Sunday, August 9, 2009

TSS - I Love a Mystery

The title of this post has 3 distinct meanings - a triple entendre, so to speak.

First of all, I really do love mysteries, and I have one entire bookshelf, double stacked, to prove it. While I tend to use Cozy Mysteries as my default genre (you know, when you want something easy to read but that will be sure to hold your interest), but I am starting to branch out into other sub-genres in the mystery category. I really only started reading mysteries about nine months ago, and I have tried to analyze why I enjoy them so much. Then this morning, while drinking my customary cup of coffee and catching up on my blog reading, I came across this post on Musings from a Bookish Kitty. She details a broadcast that she heard on NPR (and her entire post is worth reading), but what really caught my eye was the following:

People are drawn to crime fiction for very different reasons. A small few of the reasons I heard given on the radio show:
- To live the life of the bad guy vicariously through the TV or book
- To see good win out over evil
- To better understand the criminal mind
- To enhance problem solving skills

- For the love of the characters, including that flawed good guy who might not be so different than the rest us
- For the thrill

- An escape fr
om real life
- Predictability

- Unpredictability

- Relevant social issues

- The List could go on forever........

Some of these stated reasons I had already discerned for myself: good wins over evil; enhance problem solving skills; escape from real life. But there were some others that caught me off-guard, yet caused me to reflect: better understand the criminal mind; vicariously live the life of the bad guy. Hmmm....interesting. I am curious, for those of you who also love mysteries, what reasons would you give that are not mentioned on this list?

The second "meaning" of the title is that we have a local independent bookstore in the Kansas City area called, I Love a Mystery. It is a fantastic bookstore for several reasons: it is very well stocked with new books, as well as used books. The atmosphere is Gothic Victorian England, so there are gargoyles and skulls appropriately placed throughout the store to get you in the mood. There is plenty of comfortable seating so that you can sit, read, chat, and enjoy the escape from every day life. The workers are quite knowledgeable of the genre and their stock, and they are more than willing to recommend books, or to leave you in peace while you look around for yourself. My good friend, and fellow book lover, and I went to the store yesterday. We each went in to purchase one book, and we both came out with multiples. Not only that, we added several new mystery series to our TBR lists and immediately began planning our next visit. I am hoping to make this a regular event on my monthly calendar. Two hours in this store does more to rejuvenate me than just about anything else I can think of, and I don't see any reason why I should deny myself that luxury (of course, I would have to put myself on a strict budget each time I go into the store, but that would be a small price to pay).

How about you? Do you live near a local independent bookstore that specializes in a certain genre of literature? If so, I would love to hear about it and begin a list of possible places to visit in my retirement years.

Finally the title of this post is significant because this weekend marked the 2nd Mystery Read-a-Thon event. I missed the first event (I can't remember why) and had such grand ideas of being a big participant this weekend, but alas I was too busy shopping for new books and socializing with good friends to take part yesterday. I am still hopeful to get some solid reading done today, however, and at least finish the new book I found this week, Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann. This is one of the very few times that I have spontaneously purchased a book without having heard of it. BUT with the description being "a sheep detective story" and the characters named Miss Marple and Othello, I simply could not pass it up. It is told from the sheep's point of view, after they find their shepherd murdered with a spade, and it seemed like the logical book to read after Enzo's narrative in The Art of Racing in the Rain (my review found here).

This coming week will be my last week of summer, although I have a couple of school-related meetings to attend and syllabi to write. I officially report to school on Wednesday, August 19 and classes start on Monday, August 24. I am hoping to get some personal reading done in these last few days before "real life" begins.


  1. What a great post, Molly! I can't remember a time when I didn't love reading mysteries. The genre is diverse, as you know. There's just about something for everyone really. I find it really hard to pinpoint the reason I am drawn to reading mysteries. I think it's a combination of things really. (Thank you for the mention, by the way! :-)).

    Now I'm ready to come for a visit. The bookstore you feature sounds like my kind of place. :-) My local used bookstore is called Romantically Inclined and while I don't spend much time in huge romance section of the store, I do spend quite a big of time browsing their nice mystery section. They don't sell many new books. And the selection is limited to older books, but it's a cozy little place. My all-time favorite independent bookstore is The Mystery Bookstore, which is in Los Angeles, CA. I don't get to go there but maybe once or twice a year.

    I hope someday to be able to participate in the Mystery Read-a-Thon. I haven't been able to this year. It's definitely much more doable though for me than the 24-read-a-thon, so chances are I'll be able to participate one of these years, if it continues (which I hope it will!).

    Have a great week, Molly!

  2. I love mysteries because compared with what I have to read for academic purposes they don't demand much of me. I turn to them when I want a bit of light relaxation.

