Reader name: Carol
Hometown: Columbia, CT
Favorite genres: Nonfiction
Favorite books: Shadow Divers (Robert Kurson); A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson); The Bear’s Embrace: A Story of Survival (Patricia Van Tighem); The Lost City of Z (David Grann)
Carol requested suggestions for “nonfiction that makes me breathless.” Based on her list of favorite books, I strongly suspect she also wants books that will take her on an exciting adventure! One book that fits this bill perfectly is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, about a young woman’s journey across 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The book is both painfully funny and heartbreaking; Strayed starts the hike after her mother’s death and in an attempt to find direction in her life. It was also BookPage’s Nonfiction Top Pick in April. Other recommendations? Try Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King, a pulse-pounding story about a group of American sailors taken captive in North Africa in 1815. We also liked Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden, the true story of two well-bred Smith grads who head out for the frontier in 1916.
Reader name: Caitlin
Hometown: Normandy Park, WA
Favorite genres: historical fiction, horror, mystery
Favorite books: No Night Is Too Long (Ruth Rendell); My Cousin Rachel (Daphne du Maurier); The Lottery (Shirley Jackson); Sorry (Zoran Drvenkar)
I loved two recent books that are both suspenseful and historical: The Yard by Alex Grecian is a crime novel set in London in 1889, in which a murder squad searches for Jack the Ripper. Charlotte Rogan’s debut, The Lifeboat, takes place in the harrowing days after an ocean liner sinks. The characters are crammed onto a lifeboat, fighting to survive the elements and each other. Finally, if you like your thrillers gritty, look no further than Elizabeth Hand’s books about punk photographer Cass Neary (Generation Loss, Available Dark). Don’t blame us if they make you too scared to fall asleep . . .
Reader name: Mary-Ann
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Favorite genres: time-travel fiction, Civil Rights-era fiction, historical fiction set in ancient Egypt or during the time of Christ, novels about real historical women
Favorite books: The Summerhouse (Jude Deveraux); Winged Pharoah (Joan Grant); Soul Flame (Barbara Wood); To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee); The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
For time travel, you can’t beat Time and Again by Jack Finney, the classic story of a man who travels from the 1970s to 1882. Love Egypt? Try Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egypt quartet (River God, The Seventh Scroll, Warlock, The Quest) or Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books, a mystery series that starts with Crocodile on the Sandbank, set in the 1880s. For fiction set in ancient times, we like The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, which takes place in 70 C.E. at Masada, a mountain fortress south of Jerusalem. If you want a real-life heroine, try The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks, a novel based on the life of a woman named Carrie McGavock; her Tennessee plantation home was used as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. As for Civil Rights-era fiction, read Freshwater Road by Denise Nichols, about a 19-year-old woman’s coming of age in Mississippi of 1964.
Put your name in the hat for you own book fortune by sending an e-mail to bookfortunes (at) bookpage (dot) com. Make sure to tell us your name, hometown and favorite genres, authors and books.