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Two weeks ago, I listened to the store manager of a large Barnes & Noble store talk about books he’s read in the last while. He spoke easily in front of a group of 100 or so adding small bits of humour as he offered brief comments on 36 different books. He handed out a sheet of paper with titles organized in the following categories: Manners and Morals, Fantasy, Western, Thrillers, Relationships, War, Biographies and Mythologies. Bill uses the term mythology to categorize history as mythology.

Bill didn’t try to pretend that he liked them all, but he clearly had favourites and from amongst those, 12 sparked my interest.

  • The Absolutist by John Boyne, set in post WWI times
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce about a 600 mile journey that a man takes on foot
  • Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd, a WWII story by a writer I’ve enjoyed in the past
  • Heading out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick, a novel of obsession and love gone wrong
  • The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead, a story about the Korean war
  • The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, set in Afghanistan and described as ‘excellent’
  • The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a debut story set in Iraq
  • The Richest Woman in America by Janet Wallach, a story about Hedy Green
  • My Share of the Task by Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the theme of leadership
  • The Age of Edison by Ernest Freeberg, how the electric light changed the world
  • Agent Garbo by Stephan Talty, about a Spaniard involved in the D-Day deception (not Greta Garbo)
  • Leonardo and The Last Supper by Ross King, a portrait of one of the world’s greatest geniuses

I’m sure I’ll whittle them down further given all the other books on my TBR list, but it’s an interesting collection, don’t you think? Some would appeal to historical fiction enthusiasts, others to readers who enjoy military stories and a few to those attempting to understand the times that grandparents and great-grandparents lived through. Perhaps I can even recommend one to my book club.