount of pleasure it gives me, and the way I sometimes feel almost desperate to get back to my book seems unwholesome, and certainly there is some amount of escapism at play, and of course the time I spend reading might better be spent beating back the tide of household entropy, but I find I do not particularly care.

What I do care about is how difficult it is to keep myself in reading material, and what little time I have with whatever characters I have grown attached to before the pages run out. It is so sad being a fast reader. On the other hand, I really do not have the brain for difficult reading at the moment, seeing as I am getting almost no sleep, so the solution is one of quantity, not density. So: can you suggest some books for me? Anything, really. Fiction or Non. It doesn’t have to be particularly literary, though it may be. Lately I have been reading mysteries, partly because they often come in a series and then I have several books with the same character, which is cozy and comforting to a fast reader, so if you happen to be fond of mysteries, I would love suggestions.

Maybe I can recommend things for you in exchange? I should get to sleep now, but let’s chat more about this in the comments in the morning.


  1. Jesabes says:

    That is exactly why I read (often mediocre) mystery series…es (serieses?) – because I am a fast reader and am desperate for some continuity. I am headed to bed also and should have been an hour ago, but I’ll come back tomorrow and try to think of recommendations. What kind of mysteries do you like? Cozy? Super suspenseful?

    Off the top of my head I’m thinking Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles for suspense and Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild series for cozy.

    • Alexa says:

      Well, my favorite mysteries are the Nero Wolfe canon and Sarah Caudwell’s Hilary Lamar books. Right now I am reading a series by Julia Spencer-Fleming that I am enjoying immensely. So I suppose they are all cozies? But I am up for anything, and I will try both your suggestions and report back!

  2. Dale says:

    I read all of the Agatha Christies in one go earlier this year and it was glorious. She had several very clear styles she used, and after a while it was like wandering around a gallery thinking ‘Oh yes, this is her Blue period, I recognize the perspectives used here’ and they all merged into one mad English landscape littered with dead bodies and kind old ladies and Harlequins. So many Harlequins for some reason.

    • Alexa says:

      You know, I read all the Agatha Christies in junior high (was quite obsessed with Agatha Christie and Daphne DuMaurier), but haven’t reread them. I don’t know why–what a fabulous idea. There are about a million of them, as I recall. And “they all merged into one mad English landscape littered with dead bodies and kind old ladies and Harlequins. So many Harlequins for some reason” made me laugh out loud, so thank you.

  3. Davida says:

    The Ladies Number 1 Detective Agency by Alexander McCall. Have you read it? Easy to read, about a Botswana woman detective. I think there are eight or nine books in the series.

    • MJ says:

      I second the #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories (whatever order the words go in). They are very fast reads, very sweet stories, and very human characters. (Have I used “very” enough? I am hoping that the repetition is literary rather than lame.) Kind of like Miss Marple in Botswana. There must be over a dozen of the books by now. And it’s so nice to have you every day.

  4. dinei says:

    Jasper Fforde; A.S. Byatt’s books from ‘Virgin in the Garden’ through my favorite ‘A Whistling Woman’ (it’s a cleverly disguised literary series!); and Simon Winchester.

  5. Chelsea says:

    I’m burning through The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Historical fiction always feels literary to me, but the magical realism makes me want to roll around in the story.

  6. Veronica says:

    I hate recommending books because I get all angsty about people judging meeeee (insert copious amounts of woe here) but I really enjoyed this series by a blogger friend of mine and I love that there was more than one book.

    I’m also a terribly fast reader, which makes me sad because then everything ends. Maybe if I just read half way through I could leave myself forever wondering, but then I spend all my time imagining characters instead which is exhausting. In any case, I adore Robin Hobb if you like fantasy type stuff (intrigue! court politics! mind bending powers!) and I’m currently reading something involving rippling muscles and scottish accents (don’t JUDGE ME, I read while I nurse and my brain is not up to difficult things) and a healer of some sort? Fluff, basically.

    Um, yeah. Stream of consciousness. Sorry.

  7. Melissia says:

    I discovered P. D. James while I was in Scotland last summer. Excellent mystery writer that has stood the test of time and has written many books.

  8. Elise says:

    It should be embarrassing how very happy TWO back to back posts by you makes me! Yay! Being an incredibly scientific-minded lay person, I hope that you will love “The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks”. Amazing book. Welcome back and your girls are darling!

  9. Bonnie says:

    ‘All That I Am’ by Anna Funder is wonderful. I just finished it, and it’s one of the books you wish wouldn’t end so you could keep dipping back into it. Highly recommended.

  10. Lg says:

    How about a “cozy” mystery? The Diva series by Krista Davis is light but very entertaining. I love and miss the characters between books.

  11. JG says:

    Marion Chesney – aka MC Beaton. She writes (well, wrote, in the 90’s) these fantastically mindless Regency romances with just a bit of mystery. I have only just begun reading her but have swept through two series of six books each in about two weeks. It’s fun to track the characters through different books and watch their stories resolve. And when I say Regency Romance, I don’t mean 50 shades of Grey – I mean, the couple is lucky if they manage to sneak a kiss by the end of the book, which makes it a bit easier to read while you rock your innocent newborn baby!

