Match Book: What to read next

Have a book problem? We have the answers.


Gail B. Gall, 60s, Beverly

The Challenge

I’m about to start a book club with friends that I have known for years. We range in age from mid-40s to mid-60s, and a slim majority are nurses.

I’m an omnivore: Recent books include memoirs by Joan Didion and Ann Patchett and history (“The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson). Travelogues can hold my attention quite well. A good long novel makes for a great vacation: Barbara Kingsolver, Amitav Ghosh, and David Mitchell have accompanied me aloft, afloat, and on a comfy couch. While I whipped right through “Unbroken” and “Gone Girl,” I would not say that I liked either. I found “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman to be genuine.


Match Book

I think I’ve got it. You are an Empathic Reader who likes nuanced characters across genres, which prompts me to suggest first, “Delivering Doctor Amelia” by Dan Shapiro. You slipped in a young adult title at the end, which leads me to a book some readers of YA fiction seem to have missed, Meg Rosoff’s “Picture Me Gone,” a good book for the winter. Despise this weather? Transport yourself with the help of Barbara Grizzuti Harrison’s “Italian Days” and a novel that travels across decades, “Three Junes” by Julia Glass.


Alexandra Checka, 36,

The Challenge

I’m in the middle of “The Sun King,” a biography of Louis XIV by Nancy Mitford. I think reading something by one of the Mitford sisters is as close as I’ll ever come in real life to reading Lady Edith Crawley’s “Downton Abbey” newspaper column. Although, the delicious snark on Louis’s various mistresses, secret babies, and court intrigue sounds much more like Lady Mary.

I read it after “Circle of Sisters” by Judith Flanders — about four sisters, including the mother of Rudyard
Kipling and the wife of Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward-Burne Jones. The writing was fine but everyone came across as so awful in their letters. Before that I read “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson. I’m looking for something entertaining and tart like the Mitford book, but not sour like “Circle of Sisters.”


Match Book

I’ll see your French classical period biography and raise you one Victorian — “Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady” by Kate Summerscale — and one family history: “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal. And to round out your list, a novel. Major Pettigrew’s character put me in mind of the butler, Stevens, from Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day.” Ishiguro, who hasn’t published a novel in a decade, will have a new one — “The Buried Giant” — in March.


Nicole Lamy can be reached at