Well classmates – No surprise, Southwest 62 is a class of good readers….and a lot of mystery lovers!  Thanks to all of you who have sent in recommendations.  I have organized them as follows:


  1. Book suggestions with comments
  2. Mystery/Crime writers listed

Other:  Fiction, poetry, non-fiction (if not mentioned in comment section)


Some books and/or authors will appear in comment section and list section because they were recommended in both.  I’ve indicated how many times they were mentioned (if more than once)  (my apologies if I, mistakenly, haven’t included a recommendation)


Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod, a non-fiction book written by Gary Paulsen.  I could not put it down, constant humor, a man's passion for the absurd, his devotion to his team of dogs, and the charm of our last frontier--all of which I have experienced in small ways and would repeat more fully if I had another life. 


I like Dick Francis novels because they combine my love for England and my love of horse racing. (mystery)


Forget all your bad memories of Silas Marner.  George Eliot's Middlemarch tells you all you need to know about the human condition.


Jeff's book, The Jewel Trader of Pegu is a marvelous novel and Greg Curtis's book, The Cave Painters is an amazing account of the discoveries of the ancient cave paintings and it reads like a mystery novel. Both books are completely engrossing. Right now I'm reading a beautiful book by another friend, Douglas Foster, After Mandela: the Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa.


Three books absolutely not to miss. Somewhat cerebral but very accessible

1) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ( Robert Pirsig); 2) The Snow Leopard (Peter Matthiessen); 3) The Confessions (Augustine)…and 4) There's also a bawdy and by all appearances completely trashy book by a Charles Gorham entitled "McCaffrey". While intrigued, I confess I've never read it and suggest others follow my example.

Still my favorites are the books by Jeff Hantover and Creg Curtis. 


Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) by Evan S. Connell. While both are works of fiction, they can be hauntingly real to most of us.  Set in the Country Club Plaza area of Kansas City, the books are a fascinating sociological study of Kansas City in the 30's and 40's.  After rereading them, for once I am glad that I am over 60 years removed from that era, and I am happy to allow the characters to repose between the covers of a book.


Meanwhile, if you like James Lee Burke, (me too, though I don't usually gravitate toward mysteries) I think you'd really enjoy William Boyd's Waiting for Sunrise, Ordinary Thunderstorms, etc., as well as Possession by A.S. Byatt,  The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes  and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.


Okay, below are some "don't miss" books, along with some authors I like.  On our reunion website, I also listed as favorites The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer.  

Defining Jacob by William Landay was incredible.  I want to discuss Jacob and his parents AND the ending with everyone who has read it.


I love Asian writers including  Lisa See and Gail Tsukiyama. Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor is

profound.  Jamie Ford's first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a beautiful book.    I like Joseph Kanon's books including The Good German and The Prodigal Son.  Simon Mawer's The Glass Room was awesome.

Then there is South of Broad for Pat Conroy's beautiful writing as well as Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs.  This is a long book, 561 pages, about a murder mystery set in Venice with a lot of history and art.

I could go on forever but I will end with Daniel Silva.  I have read and loved all of his Gabriel Alon novels.  They are so much fun, an art restorer who works for Mossad and works in the major capitals and art museums in Europe.  They are a treat and Gabriel has become an old friend.


Nerds never change. I still love the classics, Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy and all.

For a modern fiction writer, I am crazy about Barbara Kingsolver. In particular, Poisonwood Bible, Bean Trees, and Animal Dreams.    My favorite nonfiction writer is Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven.     For mystery/thrillers, you can’t beat Lee Child and his Jack Reacher character.


I love reading authors with a main character who develops over a series of books.


"John Adams" by David McCullough is the best book I have ever read.

Truman by McCullough made me homesick for the old Plaza


Isn't our own Jeff Hantover's The Jewel Trader of Pegu everyone's favorite?!


I have always loved Steinbeck's Cannery Row for the cadence and beauty of the language

as well as the poignancy of the characters.  Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and (In the

Garden of Beasts) reads like a page-turning fiction novel, but it is actual-factual account

of the Chicago World Fair in 1893.


Wallace Stegner  Angle of Repose--beautifully written -of complexities of love & marriage/settlement of the west

James Agee  A Death in the Family--a tender book of love & family


Books by Barbara Tuchman like "A Distant Mirror" and "The Guns of August", David McCullough's book "Mornings on Horseback" and "John Adams," and more recently the book by David Hoffman "The Dead Hand." 
I am attracted to books with practical experiences to life's challenges as well as maintaining a continuing interest in physics and mathematics as for example "The Princeton Compendium of Mathematics".
I find books on political issues, philosophy, and social issues to be tedious because there are usually no straightforward solutions to these issues, but am a daily reader of the Wall St. Journal.

Ok. Among my favorite authors are Robert B. Parker (Spencer series), James Joyce (Ulysses), and Tony Hillerman (Navajo police series).

Terry Hoyt Evans photo books – unbelievable!  What a joy to own them.


Greg Curtis’ books are fascinating.  I enjoyed both.


Light and lovely books – anything by Matthew Quick.  His latest is Boy21.   Most any book by Mark Salzman.  My favorite is one of the first:  The Soloist.   The Book Thief by Zusak was considered a young adult fiction.  NO WAY.  Tis wonderful.  More Favs (I will confine myself to just a few).  This is an amazing history and biography of cancer:  The Emperor of All Maladies, by Siddhartha Mukherjee (what a name).  Most recent: The Submission by Amy Waldman – a fictional take on the committee who decides to pick an architect for the 9/11 memorial.  It turns out to be a Muslim. Old Filth (Filth = Failed In London Tried Hong Kong) – Jane Garddam.  Not one wasted word. Fab.

Mr Bridge and Mrs Bridge by Evan Connell.  Simply beautiful portrayals.  They take place in KC.  Mrs. Bridge was written several years before Mr.  




#2  Mystery/Crime

 as one classmate wrote:  “I love mysteries but I have so many authors that I enjoy that it is hard to find just a few to comment on” 


Lee Child.  (6 mentions)

Harlan Coben (2)

Michael Connelly (3)

Tana French

Camilla Lackberg

Steig Larson

Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Robert B Parker (2)

Henning Mankell (2)

Tony Hillerman (2)

James Lee Burke (4)

Daniel Silva

Dick Francis (2)

John Sanford

David Rosenfelt

Ridley Pearson

Sue Grafton

Janet Evanovich

Thomas Perry (Metzger’s Dog, Butcher’s Boy)

J.A. Jance


#3 Other Recommendations


Poems by Stephen Dunn

Poems by Billie Collins


Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (2)

The Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2)

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and Patron Saint of Liars(2)

Widow of the South by Robert Hicks


Fifty Shades of Gray

The Help

Harry Potter

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Oh, The Places You'll Go!  Dr. Seuss 



Wallace Stegner (2)

Somerset Maugham

Graham Greene 

John Steinbeck

Barbara Kingsolver (2)

Annie Proulx

Cormac McCarthy (2)

Isabelle Allende

Annie Dillard

John Updike

Julian Barnes

Phillip Roth

Sebastien Faulks

John Irving

Julian Fellowes

Evelyn Waugh

Nick Hornby

Bill Bryson

Nadine Gordimer

David Sedaris

Sarah Vowell

Rick Bragg

Anna Quindlen


Non Fiction:

David McCullough

Bill Bryson

Steve Jobs

Krakauer (2)