    • Alexa says:

      This comment made me so excited, because my love affair with Rex Stout is very, very passionate indeed–and long-lived, as I think I read my first Nero Wolfe 20 years ago. I reread the whole series every few years (I just did it during the most miserably sick part of my pregnancy with Twyla, and I swear my beloved Archie Goodwin is what kept me sane), and I am slowly collecting pretty old versions of all of them to display on a shelf someday. Love, love, love.

      You know, I never did read Rex Stout’s NON-Nero Wolfe books (Dol Bonner, etc.) Maybe I should try those…

  12. Louisa says:

    Tana French! She’s written 4, about the detectives of the Irish Murder Squad solving crimes and sorting through their personal lives. When I discovered them, I spent several days doing almost nothing but reading and wishing I was reading.

  13. maggie says:

    The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to lose myself in a good, modern day novel, but I could with this one. As in, wrote in the modern days, not set in. The Daisy Dalrymple series by Carrola Dunn. Set in the 1920s in England. Spunky heroine. Entertaining. Not too mind bending. Think summer beach read. And there’s enough books in the series to keep you covered until at least the New Year. And also Shirley Jackson. Mostly her funny stuff. Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. The always classic Anne of Green Gables series. Anything by Gregory Macguire. You’ve probably read those….

    • Alexa says:

      These all sound promising, and I have read NONE of them, save the Anne of Green Gables, of course–which I haven’t read since I was very youthful and should really reread…

  14. Sheila says:

    I’m a similar reader – fast but can’t handle anything too deep right now – so I’ve been reading a TON of young adult books. Anything by Sarah Dessen, John Green, or you can pick up one of the many dystopian series that have come out since (or sometimes before) the Hunger Games. Bonus factor is waiting until the series is already done and then reading all three in a row instead of waiting. If the YA idea appeals to you, check out – their main site is a little weird lately but I love their long list of “book reports” which is a fun take on book reviews.

    • Gina says:

      Love, love, love Young Adult novels. Great writing, but usually not too taxing on the brain. John Green is my favorite right now

  15. Elissa says:

    I am also delighted to hear that you’ll be writing more here. Now that my youngest is sleeping a bit more I’ve been able to read more and love the feeling of getting back to my book-guzzling ways. I’ve also been running low on reading material so I would love recommendations of what you’ve been reading lately and look forward to getting more ideas from the comments here. So here are some books I have thoroughly enjoyed recently (some of which I’m sure you’ve already tackled):
    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
    Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
    How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
    The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
    Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

    And here are a couple of older (and slightly obscure) favorites:
    The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
    The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

  16. Robin says:

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay! Michael Chabon. It is so awesome, and it is LONG.

    Ach, I feel the very same way about reading — now that I have a little more time for it, I’m gulping books (and articles, and movie reviews, anything, anything) with a ferocity I hadn’t expected. More more more!

    “Household entropy” — YES. Exactly — and I think I will also use some tough love on my own perfectionism , but I’ll be saying it “tough lough” in my head.

  17. Leigh says:

    It’s not a cozy mystery, but I’m currently engrossed in The Presidents Club which is about all the former US presidents and how they get along with each other. It’s fascinating, I’m learning a ton of history, but it’s not a difficult or slow read at all.

    I get most of my book recommendations from Goodreads; like you, I’m a fast reader and can plow through 2 or 3 in a weekend, ignoring housework and errands and the small people in my house. I think of it as setting a good example and encouraging their reading skills. :)

  18. HereWeGoAJen says:

    I’m not kidding, but you know what the first book that came into my head to recommend was? Half Baked, by that Alexa Stevenson person. Blog person, seemed like your demographic… But you’ve probably already read that, huh?

  19. Lizneust says:

    The Lord Peter Whimsey series by Dorothy Sayers, who was a contemporary of Agatha and I think a *much* better writer. I am also fond of Josephine Tey and anything by Ruth Rendelll. Happy reading!

    • Alexa says:

      LOVE Josephine Tey, and thus, alas, have read them all. The first Lord Peter Whimsey is actually on my Kindle right now to read after I finish my current selection, and I am pretty sure I am going to adore it. (Mystery with a touch of Wodehouse–YES PLEASE.) I will report back!

  20. Sarah says:

    I second the nomination for YA if you’re looking for something easy. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth is really great.

  21. Jennifer says:

    I just read three books I loved: The Age of miracles, The Art of Fielding and The Newlyweds. All fantastic gripping books, each in their own way. Enjoy! Also, so glad to have more to read from you!

  22. Kelli says:

    Agree! Lord Peter Whimsey…there are several in a series by Dorothy Sayers.

    And I too am delighted to see you are back in the proverbial blogging saddle!

  23. krlr says:

    You’re back! If you can ignore the HBO show, the Game of Thrones series. Long doesn’t even *begin* to describe them. I too read terribly fast, am depressed when books end, & took up blogs because in theory there’s always hope for a new post (a-hem). But these… I was under the impression it was a three book series and I think it was the first time I was a little relieved to be nearing the end – not because they weren’t good, but because by then I was living in squalor and the children were about to be removed from my care for neglect. Then I found out there are MORE books. Reading the fourth took up TWO int’l flights and a morning in the hotel not-sightseeing on a recent vaka.

