The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
When murder finds its way to a retirement community, a group of four residents, who get together once a week to talk about and investigate cold cases, insert themselves into the investigations and help the police track down leads for the two current (and one older) dead bodies.
The Thursday Murder Club, the debut novel from UK television personality Richard Osman, became a smash hit and has become the first in a series of mystery novels about the group of old timers. While the world awaits the film adaptation, I’m sure I will get around to the next two entries in the series.
Die For Me – Luke Jennings
In Die For Me, the third and final entry in the Killing Eve series, picks up with Eve and Villanelle on the run before being captured by The Twelve for one final mission. Can they find a way to stay alive long enough to build a life together?
I’m two seasons behind on the television version of Killing Eve, but I have a pretty good feeling that that the storylines have diverged pretty far by now. Luke Jennings ties up the story into a nice little bow in this final chapter, wrapping up their story.
The Truth Hurts – Jimmy Piersall with Richard Whittingham
In The Truth Hurts, Jimmy Piersall, with help from Richard Whittingham, tells the story of his major league career starting in 1953 with his return from “nervous exhaustion” through his tumultuous broadcast career with the White Sox in the late 70s and early 80s. Of course, my interest was in the later parts, working with Harry Caray and his battles with Bill Veeck, Eddie Einhorn, Jerry Reinsdorf, and Tony LaRussa.
Piersall’s tenure in the White Sox booth was just before my time, so all I knew were a few highlights here and there and stories. If even half of what he says about Tony LaRussa is true, then it is surprising that he ever became the “Hall of Famer baseball person” that he turned out to be. Piersall’s association with the White Sox ended in 1983, but he continued to be a Chicago-area presence until his 2017 death.
Tracy Flick Can’t Win – Tom Perrotta
Tracy Flick, now an assistant principal in New Jersey, once again finds herself embroiled in high school politics, as she works to convince the school board that she’s the right choice to replace the retiring principal. But while she gives her support for a new school Hall of Fame in exchange for support, she isn’t the shoo-in she thinks she should be. Things change at the initial Hall induction ceremony, where things go sideways and she earns the position she feels she deserves. The only question is if it was worth it?
I first became acquainted with the character of Tracy Flick in the 1999 film adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s novel Election, where a young Reese Witherspoon portrayed the overqualified student running unopposed for student body president until a male teacher plots against her. In Tracy Flick Can’t Win, Perrotta brings the character back for another run through the wringer as an adult who, while highly successful, has never met her own expectations for her where she should be in life due to life getting in the way. This time around, she once again sees herself losing out on something to which she feels she’s entitled to a football hero and decides to cut loose. In the end, she gets the position she wanted, but pays a heavy price. I would like to read Election one day and rewatch the film to see how they match up.
Nowhere For Very Long: The Unexpected Road To An Unconventional Life – Brianna Madia
Brianna Madia, a lifestyle influencer on Instagram, shares her story of abandoning the typical ideas of civilization and moving into a giant orange van with her husband and dogs, exploring the deserts of Utah and surrounding areas. At some point, they nearly kill one of their dogs, lie to her followers about exactly what happened, and collected at least $100,000 for his care and recovery. While the dog recovered, her marriage did not, as the guilt of hurting the dog and taking money from strangers tore their relationship apart.
I’m not entirely sure how Nowhere For Very Long landed on my radar, but it was an interesting read. The author basically took my one day in Arizona back in 2018 where I went to the slot canyons and the Grand Canyon and turned it into a full-time gig. Who amongst us hasn’t dreamed of giving it all up and living in the back of a van with a couple of dogs? Or at least part of that.
