If you have always suspected that those ritzy, exclusive retreats harbor dark secrets, Peter Heller’s “The Guide” will confirm your suspicions. Kingfisher Lodge, in Colorado, is a great locale to spend some time fishing, before things take a turn for the dangerous.

An up-to-the-minute mystery, “The Family Plot,” by Megan Collins, combines podcasts, a secluded island mansion and a serial killer. Lead character Dahlia Lighthouse’s reconciliation with her unusual childhood leads her toward an even more unusual future.

Turns out I’m a  Stephen King fan. I mean I have always been a fan, but lately I have been reading them as quickly as he turns them out - the nimble plotting getting me through many a dark, Covid day. “Billy Summers,” long and twisty, is no exception to the rule.

Paul Doiron’s “Dead By Dawn” is a series that follows Maine game warden Mike Bowditch. I read this one first and absolutely found it to be a nail-biter.

Cool in the way some thrillers can be, like those by Gillian Flynn, Shea Ernshaw’s “A History of Wild Places” breathes new life into the genre. A mystery inside a mystery inside a mystery, read this and get lost.


Sally Rooney’s status as a rock star of the literary world continues unabated with “Beautiful World, Where Are You.” Fans will revel in the prose and wait breathlessly for the adaptation.

“Intimacies,” by Katie Kitamura is one of the most lauded books of the year. The NY Times, National Book Award and Barak Obama all sing its praises. What more do you need?

Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz’s “The Passenger,” is a German book written in 1938 and thought to be lost. Chronicling one Jewish man’s reckoning with the Nazis, and his attempt at escape, this novel combines heart-stopping action with an intimate account of a very real history.

Sara Jafari’s “The Mismatch” is just the cream puff to get you through the holiday. A romance with just the right amount of heft, Jafari’s story follows two unlikely lovers as they discover themselves, along with each other.

Liane Moriarty is back with “Apples Never Fall.” Fans of “Nine Perfect Strangers” and “Big Little Lies” will not be disappointed. This is a juicy book to read on the plane.

“Carry the Dog,” by Stephanie Gangi, brings a great amount of insight into the life of a child brought up as a muse to her mother’s art. Heartbreaking and gripping, the story unfolds a bit like a mystery, with morality coming in shades of gray.

“The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu,” by Tom Lin will appeal to fans of Patrick deWitt’s “The Sisters Brothers.” This western features a Chinese American assassin hellbent on revenge.

Almost like a locked room romance, Gary Shteyngart’s “Our Country Friends” follows a group of friends who decide to weather the Covid storm together in a house in upstate New York. As you might imagine, nothing goes as planned.

“Chouette,” by Claire Oshetsky, has one of those charming covers that call out to you from the shelves of the bookstore. And luckily, in this case, the novel does not disappoint, transporting you into a world both imaginary and strikingly real.

One of the best books of the year, Jung Yun’s “O Beautiful” combines the mythic badlands of North Dakota with one woman’s quest to understand it. Elinor Hansen, an aging former model, finds herself to be as unusual as an alien as she pursues a writing assignment in a world she does not fit in to.


“These Precious Days,” by Ann Patchett, combines the author’s trademark elegance with short, punchy essays about a wide variety of subjects. For fans, any insight into the author’s writing process, book cover selections, and family history are a delight.


“The Ugly Cry,” by Danielle Henderson takes you deep into the heart of the author’s childhood in upstate New York. In her own words, Henderson grew up “black, weird, and incredibly uncool.” I don’t know about you, but for me, those adjectives perk up my reading ears.

Tabitha Lasley’s “Sea State” has been hailed as “startlingly original” by The Guardian. This book is a surprising mixture of a sociological look into the lives of oil rig workers, and a steamy tale of obsession. Original indeed.


Mick LaSalle’s “Dream State” takes the myth of California, and the myth of cinema and braids them into an inextricable narrative. Showing off his considerable film knowledge, LaSalle, the film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, makes his point effortlessly, and will make you want to watch and re-watch a bunch of cited movies.

A terrific gift for anyone interested in cooking, Laurie Colwin’s “Home Cooking” has become a classic. Funny and personal, with essays and recipes throughout, Colwin’s chapter “easy cooking for exhausted people” will entertain you, and get you in the kitchen.