- Maisie Dobbs: Jacqueline Winspear
- Water for Elephants: Sara Gruen
- The Case of the Missing Books: Ian Sansom
- Heart-Shaped Box: Joe Hill
- The Castle in the Forest: Norman Mailer (not that I'm a big Mailer fan, but it's Hitler's youth fictionalized)
And speaking of Straight Man, babelbabe told me this was Richard Russo's second worst novel, Empire Falls being the worst. Apparently I'm reading them in order of badness. Straight Man seems like the type of novel that would appeal to me -- it's set in an academic world, it's funny, it's well-written. What could be wrong with it? It's the major character -- after a while, I just got tired of Hank Devereaux Jr. He turns everything, even his possible recall as department chair, into a joke. I wanted to slap him and say, "This is serious!" And that's Russo's genius; he makes his readers feel the same frustration with Hank that the characters in the novel feel. He's also able to be humorous while dealing with serious issues -- the plot involves layoffs at a university that may go so deep they will even effect tenured professors. Taken as a whole, while it may not be Russo's best book, Straight Man was at least worth my time, which cannot be said of every book I've read.