Despite a tendency to fall asleep and drop the book on my face, I love to read and try to mix it up between genres. I thought it’d be fun to keep a list of the good ones here — the really exceptional ones I’ll cover with a full post, but if it’s on the list then IMNSHO it’s worth your time. Please share your own recommendations too, so that I never run out of good reads, and don’t miss the links at the bottom to previous years!
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
The story of Bletchley Park is amazing top to bottom --- WWII could have played out very differently if not for that nerdfest of women and men (including Kate Middleton's grandma!) working together to break Axis ciphers. The Rose Code is a really well put-together novel about three women from very different backgrounds working at Bletchley. Their perspectives make a nice complement to the more "famous" folks like Alan Turing. The historical setting is engaging and really well researched; the plot just screams to an incredible climax in the last few chapters. Thanks for the recommendation, Kellie!
Never by Ken Follett
I've always known Ken Follett as the Pillars of the Earth guy, but apparently he's written more than just that! Never is a modern-day, world-ranging story that follows seemingly-disparate threads as they edge slowly but surely towards global catastrophe. At first I thought it seemed like fun but forgettable airport bookstore thriller stuff. But as the storylines accelerated into the second half, the book became absolutely compelling. Two big themes: (1) how illusive our ideas of personal "power" really are; and (2) how we can find joy and love in the world despite that. A great read.
River of the Gods by Candice Millard
Apparently folks in mid-1800s Britain were obsessed with finding the source of the Nile river. Some fascinating stuff, but also a bit of a slog. Most of the book is taken up with accounts of the total asshats the British explorers were, both to each other and to everyone they encountered on expeditions and at home. Also, they seemed to be constantly sick with malaria or whatever, and had to be carried in hammocks by their guides --- does that even count?