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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

True Crime

With the recent publication of Jennifer Dugan’s Stolen Life, true crime books are in the news again. Dugan, who was kidnapped at the age of 11 and imprisoned for 18 years, has written an account of her experience that is receiving high praise for her refusal to be seen as a victim.

I admit (with a bit of guilt) to have been a true crime aficionado in my past. I have probably read most of Ann Rule’s books, as well as others, such as Joe McGinniss’ Fatal Vision about the murder conviction of Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald.

There are many theories as to why people read true crime. It has been theorized as self-indulgence – the need to know the whole story. (Plato wrote: “the virtuous man is content to dream what the wicked man really does.” Others suggest it teaches moral lessons and still others feel it helps maintain a society’s norms.

Whatever the reasons, here are some lesser-known titles that are considered the best of the genre:

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank by Steve Oney

The Poet and the Murderer by Mark Hofmann

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrity Memoirs

Flavorwire recently published a list of celebrity memoirs, pairing classics with similar contemporary tell-alls. ("Classic Celebrity Memoirs and Their Contemporary Counterparts," June 12, 2011). Some of the pairs include:

By Myself and Then Some by Lauren Bacall
Just Kids by Patti Smith

Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine
Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar

The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier
Life by Keith Richards

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Beach Bag Books has pulled together a great "Top Books to Read at the Beach" list for all tastes. There are recommendations for those who like serial mysteries, chick lit, tear jerkers, “smart reads” or 2011’s hottest. Here is a sampling in various categories:

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (serial mystery)

Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews (chick lit)

Heat by Bill Buford (smart read)

Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston (tear jerker)

Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011 hottest)