Reading History                                                     G - H - I 
listed by Elizabeth Brunner
Other Book List Pages:  ABC - DEF - GHI - JKL - MNO - PQRSTU - VWXYZ
Gaarder, Jostein. Sophie's World: Novel about the History of Philosophy, 1994. Translated from Norwegian. Wonderful tale of adolescent girl who gets practical philosophy lessons from a mysterious mentor. Engaging and educational. 
Gardner, David & Tom. What To Do With Your Money Now: Ten Steps to Staying Up in a Down Market. Basic advice on staying calm and considering alternatives such as index funds and certificates of deposit. Quick read. 
Gearino, G.D. Counting Coup, 1997. Written by a journalist with our local newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer. Interesting tale of a journalist, who is haunted by the tragedy that resulted from his sloppy reporting and gets a second chance at redemption. 
George, Elizabeth. A Great Deliverance. Great discovery, thanks to the recommendation of my former boss Linda Kristenson. This British mystery series (by an American writer) strives to understand the criminal impulse and also the daily emotional struggles of the detectives.  Each character has fully developed and fully human strengths and weaknesses. This episode, set in the Keldale Valley of Yorkshire, involves connections between a father apparently beheaded by his daughter and the abandonment of a baby in an old Abbey.  Deception on His Mind, 1997, involves a murder in the Pakistani community of a beachside community under redevelopment and does an excellent job exploring cultural differences with compassion.  For the Sake of Elena, 1992, probes the murder of a sexually provocative deaf student at Cambridge University and her troubled relationship with her parents. Missing Joseph, 1993, concerns difficult ethical choices, the nature of motherhood, and villagers haunted by their past choices. Playing for the Ashes, 1994, involves an arson investigation, a Cricket champion, animal rights activists, and passionate loyalties. In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner, 1999, two bodies on a remote moor lead to a complex plot involving prostitution, music composers, and the role of emotion in policework. After finishing six of Elizabeth George's novels, I am completely immersed in the world of her recurring detectives, especially the messy but brilliant Barbara Havers. In the Presence of the Enemy, 1996, investigates the kidnapping of children, high-level politics, and a decade-old love affair. Payment in Blood, 1989, begins with the murder of a playwright with the theatrical cast and producer under suspicion. Well-Schooled in Murder, 1990, involves the torture and murder of a scholarship student at a boarding school. A Suitable Vengeance was published in 1991 as the fourth book in the series, although the events described are a prequel, taking place before the other novels and answering questions about relationships between the main cast of recurring characters. Because I've read the books in the order that I obtained them from the library, this novel ironically became my last by the author, until she does her fans the favor of publishing another. I was able to untangle the clues before the detectives in this case involving journalism, sibling loyalty, a sexual fetish, and a pharmaceutical breakthrough. A Traitor to Memory, 2001, involves the family of a famous violinist and the nanny who spent 20 years in jail for the murder of an infant with Down's Syndrome. Although I was annoyed by the interruption of diary entries that the violinist wrote for psychoanalyst and wish that Constable Barbara Havers played a larger role, the plot twists justify the 700-page length. I, Richard, 2002, is a collection of short stories. Although the plots feel like gimmicks when compared with the complexities of her novels, I enjoyed the author's  introductory text that explained plot inspiration, research methods, and writing process for each story. A Place of Hiding, 2003, involves the murdered benefactor of a planned World War II museum on the island of Guernsey and complex family relationships. With No One as Witness, 2005, has a less compelling plot, involving the genre's all too common psychopathic serial killer -- but the chapters describing a main character's grief (I won't give away the plot) are heart-wrenchingly powerful. I cried for many pages. 
Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little ThingsCan Make a Big Difference. 2000. Interesting case studies range from pacing decisions in children's television and connections forged by salesmen to the sudden spread of fashion trends. 
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies, 1954. Schoolboys stranded on an Island turn savage. Wanted to read this classic. Repulsed throughout. 
Goldstone, Lawrence and Nancy. Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World, 1997. Fascinating diary-style account of a couple's explorations of antique book collecting. Tales of eccentric book dealers, avid collectors, pricing schemes, and auctions.
Goldman, William. Brothers, 1986. Sequal to Marathon Man, which was made into a film with Dustin Hoffman. Intrigue, conspiracy, global danger -- farfetched but fast-paced. 
