"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation." -Graham Greene
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain: I've had a Scribd membership since the site was founded, and with the changes to the terms and availability of books, found I was suffering. Scribd now only offers a select number of books for free every month, and it's been a huge disappointment by and large. That said, I would never have picked this one had it not been free, and I loved it. Following a small special-forces unit on a "victory tour" after tour of duty in 2004, the incisive social commentary and utterly unique voice of the narrator reminded me of "The Things They Carried" in all the best ways.
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, Ross King: Another Scribd Selects pick, I absolutely adored this chronicle of the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I remember seeing the ceiling in 2010 and being utterly dumbfounded/overwhelmed by the detail, almost to the point of not being able to appreciate it. I read the book online with a giant, zoomable picture of the ceiling open in another window, and followed the progress of the ceiling in the photo as in the text. I can't recommend this highly enough for any art lover...or history fan, as the commentary on Renaissance Italian and papal politics is also fantastic. (My sister Em would ADORE this.)
The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene: Like I mentioned in my September list, I went on a HUGE Greene kick after falling in love with "The End of the Affair," and it hasn't ended. Michael recommended "The Power and the Glory" after the opera gala in September, and I picked it up a few days later. Moralist, Catholic and gorgeously written, I flew through it in a matter of hours...like "The End of the Affair." This affair won't end anytime soon, clearly.
When We Collided, Emery Lord: I've read Emery Lord's books in the past, as I followed her back in her blogging days. Geared toward a much younger audience, I can pretty much polish them off in a few hours, but they're beautifully written and perfect for a young adult audience. This one tackled bipolar disorder, death and family abandonment, but in a way that didn't feel overtly depressing or preachy. I'll be following her career for sure.
The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo: I must admit, I did actually enjoy this one, but it creeped me out so badly I had nightmares for several days after I finished it. Set in British colonial Malaysia, it's a Chinese ghost story of murder, hauntings, possession and exorcism. Anyone who knows me knows that I get scared by even some Disney villains (the witch in Snow White still freaks me out a little, ha!), and the horror/ghost genre is NOT my thing at all. That said, others who prefer that vein of literature would probably enjoy this much more than I did!