The best books to read if you don’t feel like sleeping

Who am I?

Apart from being an armchair historian and author of thriller and suspense novels, I’ve been a lifelong collector of original handwritten historical manuscripts—parchments and papyri from medieval times, papal documents from the Middle Ages, ancient illuminated manuscripts from hundreds of years ago, Gregorian chanting parchments…anything memorializing the human need to communicate and tell stories or document historical events. My home is like a museum, with framed historic written memorabilia on every wall, precious reminders of moments in time when someone thought what they were doing needed to be documented, usually in some form of achingly beautiful calligraphy when art was more important than expediency.


I wrote...

The Magdalene Deception

By Gary McAvoy,

Book cover of The Magdalene Deception

What is my book about?

Michael Dominic, a young Jesuit priest expert in the study of ancient writings, is assigned to the Vatican‘s legendary Secret Archives. Hana Sinclair, a reporter, is chasing a story about Jewish gold stolen by the Nazis during World War II. When Dominic discovers a long-hidden papyrus written by Mary Magdalene—one that threatens the very foundations of Christianity—he and Hana, aided by brave Swiss Guards, try to prevent sinister forces from obtaining the manuscript, among them the feared Ustasha underground fascist movement, Interpol, and shadowy figures at the highest levels of the Vatican itself. Based on illuminating historical facts, The Magdalene Deception takes readers on a gripping journey through one of the world’s most secretive institutions and the sensitive, often explosive manuscripts found in its vaults.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Shibumi

Gary McAvoy Why did I love this book?

I first read Shibumi in the 1970s when it was originally published, and it changed my entire philosophy about life. The cast of characters, led by assassin Nicholai Hel, his concubine Hana, and other characters are exquisitely well drawn, and each has their own distinct character traits, some endearing and others truly despicable. The book is at once exciting, sexy, funny, satirical, philosophical, and educational. Readers learn about Japanese, Chinese, and Basque cultures, World War II history, and even spelunking, all the while Nicolai deals with the evil forces of the CIA, NSA, MI5, and MI6. A brilliant writer, Trevanian was also a philosopher of sorts, giving us his take on society and how we relate to one another. One of those books that hold up well over time and you just never forget.

By Trevanian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shibumi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic spy novel from the bestselling author, Trevanian, about a westerner raised in Japan who becomes one of the world's most accomplished assassins.

Nicholai Hel is the world’s most wanted man. Born in Shanghai during the chaos of World War I, he is the son of an aristocratic Russian mother and a mysterious German father and is the protégé of a Japanese Go master. Hel survived the destruction of Hiroshima to emerge as the world’s most artful lover and its most accomplished—and well-paid—assassin. Hel is a genius, a mystic, and a master of language and culture, and his secret…


Book cover of Noble House

Gary McAvoy Why did I love this book?

Unstoppable breathtaking reading. Twists and turns of unimaginable proportions with achingly deep aspects of human nature, with characters swept by greed and hidden loyalties. An epic, totally satisfying read that leaves the reader craving for more. In all his books, James Clavell has a way of embedding his characters into your head, even when one is not reading the book at the time. His writing style, plus the fact that he is in no rush to weave his story so brilliantly makes this book a memorably enjoyable read.

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Noble House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taking place over the course of an eventful week in 1963 Hong Kong, James Clavell’s Noble House is a masterfully woven novel of true suspense.

Ian Dunross, the current tai-pan of the illustrious yet financially troubled Struan empire, is racing to undo the damage his predecessor left behind and to once again stand on stable ground. And he’ll do whatever it takes—including striking a hard-fought deal with an American millionaire. But his rival, Quillan Gornt, has other plans. Suddenly caught in a dubious plot involving Soviet spies, Hong Kong’s criminal underground, and the hostile takeover of his company, Dunross holds…


Book cover of The Chancellor Manuscript: A Novel

Gary McAvoy Why did I love this book?

Robert Ludlum has been a favorite author of mine for years and was the inspiration for me to become a writer myself some thirty years ago. His plotlines are so intricately woven you question whether the stories are actually true. Of course, he’s best known for the Jason Bourne series, but those weren’t my favorite of his books. The Chancellor Manuscript stands out for its breathtakingly intricate plotting and well-drawn characters. One of those books you can read again years later and it will still be fresh.

By Robert Ludlum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Chancellor Manuscript as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“[The Chancellor Manuscript] exerts a riveting appeal, as it seems to justify our worst nightmares of what really goes on in the so-called intelligence community in Washington.”—The New York Times Book Review

Did J. Edgar Hoover die a natural death? Or was he murdered? When a group of high-minded and high-placed intellectuals known as Inver Brass detect a monstrous threat to the country in Hoover’s unethical use of his scandal-ridden private files, they decide to do away with him—quietly, efficiently, with no hint of impropriety. Then bestselling thriller writer Peter Chancellor stumbles onto information that makes his previous books look…


Book cover of In Cold Blood

Gary McAvoy Why did I love this book?

Always on the Top 100 Lists of Best Books Ever, Capote's masterpiece tells the story of the senseless, brutal killing of a rural Kansas farming family in 1959. It is beautifully written from start to finish, and in a somewhat understated way. He defines his book as a “nonfiction novel,” employing fictional storytelling devices based on actual facts of the murder investigation and the various colorful town characters. Gripping and unrelentingly emotional, this book will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked In Cold Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The chilling true crime 'non-fiction novel' that made Truman Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly…


Book cover of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Gary McAvoy Why did I love this book?

A magnificent, breathtaking story based on the true-life adventures of Giuseppino “Pino” Lella, just one of many such unknown heroes during World War II. We follow his amazing story throughout the latter part of the war, when Germany occupied Italy when that country was led by Mussolini in league with Hitler. There were many times I had to put the book down and take deep breaths, it was that captivating. Sadly, it also showed such an unfathomable lack of human compassion on the part of Nazis that you’ll come away with a totally new view of those awful, despairing times.

By Mark Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Beneath a Scarlet Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager-obsessed with music, food, and girls-but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape…


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Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

Book cover of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

Jennifer Ivy Walker Author Of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author French teacher Avid reader Lover of medieval romance European traveler

Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A medieval romance between a flame haired, fire hearted French princess descended from Viking Valkyrie and the chivalrous knight who suffers an impossible love for her-- the daughter of the king he is sworn to protect.

A Yuletide Joust will determine who wins Princess Gabrielle's royal hand in marriage and her valuable dowry, the Breton kingdom of Finistère. Without a title of nobility, the man she loves--Sir Bastien de Landuc-- is ineligible to compete in the tournament, and she will be forced to marry a man she loathes.

Will Yuletide wishes make impossible dreams come true? Can the valiant knight win the coveted hand of his Viking Valkyrie?

Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

What is this book about?

Gabrielle is a flame haired, fire hearted French princess who dreams of becoming a Valkyrie warrior queen like her Viking ancestors from Normandy. Sent to Paris to learn the proper etiquette for a future French queen, she is called home to le Château de Beaufort for a forced marriage to a man she loathes when her father the king's precarious health takes a sudden turn for the worse. Chivalrous, solitary knight Sir Bastien de Landuc suffers an impossible love for Gabrielle, the unattainable princess he can never have. Without a title of nobility, he is ineligible to compete in the…


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