Five Good Reads: Steve Quinn

This week’s list of Five Good Reads was submitted by Steve Quinn. To submit your own list, email the arts desk at


Each year ends with a new book. Each year begins with a new book. This thanks to a holiday tradition between me and my mother, Stephanie Backman, who lives in Providence, RI.

Two years ago we renewed the monthly literary gift at a time when the rage is to download books on a digital reader. That’s fine, but some books simply belong on a shelf, on an end table or on a coffee table, always within reach.

Here are a few of my favorites that arrived from the East Coast these last few years.



Anyone who likes Hemingway’s love for bullfighting will enjoy Barnaby Conrad’s offering from this 1945 novel. Conrad wastes no time bringing readers face-to-face with angst-ridden, revered bullfighter Pacote, who prepares for his last fight.


“And the Mountains Echoed”

Khaled Hosseini seamlessly traces his characters from Kabul to Paris and San Francisco. He moves back and forth in time, revealing how one change sets off a test of loyalty, family love – and the voids it produces when it’s taken away – and sacrifice.


“A Conspiracy of Faith”

Jussi Adler-Olson’s Department Q detective unit is a cold-case squad lead by Carl Morck, whose colleagues often refuse to take him seriously. Adler-Olson brings dark comedy to his pages that are a refreshing touch.


“The Cat’s Table”

Michael Ondaatje, author of “The English Patient,” takes readers to a passenger ship through 11-year-old Colombo’s first-person narrative that starts at the Cat’s Table – farthest from the captain’s table – and features late-night spying on a shackled prisoner with his table mates.


“The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million”

There’s always a book that’s a bit heavy – in content and girth – but worth the commitment. Daniel Mendelsohn’s offering is among them. His obsession to learn about the outcome of six family members during the Holocaust takes readers on an indelible and insightful journey. 


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