By definition, writers love words. They are the building blocks for our tales. We obsess over them. We debate about their use and how they should be punctuated. We even become animated each year when several new words are entered, if not universally welcomed into the dictionary. I love words. Any author that sends me to a dictionary has won a fan. I used to keep a notebook to list the words I didn’t know in a book so I could look them up. Now when reading on my Kindle I need only highlight and press. I wouldn’t have thought I took words for granted, but now that I am traveling extensively, I must confess to exactly that. In Greece, I was grateful to have a tour guide who saw her role more as a professor. She helped our group understand key words we needed to use. I was grateful that she was so generous, but frustrated that I couldn’t find my words on my own. I learned firsthand where the phrase, “It’s all Greek to me,” originated. When I went to Italy for the third time, I decided it was time to take a course in advance of our trip. Just an adult ed. class, which was supposed to be fun. It turned out to be not what I expected, but I did learn enough Italian to order food and wine competently. Provence during lavender season had been on my bucket list since before we talked about bucket lists. Since my Italian class had disappointed, I decided I would learn on my own through an audio book/course. I loved studying languages in high school. I took French, Spanish, and Latin. Why I remember the lyrics to “The Red Rubber Ball” better than any word I learned in those classes escapes me. Still, I was enthusiastic as I sat in traffic repeating, “Il n’y pas de quoi,” like a fool. I learned how useless much of what I learned was when we had a suitcase stolen off the bus in Provence and ended up in the Aix police station. Now I am in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for eight weeks, what locals are calling, “The Fun Side of the Wall”, a fairly long time to spend in a country whose language you don’t speak. While I am fortunate to have a dear friend, who is both a Mexican and U.S. citizen, spending the same time here, I am reminded about how important words are for even the most basic needs. Victor’s generosity in teaching the culture and language of this beautiful country inspire me to forge on and learn. I thought I had bathrooms (“banos”) down, knowing “Damas” signaled the ladies room. But then I went somewhere that didn’t use it on either bathroom door. In the grocery store, the sugar and the salt looked the same, both packaged in plastic bags. “Sel” struck a bell with me, a small victory I carried over to buying butter (“mantequilla”) with (“con”) or without (“sin”) sel. I am humbled by my ignorance, challenged to overcome it, because I know not only do I love my words, I need them. I want to embrace the cultures and stories of the places I visit from the tongues of the people who live there. Victor promises me I will learn by listening and opening my heart to the experience available to me while I am in Mexico. I keep trying because now I know, words are not only the building blocks of stories, they are the nexus between one human being to another. I have mastered another sentence to that end. Me gustaria aprender un poco de su lengua (indigena). I’d like to learn some of your (indigenous) language. The sign over the door reads “Yo Los Contre,” “I found them.” I like to think it means I found my words.Read more
Miss Demeanors is proud to host author Catherine Maiorisi today and join her in the celebration of the launch of “A Matter of Blood.” Welcome, Catherine! Can an author love their protagonist too much? I recently read a review of Thomas Keneally’s book, Crimes of the Father, and this comment by the reviewer set me thinking about writers and their protagonists. “For obvious reasons, Keneally admires his protagonist. As such, Docherty is not especially interesting, for he rarely seems genuinely unsure of himself….You can be damned sure, mate, that tough-and-tender ol’ Docherty’s going to do the difficult thing no matter the odds.” Does admiring your protagonist make her boring? Isn’t tough-and-tender what we want in a protagonist? Don’t we want someone who always does the right thing? One of the first things a writer learns is that unless her protagonist has flaws and faces internal and/or external conflict, she will have a hard time holding the reader’s interest. But sometimes finding the right balance is difficult. For example, I’ve loved a series with a detective who enjoys a drink and a profiler with some personal issues, who work together to solve crimes. But in the last few books they turned into a full-blown alcoholic and a psychological mess—and I’m having difficulty reading the latest book. It seems to me that the author made these characters flawed to increase their humanity but by pushing those flaws too far they’ve become repulsive. To this reader at least. So what makes a character appealing? In the Cain Casey Series by author Ali Vali, the female protagonist, Cain Casey, is the head of a New Orleans crime family. When her family, which includes her employees and her friends, is threatened she can be extraordinarily violent, cruelly and painfully killing those responsible. But her violence is never gratuitous. In business, Cain is principled and won’t deal