Epoch Booklist: Recommended Reading for Feb. 23–29

Epoch Booklist: Recommended Reading for Feb. 23–29
Dustin Bass
Jeff Minick
Barbara Danza
This week, we feature a new mystery series that involves murder, religion, and romance and a deep dive into the shocking history of the CIA.


By William Baer

Poet, playwright, and creator of the Jack Colt mystery series, Mr. Baer takes a different direction in this novel of romance, mystery, and sainthood. Young and still grieving, widower and theologian Robert Rankin investigates the miracles attributed to Sister Adelaide Bruckner while at the same time finding himself attracted to two very different women. Is Sister Adelaide a saint or a murderer, or both? Here is a story that carries us beyond this mystery into the mysteries of faith and love.

Many Words, 2023, 228 pages

Science Fiction

By Naomi Kritzer

Beck Garrison lives on New Minerva, a seastead in the Pacific, 220 nautical miles from California. It is one of several floating man-made islands set up by libertarian separatists. Beck is 16. She wants to earn money but cannot get an adult job. She is a finder, scouting things for clients and collecting a finder’s fee. Then someone asks Beck to play detective and find a relative in exchange for sandals. Beck’s search starts a chain of events affecting everyone on the seastead, revealing hidden secrets.

Fairwood Press, 2023, 262 pages

Ancient History

By L.J. Trafford

Eighty-four emperors ruled the Roman Empire between 27 B.C. and A.D. 476. Some were good and remembered today as great leaders. Some were bad. A few were so bad they that they’re even more famous (or perhaps infamous) than the good ones. This book catalogs the worst of the worst, the dozen worst emperors (although it presents others) examined in their total inglorious splendor. It reads like a supermarket tabloid, eagerly dishing dirt on the disfavored emperors. Yet it is solid history: irreverent, but accurate.

Pen and Sword History, 2024, 216 pages


By Tim Weiner

The Central Intelligence Agency is often the backdrop for spy novels and films that make the agency seem more intuitive, patriotic, and successful than it really is. Tim Weiner’s book combs through 50,000 documents and 60 years of history to uncover what the CIA has truly brought to the table of intelligence. The stories and conclusions are shocking even to those of an already skeptical nature. For those looking to learn the secret and not-so-secret history of the CIA, this is the book.

DoubleDay, 2007, 702

Classic Short Stories

By O. Henry

The century-old stories of William Sydney Porter, aka O. Henry, have long enchanted readers. Known for their surprise endings—“The Gift of the Magi” is a stellar example—his tales of life at the end of the 19th-century glitter with a rich vocabulary, immerse us in a vanished American culture, and give us insights into the workings of the human heart. Containing classics like “The Last Leaf” and obscure works like “Cherchez la Femme,” this collection offers a grand mix of pathos and humor.

Signet, 2007, 432 pages

For Kids

By Hans Christian Andersen

In this classic Andersen fairy tale, a young prince seeks a true princess to marry. When a young maiden arrives at the castle, she’s given a clever test involving a single pea hidden beneath 20 mattresses, since only a true princess would be sensitive enough to feel such a small object. What children’s bookshelf would be complete without it?

Floris Books, 2012, 28 pages
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Dustin Bass is an author and co-host of The Sons of History podcast. He also writes two weekly series for The Epoch Times: Profiles in History and This Week in History.
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