By Carole W. I am an only child. Some of my earliest memories in elementary school are of reading to escape the many hours alone. I would read in the car as we drove from my home in Trenton, NJ, to visit my grandparents in Brooklyn, NY, or as we drove anywhere, really. As I got older, like in middle school and high school, I thought that the longer the book (the more pages it had), the better the book was.  My friends were surprised to hear that I was reading War and Peace, The Brothers Karamasov, Exodus, and such….for fun.

That joy has never stopped.  Even with a husband, then raising two children, I also looked to read something, even if it was just for a short time each day.

I prefer fiction – getting lost in another time or place with other people.  My preference has been mostly Mysteries  – detective or crime stories about murder and solving puzzles about “who done it” (who did the crime), as well as stories about lawyers (usually the main character) who help others or solve the crimes.  But in addition, Fantasy and Science Fiction have been very fascinating.  I’ve read all the Harry Potter books, Lord of the Rings books (a bit long on the battle descriptions!), Star Trek-based series, and many others…dragons and magic are such amazing elements!

When I happen to find an author I like, I try to read all she/he has written, from the first book published to the most recent. This is especially true for series with the same main character….and if the stories are in other countries, that’s even better!

Here are some authors that have been very interesting with engaging main characters and stories in other countries:

Colin Cotterill (Thailand), Louise Penny (French Canada), Jean-Luc Bannalec (France), Mark Pryor (France), Peter May (China), Stieg Larsson (Sweden), Jo Nesbo (Norway), Anne Holt (Norway), Cara Black (France), Sujata Massey (Japan) and Laura Joh Rowland (Japan).

Here are some authors of mysteries/crime/lawyer stories that are also interesting:

Scott Turow, John Grisham, Ruth Ware, A.J. Finn, Dan Brown (DaVinci Code author), Rita Mae Brown, Carol Higgins Clark, Margaret Coel (who writes stories with Native American characters and settings), and James Doss (like Margaret Coel).

Other authors with great characters and stories I found are: Maeve Binchey, Pat Conroy, Peter Mayle and Amy Tan.

For Fantasy and Science Fiction, here are some suggestions (authors): Terry Pratchett (Disc World series), Neil Gaiman, Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games trilogy), George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones series), Phillip Pullman (His Dark Materials series), Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl series), Gregory Maguire (who wrote the book “Wicked” – before it was made into a musical), Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Christopher Moore.

In the past few years, I have been the coordinator of the International Neighbors’ Reading Groups. We currently have 5 groups: 1 low-intermediate, 2 high-intermediate and 2 advanced. Here is a list of what our groups read this year….perhaps some of the books would be interesting for you to read!

Educated by Tara Westover, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered  by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Killgariff, Small Plates by Katherine Hall Page, Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, Mama Does Time by Deborah Sharp, 1222 by Anne Holt, The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman, Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, Milkman by Ann Burns, The Shanghai Free Taxi by Frank Langfitt, The Testament by Margaret Atwood, O. Henry Short Stories.

A famous saying is: So many books, so little time. That’s really true for those of us who love to read! So, in this time of staying home and sometimes wondering what to do, look through the internet for books recommended by the critics or friends or the library and become part of another place or time!

Happy Reading!