There is some controversy about the incident with the dog, and it’s hard to tell exactly where the truth lies. If it happened as she describes in the book, then it was truly an accident and one that, while it could have been avoided, wasn’t too outrageous given how they lived. If it happened as speculated elsewhere, then let’s just say not everything is worth getting the perfect shot for your Instagram followers.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab
In 18th century France, a young girl makes a deal with a devil to avoid marrying a widower she does not love. In exchange for her soul, she gets to live as long as she likes, retaining her youth and beauty, but she will be unable to make any mark on the world and no one, including her parents, will remember her once she leaves their sight. In the early 21st century, after nearly 300 years of being cursed, she meets a man who somehow is able to remember. Their relationship, however, has a pre-destined end date, unless she is able to convince her devil to alter one of his deals.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab, is not my usual fare, but I greatly enjoyed the ride. I’m not entirely sure how this got on my radar, but I’m glad it did. Schwab’s other works look to be of the type of fantasy that I do not really go for, so this may be a one time visit to the world of her work, but if she follows this up with something as strong, I’m sure it’ll find its way to my Kindle.
The House Across The Lake – Riley Sager
A semi-famous actress, banished to the family lake house due to her drinking following the death of her husband the year before, gets enmeshed in the lives of the former supermodel and her tech mogul husband across the lake. When she spies upon them having a fight and, the next morning, the wife goes missing, she assumes the worst. But, she’s about to find out that the worst has yet to come. In order to save the day, she will need to face her demons, both physical and metaphorical.
For the third year in a row, I’ve finished Riley Sager’s latest offering, The House Across The Lake being this year’s entry, while out of state on vacation. This time, he leans firmly into the supernatural while telling a compelling story about an otherwise tired story of the busybody spying on the couple across the street/lake/whatever and seeing the wife seemingly disappear. Sager has become a reliable and annual presence on my bookshelf and I look forward to what he has to offer next year.
The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous – Joseph Henrich
Ummm, yeah. Written by Harvard professor Joseph Henrich, The WEIRDest People in the World aims to explain the history and psychological variation of WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) populations with approaches from cultural evolution and evolutionary psychology. To make a very long story short, a lot of the shift can be traced back to the rise of the Roman Catholic church, which expanded through Europe and wiped out traditional clans and lifestyles.
While I enjoyed some of the ideas presented here and how our environment literally impacts our physiology, this information was presented in much more of a formal way than I usually prefer. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this used as a textbook in some college course somewhere. This academic approach impacted my ability to get through and enjoy the theses presented.
Unseen – Karin Slaughter
When Agent Will Trent goes undercover in Macon, his future with Sara Linton intersects with her past as a raid by Lena Adams goes bad, resulting in her husband, Sara’s stepson, being shot. Agent Trent tries to investigate the crime, and find out the identity of the new big bad in town, while keeping his cover. Once Sara learns the truth, can he keep his relationship intact while finding the truth?
Unseen, the seventh entry in Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series and my eighth overall, once again crosses over Slaughter’s previous Grant County series with her current work, checking back in on Lena Adams, who was last seen in Broken, book number four. Once again, there is a preponderance of interconnectedness within the characters in the tale, but, being a pseudo-crossover, I guess that is to be expected. The next entry in the series, The Kept Woman, was the first one I read, so from here on out I will be current with the series. Looks like, as of today, there are only two entries left to go.
How To Be Perfect: The Correct Answer To Every Moral Question – Michael Schur
Back in the fall of 2016, a new comedy, starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, debuted on NBC. This show, created by Michael Schur, tackled the afterlife and how living a “good” life was sometimes easier said than done. In The Good Place, characters received points for every good deed they did and lost points for selfish or bad deeds throughout their life, and the resulting total would determine if they made it into the Good Place or the Bad Place. Before writing the show, creator Michael Schur needed to take his own dive into moral philosophy in order to give the show the heft it needed to become a success.
In How To Be Perfect, Schur shares what he’s learned from philosophers like Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre, amongst others, in a much more entertaining way than the original texts. He goes deep into the Trolley Problem, which featured heavily in the show, and how the different philosophies treat it differently, and moves from easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” to the more complex moral issues we face every day, like “Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people?” and “How much money should I give to charity?” He also goes in to the importance of not just finding the answer (of course you shouldn’t punch your friend in the face) but also why.
In my younger days, my retirement plan, after I won the lottery, was to return to college and study philosophy. Now that I’ve read this book, there’s really no reason to do so anymore. I’ve already had my education. And, you know, haven’t won the lottery.