Welcome to Delightful Reads

Welcome to a community of like-minded readers in search of Delightful Reads—that is, books that are either . . .

  • Light but literate (not too superficial) or
  • Serious but not pedantic (not too difficult)

Click here to find out more about what makes a Delightful Read.

The site has three goals:  (1) To provide a resource: Under “Find Books” (at right), you will find a listing of both light and serious Delightful Reads I’ve discovered over the years.  (2) To provide monthly updates, like the ones posted below.  Sign up at right to receive these short monthly updates via email.  (You can always unsubscribe.)  (3) To encourage your own book recommendations.  You can either reply directly to my postings or contact me here or via the “Contact” button below.

Betcha Nevah Hoida Dese
February 2018

When it comes to light “delightful reads”—that is, intelligent, well-written novels with believable characters and happy endings, books that are amusing and entertaining—writers like P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, and Maria Semple come to mind.

But I have discovered various other authors of such delightful reads—most of them relatively little known.

Laurie Colwin wrote delightful comedies of manners and morals with characters who tend to be good-hearted, sane, and, well, happy. Critics say: “Colwin writes with . . .sunny skill and such tireless enthusiasm.”  (The New York Times Book Review);  “Colwin’s novels have great charm—a charm that comes from a calm, witty and observant world view and her engaging writing style.”  (Buffalo News)

Colwin wrote five novels. My favorites include Happy All the Time and Goodbye Without Leaving.

Emily Eden: The New York Times says it all: “The only thing more gratifying to find than a good book is a good book which has been neglected. The Semi-Attached Couple, written in 1829, published in 1860, popular for years, then largely forgotten, is a comic gem about how difficult it can be to get used to being married, even if you are young and beautiful and your husband is rich and titled. Along with Emily Eden’s only other novel, The Semi-Detached House (some readers will find this one even more delightful), it has now been reissued in paperback in the Virago Modern Classics series, which seems to specialize in buried treasure.”

Personally, my favorite of the two is The Semi-Detached House, about the unlikely conjunction of two families of different class backgrounds, but I enjoyed The Semi-Attached Couple as well.

Alexander McCall Smith: Well, of course, everybody knows about the well-loved “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series. However, McCall Smith has written numerous other series as well, most of which I find pretty bad—especially the “Professor Dr. von Igelfeld Entertainments.” Ugh.

However, I find the characters in one other of his series, “44 Scotland Street,” to be almost as endearing and funny as those in the “Ladies Detective Agency.” In “44 Scotland Street,” a group of residents and neighbors in Edinburgh come to life in “gently satirical, wonderfully perceptive novels, featuring six-year-old Bertie, a remarkably precocious boy—just ask his mother.”

Start with the first book, also entitled 44 Scotland Street.

Laurie Frankel is a younger writer, having published her debut novel in 2010. She also describes herself as “the parent of one child, the minder of one border collie, the partner of one husband, the denizen of one city (Seattle), and the reader of tens of thousands of books.”

The Atlas of Love is the charming story of three graduate school roommates with very different backgrounds who agree to tri-parent a baby named Atlas, featuring literary theory to think about, many great characters, and nice turns of phrase. “This beautifully written debut novel offers something for everyone—humor, richly drawn characters and a tender exploration of love, friendship and food.” (LA Times Magazine)

OK, now you know some of my favorite “light but literate” novels, I’d love to hear some of yours.



Best Books of the Year
December 2017

Time once again for holiday shopping! And “it is a truth universally acknowledged” that holiday shopping means shopping for books. Here, then, are some books to consider, all published within the past year. Well, OK, year and a half.

  • Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. An uproarious novel (“Both heart-piercing and, crucially, very funny,” NYT) about the challenges of a good marriage, the delight and heartache of raising children, and the irresistible temptation to wonder about the path not taken.
  • The Golden House by Salman Rushdie. Crazy story of a mysterious Indian family who moves to New York City. “Each sentence seems to be composed with pixie dust, fairy dust, angel dust, fennel pollen and gris-gris powder, poached in single-udder butter, fried and refried, encrusted with gold as if it were a Gustav Klimt painting, and then dotted with rhinestones.” (NYT) Even better, see also…..
  • Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marçal. Excellent critique and debunking of all economics, from a feminist as well as many other perspectives. Very conversational, breezy, easy to read. Says what many of us have always suspected, but with better arguments and evidence.
  • Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Adrundhati Roy. Sprawling, labyrinthine, and lively, this novel is centered on two heroines: a transgender woman and a rebellious architect in love with a freedom fighter. The violence, killings, and strange relationships in the plot are leavened by Roy’s irony, satire, and humor. Even better, see also…..
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. The lives of two “blended families.” Goes back and forth over five decades, shifts perspectives among family members. “Patchett gives us funny, flawed characters, and the rich reward of Commonwealthis seeing their lives unfold…” (Houston Chronicle). Even better, read Bel Canto, one of my all-time favorite books, the story of the relationship between the captors and the captives in a South American kidnapping.
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. Half of the chapters are the memoir of a woman in geobiology and portrait of a longtime friendship, and the other half are fascinating chapters on leaves, soil, and seeds. “Alternately funny and moving, whether she’s writing about deciduous trees, her marriage, her lab partner or her childhood.” (Time Magazine)
  • Mary Astor’s Purple Diary written and illustrated by Edward Sorel. Short and charming biography of the 1940’s movie star Mary Astor and her many affairs and scandals. Includes over 60 illustrations by caricaturist and cartoonist Edward Sorel.
  • Legacy of Spies by John le Carré. A prequel of sorts for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, recounting the tale of spies crossed and doubled-crossed. Great plot twists and moral sensibility.
  • Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe. A delightful story of growing up and of growing old, about a young teenager who takes a job in an old folks’ home full of eccentric characters.  The book is an “original blend of compassion and dark comedy.” (Irish Times)  Even better, see also….
  • The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.  Debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives. “Humor and delightful irony abound in this lively first novel.” (New York Times Book Review)

Let me know some of your favorite new books from 2017 and I’ll share them in the January posting.

Delightful Delightful Reads
October 2017

As those of you who have perused my website may know, “Delightful Reads” are intelligent, well-written, well plotted novels with convincing characters. They hit that sweet spot between being too superficial and too difficult. Delightful Reads come in two flavors: “Light but Literate” and “Serious but Not Pedantic.”

Although they are hard to find, I have been—well, delighted—to have come across several recently published books that perfectly exemplify my “Light But Literate” genre—truly “Delightful” Reads.

  • Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.  A lighthearted and lovely story of a 30-year-old woman, just dumped, who comes home to take care of her father who has Alzheimer’s. Told in diary format, in spare and startling prose, a quirky, heartwarming story of love, loss, and memory.
  • Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel. A wise and witty tale satirizing the crazy world of Manhattan private schools, competitive parenting, clueless kids, and dealing thoughtfully with how people cope with rejections.
  • They Don’t Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine. An intergenerational comedy of manners about family, loss, aging and resilience. Full of astute psychological perceptions and humor to leaven heartbreaks.  See also . . .
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Rather whimsical story of a Russian aristocrat, who becomes a “Former Person” in the USSR and is sentenced, improbably enough, to house arrest in Moscow’s luxurious Metropol hotel, where, notes an NPR review “he lives out his days decorating the dining room with his bon mots and dashing around like Eloise, if Eloise were set in a twee version of Stalinist Russia.” Towles’ book, Rules of Civility, is even better.
  • Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe. A delightful story of growing up and of growing old, about a young teenager who takes a job in an old folks’ home full of eccentric characters. The book is an “original blend of compassion and dark comedy.” (Irish Times) Stibbe’s previous book, Man at the Helm, is even better. Read more here.
  • Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. As part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series of novels based on the major plays, Anne Tyler has tamed the Bard’s shrewish battle of the sexes into a far more politically correct “screwball comedy of manners that actually channels Jane Austen more than Shakespeare.” (NPR)  See also . . .

I would love to hear of any other “Light but Literate” books you can recommend!


