So far I’ve read 20 books in 2016. That’s almost halfway to my goal of 50 reads this year. I’m making good progress, and I’ve found some real gems; some of the titles I’ve delved into recently were just so good that I lingered over them, not wanting them to end. Now I’m on book 21: The Magician King by Lev Grossman. It’s the second installment in his popular trilogy, which is also currently a show on SyFy. I haven’t yet decided whether I prefer the books or the TV series. In the meantime, here are some short reviews to help you decide what to pick up next:
In January, I read six books. That sounds impressive, but The Strange Library falls more into the short-story category and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library was a children’s book. I skimmed a few parts of The Leftovers and Restoration where they started to drag, and The Fate of Mercy Alban, a murder-horror-romance guilty pleasure, required barely more effort than it took to turn the pages. But one nonfiction book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Slum, will have a place in my thoughts and in my heart for a long time.
I only purchased this book because I read a short excerpt in my National Geographic magazine and thought maybe it sounded interesting. I had never heard of Michael Rockefeller’s disappearance in New Guinea in 1961 on a trip to collect art for his father’s new Museum of Primitive Art. I didn’t know that his boat had capsized or that he tried to swim to shore or that the most prevalent rumor about his death was that he had been killed and eaten by one of the New Guinea tribes.
I learned a lot from Savage Harvest, which really drew me in with its sprawling vistas and cultural questions. Did the tribes of New Guinea know the truth about Rockefeller’s death? Would they reveal their secrets to Hoffman as he delved deeper into their culture and into their lives? The narrative expertly wove together Hoffman’s quest for answers with an account of Rockefeller’s journey, and it didn’t skimp on historical background.