Look, I know it’s the cool thing to scoff at Dan Brown and lament the fact that the “good” books and the popular books don’t overlap more. But that conversation is a snoozefest, and any author who can sell millions of books and help keep a publishing house in business is good news for readers. So I think it’s been a pretty darn good week for reading. Here are my highlights. I’d love to hear about yours in the comments!
Inbox (Books Acquired)
Handsome Symbologist Robert Langdon is back, and he’s being handsomer and more symbology-solving than ever. Or at least as much as you expect him to be. Brown’s latest blockbuster is set in Florence, where Langdon unravels a series of clues related to Dante’s Inferno and a modern-day madman with a bad, bad plan for how to solve overpopulation. There’s obsessively detailed obscure art history. There are capers. There’s awkward flirting (I think it’s flirting?) There’s Handsome Symbologist Robert Langdon’s coveted Mickey Mouse watch. And there’s a boat called The Mendacium. (I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess whether the owner is a good guy or a bad guy.) These are all the things I want from a Dan Brown book–it’s a fun, entertaining read, and it’s not pretending to be anything else. Also, it’s not nearly as ridiculous as The Lost Symbol, so if you thought that shiz put you off Brown forever, it might be worth giving him another shot.
Outbox (Books Finished)
Okay, so there’s this woman who lives in a cave in Egypt and has supposedly been alive for thousands of years, and the local tribal people (it’s the mid-1800s, by the way) fear her, and she’s maybe descended from Greek gods (I think? The details get a little fuzzy.) and thinks that one of the human men in this story is the reincarnation of her thousands-of-years-ago lover, and the whole thing is bananas. Oh, and they call her She-who-must-be-obeyed. How’s that for a nickname? Our intrepid narrator journeys to Africa with his adopted son to try to find out if she’s real (spoiler: she is…kind of), and shit gets real. Cannibals and slaves who are mute so they can’t spill secrets and hallucinations and secret messages carved onto clay pots real. I can’t say I loved reading this book, but I have certainly loved talking about it (the whole reason I’m reading it is for the quarterly book club edition of the Bookrageous podcast), and that’s valuable in its own way.
If you dig Victorian fiction and want to have a look at a book that Margaret Atwood says was hugely influential in shaping her as a reader and writer, you might give this one a shot.
In the Queue
As I, along with most of the reading world, devoured Gone Girl and then Gillian Flynn’s backlist last summer, I fell wicked hard for her mix of thriller and feminist/social commentary. A smart friend recommended that I go back to one of the originators of that trend, so then I fell even harder for Dorothy B. Hughes’ In a Lonely Place. It is so, so good, and I’m looking forward to getting to know more of Hughes’ work. Shake up your summer with some way-back backlist goodness and join me, why don’t ya?
That’s my reading week. How was yours?
Sign up for our newsletter to have the best of Book Riot delivered straight to your inbox every two weeks. No spam. We promise.