McCall Smith PhotoBeloved and best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith is back with a new book that is sure to enchant readers everywhere. In Trains and Lovers (published June 11), four strangers traveling by rail from Edinburgh to London pass the time by sharing stories illustrating how trains have featured at critical points in their lives. The four tales intertwine to create a truly romantic ode to love—and to the romance of train travel. 

We asked McCall Smith to share three books that he's enjoyed reading recently, and here are his recommendations:

World Wat Two

World War Two: A Short History
By Norman Stone

I read this book in two sittings. The author's style is lively, and his views on the history of those years are very thought-provoking. If only more historians would write like this! One of the conclusions that one reaches at the end of this book is this: this was a narrow escape. Another conclusion is this: what an egregious example of human folly.

drinkingwaterDrinking Water
By James Salzman

James Salzman is a professor at Duke and an expert in many aspects of environmental change. This is a marvelous book that will be of great interest to anybody who has ever paused to think about how that glass of water he or she is holding came to be potable. Salzman tells an extraordinary tale, and tells it exceptionally well. One interesting development he explores is that of how water is being commercialized. It used to be free—will that change? Have you noticed fewer water fountains around? A fascinating read.

Stags LeapStag's Leap: Poems
By Sharon Olds

I must confess that until recently I was unfamiliar with this poet's work. I am glad that I have now addressed that. This is a beautiful, searingly honest account of how a marriage ends. You will be very moved if you read this book. It will linger in your mind—which is exactly what poetry should do.

Stag's Leap recently won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. What do you think, readers? Will you be adding Trains and Lovers or any of any of McCall Smith's recommendations to your TBR list? 

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