Think of a Number by John Verdon

After reading Chelsea Cain’s latest book, The Night Season, I wasn’t sure I could get into another thriller right away–hers are so excellently written. However, Think of a Number is an erudite thriller that keeps you guessing until the end. It wasn’t just another serial killer slasher–you actually had to use your brain to figure out this mystery. A really fun read from a debut author.


Book News Roundup

*It’s the 40th anniversary of James Dickey’s Deliverance. Get thee to a bookstore. I’m almost finished with my copy and it’s thoroughly engrossing.

*A new book is out about Mad Men and its cultural and historical significance. The Paris Review talks to the author.

*Check out this Millions essay about where writers write.

*Random House and the Wylie Agency have reached a compromise in their e-book battle.

*If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t read or heard about the release of Mockingjay, here is PW’s starred review.

Currently reading…

In addition to The Space Between Trees, I’m also reading James Dickey’s Deliverance, a book I’ve wanted to read for years. I love survival stories, and this may be the best one out there. It’s a harrowing tale about a Georgia canoe trip gone wrong, and is a thrill to read. Dickey was an established poet long before he wrote this book (he was elected Poet Laureate of the U.S. in 1966), and you can tell–the prose is taut, lyrical and engaging.

The appeal of the Oregon coast

The Oregon coast is stunning–my family has a beach house there and it’s my favorite vacation spot. I commented on Anne K. Yoder’s article on The Millions this morning, which discusses the terrain of the Pacific Northwest. She’s been on the Oregon coast for nearly a month, writing and observing the beauty of the landscape. She  writes about how nature is a dominant part of life in Oregon and how the Pacific Northwest influenced writers like Ken Kesey, who grew up outside of Eugene. I’ve read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but am intrigued by his book Sometimes a Great Notion, which is set in an Oregon logging town. Yoder also mentioned the short story collection Livability by Jon Raymond. His story “The Coast” seems to get the descriptions of the beach just right. It was powerful enough to make me long for the rugged beauty of the Oregon coastline.

The most underrated writers

Anis Shivani’s 15 Most Overrated American Writers list on The Huffington Post has generated a lot of debate online. I, for one, want to generate a positive list. If you’re looking for a new book, check out the underrated work of Benjamin Percy. A native of Tumalo, a rural town in central Oregon, Percy packs his stories with fierce, lyrical language, angry yet empathetic characters and a stunning setting: the harshness and raw beauty of the Oregon landscape. His short story collection Refresh, Refresh is brave, unrestrained and exuberantly terrifying. An Oregon native myself, I appreciate his homage to an underrated state.

Percy’s first novel, The Wilding, is due out this fall from Graywolf Press, and it’s being heralded as a modern-day Deliverance. I can’t wait to read it.

Currently reading…

I love, love, love paper books, but have to confess that I’m reading more on my Kindle these days. Living abroad in Italy, it’s tougher to find books in English. Plus, I’m not in a big city like Rome or Milan, so locating English-language material is difficult. When I return to the U.S. later this year, it’ll be back to the bookstore and library!

Anyway, I’m currently reading Katie Williams’ new book, The Space Between Trees, and am really enjoying it so far. 16-year-old Evie is a typical teen outsider growing up in a Midwestern town, but when a childhood friend named Zabet McCabe is murdered, Evie is drawn into an eerie and complicated friendship with Zabet’s best friend, Hadley, who is conducting her own investigation to find the killer. So far, the language is engaging and lyrical and while it’s categorized as teen lit, I think it has a strong appeal for adults, too. I’ll write an updated post after I finish the book. Your thoughts? Have you read this book, and if so, do you recommend it?