  24. jen says:

    I am the same way. The other day my husband said something to me while I was reading (which, he should really know better by now) along the lines of “You seem really intent on reading right now.” Yes, Captain, I am, now shoo.

    Anyway, I was actually re-reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Oh another massive series that would keep you for a while is the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, though I have not read the latest book and the second to last one was tedious reading but the first three were very, very good after the initial 100 pages where I was so confused and couldn’t keep the characters straight. I also enjoy the Percy Jackson series of books or the Sookie Stackhouse ones when I’d like some reading candy…nothing like a potboiler to pass the time!

  25. robyn L says:

    I recently bought a bunch of used books at the library. From that stash, I’m currently reading “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards, and really enjoying it.

  26. Jodi says:

    Mystery-like novels I have enjoyed recently: Mr. Peanut, by Adam Ross; The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon.

    Also must recommend (as I do to anyone in my world who’ll listen) non-mysteries The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman. Both are nominally YA, you’ll read ’em fast, but they’re excellent. Green’s novel is one of the best books of the year.

  27. Kendra says:

    William Bernhardt. His legal thriller/mystery series starts with Primary Justice and goes on for 18 books featuring lawyer Ben Kincaid. I loved every single one.

    There is also Michael Connelly’s “Harry Bosch” series (19 books and counting). I haven’t read them all, but liked the ones I did. Though, I used to get frustrated at the editing, ’twas horrible in some books. I’d read with a pencil in hand and edit as I went (in my personally owned books of course).

    I’m also a sucker for “chick lit” and eat up every single one of Nicholas Sparks books.

  28. Jen says:

    1. I went to high school with many Latino gang members, but never thought to ask them about the significance of the shirt-buttoning. Perhaps I should try to reconnect with some through Facebook and ask? (I do have an odd and fond memory of one such guy who, when required to give a “how-to” speech in our speech class, gave a very thorough and charming explanation of how best to roll a joint. The more you know!)
    2. Books! I too love mysteries and devour them rapidly and shamelessly. Here are a few of my current favorite mystery authors, who have written series or multiple books:
    Kate Atkinson, the Jackson Brodie series
    S.J. Bolton
    Elly Griffiths
    Kate Morton
    Zoe Ferraris
    Allison Leotta
    Malla Nunn
    Martin Walker
    Cornelia Read
    Laura Lippman
    Louise Penny
    Laura Caldwell
    Erin Hart
    Alafair Burke
    Cara Black
    Jacqueline Winspear
    Charles Todd
    Rosamund Lupton
    Julia Spencer-Fleming
    Also, Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky are always good, and very prolific. I like Marcia Muller’s books, and also those by Margaret Maron. The Spellman series by Lisa Lutz are fun and quick.

    • Alexa says:

      I have only read a handful of the mystery authors on your list, but the handful happen to be a few of my favorites, so I suspect we have similar tastes. (Actually, I am reading the Julia Spencer-Fleming series right now…)

  29. Brenna says:

    The Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny! Mysteries, beloved repeating character, and 8 books so far! Right up your alley. The Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn is fun and quirky.

    Not mysteries, but excellent books, The Road from Coorain and True North by Jill Ker Conway.

    Annie Proulx has several books of short stories, those would be good for middle of the night snippet reading.

    • Alexa says:

      I just read all the Louise Pennys last month! I almost quit the first one because the author herself was annoying me terribly, but I eventually became besotted with Armand Gamache, and so stuck with it and was hooked in spite of myself. What did you think of the most recent one, particularly the ending??? Quite something. I had mixed feelings.

      • Kristin says:

        I was going to recommend these and then saw this comment. I felt exactly the same way throughout the first book…I found it annoying, and almost stopped, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Gamache is one of the great heroes in literature. I think the books get better and better. The last one…I don’t know how I felt about it. Sad, for sure. Worried…ready for her to finish writing the next one! I also recommend Susan Hill’s series featuring Simon Serallier. I think it took her a couple of books to find her feet as a mystery author, but now I am thoroughly sucked in to her world. Be aware though–some of them will make you absolutely bawl. Have you ever read the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker? They definitely became repetitive after about book 15, but the first 6 or so books are lovely–fast paced, interesting, full of literary references and poetry–highly recommend them. I could go on forever about this topic, but I have to go to work!

  30. Ellen says:

    I am also a fast reader, it is nice but then books are over way too quickly. :-( I have really enjoyed the Sue Grafton/Kinsey Millhone series, I highly recommend them (A is for Alibi, etc..)

  31. Gerry says:

    I always recommend Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Kinda a historical romance/time traveler thing. Her hero (Jaime) makes me swoon!

  32. Kerrie says:

    Faye Kellerman – she has a whole series of mystery/crime books. The main character is Peter Decker and in the first book he meets Rina Lazerus. The rest of the books cover 15-20 years of their life with different crimes in the main plot, but lots of personal development along the way.