Capturing the Immigrant Experience
September 2017

As Franklin Roosevelt once famously reminded the DAR: “Remember, remember always that all of us . . . are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Here are some wonderful—but very different kinds of—novels that can help us understand what it is like being an immigrant, ranging from an introspective and highly individualized view to a panoramic and global viewpoint.

  • One person’s story: Chemistry by Weike Wang. Short, intense, and funny memoir-like novel about a Chinese graduate student dealing with intense parental pressure, appreciating the elegance of science, and living with uncertainty and indecision.
  • Four people’s stories: Still Here by Lara Vapnyar. The intertwined lives of four Russian friends who are immigrants in New York facing mid-life, death, the digital age, ambition, and the grass is always greener.  See also…
  • Two families’ stories: Digging to America by Anne Tyler. The story of two Korean orphans adopted by very different American families, exploring themes of home and homesickness, belonging and individual freedom.
  • Panoramic story of Los Angeles: The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar. The story of a Mexican immigrant housekeeper and her rich employers. Grand sweep of Los Angeles and the problems of immigration, somewhat reminiscent of Bonfire of the Vanities.
  • Panoramic story of the U.S.: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A big knockout of a novel about immigration, American dreams, the power of first love, and the shifting meanings of skin color. So many different genres: coming-of-age novel, romance, comic novel of social manners, up-to-the-minute meditation on race, as well as the immigrant saga.  See also…

There are so many good books on this topic.  What are some of your favorites?

And remember to check out delightfulreads.com for many more book recommendations on many more topics.



The Joy of Jane
August 2017

This year is a special one for Jane Austen fans. She is being thoroughly celebrated in this 200th anniversary of her death—with the release of the Jane Austen £10 pound note (making her the first woman besides the Queen to appear on the country’s currency); an anniversary service at Winchester Cathedral; a 10-day festival in Bath; a huge convention of the Jane Austen Society in California; and the unveiling of a £100,000 pound statue near her childhood home.

Austen’s bicentennial has also been marked by the publication of a slew of new books on the author’s life and afterlife. Various analyses prove beyond doubt that she was a patriarchal conservative, a liberal suffragist, a demure spinster, a social powerhouse with an eventful life; that her writing is gentle, that it’s cruel; that her novels are light-weight chick lit; that they’re formidable, profound masterpieces—and on and on.

Or perhaps you’d prefer to choose from among very large slew of sequels, prequels, or adaptations—including comic books, video games, soft-core pornography, fantasy, and horror (e.g., Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).

And, as if that wasn’t enough, how about watching one of the apparently ceaseless movie adaptations of her books.  Personally, I am a purist.  I refuse to see any such movies, preferring to my own visual images of the characters intact. (No doubt Colin Firth is handsome and talented, but in no way does he look like Mr. Darcy!)

As you may have guessed, I would recommend you skip all of the hoo-ha and celebrate in the best way possible: reading or re-reading one (or, indeed, all) of her books. Here’s the line-up, in order of my favorites. All of them are superb comedies of manners, arch and ironic in tone, about love and marriage, with a variety of compelling female protagonists.

