Wish You Were Here
Rita Mae Brown (1991)
This is the first in Rita Mae’s Mrs. Murphy mystery series, where a cat and dog can communicate amongst themselves, and help their human-mama, Mary “Harry” Haristeen solve murders in her small town of Crozet, Virginia. Yes, this can be considered a “cozy mystery” due to its lack of sex and any real violence, but who needs it when you’ve got a sassy divorced cat, an independent, hard-working post mistress and an author who in real life is a kick-ass lesbian who infuses her characters with what is obviously her personal brass and love for all creatures, great and small.
There’s More to Life Than This
Theresa Caputo (2013)
If you watch Long Island Medium on TLC, then you’re already picking up what she’s putting down. Likewise, if you think that LIM Theresa Caputo is a fake, then obviously this book is not intended for you. This writer is the former, and if you watch her show and consistently find yourself sobbing like you’re watching the end of Steel Magnolias during each episode, then you’ll love the book. It’s extremely well written, rounded-out and thorough. Even if you aren’t a believer in Theresa’s abilities to speak with spirits, angels and God, you have to give her respect for tackling subjects that may be seen as taboo, including abortion and reconciling her “gift” with being a Catholic. It’s one of those books that you read to experience, rather than get to the end, and it reminded me of The Dude and the Zen Master because it offers tangible lessons on how to interact with one another more kindly.
Drinking and Dating
Brandi Glanville (2014)
Drinking and Dating by Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Brandi Glanville may not stand the test of time in the annals of canonical dating tomes, but is a perfect example of a piece of pop culture that is here and now, and it’s completely entertaining. The book stations the reader as that proverbial fly on the wall and lets us see all of her sexual escapades. You can read this book several ways: you can get a kick out of her blatant enjoyment of sex, you can leave feeling bad about your own sex life, or you can let Brandi’s experiences empower you to get a little risque in your own bedroom–or top of your car.
It’s audience is exclusively for fans of the Real Housewives franchise and when the Housewives have ended, most likely so will the popularity of this book. But, like spending lots of money on wine, or eating a delicious doughnut, some things you can just enjoy for the moment, knowing that they are fleeting. Such is Drinking and Dating.
The Good Nurse
Charles Graeber (2013)
This is the unbelievable and completely shocking true story of Charles Cullen, ICU nurse who for over a decade (during the 1990s and 2000s) worked at a plethora of hospitals in New Jersey and on the east coast killing hundreds of patients. His method was quietly delving out lethal doses and improperly mixing medications. Throughout his spree, he was let go of at least five hospitals for suspicious patient deaths, and up until his final arrest was dubiously sent off with stellar references. Given the heinous nature of the story in and of itself, the author lets the facts do the talking while he organizes them in a cohesive manner, and narrates in a careful and respectful manner. It follows in the traditions of In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter and Manhunt where the author weaves a true story like a piece of fiction.
Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery (1908)
“The more things change, the more they stay the same” should be an alternate title for Anne of Green Gables, which was written over 100 years ago. The reason this book has stood the test of time is because Montgomery was able to extract the steadfast nuances of human nature, making it seem as though it could have been written yesterday.
Throughout the novel, Montgomery shines a light on gender inequality and via the actions, conversations and internal monologues of her characters she subverts gender roles during a time when it was definitely prohibitive. Some examples include Marilla Cuthbert (who adopts Anne) living with her brother as an unmarried woman; Anne discussing women’s suffrage in Prince Edward Island when women were decades away from the right to vote; Anne, educated, opinionated and chatty, puts her own education at the forefront of her focus instead of concentrating on men and getting married; and though debatable, one could possibly argue the plausibility of Matthew Cuthbert’s (homo)sexuality.
Pretty racy for 1908, huh?