    I also highly recommend The Outlander Series – Diana Gabaldon. Lots of long, long, really interesting books with amazing characters. I really wanted to name my firstborn Jamie, but my husband vetoed it.

  33. marcoda says:

    I’m the same type of reader: fast, read for escapism, and love series due to character attachment. Ilona Andrews and Lisa Shearin are two awesome authors in the Urban Fantasy/Romance genre. Adventure, romance, mystery and lots of humor. I recently started the Princess Series by Jim C. Hines which is also fun. It’s an interested take on the fairy tale princess genre (Sleeping Beauty is a highly skilled martial artist.). The cover art is a bit cheezy but don’t let that stop you.

    Hope that helps!

  34. Vanessa (Brock Rocks) says:

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    Cutting for Stone
    Same Kind of Different as Me
    Where We Belong
    Drowning Ruth
    What Alice Forgot
    On the Island
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    Under the Overpass

  35. Whitney says:

    The JD Robb “In death” series. She publishes at least 2 books a year, they are SO good, and all center around the same set of characters.

    So so so good.

    Seriously. Guilty pleasure.

    I say “you are welcome” in advance :)

  36. Norah says:

    I just finished In Cold Blood. It’s RIVETING and sad and scary. But RIVETING and the second best book I’ve read maybe ever. Lonesome Dove is probably the best book I’ve ever read. Funny, I have no interest in Westerns or Murders, but there you have it.

  37. Sheila says:

    Yes! It is SO good to have you back — and happy reading. I second the reccomendations for the Ladies #1 Detective Agency…they make you feel so good abour people…and also The Fault in Our Stars, that Jodi mentioned. It’s a not-to-be-missed book! And I love Sue Grafton (If you haven’t read her, the books start with A is for Alibi, and continue to V is for Vengeance, so you’ll have a good supply as we wait for “W” Now, enjoy your books, but please never stop writing!

  38. Sharon says:

    For pee your pants funny mystery, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Starts with One for the Money and goes to 18 so far…

  39. kathleenicanrah says:

    Book recommending is one of my favorite things fact one sentence into your item #3 I had to skip ahead to be sure you wanted recs, as I was going to want to do that anyway. Book recommendations combines my bossiness with my love of reading, and is therefore what I want to do all the time.
    Books: (I would write out descriptions, but you have amazon. Needless to say, these are Good Books)
    Rules of Civility (my favorite book of the year)
    American Wife
    Prince of Tides

    Enjoy! And yes, would love your list as well.
    The Paris Wife

  40. Sara says:

    I’m a school librarian so most of the books I recommend are for kids, but honestly these days I find the books for middle school and young adults the best solution for a tired mom brain. The stories are great but you don’t get bogged down by a bunch of adult detail. Try Wonder by R.J. Palacio or The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, or anything by Kate DiCamillo – The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane being my all time favorite. If you like fantasy the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull is really fun to read.

    • Alexa says:

      Kate DiCamillo writes all of Simone’s favorite books (The Mercy Watson series, Bink and Gollie, and our old favorite Louise), so I think I will have to try The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane…

      • Gina says:

        It is excellent, is is The Tale of Despereaux (the movie was not so good.)
        Wonder was one of my favorites of the year, as was The Fault in their Stars.
        Gary D. Schmidt is another great YA author. The Wednesday Wars is my favorite of his.

  41. Candy says:

    You’re inspiring me to do the same now. I haven’t blogged with regularity in 2 years and I do miss it, but I can’t seem to jump back in. Maybe just jumping for jumping’s sake is the answer.

    As for books – here’s a few I’ve read lately that I enjoyed. I heartily recommend the Hunger Games trilogy. The movie is blech but the books (1 and 2 in particular – 3 has gotten mixed reviews) were quite wonderful.

    All of the Dennis Lehane books, although I particularly have enjoyed Shutter Island and his newest, Live by Night.

    I also have enjoyed Gillian Flynn quite a lot, although her last book, Gone Girl, was – well – difficult to review. Some loved it, some hated it. I’m somewhere in the middle, but still, I enjoyed the read.

    And if you really want to read a series, do read the Harry Potter books. They are not just for children.

    Finally, I have recently become addicted to Goodreads. It’s a great site where people who read review books, and it recommends books based on what you’ve read before. I consult it every time I buy a new book.

  42. Cathy says:

    Do you know E. F. Benson? ‘Cause you seem like a Mapp & Lucia kind of person. They’re studies of Napoleonic megalomania set in between-the-wars English village life.

  43. Liz says:

    You MUST read Tana French’s books! The writing, she is gorgeous. Love. And: set in Ireland! Also read the Maisie Dobbs series: British mysteries set between the world wars, with a female investigator protagonist! I too am a fast reader. On a ompletely different tack, I love “Pure” by Juliana Baggott. it’s a dystopia novel with teenage protagonists., and it’s excellent. I remember thinking as I read, “This is nice and thick, good!”.

  44. Martha says:

    I can’t tell you just how thrilled I am by the post, and its promise of more!

