Summer is a great time to catch some rays, take a breather, and curl up (or cloister away) with some good fiction.
However, a good old fashioned trip to the bookstore (readers of a certain age will remember what those are) or online can be overwhelming. There’s just a lot of stuff out there to read. And to make things harder, you can’t even judge a book by its cover anymore – they all have good covers, rave reviews, and seem to have won an award of some kind.
That’s why we’ve cherry picked five classic law-related works of fiction that we think you’ll love this summer. Some of these are old; and some are very old. But even if you’ve read some, you might find the second time around is a new experience; because while the book is the same, you’ve changed. In a way, that makes it a new book.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If nothing else in your life inspires you to take on unpopular cases or face daunting challenges – even though you know it’s the right thing to do – then take a heaping tablespoon of To Kill a Mockingbird and you should be fine. Aside from being strikingly readable, this book helps you remember what the practice of law is supposed to be about, and why swimming upstream is not only important, but at times, essential.
The Firm by John Grisham. Naturally, no legal reading list can exist without at least one Grisham tome. And yes, even if you’re a bit tired of John and how he makes law a heck of a lot more sensational than it often is, we have to admit that buried beneath The Firm’s gloss is a compelling story of power, politics and how the law can be misused to manipulate both.
The Trial by Franz Kafka. Nobody – we repeat nobody — looks at a beautiful summer’s day, with its deep, timeless sky and warm, embracing sun, and proclaims: this is all a nightmare trapped inside another nightmare than good ‘ol Franz Kafka, and he takes ordinary paranoia to a whole new level here. The Trial follows a young man who is arrested and tried for, apparently, no reason. Trust us – it’s better than we’re making it sound. Besides, we don’t know who’s reading this…hey…did that tree just sneeze?!
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turrow. Folks might be more familiar with the (good) movie starring Harrison Ford more than they are the book, but even if you know how it ends – shhhh, don’t say it out loud! – then the book is still certainly worth a read. Follow bulldog prosecutor Rusty Sabich as the tables turn and he finds himself on the other end of what seems like an airtight murder charge.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This book follows the jarring real-life 1959 murders of a Kansas family by two men who Capote would later interview extensively for this unique and difficult to read (but even more difficult not to read) book. It’s widely believed that the unbearable emotional weight of this tragic tale ended Truman Capote’s writing career, and the reason he said many years later that “more tears are shed for answered prayers than unanswered ones.” Now, if THAT doesn’t inspire you, then we don’t know what will (perhaps another Kafka novel?).