Psychological thrillers seem to be having their genre moment of late with seemingly every other book tagged with the “p-word” and all the authors cross-blurbing each other happily.
When done well, the shifting loyalties, paranoia and creeping sense of dread can make a plot sing with intensity. But it’s not easy. Done poorly, it can yank the reader out of the narrative and the plot can thud along unrealistically.
My recent summer reading included three new thrillers of the moment that ran the gamut from wonderful to very weird.
The new year got off to a bit of a slow start. I fell into a reading rut after the holidays. Started and stopped a number of books, never finding anything that really captured my attention. In the end, I read mostly thrillers, typical for me, but nothing that really snapped my head back.
Turned to a couple of John Milton thrillers mid-month to try to jumpstart the mojo as I knew they would be solid and propulsively plotted and would get me back in the habit of reaching for a book.
The one big outlier this month was Victoria, the book club pick this month. I put off reading this one as it fell well outside my typical fare, but I ended up really enjoying it and would recommend people give it a try.
Almost 65% of American households have an Amazon Prime membership. That’s a staggering number and I’m sure most use their membership solely for the 2-day shipping, but it offers a lot of other benefits. Based on my own unscientific study of asking friends, one benefit that is often overlooked is the ability to borrow one free Kindle Unlimited book each month. Given that the price of a lot of Kindle books can still be high, 12 free books a year is a good deal and can further help you recoup the cost of membership.
I’ll end 2017 with 63 books read. Pretty good and higher than the last few years.
I came up short on my goal to read 12 non-fiction books, only reading 7 as the second half the year I started really concentrating on learning more about story, genre, craft and doing more of my own writing again. To learn writing, you need to read and I read a lot in the mystery/crime/thriller genre.
In no particular order, these are the books that stuck with me (when you read as much as I do, if you can remember the plot after a few days, it’s the sign of a good book) and that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to a friend.
If you need a book to read over the holiday break or start the year right, I promise you could do much worse than any on this list.
Before we moved out to the ‘burbs, we lived in Brookline (a stubbornly independent town surrounded by Boston). There were many great things about living in Brookline and just minutes from the city: good pizza, museums, bakeries, many bars, shopping, weirdos, runners, and all the history.
By far one of the best things, for me, was the Brookline Booksmith bookstore in Coolidge Corner. I was there multiple times a week. Sometimes for events, sometimes to buy, and sometimes just to hang out with the books.
I snuck a non-fiction title in there and a few genre benders, but it was mostly more thrillers and mysteries as I slowly try to get back into writing. No NaNoWriMo this year for me, but I am using the hype to get me excited to write again. I’m working on my annual October short story and using that kickstart my way back into a full length novel over the winter. I’m aiming for 1,000 words a day or about 6k per week, however I get there. In the downtime I’m reading as much as I can.
Standouts for me this month were: Sourdough, a slim literary novel about a technology worker turned back. The Blinds, a high concept thriller executed with intelligence. The Hit, a commercial thriller from Baldacci’s backlist.
Warm weather, vacation, beaches, Cape trips all meant that I was on a fiction trip these past two months. I did keep plugging away at my non-fiction goal for the year with one non-fiction book (and it was a big one!), but it was mostly genre fiction along with a great new pizza cookbook that I added to my collection.