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Here Are the Finalists for the 2015 National Book Awards
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on October 15, 2015

We're deep into fancy book award season, folks! This week the National Book Foundation announced their shortlist for one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the United States. Take a look at the finalists! We want to know which ones you've read and which ones you want to read.

FICTION
Refund
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The Turner House
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Fates and Furies
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Fortune Smiles
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A Little Life
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NONFICTION
Between the World and Me
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Hold Still
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The Soul of an Octopus
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If Oceans Were Ink
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Ordinary Light
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POETRY
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
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How to Be Drawn
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Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems
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Bright Dead Things
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Elegy for a Broken Machine
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YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE
The Thing About Jellyfish
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Bone Gap
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Most Dangerous
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The Secret History
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Nimona
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What do you think of this year's crop of finalists for the National Book Awards? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Five Things You Need to Know About Nobel Prize Winner Svetlana Alexievich
Posted by Jade on October 08, 2015


Kabul, 1988



Svetlana Alexievich was doing the ironing when she got the call: Congratulations, you are the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. Her response was a single word: "Fantastic."

According to Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Alexievich, a Belarusian author known for her deeply humanist books, is "mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual. But it's not really a history of events. It's a history of emotions." Alexievich has written about Chernobyl in Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster), the Afghanistan War in Zinky Boys, and women in World War II in War's Unwomanly Face.

Here's some more you need to know about Svetlana Alexievich:

- She's part of an elite club: Alexievich is the 14th woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature—it has been awarded 107 times. Half of those wins have been in the past 25 years. (In 2013 Alice Munro won.)

- Her early years were a struggle: In 1983 Alexievich completed her bestseller, War's Unwomanly Face, which gathers the voices of 200 Soviet women who went to war in 1941. It was destroyed by the Communist Party for "de-glorification of the heroic Soviet woman." Two years later, Gorbachev took office and the political climate changed. The book was finally published and has since sold more than 2 million copies.

- She speaks for the people: Each of her books is a distillation of interviews with 500 to 700 different people. "I don’t ask people about socialism, I ask about love, jealousy, childhood, old age,” Alexievich writes. “Music, dances, hairstyles. The myriad sundry details of a vanished way of life. This is the only way to chase the catastrophe into the framework of the mundane and attempt to tell a story."

- The Nobel Prize is not just about glory!: The prize money of 8 million Swedish krona ($971,000) has given her "freedom", says Alexievich, who will be working on two new books.

- She has heroes: Alexievich cites Ales Adamovich as a primary influence. The Belarusian author wrote what he called "collective" novels. Nurse and author Sofia Fedorchenko's accounts of soldiers' experiences during the First World War were also an important influence.


12 Most Beloved A.A. Milne Quotes to Take You Back to the Hundred Acre Wood
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on October 14, 2015


A.A. Milne's first volume of Winnie-the-Pooh stories was published 89 years ago today. To celebrate the anniversary of our favorite hungry hero, we've uncovered the top Pooh quotes* on Goodreads. If you've got a rumbly in your tumbly for sweet Hundred Acre Wood wisdom, then you've come to the right place.


1. "Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh!' he whispered. 'Yes, Piglet?' 'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'"


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2. "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

3. "Some people care too much. I think it's called love."

4. "You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."

5. "Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.."

6. "It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"

7. "I think we dream so we don't have to be apart for so long. If we're in each other's dreams, we can be together all the time."

8. "I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen."

9. "Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."

10. "Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would, I'd never leave."

11. "'How do you spell love?'
'You don't spell it…you feel it.'"

12. "People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day."


What's your favorite Winnie-the-Pooh quote? Share it with us in the comments!
*While all the Pooh quotes above are attributed to A.A. Milne by Goodreads members, a few did originate from the Disney version.

7 Little Known Facts About the Mad Hatter
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on October 06, 2015


October 6, 1986: On this day, a group of "computer folk who had nothing better to do" marked the first annual celebration of Mad Hatter Day. (The date isn't an arbitrary one. October 6 is taken from the "In this style 10/6" note on the Mad Hatter's hat.) The holiday is an excuse to celebrate silliness, and it's been growing steadily for the past 29 years.

Before you embark on a day of tomfoolery and tea parties, check out these fascinating facts about the man under the hat.