  • Pride and Prejudice. Plot: A family with five marriageable daughters, one of whom is particularly lively and has a particularly lively courtship. One of the most popular and best-loved novels in English literature. Heroine: Elizabeth Bennet, the most endearing, engaging, witty, and feisty of Austen’s heroines. In Austen’s words: Elizabeth had “a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.”  Read more here.
  • Emma. Plot: A confident young woman tries to play town matchmaker with surprising results.  Along with Pride and Prejudice, Emma is usually considered one of the greatest English novels.  Heroine:  Emma Woodhouse: witty, charming, egotistical, and used to doing what she wants—with no guidance but her own.  In Austen’s words: “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition.”
  • Persuasion. Plot: A formerly engaged couple meets again after having no contact for seven years. Austen’s last work, the book has a more mellow character and autumnal tone than her others. Heroine: At 27, the most mature, perceptive, responsible of Austen’s heroines. In Austen’s words: “Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding.”
  • Sense and Sensibility.  Plot and heroines: The story of loves, romances, heartbreaks, and joys of two sisters—Marianne, overly emotional and romantic, and Elinor, sensible, thoughtful, and exemplary. The most biting and satirical of her novels. In Austen’s words: Marianne: “her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation.” Elinor “had an excellent heart; her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong: but she knew how to govern them.”
  • Mansfield Park. Plot: The story of an impoverished girl living with her wealthy relatives. Heroine: Unlike Austen’s active and spunky heroines, like Lizzy Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price is shy, timid, and either (1) judgmental and self righteous or (2) principled and steadfast—depending on how you choose to view her. In Austen’s words: “extremely timid and shy, shrinking from notice.” (I found it hard to appreciate this book until I read A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz and Lot’s Daughters by Robert Polhemus.) Read more here.
  • Northanger Abbey. Plot: the coming-of-age story of a seventeen year old Gothic novel aficionado as she visits Bath for the first time. The first of Austen’s novels to be completed and a satire of Gothic novels. Heroine: Catherine Morland, the youngest of Austen’s heroines, is hapless, naïve, overly-imaginative, and sometimes a bit ridiculous, yet kind, sweet, sincere, and ethical. In Austen’s words: Catherine “was affectionate” with a “disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation.”

Novels Are the Maine Thing
July 2017

Maine. The land of lobsters and blueberries and moose. The setting for famous children’s books (One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal, Miss Rumphius, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm) and for even more famous scary and suspenseful page-turners (by Stephen King).

However, I don’t happen writing about charming children’s books or scary thrillers. Instead, I am recommending several wonderful novels and memoirs—all of which are set in Maine and some of which were written by Mainers.

Elizabeth Strout: Elizabeth Strout has very close ties to Maine. The fictional Shirley Falls, Maine (based on her own hometown) serves as the setting of four of her six novels—and the abandonment small-town dwellers feel when their loved ones depart is a common theme. Strout’s style is spare, understated, but bursting with feeling. They are quiet, domestic narratives packed with emotional insight.

My all-time favorite Strout book is by no means her best known: The Burgess Boys is about a fractious family that comes together to defend their nephew, accused of a religious hate crime. The protagonist of Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer Prize, is the embodiment of the deep-rooted world where Strout grew up. Anything Is Possible, also set in Maine, is more grim than her others, but also full of forgiveness and gentleness. In the words of the NPR reviewer, Strout always finds a “sweet spot in this tangle of emotional wreckage.”

Richard Russo: By far Russo’s best book is set in the decaying blue-collar town of Empire Falls, Maine during the fall of the local logging and textile empire. The book features a set of interweaving and unfolding plots involving interlocking secrets—as well as a large cast of memorable characters. The Pulitzer-Prize winning Empire Falls is told in a lively, comic, affectionate, and uncomplicated style.

I also liked Russo’s Bridge of Sighs, partially set in a town much like Empire Falls, this one located in upstate New York, where Russo was born and Elsewhere, a memoir about his crazy OCD mother. But, I have to admit I don’t like all of Russo’s books: Risk Pool and Nobody’s Fool are among my least favorite.

Monica Wood: Monica Wood is a Maine author who deserves to be better known. When We Were the Kennedys is the slightly misleading title of her memoir, set in another failing Maine small town. Her father dies suddenly when she is nine years old, but the novel focuses on the family, not the grief. It’s also a record of a vanished way of life. Wood explores not only her family’s mourning with the national end of innocence and the “one brief shining moment” of Camelot.

As she describes in her memoir, Wood grew up in Mexico, Maine, to a family of devout Irish Catholic paper mill workers. The theme of family infuses her work, which includes four other novels, plus numerous books for teachers and writers.

John Irving: Although he’s not a Mainiac himself, the plots of his earlier books tend to be quite maniacal. However, I wouldn’t put these three in the maniacal category! One of Irving’s most moving books, The Cider House Rules, is an epic set in a Maine orphanage and dealing with the theme of abortion. Another great Irving book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, is also a New England family epic, partially set in a New England boarding school, dealing with the consequences of the Vietnam War. A third favorite of mine is his most recent, Avenue of Mysteries, a dreamy back-and-forth story of a Mexican “dump kid” turned successful American writer. All of his books move easily back and forth from drama to comedy to tragedy.

