Caitlin Goodman Caitlin Goodman is a rare book librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She writes City Paper's readers' advisory column, The Grumpy Librarian, and sometimes also book reviews. She is actually pretty cheerful in real life. If you send her an email with two books you loved and one book you hated, she'll recommend one that you'll probably like in her monthly column.
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Loved: Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Loved: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
Hated: The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall
Recommendation: While the Grumpy Librarian is tempted to recommend one of Dwight Macdonald’s Great Snob Takedowns of the Middlebrow, such as the reissued Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain, she is also extremely susceptible to the coziness of a good plot. Did anyone not like Gone Girl? (That weird guy at the party who wouldn’t stop talking about Leo Strauss doesn’t count.)
You probably already own two copies of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, so maybe pay a visit to your favorite used bookstore and pick up his 1988 debut novel, The Twenty-Seventh City. It is about as 1980s as anything not by Tom Wolfe gets, but it is also a wordy doorstop of a “thriller,” which seems about right. It’s set in St. Louis and is pretty heavy on the social politics — but, then, we can’t all be The Marriage Plot.
You might also like Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003), but GL hopes not.