    My husband and I both recently enjoyed J. K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.” Also, because they came free with my Kobo e-reader, I got into the Tarzan series this past summer. I’ve read five of the 25 books. I may go back for more, though likely not the whole roster. They were a fun read. Then a friend recommended the Scarlet Pimpernel novels, which were available for my e-reader for just pennies, and were a great escape (for me and the French nobility!). I wish there’d been more. I’m now on my second Wilkie Collins novel, “No Name.” (Also read “The Woman in White”) His entire works I also got for next to nothing. Collins was a contemporary of Dickens and quite a prolific writer. I’ll be reading more of him, I’m sure. And smattered throughout, I’ve started re-reading all of Jane Austen’s novels. There is so much great vintage stuff, it’s hard to find time for the new!

  45. Martha says:

    And, oh, I didn’t mention Jasper Fforde – especially the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series. The newer Dragonslayer series for young adults is just okay, but I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in the Shades of Grey series (not to be confused with “Fifty Shades of Grey.”).

  46. isabel says:

    Sister by Rosamund Lupton- best mystery i’ve read in a long time- especially as a mom of 2 girls
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn- mystery that takes you places you’ve probably not been before

    Love getting new book ideas….thanks!

  47. natalie says:

    I read through most of the comments, so I hope I’m not repeating too many that were already suggested by others!
    –Armand Gamache series, by Lousie Penny (fabulous! Canadian!)
    –Maisie Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear. (WWI and WWII as the series progresses)

      • Trish says:

        I hope you’ve read it now. I love this series. Very light and funny.
        If you like those, check out the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series as well. There are lots of those.

        And thanks for this. I’ve been rediscovering my love of reading the last couple of years. I also love series. I get too addicted to characters.
        The 50 Shades books are written for shit, but the characters are very engaging. And the smut is decent. I thought Bared to You by Sylvia Day was way better. That’s a trilogy, but the 3rd book isn’t out yet. (COME ON, ALREADY.)

        The Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris were fantastic. Waiting for the last of those soon, too. Actually any of the series by her are very good. I think I’ve read every book she’s written and I just love them. She writes very realistic protagonists and I really dig that. The Sookie Stackhouse books are fantasy (vampires etc) but most of her other series aren’t.

        For darker mysteries, there are some books by Chris Rogers Bitch Factor, Chill Factor and Rage Factor. I can’t remember which order they go in now, but I really dug those.

        Young adult- City of _____ books (Mortal Instruments series) by Cassandra Clare are good. The first one was a little iffy, IMO, but they definitely get better as you go along.

        I also loved Harry Potter and The Hunger Games books, too.

        Anyway.. back to reading all the other suggestions. I need to bookmark this thread. MUST. READ. ALL. THE. BOOKS.

  48. Susan says:

    Ha ha! When I was nursing and reading my Kindle, I was reading your book! And it was great! Anyway, here are some favorite mystery authors (some with series, yay): Louise Penny (set in Canada); Dana Stabenow (Alaska! and the first one in the Kate Shugak series is currently free for Kindles); Laurie King (the Mary Russell series; start with Beekeeper’s Apprentice); Robert Crais (both Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series); Donna Andrews (the Meg Langslow series); Barry Eisler

    Non-mystery authors – Connie Willis (if you like screwball comedies, although all the screwballiness can get tedious); Julia Glass; Juliet Fay; Shannon Hale (YA and adult stuff–both great; “Book of a Thousand Days” is currently only .99 for Kindle); Jennifer Weiner

  49. I JUST last night finished “Faith” by Jennifer Haigh and it’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. Like you, I am a fast reader and, like you, I feel sad about how little time I have to spend with the characters before they’re gone. So since I raced through this book in 24 hours (that’s how good it was), I need YOU to go spend time with them now.

    The other excellent thing I’ve read this year is “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes. But it’s short, so be prepared for sadness when it ends too quickly.

  50. Oh, also I went back and read through everyone else’s comments because I love getting book ideas, and just want to WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with the people who recommended The Newlyweds (so good), The Fault in Our Stars (be prepared to laugh and cry simultaneously, also do not read on a bus, due to the aforementioned laughing/crying), all the Kate Atkinson books, and anything by Tana French (these I have to ration and only read when I have nothing else going on in my life. I will abandon everything else to finish them, and it is dangerous.)

  51. maggie says:

    Know what’s really sad? When you find That Book, the book you just can’t put down, and will read over and over, and then you find another by that author, and it’s just as good, if not better, and then you discover yet another, and then…then .you find out said author is dead, gone and buried, and there will be NO MORE books coming from them:(

    • Alexa says:

      SARAH CAUDWELL. My very favorite mysteries ever, and there are only four because she up and died.
      (Not to be flippant! It was very sad.)
      (No, not just because she wasn’t writing anymore.)

  52. electriclady says:

    Totally agree with the recommendations of Agatha Christie, Tana French, Jasper Fforde, the Flavia De Luce series, Henrietta Lacks, Outlander series, and Game of Thrones et al. Also: For you in particular, the first thing that popped into my head was Maisie Dobbs. Lady detective novels set in post-WWI England. There are I think 11 of them at this point.