in drugs or prostitution. Personally, Cain is loyal, brave, brilliant, loving, tender, giving, and fair. I find her irresistible. And then there’s Lieutenant Eve Dallas, the detective in JD Robb’s Death series. In pursuit of justice for her victims, she can be violent, but here too, never without provocation. She’s tough and brave and driven. She’s honest. And the main criminal in her life is her husband Roarke, one of the richest men on the planet. Before Eve, Roarke’s businesses were mostly illegal but since their marriage he’s straightened out. If necessary, Eve will bend the law to nail the bad guys. Yet, there’s an innocence about Eve. She was raised in foster homes and is clueless about things, like buying gifts, hugging people, chit chat, expensive clothes, and confused by her loyal and loving friends caring for her. The fact that I’ve read every single one of the thirty something Eve Dallas books indicates how I feel about Eve. While I was writing my recently released mystery, A Matter of Blood, I gave an enormous amount of thought to my protagonist, NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli.And, in the early drafts of the book, Corelli was much like Docherty, too good to be true. Or, maybe too good to be interesting. In later drafts, and there were many, Corelli slowly morphed into what I hope is an interesting, frustrating, and fascinating character. Corelli has lots of baggage. She just aborted her undercover operation to expose a ring of dirty cops, and is being ostracized by her brothers and sisters in blue. And threatened. In addition, Corelli is definitely flawed. And angry. Detective P.J. Parker, who’s assigned to ensure Corelli doesn’t have an accident on the job, would probably tell you that at best she has PTSD and at worst she’s crazy. In fact, Parker only accepted the assignment because she wanted to work homicides and Corelli only accepted her so she wouldn’t have to be tied to a desk. But neither wants to work with the other. But even Parker will admit Corelli is brave. After a tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, she returned home and immediately volunteered for the undercover assignment from hell. Corelli says it was the right thing to do. Parker thinks maybe Corelli is the dirty one. Corelli fights for what she believes in. She will protect her family or die trying. And though she’s honest and believes in the system, she learns an important lesson in A Matter of Blood. The system doesn’t always work for good people. I have to admit I love Corelli. Is she too good? Too bad? Likeable? Unlikeable? Memorable? You’ll have to tell me. Catherine Maiorisi lives in New York City and often writes under the watchful eye of Edgar Allan Poe in Edgar’s Café near the apartment. A Matter of Blood, Catherine’s first full-length mystery, features NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli and her reluctant partner, Detective P.J. Parker. In this book, the first in the series, the two tough women come out fighting—each other—and join forces to solve a brutal murder and protect Corelli’s family. Three of Catherine’s mystery short stories have been published in the Murder New York Style anthologies—“Love, Secrets, and Lies” in Where Crime Never Sleeps, “Murder Italian Style” in Family Matters and “Justice for All” in Fresh Slices. Catherine has also published two full-length romances with Bella Books – Matters of the Heart and No One But You. Her romance short stories include a standalone ebook, Come as You Want to Be, and stories in two anthologies: “All’s Well that Ends Well” in Conference Call and “You Will See a Stranger” in Happily Ever After. Catherine is active in the New York Chapters of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of The Golden Crown Literary Society, Romance Writers of America, the New York Chapter of Romance Writers of America and the Authors Guild.Visit Catherine at www.catherinemaiorisi.com.Read more
Let me take you on what Julia Cameron, queen of creative inspiration, calls an Artist’s Date. The last time I took you for one, we twirled around Italy, the ultimate artist’s date. Today, we’ll visit the Vallarta Botanical Garden in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where I am spending eight glorious weeks writing, reading, and eating and drinking. More on the eating and drinking another day, but let’s leave it for now that I am never hungry here. Just to remind you, an Artist’s Date is an excursion, preferably solo, to a destination intended to expand your creative resources. They are intentional and sometimes self-indulgent, but never to be suffered with guilt. You might meander through a yarn shop, even if you have never picked up a knitting needle in your life, just to absorb the colors and textures around you. The goal is to fill the creative well within you.My well has been running a little dry lately. I have been writing a book for over a year. It’s a stand-alone mystery that I have struggled with, even though I love the story and my protagonist. I may be guilty of overthinking this book and exaggerating the onerous duty I feel toward Olivia Rose, whose story I am telling. I arrived in Puerto Vallarta committed to finishing this book, but not quite sure how I would do it. The day I chose to go to the botanical garden, I chided myself for doing something frivolous when I had