Irving has written 15 novels over the last 50 years. Irving’s novels are big books, with big themes and plots and characters; in the words of EditorEric, they are “outrageously funny, emotionally affecting, grotesquely shocking and ferociously affirming.” Much as I love Strout and Russo, it seems odd to me that they have won Pulitzers, and John Irving has not even been nominated for one.

Amster, Amster, Dam Dam Dam
June 2017


Despite the alleged destination of the “three jolly fishermen,” most of us would not find much in the capital of the Netherlands to “dam dam dam.” The canals! The gabled houses! The tulips! Rembrandt! Van Gogh! Rijsttafel! What’s not to love about Amsterdam?

And, as is only appropriate for such a wonderful city, there are many wonderful histories and novels written about it.

  • Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto. In this engaging history, Shorto convinces me, at least, that Amsterdam is the font of liberalism, in both its senses: tolerance for free thinking and free love, but also the birth of political and economic freedom. (His equally fascinating book, The Island at the Center of the World, argues that the Dutch founding of Manhattan seeded America’s melting pot.)
  • The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age by Simon Schama. In this easy to read analysis, Schama examines why the Dutch seem so embarrassed about their wealthy past during the seventeenth century Golden Age.
  • Tulipmania by Mike Dash. This history focuses in on the tulip frenzy in the mid-1600s. For not only was Amsterdam home to the first stock market and first transnational corporation, it was also home to the first futures market and the original market bust.
  • Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach. For a fictional view of Tulipmania, try this novel of a love-triangle drama. Not great writing, but entertaining.
  • The Dinner by Herman Koch. A darkly suspenseful story of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal for dinner in a high-end restaurant in Amsterdam. Very creepy story about creepy narrator with creepy plot. But nonetheless a good book!
  • The Light of Amsterdam by David Park. Thoughtful and lovely intertwining stories about three parent/child and husband/wife relationships, on weekend trip to Amsterdam.

What are your favorite books about Amsterdam?

  • Readers’ Responses to last month’s post on “One Hit Wonders”: (1) To Kill a Mockingbird was a suggested addition, since Harper Lee didn’t actually publish To Set a Watchman herself. (2) And it turns out that Wuthering Heights is more interesting than I knew: there is some possibility that Charlotte might have destroyed a second novel by her sister Emily.


One-Hit Wonders
May 2017

I fondly remember a section in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame devoted to “One-Hit Wonders”: explosively popular hit songs performed by artists who are never to be heard of again—such as “My Sharona,” “Spirit in the Sky,” “Macarena,” “Gangnam Style,” and “Call Me Maybe.”

Perhaps even better examples come from classical music. Pachelbel’s “Canon” and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio,” like the books listed below, are wonderful pieces, but most of us couldn’t name anything else either composer has written.

Here, then, are some novels that I absolutely loved, some of my very favorite books ever. However, when I eagerly read other books by these authors, I found them entirely disappointing.

  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Fascinating look at women’s lives in pre-Communist China, including foot binding and secret messages to one another hidden in the folds of a fan. Alas, I was quite disappointed with See’s other books (including Shanghai Girls, China Dolls, and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane).
  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. A compelling Pulitzer-prize winning modern retelling of King Lear, in which an Iowa farmer decides to divide his thousand-acre farm among his three daughters. His youngest daughter, through whom the story is told, objects and is cut out of his will. Smiley’s next book, Moo, was ok, but the many she has written since have all left me cold.
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. This lovely fictional account of Vermeer, his painting, and his model, is set in seventeenth-century Delft. What I loved about this book was the way the author’s pellucid, closely observed writing style reflects Vermeer’s style of painting and how the restraint in their relationship reflects the restraint in his art. Chevalier’s subsequent books—including The Lady and the Unicorn and At the Orchard—sorely disappointed.

In addition, I can think of several other fantastic One-Hit Wonders, by necessity, because the authors wrote only wrote one novel!

