HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: “It’s a keeper!” That’s what we often say about a book we love, right? But the wonderfully talented Claire Booth (more about her, and her terrific book, below) handles those favorites a different way. To her, the best books are meant to be shared. So Claire might say “It’s a giver!”
By Claire Booth
I love books. As a writer, how could I not? So I own a few …
But there are some titles that you won’t find on my shelves for long – the ones I love the most. Books that I buy only to give away because they are that good. They are:
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie It’s a Hercule Poirot mystery. And I’ll bet you all have read it. But for people who haven’t, and especially those who haven’t read any Christie at all, I will force this book on them (respectfully, of course, while refraining from saying, “Are you kidding me?!”). It’s a masterpiece – and it’s important to know she did it long before certain au courant trends entered the marketplace.
The Poet, by Michael Connelly It seems that everyone has their own favorite of Connelly’s books, and this is mine. It has a reporter protagonist! I won’t go into why I love this book so much, because that would give away the ending. But I will give you a copy. And once you open it, you won’t be able to put it down until you’re done.
Shogun, by James Clavell I know – this one isn’t crime fiction. But it is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. An English sailor washes up on a beach in Japan in the year 1600. At that time, Japan was a closed society, and foreigners were extremely rare. Eventually, he becomes an advisor to a feudal lord. There’s war, intrigue, love, treachery, and everything else you could ask for in a book. If you say, “No, no, I don’t really like historical fiction,” or “Sweeping epics aren’t really my thing,” then I will nod politely and stuff Shogun in your purse when you aren’t looking.
The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco I usually don’t have this many copies on hand, but I’ve been holed up finishing my next book, so haven’t had many opportunities lately to give them away. This is an absolutely astonishing book. A mystery set in an Italian abbey in 1327, it eventually tallies seven deaths and an intricate puzzle that comes together perfectly at the end. Eco’s detective is the Franciscan friar Brother William of Baskerville. Which leads me to my next one …
Any Sherlock Holmes book or story. Although I don’t need to give these away as much anymore. These days, a lot more people have read Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective. (Which I’m sure has nothing to do with Benedict Cumberbatch. Nothing at all.) But if you haven’t, and I find out about it, you’ll soon be the owner of The Sherlock Holmes Reader or something similar.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth, MD This one is obviously for a specific demographic. But trust me, if that’s you, this book is a life-saver. A friend who had a baby a few years before I did sent it to me. I could barely open the package in my cotton-brained, leaden-fingered, when-was-the-last-time-I-slept-for-more-than-two-hours stupor. Now I give it to every new parent I know.
And lastly, there’s a little missive called On Writing. I meet a lot of writers who are just starting out, or struggling to put together their first novel. I give them this. You all know why. So readers, what books do you love so much that you set them free?
HANK: Oh, SO many! I have a stash of the Edward Eager mysteries that I give to every kid who shows even the slightest interest. Even some who don’t. And I’ve given many copies of Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin. And yes, On Writing, too. And I am about to start giving Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin. Have you read that? A wonderful book…on writing.
How about you, femmes and friends?
Claire Booth spent more than a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, much of it covering crimes so convoluted and strange they seemed more like fiction than reality. Eventually, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series takes place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in, yes, strange and convoluted ways. Find her at www.clairebooth.com.
The Branson Beauty, an old showboat, has inexplicably crashed on the waters of the Ozark mountain lake it’s been plying for decades. Hank Worth is still settling into his new job as county sheriff, and when he responds to the emergency call, he knows he’s in for a long winter’s day of ferrying more than one hundred passengers to shore. But he doesn’t expect to find the body of a high school track star locked inside the Captain’s private dining room. Now he must navigate small town politics as he tries to figure out who killed the talented local girl.