Book News: Free Mystery Books, Holocaust Stories and More

The Pain of the Holocaust Echoes Through Three Israeli Novels

By Michal Ben-Naftali
Translated by Daniella Zamir
184 pp. Open Letter. Paper, $14.95.

Elsa Weiss, a Tel Aviv high school teacher, seemed a closed book to her students and colleagues. Both inside and outside the classroom, she was cold and distant, with few evident human connections. So when she ended her life by jumping from her apartment balcony, her death was as inexplicable as her life.

Thirty years later, one of her students becomes a teacher and, confused by his memories of Elsa, tries to reconstruct her life. Ben-Naftali’s novel recounts the results of the student’s investigation: a portrait of a mysterious woman cobbled together from the scant traces she left behind — a poignant memorial to someone whom no one remembers. While the sections recounting the narrator’s memories of and thoughts about Elsa feel unnecessary, the story he tells about her is absorbing and well crafted.

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“It didn’t occur to me at the time,” tweeted Pullman, “but Andrew Neil’s glowering denunciation of Boris Johnson for not agreeing to an interview was an expression of baffled rage.

“Neil, and the traditional media in general, have no power any more, and they know it.”

Philip Pullman

How to Find Free Mystery Books Online

1. The Library

It may seem like an obvious first step to some people, but I also know plenty of people who don’t utilize their local library! This is a great place to start looking for free books for your Kindle or other e-reader, and so many libraries participate in digital lending programs now. Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla are three of the most popular apps for digital downloading. Many libraries have extensive catalogs in their digital shelves, and you’ll be able to find everything from Gillian Flynn to Sue Grafton to Agatha Christie using your local library.

And if you’ve never checked out digital materials before, we have how-to guides to help you do just that: learn how to listen to free audiobooks or learn about different apps to read ebooks. You can borrow books for free without ever leaving your couch!

2. Riveted

Riveted is a website run by Simon Teen and has full-length, free books online every single month. The books range across genres in the young adult space, so if you keep your eye on this site, you’re sure to find great YA mystery books to read for free every month. Titles that have appeared on the site include Bad Girls with Perfect Faces and We Are the Ants.

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Best Nonfiction Reads of the Past Decade

  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (2014)—Stevenson is a lawyer dedicated to helping individuals who are trapped in prison with representation, particularly those on death row. A movie is being made of it so read it first and watch his TED talk. (I also read the YA version of the book but I don’t think it is as good. It is too pared down.) (Audio and print)
  • A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves That Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg (2017)—The only middle grade book on the list and the only one I evaluated for the Cybils Awards. As a dog lover I was fascinated by it. As a lifelong learner I was gobsmacked by how mush I learned from it. If you don’t want to read it, at least read my review. (Then you will want to read it!) (Print)

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