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Happy Paperback Book Day (July 30)!

Who knew there was such a day?

If you’re wondering, the credit for inventing the paperback book usually goes to Penguin Publishing, which began offering lower-cost, complete softcover versions of popular literature in 1935. Like many things, I’m sure the multi-billion dollar success of the paperback novel has many mothers and fathers, on its way to becoming the most popular kind of book until the e-readers showed up and ruined everything.

Here’s what I’ve been reading over the last month:

Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare (circa 1607) One of his tragedies about a Roman leader and court intrigue. I’m not a particular fan of the Bard, but I make myself read one of his works every so often.

“Jigsaw” by Ed McBain (1970) This legendary crimewriter not only invented characters and plots, but an entire fictional metropolis somewhere on the East Coast (resembling NYC more than a little). In this entry in the “87th Precinct” series, the detectives are stumped by a mystery whose solution lies in the jagged, cut-up pieces of an old photo, which are then scattered among a motley cast of characters.

“Palace of Treason” by Jason Matthews (2015) A former career CIA man, the author here is continuing the battle against Putin with young American Nate Nash and his Russian lover and double-agent,  Capt. Dominika Egorova of the SVR. The series’ first book is “Red Sparrow”, and you should read it first. These books are really well-done, great plotting, edge-of-the-seat action, always believable.

“The Street Bird” by Jan Willem van der Wetering (1983) His novels are about Amsterdam policemen De Gier and Grijpstra, and in many ways remind me of the above-mentioned McBain series.

“I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution” by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum (2011) This is a great, gossipy oral history of MTV from its invention through the first couple of decades. From the secrets and art of music video, to the dirty deals of early cable tv, to the much-dreaded evolution of MTV away from videos to longf0rm programs (and the real reason that happened), this book’s for people who loved or hated MTV. If you ever fell into either, or both of those categories, read it.

“The Sum of All Fears” by Tom Clancy (1991) If you love Denver, Colorado, stay away from this book. Otherwise, it’s cool to read the grandmaster of modern war-and-spycraft thrillers. I’m re-reading his early stuff, like this one, and still enjoying them. If you discovered his “Jack Ryan” character through the excellent Amazon Prime series, I have to say that John Krasinski is a nice guy and good actor, but not Jack Ryan. And again, you were warned about Denver.

“Back Story” by Robert Parker (2003) A young girl wants Spenser to find out who killed her mom 28 years ago in a bank robbery. Nothing she tells him is true, and nothing he finds out for her is anything she wants to know.

“The Republic of Pirates” by Colin Woodard (2007) Fascinating history of the late 17th and early 18th century pirates who ruled the seas, briefly, but with as much effect as any great empire. It was especially interesting to me to find out why various men chose piracy (you may be surprised).

“Circus” by Alistair MacLean (1975) I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of this too-often forgotten novelist. Best known for “The Guns of Navarone”, but you should read anything you can get your hands on from MacLean. Having said that, this one is neither one of his best, nor one of his worst. The plot involves using a famous circus performer to carry out an audacious mission behind the Iron Curtain.

As always, I love to hear from you about how you like any of these, and what you are reading and recommending.



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