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Davis Journal

Read more books in 2024

Jan 02, 2024 03:22PM ● By Bryan Gray

You might find that sarcastic since I read 72 fiction and non-fiction books in the past year (and my wife read even more!), but my bookshelf is full of novels and biographies which I haven’t gotten around to reading. As for those of you who say they would like to read more but can’t find the time, my suggestion is simple: Just. Find. Time. Whether it be an hour in the morning before going to work or an hour in the evening before going to bed. 

As in past years, I am listing my favorites I read this year in a sampling of categories. Some were newly published in 2023, others from previous years.

BIOGRAPHIES – If you enjoyed watching Anthony Bourdain’s travel/food program on CNN, you must read “Medium Raw”, a collection of the late author’s trips, tastes, and observations on life. Phil Knight’s “Shoe Dog” about his founding of Nike is one of the best business books ever written. Many readers have already read Tara Westover’s “Educated”, an inspiring tale of her upbringing in an ultra-religious cult-like family in Idaho. Music fans will love Rolling Stone Magazine founder Jann Wenner’s account of his life in “Like a Rolling Stone”. While I’m not a fan of James Patterson’s mysteries, his autobiography “Patterson on Patterson” is an easy-to-read scatter shot story of an exciting life. Also, I recommend actor Andrew McCarthy’s story of his bonding with a sometimes petulant teenage son as they walked 500 miles across the famed Camino de Santiago (“Walking with Sam”).  

MYSTERIES – The most popular category in national sales includes these favorites: Robert Osman’s “The Last Devil to Die” is the latest and the best of his Thursday Night Murder novels, not only a great mystery, but also a moving account of Alzheimer’s Disease. “Exiles” the most recent novel from Australian Jane Harper is one of the best puzzles i read in 2023.  Don’t miss it~ Also, two recent novels by Ann Cleeves (“The Rising Tide” and “A Raging Storm”), Alex Michaelides, “The Maidens”, a follow-up to his highly successful debut (“The Silent Patient”) is intriguing. Scott Turow’s “The Last Trial” (thankfully, not his last novel. “Lying Beside You” by Michael Robotham is a great thriller. If you enjoy European novelists, Maurizio de Giovanni’s “Bread” and Hakan Nesser’s “Munster’s Case” are both excellent. 

FICTION – It’s difficult to find, but “Captain Saturday” by southern author Robert Inman is a delight. If you like quirky, “Anxious People” by Fredrik Bachman is a must. Though billed as a mystery, Rebecca Makkai’s “I Have a Question for You” will satisfy non-mystery readers too. The heartwarming historical fiction, “The East Indian” by Brinda Charry is one of the best of the best books I read last year.

Lastly, HISTORY NON-FICTION – “Fever in the Heartland” by Tim Egan tells of the horrifying rise of the Ku Klux Klan and its destructive power in both southern and norther states. “Beneath the Restless Sky” by Gilbert King trails the life of a corrupt, racist sheriff in the Deep South. “Rogues” by Patrick Raddam Keefe is a delightful, assortment of frauds and deceivers including the scheme to sell wines supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson.

P.S. My wife say’s she’ll divorce me if I don’t mention Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel, “Demon Copperhead”. I’ll obey!