All of my life I have been a voracious reader, and I believe that reading has many benefits, including expanding vocabulary, exposure to diverse perspectives, and a greater understanding of the human condition.

Given that we have all been spending so much time at home, one of the ways I’ve utilized this time is by catching up on some reading, and I thought this may be an opportunity to share my reading list with my friends and constituents.

For the duration of the COVID-19 virus, I will be sending out a weekly list of 5 books that I highly recommend, along with a short description of each work. These books will span the spectrum of fiction, non-fiction, classic, modern, novels and short stories, but each one is a work that I found moving, inspiring, and impactful. For those of you who are readers, I hope you enjoy these as much as I have, and I look forward to getting your thoughts after you read them.

Let’s get started. For this week, I’ve randomly culled my list for a well-rounded and diverse selection, in no particular order:

1. Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw (fiction, published in 1969)

This is one of Shaw’s two best known works, and was serialized for TV  starring Peter Strauss, a young Nick Nolte, and Susan Blakely.  This book was a runaway best seller, and weaves together a coming-of-age novel and the American immigrant experience in the decades after World War II.  This is an epic work that everyone should read.

2. Defending Jacob by William Landlay (fiction, published in 2012)

This is a legal thriller and who-done-it that tells the story of a prosecutor who is faced with the possibility that his son may have committed a murder.  This is one that you will not be able to put down.  This novel became an instant best-seller and put William Landlay on the map.

3.  Lawman by Shon Hopwood (non-fiction, published in 2012)

The author is a convicted bank-robber who spent 12 years in federal prison and is now a Georgetown Law professor.  It is a story of dignity, perseverance, and redemption. I found this book so profound that I purchased a copy for every member of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on which I serve.

4.  Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (non-fiction, published in 2003)

Erik Larson is a master story-teller and meticulous researcher.  I have read every one of his books – no one does a better job at making history come to life.  This books tells the story of the great Chicago World’s fair through the backdrop of America’s first serial killer.  Great read to get hooked on history!

11/22/63 by Stephen King (historian fiction, published in 2011)

Many of you will recognize the historical significance of the title, which was the day that President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.  This book is a unique and masterful blend of sci-fi, history, politics, and a love story, all told through the context of a time-traveler who decides to go back and prevent the assassination. If you’ve never read Stephen King or believe that he is only a horror writer, I encourage you to give this book a read.  This is one of the few books that I have read twice.  It’s that good!