1. The real Mad Hatter was probably a man named Theophilus Carter.
A seller of furniture not hats, he impressed his eccentricity upon Carroll in Oxford. While some reports suggest Carter was unaware of his influence on the Wonderland character, Reverend W. Gordon Baillie had this to say: "All Oxford called him 'the Mad Hatter,' and surely his friends, or enemies, must have chaffed him about it." Interestingly enough, Carter also earned himself a different kind of fame—he's rumored to have invented the Alarm Clock Bed, a rather terrifying contraption that woke sleepers by dumping them into a tub of cold water. Madness!


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2. Lewis Carroll never referred to the character as the Mad Hatter.
Well, that's curiouser and curiouser. In both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Carroll only refers to him as the Hatter—or Hatta.

3. The phrase "mad as a hatter" was around long before Carroll started writing.
Colloquially used to describe an eccentric person, the phrase originated in the 19th century, back when mercury was used to manufacture felt hats. The hatters who visited these factories often developed mercury poisoning (referred to then as the hatters' shakes), which could lead to slurred speech, memory loss, tremors, and excessive timidity. While Carroll's hatter is certainly mad, based on his general behavior, it's doubtful he was actually suffering from the hatters' shakes.

4. Carroll was surrounded by hatters growing up.
The author grew up in Stockport in Greater Manchester where, believe it or not, the main trade was hat making. (The English do love their hats.)

5. There is a Batman supervillain named the Mad Hatter.
Eighty-three years after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published, the Mad Hatter comic book character made his debut in Batman #49. The supervillain keeps his Wonderland counterpart's costume and personality, but in the world of Batman, he is a scientist who uses mind-controlling devices to manipulate his victims. A lot of his gadgets are stored in his hat.

6. If you stare into the mirror at the Mad Hatter's shop in Disneyland, you'll get a visit from the Cheshire Cat.
Planning a trip to Disneyland anytime soon? Then be sure to make a date with the Hatter—and the Cheshire Cat. At the Mad Hatter's shop, located in Fantasyland, look into the large oval-shaped mirror on the wall. After a few minutes, the Cheshire Cat will make a fleeting appearance.

7. The March Hare was just as mad.
We're all mad here. When Alice asks the Cheshire Cat about the people who live in Wonderland, she gets this response: "In that direction lives a Hatter, and in that direction, lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: They're both mad."


How will you mark Mad Hatter Day? Let us know in the comments!

16 Favorite Books to Read During the Fall
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on October 02, 2015


Now that it's October, we're in the mood for books that pair well with crackling fires, big sweaters, and hot drinks. We asked you on Facebook and Twitter: What's the perfect book to cuddle up with during the fall? Your top answers are below.


The October Country
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Wuthering Heights
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The Secret History
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Red Scarf Girl
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The Name of the Wind
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Possession
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The Historian
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A Discovery of Witches
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The Night Circus
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The Thirteenth Tale
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An Ember in the Ashes
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Nocturnes
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Halloween Party
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Night Pleasures
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Rebecca
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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
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Did your favorite fall read not make the list? Then share it with us in the comments! And be sure to check out more seasonal reads over on Listopia: Best Books to Read in Autumn.
25 Things That Would Happen If Book Lovers Ruled the World
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on September 29, 2015



What would the world look like if book lovers were in charge? We asked you on Facebook and Twitter, and after reading your answers, we're ready to live in that world today. Check out the top responses—we think you'll want to live there, too.

If book lovers ruled the world…

1. "Every rainy day would be Stay Home and Read a Book Day." (A J MacDonald Jr)

2. "We would measure life by chapters, not minutes. Example: I'll be there after a cup of coffee and two chapters." (Rebecca Brewster)

3. "There would be a library on every corner…In other words, a library inside every Starbucks." (Renee Bradshaw)

4. "We would get a free ebook version when buying a hardcover or paperback book." (Tammy Hennig)

5. "Reality television would be replaced by story hour(s), and the grammar police would be real." (Team Linda Gray)

6. "Libraries and public schools would be properly funded." (Darcy Marwick)

7. "Book release days would be national holidays!" (Melissa Fetterman)

8. "You'd get a book, not money, under your pillow from the Tooth Fairy." (CruzMissile)

9. "Book groups would replace political parties." (Book Discussion Scheme)

10. "There would be a book hour in addition to a lunch hour at work every day." (Cindy Bell)

11. "Libraries would never have missing or misplaced volumes." (Katherine May)

12. "Everyone—no matter their gender, nationality, level of poverty, etc.—would be able to learn to read and have access to reading materials." (Bobbi Harman)

13. "Tea sales would skyrocket." (Alena Dolph)

14. "There would be a special lane on walking tracks just for readers." (Misbah Ahmad)

15. "We'd be too busy reading for wars." (Amanda Todd Sexton)

