Mystery Month, or How I’ve been escaping from graduate school overload

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unnamed-1Somehow my husband and I always end up in one of our favorite local bookstores on the weekends and last week we stopped in St. Mark’s Bookstore, a wonderfully curated, small shop in the East Village.  They had the only two copies of If I Stay, a young adult story my students are obsessed with that I’ve been trying to find without using Amazon for weeks.  I also found a copy of one of Jo Nesbo‘s books for $7.  For fun, and to round out my choices, I picked up last week’s copy of the New Yorker, which had a gorgeous cover.  When I got up to the counter, I found myself explaining If I Stay, somehow feeling the need to justify my purchase (did you read this article from The New York Times?) but then telling the salesperson I shamelessly love mystery books and didn’t feel the need to justify Jo Nesbo.  In fact, this purchase went right along with what I have noticed is my October theme.

Since the 8th grade school year and graduate school year began, I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants: working well past the end of the school day, followed by hours in my living room for my two graduate courses.  My brain was so immersed in education-world that I needed an escape that would require little deep thinking on my part.  Enter, the mystery novel.

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In early October, a friend of mine (with whom I regularly nerd about with about things like crime novels, World War Two history, and office supplies) told me about a bookstore in TriBeCa dedicated only to mystery novels, aptly named The Mysterious Bookshop.  And it was on Warren Street.  Naturally, it became part of my Saturday wanderings.  There are literally floor to ceiling books and every subgenre of mystery imaginable.  I decided on Alex Pierre LeMaitre, recently translated from French, and the bookstores highest new recommendation.  The story is dark and starts with a woman being kidnapped, which leads into a a number of other crimes, some of which were pretty disturbing to read about.  There are a number of twists and the author left me thinking a lot about perspective as a reader: it’s easy to think someone is totally insane until you know their backstory.

My mystery-loving friend and I met up again and I traded Alex for Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places.  I read Gone Girl a couple summers ago and got sucked in with the rest of America.  This story was pretty dark, and followed a protagonist whose mom and two sisters were murdered when she was 7 and whose brother was in jail for the crime.  The plot is her journey to uncover the truth about what happened, including reconnecting with her brother. It was gripping and by the end felt much more “literary” than I had anticipated: as I learned the true events from the night of the crime, they revolved around a desperation and confusion that went wildly wrong.

Now, I’m finally into Marisha Pessl‘s Night Film, which I read about last fall in New York Magazine, and which has been sitting on my nightstand since July. I’m not quite halfway through its near 600 pages, and hoping next Saturday will be spent hashing it out here–I’m absolutely loving it.

If I continue my mystery theme into November, I have Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend and my new Jo Nesbo on my nightstand and I’m fully planning on stealing the latest Tana French from my mom at Thanksgiving.  Maybe after that I’ll be ready for a different genre.  Maybe not.

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