  53. Elizabeth says:

    I just discovered Pamela Ribon. She wrote a series of fictional books that incorporate a lot of stories from her life. She also has an awesome blog: I also like Andre Dubus. He wrote “House of Sand and Fog” a few years ago and this year he wrote a memoir called “Townie.” Rachel Dratch and Mindy Kaling wrote excellent memoirs this year too (can you tell I like memoirs?).

  54. Lora says:

    “Fall of Giants” and “Winter of the World” by Ken Follett. Love, love, love these two books. There will be a third (“Edge of Eternity”) but he’s probably still writing it. I want to tell him to hurry up, I can hardly stand the wait.

  55. Kim says:

    I am exactly the same way about reading, and it’s dangerous for me. I start to resent my husband and children and wish they’d just leave me alone so I can read my book. The dirty clothes and dishes pile up, the kids watch too much TV, we eat cereal for dinner.

    The Dog Stars is the most recent book to blow me away. It’s a post-apocolyptic novel, and the people who are left have lost the ability to trust one another, make connections, appreciate beauty. You’re inside this guy’s head, though, and he has a soft spot, for his dog, the woods, fishing. Argh. I stink at book reviews. But it’s really a beautiful book.

  56. Tamara says:

    Mysteries! My favorite mystery/action series is the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. It’s like Indiana Jones meets Elizabeth Bennet.

    Other books I’ve recently found unputdownable – Cinder by Marissa Meyer (It’s totally predictable but I enjoyed it anyway.)

    Have you read any Pamela Ribon? You Take it From Here is her most recent and it’s awesome.

  57. Meggan says:

    I have suggestions: Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, and its sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear. These books are like god’s gift to fast readers – they are ridiculously long (600+ pages) and wonderfully entertaining. I can’t recommend them enough.

  58. Katie says:

    YAY BOOKS. I don’t read much anymore (children destroy books and I had too many covers of beloved books ripped apart by toddlers) but one of these days…
    I adore Janet Evanovich’s Stephenie Plum novels. The humor seems like it’d be about your speed. I really like Mary Higgins Clark.

    I swear to God I used to read more mysteries. I can’t remember them though. Damn mommy brain.

  59. Haley says:

    I quite like Ian Hamilton’s novels featuring Ana Lee the forensic accountant/ass kicker. The Water Rat of Wanchai and The Disciple of Las Vegas. I think there are more than just those two but haven’t read them yet.

  60. Hello! I converted to reading on my Kindle app on my iPhone and I’m here to say THERE’S NO GOING BACK. It is a magical thing for a woman on the go. And aren’t we all?

    As to what to read, I beg you to read TINY, BEAUTIFUL THINGS by Cheryl Strayed, THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes, and GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn.

  61. Allie says:

    I was so happy to see not just one, but TWO posts in my feed reader! So glad you’re updating.

    Now, on to your Very Fast Reading Problem: I’m exactly the same when it comes to reading, which is why I am currently reading nothing. I’m still mourning the last series I finished.

    A few of my favorites (apologies for repeating any that others have already recommended):

    Outlander (historical fiction series w/ a bare hint of sci-fi) by Diana Gabaldon
    The Mrs. Pollifax detective novels by Dorothy Gilman
    The Wheel of Time series (if fantasy is at all your thing) by Robert Jordan

    All have kept me enthralled for days at a time. The Mrs. Pollifax novels are nice and short, with charming and hilarious characters.

  62. Stefanie says:

    Not a mystery, but Richard Russo’s Straight Man makes me laugh out loud everytime. Also That Old Cape Magic. I’ve read all of Russo’s novels but those two are my favorite. He doesn’t write a series, but all of his books feel familiar to one another (if that makes any sense) so if you find that you like his writing there are enough of them to keep you occupied for awhile.

    • Alexa says:

      Straight Man has been floating around on my mental list of “Books to Read” for a while, but I keep forgetting about it for some reason. I must make a physical note of it.

  63. Lois says:

    Denise Mina. You really will like her mysteries (Scottish!) So well written, so thoughtful, so luxuriously escape-inducing! Start with Garnet Hill. Tabitha French too! And April Smith! I read April Smith when my boys were babies – it helped.

  64. I want badly to recommend the mysteries by Sophie Hannah, because I love them dearly. But… the mysteries themselves are rather dark. And the victims are invariably women. So. Dark things that happen to women… is not really something I WANT to recommend. Even though I love Simon Waterhouse (waterhouse! like a large water closet!) and Charlie Zailer (they are the main characters and charming in a way that no other mystery-series detectives are) (and I picture Charlie looking and acting an awful lot like Deb on Dexter, which I mean as a compliment) (if you don’t watch Dexter or like Deb, ignore that last parenthetical) dearly, and will read anything Sophie Hannah writes, not just because of SW and CZ, but also because her mysteries are so thorny and unpredictable. (And there are six or seven of them out already! Which means you can get to know them quite well!)

    But not cozy.