serious writing to do. I’d planned to visit the Vallarta Botanical Garden even before I arrived, but thought it would be a reward for hard work done when writing goals were accomplished. But my traveling companions had other ideas, so off I went within days of arriving in Vallarta. We rode a city bus for forty-five minutes up hillsides past a wild Pacific Ocean that seemed to be having a temper tantrum. I listened to passengers converse in Spanish, French, and English. The hillside was green and lush, the roadsides sprinkled with trash. Mexico, like most countries including my own, is filled with contradictions. Nothing I had read prepared me for the exotic beauty I found inside the garden, which I quickly gave myself permission to enjoy. Trails leading down to a river, an orchid house spilling with tropical colors and shapes, a small chapel for solitude. More trails up a hillside, one named “Vanilla.” Fountains and bridges leading from one garden room to another. Bees having a party inside a blossom, while birds sang joyfully everywhere. My ears were filled with birdsong. My eyes weren’t sure if the superabundance of beauty they were seeing could be real. The smell of green was everywhere, while a pleasant warm but not hot sun warmed my shoulders. This is a generous garden I was surprised to learn was created only recently. Benches are placed throughout the acreage, often in shade, inviting strollers to sit for a moment and simply ingest the beauty surrounding them. There are statues and art throughout. I was drawn to the huge conservatory because I have a fascination for conservatories and because I have given Olivia Rose one in her story. This one had more plants than I’d ever imagined could fit in one. The light was magical. I wished Olivia Rose could see it. Even the inevitable gift shop and restaurant were thoughtfully designed. Hummingbird feeders perched on railings surrounding the porch where diners sit within inches of the tiny birds dancing around them. The gift shop has a separate area with cushioned chairs looking out through open windows at bird feeders. Brilliantly colored birds took turns performing. The day ended on a comical note when a large bulldog, owned by the garden ticket-taker, chased an empty water container larger than him rolling down a hill until he conquered and captured it. It was an inspiration for tenacity. By the end of the afternoon my senses were so full, I was exhausted. But I was also exhilarated in a way that happens only when I get out of my head and into nature. I was tired, grateful that I had gone on an artist’s date, and ready to write.Read more
My local library is hosting “Blind Date with a Book” in honor of Valentine’s Day. The librarians put books inside gift bags so readers can’t see the title. (I’ve seen other libraries gift wrap the books.) They write a brief, cryptic description on the outside of the bag; readers choose a mystery book based on the description. I decided to try my luck and selected a bag based on the description: “Cambridge, Warm Beer and Hot Jazz, Jewelry Theft, Art Forgery”. The book inside turned out to be The Grantchester Mysteries: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death.Instead of asking the Missdemeanors a question this week, I gave them a challenge: Set up a book for a blind date–write a personals ad. Think of literary Tinder or eHarmony or old-school newspaper Lonely Hearts column. Can you guess the books from the descriptions? (No peeking at the answers, listed at the end of the post) TraceeMan wishes to meet woman who will ignore the recent brutal murder of his wife. Would prefer gal with house in decent neighborhood, but is willing to fund cheap hotels. Young daughter part of the deal, but she’s quiet and will give up riding shotgun and take the backseat. Must love tattoos, have no side deals with current prison inmates, and know how to follow life-and-death orders without question.BTW….. this is an amazing book. SusanForty-two year-old Englishman looking for gentle companion to be his second wife. Offers a beautiful mansion in Cornwall, called Manderley. No need to worry about housekeeping, which is handled by a very capable woman. Prefers that candidate not like boating. MicheleFormer television meteorologist who no longer wears make-up, no family to drag you to on Christmas, really it was an accident with my husband, great relationship with my dog, seeks middle age guy who likes booze, islands, asks no questions, tells no lies, and doesn’t squirm when an occasional body shows up. RobinSingle white male seeks companion for dinner. Likes: Italian wine, stimulating conversation. Dislikes: boredom. Fascinate me with your story and I’ll tell you anything. CateSexy, 30s, homebody seeks same for candlelight dinners in. Must love red wine and cuddling up to old movies. Ability to play chess a plus. Handiness a definite plus. Ability to spend hours–weeks, years even–indoors an absolute plus.) AlisonTall, rugged self-starter seeking companionship in Wyoming. No strings attached. Wanderlust and love of coffee a plus. Please bring your own toothbrush. AlexiaSeeking companion to attend gathering on private island. Join eight other guests for food, drink, swimming. Housekeeping services available. Must enjoy gramophone recordings, poetry, and solving riddles. Weather may be inclement. Plan accordingly. Choose your date. Guess the title. Tell us in the comments or over on Facebook. Answers listed below. Tracee: She Rides Shotgun by Jordan HarperSusan: Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurierMichele: No Virgin Island by Michele DorseyRobin: Silence of The Lambs by Thomas HarrisCate: The Woman In The Window by A.J. FinnAlison: The Midnight Line by Lee ChildAlexia: And Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieRead more