  3. Great post Molly! I am not a big mystery fan as I can't stand waiting to the end to find out what happened and I find myself scanning a head throughout the book the whole time I am reading! Crazy, huh? There is one mystery series I do love and that is the Maise Dobbs series. I think it is the historical setting of these books which initially grabbed me, but now I am hooked on them and own them all in hardback. She is not for everyone though, as I have seen mixed reviews of her books---it seems hardcore mystery fans tend to not be a fan. I read Three Bags Full and thoroughly enjoyed it--once again, I had read mixed reviews of this one too. I am have learned to take some reviews with a grain of salt and just give the book a try.

    Your bookstore sounds amazing and more and more I am seeing what a lack of creative bookstores my area has. I want to move to the mid-west or east coast. It is lonely here in Seattle. ;)

    Just wanted to say how fun it is to see your new posts show up in my sidebar and know that you are back in business.

  4. Great post, Molly. I enjoy mysteries, but don't seem to read as many as I'd like. Sure wish there were some specialty bookstores in my area!

  5. I have heard of Three Bags Full, and it's on my wishlist. Sounds like a great read!

    I'm a mystery lover, and have been for ages, but I don't always enjoy cozy mysteries.

  6. HI Molly! I know, it's been ages since I've been able to comment.....I almost did a post on mystery reading, but ended up writing on the new movie Julie and Julia. I think i will write about mysteries though, and tie in to yours and Literary Feline's posts, because....I went to our local excellent independent mystery bookstore, Prime Crime, and bought 13 mysteries! I bought the first one of Maisie Dobbs, too, because of bloggers, as well as Charles' Finch's A Beautiful Blue Death, which might be close to cosy mystery - set in Victorian England. Anyway, I want to come visit your fabulous bookstore! What a wonderful store, and the knowledgeable staff - isn't the best about a bookstore, when staff can say talk about books? Happy Reading for the next week before your holidays are over, Molly! And I missed the Mystery Read-a-thon too.

  7. I can't wait to see what you thought of Three Bags Full. I received it in the Book Bloggers Secret Santa swap.

    While I don't have any specialty bookstores in my area, there is a very nice used book store that has been around forever.

  8. I love mysteries as I love puzzles and word games. The mystery gives the book a certain purpose and direction and doesn't always just ramble on.

  9. I had to buy Three Bags Full after reading Vasily's review. My review is posting tomorrow!

    I Love A Mystery looks like a wonderful place - thanks for sharing the info on it!

  10. Molly my review of THREE BAGS FULL is here if you want to compare notes after you've read it.

  11. Wendy - I had great plans to participate in the Read-a-thon this time, but life's interruptions prevented me from doing that. I really hope that I can do so next time.

    Table Talk - that is exactly why I love a good mystery!

    Kim - I glad to hear you liked Three Bags Full. Apparently that book made the review rounds before I came on board as I had never heard of it before I spied it on the BN table. I have two of the Maise Dobbs books based on such great book blog reviews, but have yet to read either one of them -- yet.

    JoAnn - I don't read as much of anything as I would like :)

    WordLily - while I enjoy a good cozy, I would really love to branch out into other mystery sub-genres. Do you have any suggestions?

    Susan --- 13 brand new mysteries in house just waiting to be read?! I am jealous :) I look forward to reading your post about mysteries.

    Wendy - I am so sorry I did not make the read-a-thon this weekend. You know the expression "best laid plans" - well that is what happened to me. I hope you were able to complete your reading challenges.

    Janel - I love used bookstores more than just about anything (in fact, is the used portion of this mystery bookstore that I spend the most time).

    Book Bird Dog - you are absolutely right about a mystery having a purpose. Great comment! I do not get into word games so much - but give me a sudoku grid, and I will go to town!

    rhapsody - I will have to check out your review and Vasily's right away. Thanks for the links!

    Kerrie - I would LOVE to compare notes. I will check the link out as soon as I finish (or maybe before). Thanks!

    Gautami - I am just amazed how many mystery lovers there are --- and even more amazed how many different mystery titles are available!!

  12. Thanks for this tip on the mystery bookstore in Kansas City. We will be in Kansas City in September so I plan to check it out. This was a good post. I love mysteries too. Hope you have a great 'last week' and enjoy it to the fullest.

  13. Lovely post, Molly! I've always loved mysteries. I can remember my mom reading Agatha Christie, so I guess it's no surprise I started with the Christie books! I don't read as many cozy mysteries now. I have a real liking for the big, thick, British police procedurals. I guess the puzzle solving element is the part I like the best. I'm not sure - I've never really thought about it!

    And you're so lucky to have such a great mystery book store near you! I loved your description.

  14. Cozy mysteries are sheer escapism for me. I just love them. Your mystery book store looks like such a fun destination. There is an indie store near here called Poe books and they have a raven on their sign. How could you not love that?

    Enjoy your last week of leisure.


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