16. "Libraries would be open 24 hours a day." (Chelsea Renee)

17. "There would be more support for English courses and degree programs." (Grace Exner)

18. "The number of television channels would drop drastically." (Toufiq Rahman)

19. "Reading would be an actual job! Paid to read!" (Akshay Kumar Bajpai)

20. "A tree would be planted for every book published." (Becky Engstrom)

21. "We would have a peaceful and quiet world—apart from occasional squeals of delight, horror, long sighs, whimpers, etc." (Chloe Lewis)

22. "This would be a valid excuse to get the day off: I was up late finishing my book." (Joshua Dilts)

23. "There would be less ignorance and more tolerance." (Alicia Aleman)

24. "Hogwarts would be a real school, Middle-earth would be our world history, and everything would be Wonderland nonsense." (Aja Vinet)

25. "Bookstores would have shopping carts." (Julia Andersen)


What do you think would be different about a world run by book lovers? Tell us in the comments!
22 Books F. Scott Fitzgerald Thought Everyone Should Read
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on September 24, 2015

Four years before he died, F. Scott Fitzgerald found himself at a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, under the care of a nurse named Dorothy Richardson. He was unhealthy, in debt, and depressed. Ordinary men might have turned inward and submitted to self-pity; Fitzgerald turned outward. After careful deliberation, he gave his nurse a list of 22 titles. "These are books that Scott thought should be required reading," Richardson relayed later.

His list blends the familiar and the obscure (with an almost gleeful disregard for several literary giants), and we bet few readers have made it through the whole thing. How many have you read?

Sister Carrie
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The Life of Jesus
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A Doll's House
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Winesburg, Ohio
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The Old Wive's Tale
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The Maltese Falcon
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The Red and the Black
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The Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant
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An Outline of Abnormal Psychology
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The Stories of Anton Chekhov
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The Best American Humorous Short Stories
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Victory
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The Revolt of the Angels
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The Plays of Oscar Wilde
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Sanctuary
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Within a Budding Grove
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The Guermantes Way
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Swann's Way
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South Wind
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The Garden Party
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War and Peace
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The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley
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Do you agree with Fitzgerald's "required" reading list? Which books do you think had the most influence on his own writing?
6 Reasons to Add the Royal Portuguese Reading Room to Your Bookish Bucket List
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on September 22, 2015


Nestled in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, the Royal Portuguese Reading Room is a dazzling Gothic ode to literature, a shrine to the majesty of books. This isn't like your hometown library. (And if it is, can you give us the address?) This is the king of libraries—and we can't wait to visit.


Reason #1: The Reading Room is surrounded on all sides by three stories of books.
Jorge Luis Borges once wrote, "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." If Paradise looks like the Royal Portuguese Reading Room, we have zero complaints.

Reason #2: It houses the largest collection of Portuguese works outside of Portugal.

You'll never want for reading material here. The library currently holds over 350,000 titles, and, in accordance with its status as a "legal deposit," it receives a copy of every new book published in Portugal. This results in around 6,000 books arriving overseas to the Brazilian library every year.

Reason #3: The "royal" in its name isn't just for show.
In our brave new world, virtually anything can call itself a royal something—Royal Cheeseburgers, Royal Caribbean Cruises, etc. But the Royal Portuguese Reading Room is royal because King Manuel II of Portugal granted the title to the library in 1906. (Brazilian Princess Isabel attended the building's inauguration in 1887, but she wasn't in the mood to hand out royal titles that day.)

Reason #4: It's an architectural wonderland designed by Rafael da Silva e Castro.

In 1887, the Portuguese architect unveiled his neo-Manueline vision, a Cathedral-like shrine to books bathed in light from a stained-glass dome and an wrought-iron chandelier. The dark wooden galleries evoke Gothic-Renaissance splendor and contain more than just books. Statues, art, maps, medallions, and more sweep readers back to Portugal's famed Age of Discovery.

Reason #5: The collection was started by homesick book lovers.
In the early 19th century, a trio of Portuguese immigrants began collecting books. They missed home and hoped bringing their country's culture to Brazil would help soothe their sadness.

Reason #6: The Reading Room is free to visit!

Put away your wallet, bookworms. This historical, cultural, and literary landmark won't cost you a penny. Doors are currently open to visitors Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Our ever-expanding bookish bucket list also includes the Bodleian Library and the Albena Beach Library! What should we add next?
15 Beautiful #GoodreadswithaView Photos to Celebrate the Last Weekend of Summer
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on September 19, 2015


In case you're not tracking the equinox as diligently as your Reading Challenge, we have some news for you: The last day of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) is Tuesday, September 22. So long, flip flops and beach days. Hello, crunchy leaves and pumpkin-flavored everything!