Welcome to awards season! The Golden Globes, the NAACP Image Awards, the BAFTA Awards, the SAG Awards, The Academy Awards… Rotten Tomatoes lists about forty-one awards shows between September 2017 and March 2018. All focused on film and TV. Books win awards, too. Everyone’s heard of the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, the Man Booker Prize, the National Book Award. These well-known literary prizes represent only a few of the accolades awarded to outstanding examples of writing. Many less well-known (although no less impressive) awards focus on particular genres. The Nebulas and Hugos honor achievements in science fiction in fantasy, The Edgars do the same for mysteries, and the RITA honors romance. As a mystery author, I pay the most attention to awards given to crime fiction: The Agatha, the Thriller, the Barry, the Lefty, the Dagger, the Anthony, the Nero, the Macavity…I’d be here until next award season if I listed them all. Crime fiction prizes are generally awarded at banquets, often in conjunction with conferences. The Agatha is presented as part of Malice Domestic, The Lefty is awarded at Left Coast Crime, the Anthony at Bouchercon, the Thriller at Thrillerfest. The conferences give readers a chance to meet authors, authors a chance to meet readers, authors and others in the publishing industry a chance to network (usually at a cocktail party or the hotel bar), and everyone a chance to attend panels, lectures, and workshops. Awards/conference season is a mixture of excited anticipation and crime (fiction)-filled fun. It presents a few challenges, however. Who to nominate for an award and who to vote for (for those awards where the nominees and winners are chosen by readers and/or conference attendees) and which conferences and banquets to go to. Which to attend is especially challenging. If you had the time to do nothing but travel and unlimited funds, you could be on the road constantly from March through July. You have to pick and choose. Do you plan your travel based on who’s up for an award, who’s speaking, location, timing, or a combination of factors? What conferences do you attend? How do you choose?Read more
Confession: I don’t belong to a book club. I’ve never belonged to one. Book clubs have become a popular way for readers to connect, to come together around a shared interest for a mutual purpose—book discussion. Club members spend time talking, learning, and socializing. Book clubs are everywhere—libraries, churches, bookstores, private homes, online. They form around specific genres, specific authors, specific age groups. Although the basic idea is the same—read and discuss a book—each group is as unique as its members. In some groups, members vote on what to read next, in others, members take turns choosing. In some, the topic is chosen by the group’s host or the place, such as a library or a bookstore, sponsoring the club. Some chose books based on the season, such as those focused on the church calendar. Some groups are fluid; members come and go. Some groups have a fixed membership roster and long-term members who attend book club as faithfully as my parents’ generation attended bridge club. Some groups, like cookbook-themed clubs, offer recipes for members to prepare beforehand and sample at the meetings. Some groups ask authors questions before the meetings and make the answers part of the discussion. Some groups invite authors to speak. Some publishers, like mine, Henery Press, offer discussion questions for their books. Some books include discussion questions in an appendix. Book clubs even appear in books, movies, and TV shows. There are several book club-themed cozies. One of my favorite episodes of “Midsomer Murders” centers around a murder at a book club. So why don’t I join one? Because, to me, reading has always been a private affair. Unsociable by nature (extremely introverted INTJ), I’ve never been a joiner. Books have always provided an important source of solitude, an escape from the world around me. I can spend hours alone at a bookstore or library, wandering the aisles, searching for a volume in which to lose myself. Book in hand, I retreat to a cozy seat, preferably in a favorite café or pub with something delicious to eat and drink, and disappear into the world on the page. I don’t want to talk about books, I want to inhabit them, experience their stories, then savor those experiences internally. How about you? Book club member or solitary reader? If you’re in a club (or two or four), what genres or authors do they focus on? What types of questions or issues does your group discuss? What foods pair well with book club? Comment on the blog or join the discussion over on Facebook.Read more
Winter’s got me in a slump. Short days, long nights. Subzero temperatures. Ice storms that shut down cities. Layers and layers, so many layers, of clothing. Enough, already. Bring on Spring.