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is a stunning and sensuous family saga, forbidden love story, and political drama, set in Kerala, India.
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden tells the haunting, evocative story of a young girl who is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto where she learns the complicated arts of a geisha.
  • Both Roy and Golden are in good company—along with one-note wonders Emily Brontë, Boris Pasternack, and John Kennedy O’Toole!

And, for anyone who might be wondering, the rock & roll one-note wonders were performed by: The Knack, Norman Greenbaum, Los del Rio, Psy, and Carly Rae Jespen.

God-fearing and Growing Up
March 2017

Emma and David Copperfield in the nineteenth century. To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye in the twentieth. Persepolis and The Goldfinch in the twenty-first. It’s not surprising to come across the perpetually popular coming-of-age plot quite frequently.

What has surprised me, however, is having found an unexpected number of wonderful coming-of-age novels that happen to take place in highly religious families. Here are some really good ones:

  • A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. Darkly funny coming-of-age story about an appealing teenager trapped in a loving but shattered family in a fundamentalist Mennonite community in Manitoba.
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. An exquisite coming-of-age novel about a teenaged Nigerian girl with a fanatic Catholic father in a disintegrating family.
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett. Set in a black community in Oceanside, a coming-of-age and love-triangle story about a grief-stricken teenager. Narrated (sort of) by a group of old gossipy church ladies. Lyrical prose.
  • Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. An intricate family chronicle of a missionary family in the Congo—where their faith in Jesus, democracy, and civilization is severely challenged.  Alternating chapters are narrated through different daughters’ points of view.

What are some of your favorite coming-of-age novels, not necessarily of the God-fearing variety?

Thank you for your book suggestions following last month’s posting on l-o-n-g novels. I totally agree about the following wonderful books that people sent in: Middlemarch, Bleak House, Vanity Fair, and Anna Karenina. Another suggestion was for My Name Is Red and other novels of Orhan Pamuk, an author I haven’t read yet.

And don’t forget: there’s a compilation of my all-time favorite books under “Find Books,” at the top of the column at right.





Nice and Long
February 2017

“Why do readers,” wonders Laura Miller in Salon, “in defiance of conventional wisdom about shortened attention spans, small-screen devices, and pinched schedules — persist in loving long, long novels?”

Part of the allure is simple gluttony: If you’re loving a book, it’s delightful to know that there’s plenty of it. You can be swallowed up by a long novel, immersed in the world its author has created in a fashion that no other medium can rival.

Another thing we love about big novels is that you can get really comfortable with them. A big page count usually equals a big chunk of time, meaning you need to be a serious reader without a fear of commitment.

But perhaps it just boils down to this: if you have extremely well developed characters and a compelling plot, you want it to last forever.

Here are some of my favorites—great plots, great characters, easy to read, and very well written:

  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. A mother trying to find a husband for her daughter in post-Partition India. Centers around four family and the surrounding social environment. Read more here.
  • The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. Long, Victorian-style novel that includes the seamier side of Victorian life; depicts what it was like to be a woman during that time, in both the lowest and the higher classes.  Read more here.
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. A missionary family in Africa, chapters alternating through different daughters’ perspectives.  Read more here.
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. A drama about ambition, racism, social class, politics, and greed in 1980’s New York City.
  • Purity by Jonathan Franzen. A long set of intertwining back-stories set in Oakland, the Santa Cruz mountains, East Germany, and Bolivia. Unknown father, hidden fortunes, murder, and bizarre sex.

What are some of your favorite l-o-n-g novels?

Thank you for your book suggestions following last month’s posting on art. The Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dean, is a lovely and touching book about a Hermitage docent, trying to survive the siege of Leningrad during WW2.

Here are seven others that I haven’t read yet: (1) Stealing the Mystic Lamb (half detective, half art history about the Ghent Altarpiece), (2) The Lost Van Gogh (thriller), (3) The Rafael Affair (mystery), (4) The Girl in Hyacinth Blue (about a newly-discovered Vermeer), (5) The Art Forger (forging a Degas), (6) Spending (an artist supported by a rich muse), and (7) The Flamethrowers (about a contemporary conceptual artist).

Remember, for a compendium of many of my favorite books, both “Light” and “Serious,” visit www.delightfulreads.com.