    I would also like to echo others who recommend Kate Atkinson’s books. I disliked the first one, but once I got through that I fell in love. With her and Jackson Brodie and the whole series.

  65. Mia says:

    So happy you posted on this topic, for many reasons.
    1. We want to have kids, but I also want to have long hours of uninterrupted reading and as much wine as I want. So, no kids yet. Reading people’s comments gives me hope some of these things may not be wholly mutually exclusive.
    2. I tear through books quickly, too, so much so that I sometimes get a few chapters in before I realize I’d already read something. Occasionally I will continue anyway.
    3. Spreading the gospel about the e-reader catalog from the library. I am way cheap and will not buy e-books, but have a full slate of five at a time from the library’s e-reading service (lots of library systems are getting with this!). Love. Especially for older books that have been out a while, they are almost always in the catalog and I can always get a wish list going and have an easy time to load up with things I previously picked out.
    4. Will be adding lots of the recommendations from this list! Read for a living (magazine editor) so fiction and escapism and brain-resting books are the only types I like to read.
    5. Tom Wolfe. James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club and Alex Cross series are both excellent escapes). Game of Thrones series. Justin Cronin. Ken Follett. Larry McMurtry.

    • maggie says:

      The thing about kids and reading is, the more you do it around them, the more normal it seems, so you eventually get to the point where the kids are sacked out in room, you’re in another, and you can all be happily reading for HOURS! It’s like they just come to accept a book as another mom appendage. At least, it worked for my kids….There is a phase when a lot of the reading will be to THEM, but as long as you have a say in what books those are, you’re golden!! Some kids books are just as, if not more, entertaining than adults!
      Can’t help you with the wine, though….

  66. Kirsten says:

    The most important thing — how great that you are posting again. I really was a bit sad over the lack of posts. I love to read your writing; but don’t twitter, facebook, etc….so I have been on a cold-turkey Alexa diet.
    Ok, my rec on the series front is the John le Carre novels with George Smiley. On the non-fiction front, I loved Cod: A Biography of a Fish that Changed the World (the only thing I didn’t like was the title — shouldn’t it just be Cod: A Fish that Changed the World?). On the short story front: Cowboys are my Weakness — just loved it.

  67. Laura Lou says:

    All of these comments and NOT ONE explanation of the Latino gang cape shirt. I am very disappointed.

    You have many wonderful book recommendations here, so I will just add one: Peace Like a River by Leif Erikson. If you liked To Kill a Mockingbird, you’ll like it.

  68. Jane says:

    The Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, semi-cosy and literate and witty. Ann Purser: several different series, some mystery, some not. Jeanne Dams, mysteries starring a woman of a certain age. Right now I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s latest (Flight Behavior) and it is amazing but depressing (concerns climate change). I didn’t like the Alexander McCall Smith books set in Africa, but he has serveral other series and I enjoyed all of them. Happy reading! (BTW, I picked up the first Twilight book at Good Will and it is A W F U L! I was amazed at how awful!)

  69. Jane says:

    If you’re into mysteries, P.D. James is wonderful! Her books follow the same characters in each one and you do feel like you know them all intimately by the end of her seris. Plus, she is just a great writer in the grand British Dame tradition. There are at least 10 books in the series, read them chronologically to get the best out of them. I also really like Tana French and Kate Atkinson.

  70. Sara says:

    I read a ton when I was nursing at night and in the wee hours. I can’t remember half of what I read without consulting Goodreads, but two favorite mystery authors right now are Julia Spenser-Fleming and Louise Penny (sadly I’m caught up on both series right now).

  71. Kristin says:

    I loooooooved The Secret History, Donna Tartt’s debut novel. The story – about a group of students at a tiny New England college who murder one of their own – had me staying up late several nights in a row. And it’s long (600 pages!), so that’s always a bonus. (Fair warning though: her second book kind of sucked.)

  72. ivfcycler says:

    for mysteries: Elizabeth George’s & Daniel Silva’s series are excellent.
    for lighter lit: Alice Hoffman is fun
    Ann Tyler (medium-light)
    weightier: Annie Proulx, Toni Morrison, “Blindness”
    and for really slowing down one’s pace, Gunter Grass is pretty brilliant, but something like his “Dog Years” can be helpful if you want to get more sleep, housework, etc done.

  73. Karoline says:

    I had to comment on this because reading on my phone while nursing pretty much saved me from the brink of insanity while nursing a colicky baby. That colicky baby is now 2 years old and I have graduated to an actual Kindle rather than the Kindle app, but that period of my life totally rekindled my love of reading. Funny enough, your book was actually one that I read while nursing! :-) I have to second the recommendation of Tana French, but be careful if you are sensitive with books about bad things happening to children, as I am. They tend to haunt me. Faithful Place is safe as far as that goes and a fantastic book. This is going to sound extra nerdy, but I also read War and Peace while nursing (she was REALLY colicky). I just could never get into it in college but for some reason now I appreciated it so much more. It was like reading a literary soap opera. Gone Girl is interesting–love it or hate it, you will probably be surprised. And I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, writer of Tiny Beautiful Things. It was kind of indulgent, but still good. While I was nursing I read three books by Dan Brown, starting with the Da Vinci Code and going on in that series. Somehow I missed all that when it was first popular. Those were OK. The first book was my favorite and the third one about the Lost Symbol was not good at all. Hunger Games–if you haven’t read them already they are fast reads and so good. And one more! Although I haven’t read them yet, friends of mine are freaking out over books by Jo Nesbo. A series of mysteries maybe sort of similar to Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. Totally agree that my desperation to get back to the book is sometimes an avoidance mechanism for all of the 8 million other things I could be doing, but I’m OK with that.

