The Last Days of Night

by Graham Moore

A patent-law procedural turned legal caper. Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and Paul Cravath walk into J.P. Morgan’s bar, where Agnes Huntington is singing.

I usually stay away from books featuring lawyers. I’ve had all the legal drama I can take from existing in that world for the last twenty-odd years. Despite this, I mostly enjoyed this book—especially part 3, where the legal procedural turns into a legal caper.

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution

by R. F. Kuang

I snapped up this book the moment I saw it, because I already loved R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. Babel is a hard book to describe but an easy book to recommend. But I’ll try to describe it anyway.

Babel is about communication, colonialism, cultural appropriation, and capitalism. It touches on so many of the conversations we have been struggling to have about those things—especially over the last few years. It is also about magic. The magic of silver working is literally lost in translation. It is a feast for word nerds (like yours truly). And it is a compelling story of unlikely friendships and reluctant heroes.

I loved it, and it’s going straight onto my book recommendations.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

by David Mitchell

The page-turner-ness of this book is a bell curve. The first half is a slow-moving introduction. The next third or so is a riveting samurai movie in novel form. The rest is predictable but satisfying.

I was ready to give up in the first half, but I’m mostly glad I stuck with it to the end.

The Pale Blue Eye

by Louis Bayard

Sometimes when reading a book I get so delighted with it that I find myself giggling and have to tell a friend. This is such a book.

Imagine if Sherlock Holmes were a crotchety middle-aged bachelor living near West Point soon after the Civil War, and Watson were Edgar Allen Poe while he was attending the academy. And both the style of the book and the murder under investigation bear the hallmarks of Poe’s later fiction. Does that sound odd? Well, it is, and it makes for a delightful murder mystery—with a twist or two before the end.