Books to Read After Running

Mark Mindel's Books to Read After Running

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

Another good read by the author of The Mountain Between Us, which was recently released as a major motion picture. Here, narrator Joseph (Jo -Jo), a decorated Vietnam War Vet who served four tours in Southeast Asia, has been adrift since his stateside return, having been spat upon by protestors, lost his girlfriend (to his BROTHER no less), and beset with medical problems relating to the War. Through a series of coincidences he is reunited with Allie (divorced from his brother years ago and her latest husband killed in a fiery crash). In truth, Allie never lost her love for Jo -Jo, nor he for her, and Jo-Jo helps discover that the latest husband isn't really dead, just pulled a $1 million insurance scam against Allie. Jo-Jo meanwhile befriends a Mexican mom and her children and helps Allie to put her life back together, including a major restoration of her once-famous restaurant with the help of his new Mexican friends and their relatives. All seems well except for the dark secret that pervades the re-union. And Jo-Jo's brother, Senator Bobby, is right in the middle of it... I love Martin's books, though a devout born-again Christian, he keeps faith and religion at the periphery of his novels, but this one seems a bit contrived. Still an excellent story. 

The Leopard (Harry Hole, #8) by Jo Nesbo

Meet Harry Hole. (Harry seems to be a great name for detectives - as in Harry Bosch!) He’s an alcoholic; a user of drugs; but the best darned detective in Oslo, if not the entirety of Norway itself. Beautiful detectective Kaja Solness flies to Hong Kong to bring Harry back to Oslo and sober him up to help find the newest of serial killers in their home town. Harry's still recovering from the dreaded Snowman who also made a personal attack on Harry and his beautiful wife Rakel, who as a result, has now taken their son and gone into hiding...and left Harry as well! You get the set-up. With a beautiful new partner to take his mind off the one who left him, and a new case with more twists and turns than an Olympic bobsled run, what could go wrong!! Can Harry and Kaja find the killer before he murders again? What will happen to our new partners in crime (solving)? Well you must read it to find out! Beautiful, snowy settings in the Nordic North. Translated into English from Norwegian. 

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Mediocre debut for a young Brit. A little hokey plot concerning a lass horribly afraid to attend her 27th (who has a reunion on their 27th year, 25th? yes; 27? no.) after receiving a friend request from a high school classmate who died (or did she? body was never found) at their prom. Old memories come flooding back and there's a BIG SECRET. A whodunit with a big twist, but not much as far as character development and the story seems implausible.

Twisted Prey by John Sanford

Having moved on from the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to the US Marshall's office, Lucas Davenport has basically been given free reign to choose cases to his liking, most often those with great physical risk to himself and the criminals he pursues. Lucas is once again on the tail of Senator Taryn Grant, a psycho/sociopath who rose to her position through nefarious means and only Davenport and US Senator Porter Smalls, also from Minnesota, are wise to it. Now Grant hires an assassin to kill Smalls and when it doesn't succeed Smalls calls in Lucas. What follows is typical Sandford/ Davenport material...a lot of action! Who wins? Stay tuned, or better yet, read it for yourself. This is the 28th in the Prey Series, which has also spun off ten Virgil (he's a former Davenport deputy...think Raylon of Justified fame) Flowers novels.

Sally Drake's Books to Read After Running

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

The 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, this novel follows writer Andrew Less’ trip around the world as he approaches his 50th birthday and seeks to come to terms with lost loves, professional disappointments and mid-life transitions. The story is poignant, funny, and meaningful to anyone approaching the mid-life milestone, who has ever been in love or ever experienced loss—in other words, meaningful to all of us.

Educated by Tara Westover

A devastating memoir by a woman who grew up in an isolated, rural Idaho Mormon town raised by survivalist parents with extreme anti-government ideologies.  She eventually leaves, earning a PhD from Cambridge University but struggles constantly with guilt, remorse, identity and understanding her place in the world. What she survives is far beyond religions extremism—it is the trauma associated with abuse, severe mental illness and secrecy. I finished this book emotionally exhausted. I greatly admire Westover and I’m also very sad for her. Hers is a heartbreaking story that I think is extreme but not necessarily rare. Educated is a tough, admirable book with an important glimpse into an American way of life not well understood.

Remembering Philip Roth (1933-2018)

America lost one of our literary giants last month. Philip Roth, who passed away on May 22, wrote more than 30 novels, mostly set in his birthplace of Newark, New Jersey.  He was a chronicler of American Jewish life, delving deep into the psyche of the mid-century American male. His novels are lush and forceful, full of passion and power. My favorite Roth novel is American Pastoral, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 and is about the impact of the political and social turmoil of the 1960s on an American family. Upon his death I read Goodbye, Columbus, which won the National Book Award in 1960, and was reminded of the tenderness of his writing.  There are even some lovely scenes on a running track! Though he could sometimes be maddening to read for his portrayals of women, his willingness to dive into the emotional lives of his characters, exposing their flaws, insecurities and struggles with family, marriage, politics and changing society make his stories nearly universal in their appeal and his snapshots of American life, even from generations ago, continue to inform us today.  While we are a very different country now than in the era of many Roth novels and some of his writing will seem anachronistic, his insight into the human condition is timeless, the marker of all great literature.

What I’m reading now:  I’m starting in on my summer reading list (when I typically lighten things up a bit) with My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley.  I’ll let you know how it is next month!

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