I’m reading The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson, which is about a cholera outbreak in London in 1854. Dr. John Snow figured out that cholera was caused by drinking contaminated water, and not by miasma, which was the popular theory of the time. He famously drew a map showing the location of the victims and the locations of the neighborhood water pumps. His studies were the beginnings of the science of epidemiology. The subject is fascinating and the book is well written, but it meanders and is a little repetitive at times.
I read the second book in Zoë Ferraris’s mystery series that is set in modern day Saudia Arabia: City of Veils. This one offers a more harsh depiction of the culture than the first book, largely because it includes the viewpoint of an American woman, a temporary resident, who feels trapped and humiliated by the restrictions on women. The mystery is rather weak but the characters are very interesting.
I read Sheri Holman’s novel A Stolen Tongue, which is a fictionalized account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land made by a 15th-century German monk who is obsessed with the martyr St. Katherine. Holman’s writing is beautiful and vivid, but I didn’t like the story very much. I bought this because I loved her novel The Dress Lodger.