Six books a week

Amy Ando grew up and was educated in Massachusetts. She is a Professor of environmental and natural resource economics in the Department of ACE at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The ABC Murders by Agatha ChristieSix books a week. The Tilton Public Library in my small home town allowed me to take out no more than six books a week. At that rate, I consumed all their children’s books long before I stopped being a child (and all the books about horses had my blank-inked number stamp in them many times.) In that era before “Young Adult” novels were legion, the kind librarian struggled to find more to sate my prodigious but still juvenile drive to read.  One inspired day she showed me the wooden shelf of Agatha Christie novels, and I was hooked. The part of me that would grow up to be a researcher loved playing sleuth, and the human drama at the heart of all good mysteries gave me an exciting preview of the world of adult interactions I would soon join.

Mystery novels are still the staple of my leisure-time reading. I read via Kindle so my novel is always with me on my phone if I have a moment to see what lay inside that locked trunk or what the reluctant witness was finally willing to reveal. In fact, I am a fiction omnivore—my eclectic list of favorite recent books includes non-mystery entries like We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, The Martian by Andy Weir, and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. But I would drop everything if Kate Atkinson would write another of her carefully crafted mystery novels featuring the detective Jackson Brodie (the first of that excellent series was “Case Histories”).  I’ve read everything by Henning Mankel, Jo Nesbo, and Arnaldur Indridason (just a few of the many excellent Scandinavian crime writers) and am currently working through Elizabeth George’s novels just because I love DS Barbara Havers so much.


Mystery novels are considered by some to be low-brow “genre” fiction, but I devour them still. My work as an economist is serious and dry; at the end of the day I appreciate a good puzzle with interesting—and even compelling—characters to draw me for a while into a human drama that is not my own.


About iprh

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established in 1997 to promote interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
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