What’s On My Nightstand by Judith Flanders
In honor of her latest mystery, A Bed of Scorpions, bestselling author Judith Flanders shares the books on her nightstand.
I wear two hats most days, writing 19th-century British social history, and also crime fiction set in modern-day London. So the ‘British’ part is consistent, but otherwise my interests are all over the place, and that’s reflected in my ‘to-read’ pile, which somehow never diminishes.
- First Bite By Bee Wilson
A history of cooking and eating implements sounds a little on the specialized side, but Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork was one of my favourite books when it came out a few years ago. How can you resist a book that explains how our jaw-shape was formed by our use of forks, or why Americans eat with their forks upside down (or right-side up, depending on where you’re reading this)? Her new book, subtitled ‘How We Learn to Eat’ promises to cover questions as diverse as, How big is a portion, or Are boys and girls culturally indoctrinated not merely to eat different quantities, but different foods.
- My Mother-in-Law Drinks By Diego De Silva
I stumbled across what I think and hope will be a series featuring Vincenzo Malinconico, a Neapolitan lawyer of spectacular ineptitude. His wife has left him, his children despise him, he has no cases and he spends most of his time reworking events in his head, to give them a better outcome, in a manner both tragic and hopelessly funny. In the first novel, I Hadn’t Understood, Malinconico finally gets a case, but it’s for a local crime lord. I can’t wait to find out what happens this time.
- Slow Horses By Mick Herron
Some of my favourite reads have been recommendations from friends, and this one promises to be no exception. A combination of, and twist on, both the police procedural and the spy thriller, Herron’s original premise is to locate his characters in the dead-end office where intelligence officers are sent after they’ve failed in some career-destroying fashion: drunkenly leaving confidential files on a train, or messing up long-running surveillance operations.
- 1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear By James Shapiro
I loved Shapiro’s previous book, Contested Will, a brilliant analysis of the Shakespeare ‘controversy’ – that is, Who wrote Shakespeare? (If you haven’t got time to read it, the short answer is ‘Shakespeare’. Shapiro is too polite to add ‘Duh’, but it’s sort of implicit.) Shapiro starts 1606 by looking at what was happening historically, and from that drawing a picture of how these events shaped what Shakespeare was writing: King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra and Macbeth.
- The Outside Lands By Hannah Kohler
This one is a wild card entry, as I’ve only dipped into the first chapter. It’s a first novel, which moves from 1960s California to Vietnam. Twenty pages in, it promises great things.
JUDITH FLANDERS is the New York Times bestselling author of The Invention of Murder and one of the foremost social historians of the Victorian era. She is a contributor to the Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement. Before turning her hand to writing, Judith worked as an editor for various publishing houses, including the publications department of the National Portrait Gallery, London. She lives in London.
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