    • robyn says:

      I just bought that book for 50 cents at the library last week! (Yes, I still go to the library. And I still read paper books, although I also own a Kindle.) I may read that one next (once I finish The Memory Keeper’s Daughter). Glad to know it’s really good!

  74. MaryAnn says:

    I really like the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. It’s definitely sci-fi, but it’s very FULL of literary references and I have been known to dance around the living room when I catch an obscure one even knowing full well that half of them go right over my head. Anyway, Thursday Next is a “Jurisfiction Agent” in bookworld as well as a “Literary Spec Ops Agent” in the real world and it’s all quite entertaining, so long as you are not thrown off by a little time travel. Fforde is Welsh and has a fabulous dry sense of humor.

    I also really like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery, by Alan Bradley. I think there are four or five books in this series. Flavia is a very smart if some-what neglected child who studies chemistry (especially poisons) for fun in addition to dealing with her disfunctional family and solving murder mysteries. Lots of coincidences, but that can be the way with mysteries. Easy to read – sweet and well-written. And no time travel.

    I have also enjoyed the #1 Ladies Detective Agency as recommended by others. Just don’t read too many in a row or they get rather repetitive.

    And for something COMPLETELY different, read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson (Translator). Beautifully translated from French. You will feel as though you are reading something of true significance.

  75. Now I’m posting again because the first time I didn’t see those boxes I can check to get your updates…

    Ooooo and while I’m here, Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. Amazing.

  76. Debbie says:

    I have always loved Donald Westlake, especially the Dortmunder series. For a bit of silly I read the M. Pamplemousse series by Michael Bond – no thinking cap required.

  77. Sara F says:

    I will second the recommendation of someone else and say definitely read the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear- they’re fantastic. I have also enjoyed the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny- set in Canada, mostly in a small village, with extremely vivid characters and a great hero.

  78. Erin says:

    I am a big mystery reader. Some of my favs are JA Jance – the JP Beaumont series . She also has the Joanna Brady series.
    Kathy Riechs
    JA Kontrath –

    Not mysteries -but Christopher Moore is really good

  79. Sonya says:

    Hi Aelxa,

    I am extremely late to this party. Didn’t realise you were posting again! My recommendations (certain to be repeating others):

    Mystery slightly more serious – Tana French, Denise Mina, Ian Rankin, PD James, Ruth Rendall, Peter Robinson, Giles Blunt, Kate Atkinson
    Mystery, more whimsical: – Alan Bradley (loved Flavia de Luce), Martha Grimes, Charles Finch

    SF – Terry Pratchett (any) Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Neverhwere, The Graveyard Book; his children’s books are excellent, Good Omens, (with Pratchett), Ben Aaronovitch (London police mystery with ghosts), Guy Gavriel Kay

    Also: Alice Munro (any set of her short stories, although Lives of Girls and Women is fantastic), Michael Ondaatje (English Patient, The Cat’s Table), Anne Marie McDonald (Fall on Your Knees) OK – those are all Canadian authors, but they are good!

    • Sonya says:

      Dear God – please forgive the horrific typing – even your name! Was reading comments above and also wanted to second The Elegance of the Hedgehog recommendation.

  80. Naomi says:

    I’m a bit late with this (just caught up on your recent posts). Wholeheartedly recommend the entire (19?, 20?) series of Donna Leon mysteries, set in Venice.

  81. Kristin says:

    I had to post again because I read through the rest of the comments and totally agree with most of them (Denise Mina, Kate Atkinson, Sophie Hannah, yes, yes, yes), but I didn’t see two of my favorite authors ever listed by anyone. First, Len Deighton. I will say something a little controversial here…I think he is a much better author than John Le Carre. His 9 novels featuring Bernard Samson are wonderful. They are written as three trilogies and cover maybe 20 years? Game, Set, Match is first, then Hook, Line and Sinker, and then Faith, Hope and Charity. They made me seriously consider planning my honeymoon in what was formerly East Germany. My husband talked me out of it, unfortunately. Also, I could not love Martin Cruz Smith more. His books can be radically different from each other, but they are all amazing and I actually force myself to read them slowly because I want to savor every sad, beautiful moment. I love all of them, but I particularly recommend the Arkady Renko series, which starts with Gorky Park. Happy reading!

  82. Marie says:

    There’s a book that came out last year written by Elizabeth Wein: Code Name Verity. It’s part mystery and part British resistance/spy novel with duo heroines. I enjoyed it a lot. It’s considered a young adult novel for whatever reason, but it did not stop me from raving about it when I was finished.

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