After cajoling people for recommendations, sculpting it carefully, and waiting patiently for the end of the year, I have a total of 355 books on my To Read list over at Goodreads. I used the random.org number generator to produce three numbers (drum roll), which correspond to these books:
91: The Black Tower, Louis Bayard
Vidocq. The name strikes terror in the Parisian underworld of 1818. As founder and chief of a newly created plainclothes police force, Vidocq has used his mastery of disguise and surveillance to capture some of France's most notorious and elusive criminals. Now he is hot on the trail of a tantalizing mystery--the fate of the young dauphin Louis-Charles, son of Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI.
Hector Carpentier, a medical student, lives with his widowed mother in her once-genteel home, now a boardinghouse, in Paris's Latin Quarter, helping the family make ends meet in the politically perilous days of the restoration. Three blocks away, a man has been murdered, and Hector's name has been found on a scrap of paper in the dead man's pocket: a case for the unparalleled deductive skills of Eugene Francois Vidocq, the most feared man in the Paris police. At first suspicious of Hector's role in the murder, Vidocq gradually draws him into an exhilarating--and dangerous--search that leads them to the true story of what happened to the son of the murdered royal family.
Officially, the Dauphin died a brutal death in Paris's dreaded Temple--a menacing black tower from which there could have been no escape--but speculation has long persisted that the ten-year-old heir may have been smuggled out of his prison cell. When Hector and Vidocq stumble across a man with no memory of who he is, they begin to wonder if he is the Dauphin himself, come back from the dead. Their suspicions deepen with the discovery of a diary that reveals Hector's own shocking link to the boy in the tower--and leaves him bound and determined to see justice done, no matter the cost.
In "The Black Tower," Bayard deftly interweaves political intrigue, epic treachery, cover-ups, and conspiracies into a gripping portrait of family redemption--and brings to life an indelible portrait of the mighty and profane Eugene Francois Vidocq, history's first great detective.
172: Call of the Mild: How I Learned to Hunt My Own Dinner, Lily Raff McCaulou
When Lily Raff McCaulou traded in an indie film production career in New York for a reporting job in central Oregon, she never imagined that she'd find herself picking up a gun and learning to hunt. She'd been raised as a gun-fearing environmentalist and an animal lover, and though a meat-eater, she'd always abided by the principle that harming animals is wrong. But Raff McCaulou's perspective shifted when she began spending weekends fly-fishing and weekdays interviewing hunters for her articles, realizing that many of them were more thoughtful about animals and the environment than she was.
So she embarked upon the project of learning to hunt from square one. From attending a Hunter Safety course designed for children to field dressing an elk and serving it for dinner, she explores the sport of hunting and all it entails, and tackles the big questions surrounding one of the most misunderstood American practices and pastimes. Not just a personal memoir, this book also explores the role of the hunter in the twenty-first century, the tension (at times artificial) between hunters and environmentalists, and new models of sustainable and ethical food procurement.
193: The Passage, Justin Cronin
First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.
With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.
I generated three books because I'm a mood reader and I don't want to get mired on one choice if I can avoid it. I just put holds on The Black Tower and The Passage in audio format, we'll see which gets here first. There are only two copies of Call of the Mild in the system, but I placed a hold on that as well. At this point, I'm not sure which one I want to read most, but maybe it will become clearer when they're in front of me and I can read/listen to a few pages. You are welcome to press for one or another choice in the comments. I will update this post when I figure out which book I'm reading!
ETA: Call of the Mild best fits the underlying purpose of this challenge, which was to get me to read outside my comfort zone--and since I'm a vegetarian who doesn't like guns . . . however, I think I'll also listen to The Passage in the car, since the most people recommended it.
Why am I doing this?