Writing’s tough for me when I’ve got the winter doldrums. My brain wants to hibernate from November through mid-March, not devise intricate plots and perilous situations for my characters to overcome. Winter is my antagonist.
Which makes me think—can the season or the weather act as a character in a story? I answer my own question—sure. Person versus nature is as classic a battle as person versus person or person versus self. In Murder on the Orient Express, winter weather stops the train. Snow is as much the bad guy as the killer. Snow makes another appearance as an opposing force in J. Jefferson Farjeon’s Mystery in White. The title of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s In the Bleak Midwinter leaves no doubt the season plays a role in the plot. Peter Hoeg’s Smila’s Sense of Snow hinges on the protagonist’s knowledge of the frigid stuff.
Writing this, I notice novels featuring winter-as-opposing-force come to mind more readily than novels where spring, summer, or fall weather drive the plot. Probably because, to me, weather is the most malevolent of all seasons. But I can imagine situations where a spring thunderstorm or summer drought might figure as integral parts of a story. Fall’s harder. A body in a leaf pile, maybe? What are some other stories where the weather is the star? Comment here or start a discussion on Facebook.
I follow several writers, some published, some unpublished, on social media. Many post news of book deals, tweet about signing with agents, and ‘gram photos of awards. Friends and followers like, “heart”, and share the good news over social networks. Some writers also share their disappointments. A series is canceled, a manuscript doesn’t sell, an agent query is rejected. Friends and followers virtually gather ‘round to show support, offer encouragement, and share advice. Fortunately, most writers limit themselves to these common uses of social media. However, a few writers take up their smartphones, not to seek congratulations or commiseration, but to excoriate those they blame for, in their view, thwarting their literary ambitions. You’ve read their posts: the “stupid” publishers don’t understand them, the “opportunistic” agents pass up the Great American Novel because it’s not marketable, the “idiot” editors insist grammar matters, the readers who leave negative reviews are—you fill in the epithet. These writers do not take rejection well. As they see it, their manuscript is perfect; everyone else is wrong. The “story” is the only thing that matters (they sneer at punctuation and spelling) and anyone who doesn’t agree their novel is brilliant enough to warrant the expenditure of 300,000 words is a “moron”. Or worse. Advice, or anything other than wholehearted endorsement of their vitriolic screeds by friends and followers is treated to the same burn as the offending agent (or editor or publisher) and to the ultimate social media act of retribution—a block. Please don’t be that writer. Nobody enjoys rejection. No one expects anyone to be happy about rejection. But letting the whole world (and posting to social media is akin to letting the whole world know, regardless of your privacy settings) is not the way to handle it. Rant and rage if you must but do it in the privacy of your home or car or broom closet. Make sure no one but the cat/dog/goldfish can hear you. They won’t talk; humans will. Pin the rejection letter to a cork board and throw darts at it. Stick any leftover pins in a voodoo doll with the agent’s name scrawled on it in blood. But don’t snap photos to post to Instagram. Keep your anger to yourself. Agents, editors, and publishers are on social media, too. They’re the original networkers. They networked before it was cool. You may not follow any of their accounts but at least one of your followers does. And publishing people follow each other. You know that caustic email you sent to agent X informing them how dense they must be not to recognize your genius? Well, agent X just tweeted a screenshot of your email to the Twitterverse, which includes agents A through W and Y and Z. You just been branded “difficult”. You’ve just been branded a lot of other things that aren’t repeatable in polite society. Think anyone’s going to represent you now? Nope. You think agents are morons; agents think you’re a toxic jerk. Editors and publishers agree with the agents. The same goes for your foaming at the mouth social media posts. A screenshot of a flame goes viral. Consider yourself quarantined. No one will come near you. They’d rather have measles. Are you really surprised people in the publishing business (business, not hobby, not charity) want a manuscript that’s marketable? As one writing instructor put it, agents live on commission and need to earn enough to pay rent in New York. Editors and publishers have to pay rent, too. And maybe at least one or two of them has a point. Maybe your novel really isn’t a good fit for them. Try someone else. Maybe your novel isn’t as perfect as you think. Even manuscripts that are sold need editing. Maybe no one appreciates your story because it’s harder to decipher than a teenager’s emoji-laden Instagram caption. Maybe you should listen when they say your 300,000 word thriller stopped being thrilling at 120K. Maybe you can look past your hurt and find the nugget of good advice buried in the “no”. If you can’t resist firebombing bridges and insist on refusing all advice? Self-publish.Read more