Goodrum, Charles. The Best Cellar: Murder and Mystery at the Werner Bok Library, 1987. Arbitrarily chosen from the library book shelves, but a cool discovery.  Written by the retired Coordinator of Research at the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service, this mystery involves three present day scholars who stumble onto a crime involving lost books from the Library of Congress and old scandals connected with Thomas Jefferson. The historical details are true. Liked the book enough to immediately read Dewey Decimated, which suffered from a dry spot halfway through, and A Slip of the Tong, which sustained the plot throughout -- by the same author and with the same library setting. 
Gould, Stephen Jay. Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms, 1998. Collection of provocative essays by the Harvard professor of zoology and geology. 
Grafton, Sue. P is for Peril, 2001. I always read the latest offering in this alphabetical mystery series despite the mediocrity. In this book, even the author appears to lose interest, resulting in such ambiguity on the last page that I wondered about a misprint. Fraudulent billing at a nursing home and this disappearance of a doctor are the key plot elements. Q is for Quarry, 2002, involves an eighteen year old case that female detective Kinsey Millhone tackles primarily to help two retired, aging detective keep their spirits up while battling declining health.
Grau, Shirley Ann. The House on Coliseum Street, 1961. Beautiful writing from the Pulitzer Prize winner. In a family of New Orleans women, the eldest daughter suffers a nervous breakdown after the tragic ending to a relationship and then takes her revenge.
Grealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face, 1994. Memoir about the medical treatment and peer reaction to a child's severe facial disfigurement after jaw cancer. 
Grayson, Emily. The Gazebo, 1999. Gentle romance about life-long relationship between mismatched lovers who end up marrying other people. Satisfying enough for a quick read. 
Green, Douglas. Landscape Magic: Tricks and Techniques for Rejuvenating Old Yards. 1995. Solid practical advice with many innovative tips. 
Green, Tim. The Fourth Perimeter, 2002. Mediocre plot, melodramatic emotions, bland characters, and awkward language. I skimmed to see the plot outcome as a former Secret Service agent investigates his son's murder, which involves accidental witnessing of an incident with the President of the United States. 
Greene, Melissa Fay. Praying for Sheetrock, 1991. Excellent example of literary nonfiction, with biting character studies and lyrical passages. About the 1970s civil rights struggle and class action lawsuits in a Georgia town dominated by a bigoted sheriff. 
Grenier, Roger. The Difficulty of Being a Dog. Translated from French by Alice Kaplan. 1998. Beautiful reflection on the relationships and commentary of famous artists and writers with their dogs. But only about half of the European names were recognizable to this American. 
Grimes, Martha. The End of the Pier, 1992. The mystery takes a back seat to character development as a waitress faces an empty nest with her son in college and a small town sheriff copes with both his loveless marriage and a string of murders.
Grisham, John. The Testament, 1999. With the plot twists and legal maneuvers expected from Grisham, this novel involves a missionary in Brazil, greedy heirs battled for a share of a nine billion dollar estate, and a concluding tribute to simple compassion. Less of a frantic adventure than the other Grisham thrillers, but with a deeper moral lesson. The Summons, 2002, tempts a professor of law to hide a mountain of cash from his alcoholic brother, after his stern father dies. Not as gripping as some of the first books by this author. Set in small town Mississippi during 1970, The Last Juror, 2004, involves a young weekly newspaper owner and the court case that changes his life. Well-developed characters. 
Grogan, John. Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, 2005. True story about very naughty yellow lab and the family that adores him. Looks exactly like my very-best-dog Captain Jacob, although opposite temperament. Cried and cried during final chapters. Great book for dog lovers. 
Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. 2003. An autistic narrator plays detective in the neighborhood, leading to discoveries about his own family and a brave adventure. Poignant, original, fascinating. 
Harris, Thomas. Hannibal, 1999. I liked Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs, so tried the sequel. Too gory for my tastes and less psychologically interesting. 
Harvey, Miles. The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime, 2000. Brilliant non-fiction about a journalist's tracking on a famous map stealer who preyed upon the rare book collections at prestigious libraries. Weaves in the history of maps from classic times through the age of exploration to current digital satellite images. Maps become a metaphor for the book's narrative structure and the author's quest. 
Haslett, Adam. You Are Not a Stranger Here. 2002. Short story collection. Kept losing concentration and skimmed parts. 
Hazzard, Shirley. The Transit of Venus, 1980. Follows lives of two sisters in England. Described by critics as luminous and sublime. Certainly passages had beautiful, fresh language -- but plot just dragged for me. 
