May 19, 2008
News & Opinion: City of Thieves - A summer reading recommendation
Once in a while I take a little liberty and write about non-business books on this site. Before I came to 800-CEO-READ, I worked for our sister company, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee's oldest and largest independent bookseller. Even though this site highlights the best in business book publishing, I suspect there are quite a few business book readers who enjoy a good novel now and then. These days I read a lot about design and business, but I make time to keep up with what's going on in the fiction world, and the books that our retail counterparts are excited about. One such book, which is actually being championed by one of our business book colleagues at Penguin, is City of Thieves by David Benioff, the author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over. City of Thieves is about a young journalist assigned to writing a personal history. When he decides that his life is too uninteresting to make for a good essay, he turns to his Russian grandparents, retirees in Florida, who lived through the devastating siege of Leningrad during WWII. As his grandfather, Lev, speaks for the first time about his experience as a brave but insecure teenager charged with a dangerous and unusual mission, this young journalist learns realizes the severity of his grandparents' lives in occupied Leningrad and the resilience it takes for human beings to overcome unimaginable odds. I just started reading City of Thieves this past weekend, and I'm looking forward to going home each night just so I can rejoin Lev Beniov and another young soldier on their remarkable journey. Schwartz Bookshops is hosting an event with David Benioff this Wednesday. If you're in the Milwaukee area, join us to hear him talk. If the book sounds intriguing, Schwartz is offering signed copies through its web site: www.schwartzbooks.com. P.S. If you enjoy books in this vein, try The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. P.P.S. Or The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.