To compensate you for your suffering, you know, in case their was actual damage done by our off-beat humor and love of old 90s tunes, here are our fiction favs.
What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George. This book is powerful. Moving. It takes the reader away from that place of harsh judgmentalism and into a space in which the darkness is understandable. Don’t believe me? Take it as a dare, a challenge, a throwing down of the pennies on the countertop. Read the book, and by the end, you’ll feel sorry for a young kid who murders a young newlywed at her home. In case your eyes tricked you, I just said you’ll feel sorry for the murderer. Yes, this novel is part of the Inspector Lynley series, and Elizabeth George is generally marketed in the mystery genre. However, this book has no business being categorized as a “mystery” alongside Nero Wolfe, Hercule Poirot, or Perry Mason. It is literature. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to buy copies to give to random strangers on the street.
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly. I know, you probably saw the movie, which was okay or pretty good or terrible depending on your tastes. Put all of that aside. Go read a brilliant article called “The Practice of Law as a Confidence Game” by Abraham Blumberg. It was written all the way back in 1967, but it remains the article that illustrates how defense attorneys operate. Now, having read Blumberg, go read Connelly. And you’ll see that Connelly, maybe accidentally on purpose, has essentially written a novel out of Blumberg’s work. The insights are breathtaking, and will fundamentally alter your view of the adversarial system. This is especially true if you aspire to be an attorney. The Blumberg/Connelly team will remove the little halo that surrounds your future vision of yourself fighting the good fight. The fight, after all, is morally complex in ways that you can’t imagine until you read this book.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. You most likely know Atwood from The Handmaid’s Tale, which you should also read. Alias Grace, however, is a novel of an entirely different sort. It is based on a real case and is set in the mid-1800s. Grace Marks, a maid, is convicted in the murder of her employer and another woman. Is she guilty? Innocent? Crazy? Cunning? Mistreated? Misunderstood? In contemplating these questions, Atwood also takes you through an expertly-researched journey into early criminology and penology. Atwood depicts the intellectual struggles of the day, as her characters seek to understand not only Grace, but the very nature of crime and punishment. It’s a breath-taking experience that will immerse you in the daily life of a female prisoner as well as the enduring quest to make sense of crime.
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