Heller, Jane. Name Dropping, 2000. Silly tale of a pre-school teacher involved in an identity mix-up when a glamorous journalist of the same name moves into her building. The plain teacher impersonates her neighbor on a blind date, leading to a jewelry heist investigation and a murder. 
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms, 1929. Classic romance between ambulance driver and nurse set against grisly horror on World War I. 
Henderson, Lauren. Black Rubber Dress: A Sam Jones Novel, 1997. Free-spirited London artists plays detective when murder and blackmail impact that bank that bought her largest sculpture. Recreational drug use throughout really distracted from otherwise interesting and intelligent characters. 
Highsmith, Patricia. The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1955. Great fun and stylized. Amoral young man is sent to Italy to convince a peer to return home, but ends up stealing his identity. Strangers on a Train, 1950, duplicates the style in a plot involving sociopathic scheme of two men to murder each other's nemesis -- a wife and a father. None of the characters had redeeming characteristics to keep me engaged. 
Hillenbrand, Laura. Seabiscuit: An American Legend, 2001. Wonderful dense nonfiction about the unexpected racehorse champion. Fascinating background information and historical detail.
Hoffman, Alice. Here on Earth, 1997. Drawing upon themes from the classic Wuthering Heights, the novel probes the destructive nature of excessive, possessive love as a woman is drawn close to her childhood love despite signs of danger. Beautifully written. Blue Diary, 2001, is darker than the typical Hoffman work When a local hero is arrested for a brutal crime committed many years before, his loving wife and the neighbors are forced to reassess what they know to be true. 
Hoffman, Jill. Jilted, 1993. Obout woman's obsession with a married man. Unpleasant characters and an author with overly-poetic purple prose. 
Hope, Laura Lee. Bobbsey Twins Series. Children's mystery series from the 1960s (or before?). Wholesome family fun with mild mysteries for two sets of twins and their loving parents. Very comforting and familiar. Volume One: The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport. Volume Two: Adventure in the Country. 
Hubbell, Sue. Waiting for Aphrodite, 1999. Natural history of small life forms, from sea urchins and millipedes to horseshoe crabs. Interwoven with personal reflection. 
Hulme, Keri. The Bone People, 1983. Winner of the Pegasus Prize for international literature and the New Zealand Book Award. Experimental language and narrative style document the Maori adults who struggle to care for a mute foundling child while confronting their own emotional pain.
Hummel, Maria. Wilderness Run, 2002. The author's reputation as a poet is obvious in the language. Set in 1859 Vermont, the wealthy children of lumber barons come of age during the Civil War. Includes memorable and disturbing battle scenes. 
Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Pay It Forward, 1999. A shame to be so disappointed by this local author's work, especially since I've met Ms. Hyde and the upcoming movie version has generated so much excitement. The theme of passing forward generous acts seems less than original these days, the characters are poorly developed, and the narrative structure is distracting. 
Iles, Greg. Dead Sleep, 2001, begins when a photojournalism sees a painting of her abducted sister in a Hong Kong museum. The anonymous artist responsible for the Sleeping Women series appears to be a serial murderer and the FBI investigates concentrates on New Orleans where a dozen women have disappeared.
Irving, Clifford. Final Argument, 1993.  Courtroom mystery involving a deathrow inmate, a lawyer's infidelity, and the correction of a previous injustice.
Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany. 1989. Tale of a tiny boy convinced that he is destined for an heroic end and knows the date of his own death. The book encompasses Vietnam, religion, learning disabilities, and family relationships. Some chapters were adapted into the film "Simon Birch," which I found disorienting. The Fourth Hand, 2001, involves a newscaster who loses his hand in a lion attack and then finds love with the widow who donates her late husband's hand for transplantation. Offbeat personalities and bizarre situations but emotional realism. A Widow for One Year, 1998, traces the impact of a tragic car accident on the remaining family, including the distraught mother who has an affair with an adolescent and, many years later, the grown daughter who witnesses violence while researching the plot for a novel. The Hotel New Hampshire, 1981. Eccentric family manages a series of hotels while coming to terms with tragedy and their complex relationships. After the depth of novel, the re-watched film with Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe seemed shallow. 
Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, 2003. Wonderful rich biography that portrays both strengths and weaknesses of full human being. Definitely encourages experimental and innovative approach to life, but warnings about not appreciating family bonds. 

Other Book List Pages:  ABC- DEF - GHI - JKL - MNO - PQRSTU - VWXYZ
Updated January 17, 2007
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