Reading Room: A springtime mix: Affairs, airlines and supervillains

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Choosing my favorite books for this month’s reading column was challenging, almost impossible. It would be like picking a favorite child, which is unthinkable.

However, as a voracious book nerd, I devour anything and everything I can, time permitting.

So, as we move into the warmer months, summer being my favorite time to read, I recommend a crime classic for my fellow bookworms, a recently released young adult, an adrenaline-fueled thriller, and a DC Black Label superhero graphic novel.

Finding a comforting, well-plotted novel in a market inundated with stories is almost like winning the lottery. Discovering the right book at the right time is a great relief. Also, finding the perfect spot (location is important when reading) and measuring whether or not you want to invest the time in that particular book, are imperative when choosing your next enjoyable story.

​I have selected four books this month that brought me a lot of pleasure at a time when I needed something different and exciting.

I have read some titles more than once and return to them for comfort and joy, which is the case with Anna Katharine Green’s classic, “That Affair Next Door.” Having read the book twice, I have picked up on nuances I missed in my initial reading.

Setting is a significant element in my reading. It is almost a second character in the story. Case in point, the location of “That Affair Next Door” has the same distinctive qualities as Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” which is why, aside from solid craftsmanship and plotting, it is a classic. Miss Amelia Butterworth observes the nature of the people she encounters daily.

She witnesses the prelude to a murder from her apartment window. Late at night, two people enter her neighbor’s home, but by dawn, only one leaves. It is a suspenseful filled, tough-as-nails case to crack.

"The Misfits" by Lisa Yee and Dan Santat is a new young adult novel that will appeal to anybody who feels out of place in society, is a black sheep of the family, or slips under the radar.

Olive Cobin-Sang has been dropped off at a boarding school, a former castle turned “reforming arts school.”

There, she meets a band of misfits, with whom she can now relate. Rasch is her first encounter. However, the academy of academics is different from what it seems. Olive soon learns that she and the other misfits are an elite group of outcasts who fight crime. An adorable, intense, engaging read from start to finish, droll and worthwhile.

Ben Winter’s "Underground Airlines" is a masterful work of art imitating life—or the other way around—and an immersive thriller.

A gifted young black man named Victor strikes a deal with federal law enforcement, acting as a bounty hunter for the U.S. Marshall Service.

Complicated but gripping, Victor has plenty of work ahead of him, as he arrives in Indianapolis to work a case that is sketchy and dangerous.

Victor travels the country, tracking a runaway named Jackdaw and attempts to infiltrate the local cell of an abolitionist movement called Underground Airlines. “Underground Airlines” breaks new ground and is astonishingly imaginative.

I admire how graphic novels tell a story through illustration and minimal words.

Following the DC superhero universe might surprise you with Paul Dano and Steven Subic’s The Riddler Year One.

In their dark, foreboding retelling of an age-old character, Dano and Subic revive Gotham City's bleak background with a twisted new look.

Riddler is known for his eccentricity and affinity for wordplay, and in Dano’s version, all bets are off. He uncoils the kinks of familiar and unfamiliar territory, making the Riddler his creation and bringing him great success.

In the creative hands of Dano and Subic, The Riddler is an enigma of a darker realm. The storytelling is as fierce as the stark illustration of this well-known criminal. Scary at times, in all its bloody glory and rich narrative, fans of superhero fare will find a lot to like in these pages.

I read that Dano and Subic took two years to complete this mesmerizing collection edition. Hopefully, Year Two is in the works.

Find a book that brings you happiness, then search for that quiet, happy niche, and enjoy great storytelling.

Share your titles with me. I am always hunting for new books to read.

Happy reading!

— Thomas Grant Bruso is a Plattsburgh resident who writes fiction and has been an avid reader of genre fiction since he was a kid. Readers and writers are invited to connect and discuss books and writing at