My Newest Literary Obsessions: Tales of Graveyards and Bookstores

Last year saw me fall short of meeting my annual Reading Challenge. And so I have to face another year of the Goodreads icon staring me down every time I open my phone. Hello, Slacker. If you spent as much time reading as you do playing around on here, you might be able to meet your goal. Don’t let my failure be in vain. I may not have met my goal of reading 24 books, but I did read 17 books. Some of those 17 were pretty good. Maybe one will catch your eye and help you jump-start your reading goal for the new year.

img_2386The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is about a young boy who takes refuge in a graveyard the night his family is murdered. We watch the boy adapt to life in a graveyard and later learn that he must confront his past in order to find his place among the living.

My fourteen-year-old son and I both loved this book. It’s technically a young adult novel, but has appeal for both teen and adult readers. This is doubly true for lovers of the macabre. (Gaiman is the author of the book behind the 2009 movie Coraline.) Though set in the real world, The Graveyard Book has the same otherworldly feel as Coraline.


img_2360The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is the story of Vida Winter. Winter is a beloved and enigmatic author. Now in her seventies and terminally ill, she commissions a biographer to tell a life story that she has kept guarded behind layers of misinformation. Margaret Lea works in her family’s bookstore and dabbles in writing biographies of the forgotten dead. As Winter’s mysterious life unfolds, the reason for her subterfuge slowly reveals itself. Packed with rich description and vocabulary, this book is for bibliophiles and readers who are writers.

Bonus: if you like The Thirteenth Tale, Setterfield just published Once Upon a River last month.


img_2374Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Clay is an unemployed web designer who is forced to take a job working the night shift at a bookstore. It’s meant to be nothing more than a way to earn some money and keep his days open to hunt for a new job. But Clay finds his interest piqued by the bizarre goings-on in the store. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is inhabited by loony cryptophiles, quirky techies, and eccentric artists. It’s a mishmash of old and new as the readers are dragged along with Clay from Google’s headquarters to the bowels of a secret society in New York.

These are all works of fiction. If you are more of a nonfiction reader, see my post My Newest Literary Obsessions:  Compounding, Bad Plants, and the Good Death. Please leave your own book recommendations in the comments below. Don’t forget to share and subscribe.