My next book, A Well-Timed Murder, is about the Swiss watch industry. In it, Agnes Lüthi investigates the murder of a prominent watchmaker, Guy Chavanon. Agnes quickly learns that despite the industry’s reputation, nothing about the man’s death seems precise. Ultimately, timing will be the key to law enforcement, and possibly to love as Agnes races to stop the killer before he strikes again. While writing A Well-Timed Murder I dove head first into the watch industry. Today, with a ‘watch’ on every smart phone and inexpensive wristwatches that keep accurate time, we don’t give much thought to how time controls our life. For thousands of years, time related to the rise and fall of the sun. The Egyptians divided the day into two 12-hour period and used obelisks to track the sun’s progress. In the early 14th century mechanical clocks yielded more precision. As the century progressed, watches (as jewelry) developed as novelties for the wealthy elite. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries pioneering pilots strapped timepieces to their wrists so they could keep track of fuel usage. At the same time, the British army required greater coordination and timing among the troops. Clearly the need for practical and precise wristwatches had arrived. Fast forward to today and every person with a smart phone can mark time to hundredths of a second. Time is now everything. Watches are appreciated for their beauty and collectability. Every minute of our day is accounted for (and in some industries billed-for). We have greater accuracy but, perhaps, that’s not always a good thing? I wonder how people mark their days now. Through constant checking of the computer clock, their iPhone, or an antique Patek Philippe? And does the constant realization that minutes are slipping past help or hurt us? I have days where time seems to stand still. Those are the days I want to capture. That’s the kind of timing that means everything.Read more
Many who write fiction turn to non-fiction as resource and reference. Others read non-fiction while working on their own fiction. A palate cleanser? A way to focus on your own voice without being swayed into that of another author? Both, probably. While at university I studied history along with architecture and maintain an interest in history and biography. A few books make their way from my husband’s nightstand to mine – he comes from a European perspective, heavily tinged with architecture. Some recent favorites: If Venice Dies, by Salvatore Settis. We have lived in Venice a few times and it remains one of our favorite cities. Settis delves into the history and future of the city, contextualizing both in terms of tourism, which has been a constant in la Serenissima’s evolution. Soviet Space Dogs, by Olesya Turkina. We always have pairs of Jack Russell Terriers. The boys are named for Pritzker prize winning architects (Alvaro and Rem so far) while the girls have Russian names (Sabatchka and Laika). This book was a gift from my nieces in honor of Laika, the first dog sent into space. Unfortunately, the ending is too sad so we’ve never read that far. But otherwise a lovely tribute to her sacrifice for science. At the Strangers’ Gate by Adam Gopnik. We had the great pleasure to hear Gopnik speak a few years ago. Most entertaining! My husband, in particular, enjoyed this book since he was also in New York City in the 1980s. Gopnik adds complexity to any story but his ability to insert his experiences into the issues of the city is remarkable. I’ve had a food and restaurant obsession recently (technically related to book research) and have greatly enjoyed Sous Chef by Michael Gibney, anything and everything by Anthony Bourdain (starting with Kitchen Confidential). Add to that anything written by Ruth Reichl, Gourmet’s editor-in-chief and former restaurant critic for the New York Times. Also on the research front, I have enjoyed Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, written by Dava Sobel. This slim volume lives up to the title in marvelous story-telling fashion. Next on my plate are a few biographies: Ron Chernow’s Hamilton and Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. What are your non-fiction favorites?Read more