But before we welcome the fall reading season with open cable-knit sweater arms, let's enjoy our last summer weekend. Take a page from the readers below. They all shared their moments of sunny book bliss with us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #GoodreadswithaView.

1. On a rocky beach (via @Rosalieee_x)


2. Beside a pristine lake (via @wowcsmom)


3. In a cozy hammock (via @TrotmanCarol)


4. On a grassy lawn (via @seventeenthbest)


5. Before a rolling fog bank (via @erikajayneas)


6. Above a green canyon (via Vera Nijveld)


7. On soft white sands (via @ahmedelghamril)


8. At a towering lighthouse (via Book Club)


9. Among the grasses (via @theBookClaire)


10. Near a turquoise sea (via @natalia_tju)


11. Perched on a roof (via @AnnaScarletta)


12. Peeking at a garden (via @OpheliasMuse)


13. In paradise (via @bbyclawz)


14. On a Parisian rooftop (via @stefcle)


15. At a bright place (via @karinhwangbooks)


We want to see where YOU read. Share your fall reading photos with us on Facebook and Twitter—don't forget to add the hashtag #GoodreadswithaView!

(Top image credit: Vera Nijveld)
10 Little Known Facts About Agatha Christie
Posted by Hayley Igarashi on September 15, 2015


Agatha Christie was born 125 years ago today! To celebrate, we've used our "little grey cells" to compile a list of fascinating facts about the beloved English crime novelist.

1. At the age of 26, she handled poisons for a living.
After working as a nurse during World War I, Christie became an apothecaries' assistant, allowing her access to a myriad of toxins. "Since I was surrounded by poisons, perhaps it was natural that death by poisoning should be the method I selected," she wrote of her decision to include strychnine and bromide in her first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

2. Christie did her best thinking while eating apples and drinking tea—in the bath.
Unfortunately, she found modern baths "too slippery, with no nice wooden ledge to rest pencils and paper on," so she was forced to give up the stimulating habit.

3. She was one of the first British people to try surfing.
Christie got the opportunity on a trip to Hawaii with her first husband, Archie Christie. Already a bodyboarder, she took to the sport quite quickly: "I learned to become an expert, or at any rate expert from the European point of view—the moment of complete triumph on the day that I kept my balance and came right into shore standing upright on my board."

4. During World War II, MI5 investigated Christie.
The culprit? Her 1941 mystery, N or M. The British intelligence agency was troubled by the novel's inclusion of a character named Major Bletchley who claimed to possess critical wartime secrets. They worried Christie was actually referring to a real person, her friend Dilly Knox, a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. The novelist insisted the whole thing was a coincidence—"Bletchley? My dear, I was stuck there on my way by train from Oxford to London and took revenge by giving the name to one of my least lovable characters."—and MI5 eventually dropped their investigation.

5. She despised marmalade pudding, going so far as to use it to kill a man in her 1953 novel, A Pocket Full of Rye.
Though, to be fair, the cause of death was taxine, an alkaloid poison. Marmalade was just the delivery method.

6. At the height of her popularity, Christie saw herself as a "sausage machine."
She was producing two books per year at the point, and the exhausting schedule led her to declare, "I'm a sausage machine, a perfect sausage machine."

7. She grew up believing her mother was psychic.
Christie always asserted her childhood had been "very happy," and maybe Mama Clara's second sight had something to do with it.

8. No one can confirm or deny that aliens abducted Christie in 1926.
The theory's not as silly as you might think. (Though, admittedly, it's one of the sillier ones). On December 3, 1926, the mystery writer kissed her daughter goodnight, got in a car, and disappeared for eleven days. Over 15,000 volunteers combed the area, but she couldn't be found. Just as accusations of foul play began to circulate—primarily against her husband Archie—Christie turned up in a hotel in Harrogate, England. She never explained her disappearance.

9. On top of being a famous mystery writer, she was a successful romance novelist.
Christie wrote six romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott, including Unfinished Portrait, a semi-autobiographical story about a writer who attempts suicide after her marriage falls apart.

10. Christie has sold more books than there are people in China and America.
With 2 billion copies sold in 103 languages, she remains the best-selling novelist of all time.


Did you know And Then There None was voted the world's favorite Christie novel earlier this month? What's your favorite mystery from the crime writer?