Monday, June 11, 2012

book picks for down the road

the road near my house, leading to the beach

Every Sunday I sit with my New York Times Book Review and try to find books I might want to read. Drinking strong black coffee, listening to XM radio's real jazz station,  reading the NYT Book Review and finishing the NYT Sunday crossword are all parts of a ritual I go through each week.  I know -- sounds dull, and well, it probably is for most people, but whatever. I like it.

Anyway, this week a book called People Who Eat Darkness, written by Richard Lloyd Parry, caught my eye.  It's a kind of true-crime sort of thing, which normally I don't read unless the crime is historical in nature. When I saw the article I realized that I had seen a show some time ago called "Crimes that Shook the World" that profiled this case.  I remember when I watched that show I was appalled at how the Japanese police handled this case and frankly what idiots they seemed to be at the time.  Susan Chira, the author of the review of this book, notes that

"...Richard Lloyd Parry's remarkable examination of that crime, what it revealed about Japanese society and how it unsettled conventional notions of bereavement, elevates his book far above the genre."

Cool. It doesn't sound like your standard sensational, titillating-details type of true crime. It's mine.

Another one I saw in "Editors' Choice" is A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, by Suzanne Johnson.  That little blurb says the following:

"Freedom and dislocation are this novel's themes; its narrators are a woman who has brought her bicycle to Central Asia in 1923 and a researcher in present-day London."

I'm hoping this one isn't going to turn out to be some schlocky chick-litish sort of thing that I'm going to regret, but if it does, I'll give it away to someone who may appreciate it.


Of the books actually reviewed this week, I've read only one: The Last Hundred Days, by Patrick McGuinness, which I recommend to readers who like historical fiction. It's set at the end of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania and it's really good.


  1. Will be looking for your review of A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar -- I put it down halfway through because I loathe one of the story lines (the contemporary one). I want to finish it as I really am loving the historical story line, but the modern woman puts me off so badly!

    1. That was my take on The 19th Wife. The historical parts were good, but the contemporary stuff didn't do it for me. It's like if you're going to pull two time periods together, do it right! I ordered the book yesterday, so as soon as I read it I'll hopefully put in a review. I'm so behind it sucks.

    2. Normally I'd say I like split story lines but lately, I've been so dissatisfied when I'm reading them -- didn't like it in The Unseen either...


Say what you will, but at least try to be nice about it.