Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I recently started the novel Little Bee by Chris Cleave. It’s too early to say anything more definitive than that it’s very British and the prose is beautiful, but I got it at one of my favorite indie bookstores: WORD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They sold me several of my favorite books of last year (including my absolute favorite, Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes), and I trust their recommendations completely.Visit Michael Northrop's website.
Before that, I read The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt. I belong to an excellent YA book club, and that was our last pick. It’s about the younger brother of a soldier who returns home with PTSD. I was watching it like a hawk, convinced the author was going to start lecturing us. (It seemed like a reasonable assumption: It’s a hot-button topic, and her bio says she’s from San Francisco.) She mostly avoided that, though, and I liked the book quite a bit. The rest of the book club did too, for the most part. Once the red wine started flowing, people started calling out plot holes, but there aren’t many books that can stand up to that many buzzed book clubbers.
I also read a lot of military nonfiction. It’s an excellent choice when I’m writing and don’t want to have another novel in my head. The last really good one I read was The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas. It’s about Charles “Swede” Momsen and the first major submarine rescue in history. Before Momsen, the crew was basically just given up for dead if a sub sank, but he pioneered the use of rescue bells and other devices, and this is about the make-or-break moment when they were first used in the field. Really remarkable stuff: a legitimate visionary, a few dozen acts of individual heroism, and millions of tons of cold, crushing seawater. I think it may be out of print—a great injustice!—but I got a copy for a buck at a library sale.