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by Kaitlin McManus | June 05, 2020

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I’ve always wondered if asking a lawyer to read for pleasure was sort of like, as my grandmother liked to say, asking a mailman to take a walk on his day off. All lawyers do all day is read—wouldn’t their eyes get tired? And then I remembered: As an editor, all I do all day is read, too. And I still manage to (mostly) get through the pile of books on my nightstand. Because I just like reading and, clearly, many lawyers do too. But do lawyers like reading about lawyers in their free time? I think so. Lawyers are often the heroes of their stories—seriously, who doesn’t aspire to be Atticus Finch?—and we all like to see ourselves in the pages of our books. Plus, most of us are still stuck at home for the time being, so why not take a break from those billables with a bit of pleasure reading? So, for all the lawyers out there who can’t get enough of reading, regardless of the eye strain, I’ve got a list of books here, all starring lawyers, to get your hands on.

Sidebar: Since apparently the only thing I love more than reading is making things difficult for myself, this list follows one very important rule—no Grisham. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Grish, but there actually are other authors who write about lawyers.

Blood Defense – Marcia Clark

In today’s iteration of “Where Are They Now?”, it turns out that the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial writes legal thrillers. This book, the first in Clark’s popular Samantha Brinkman series, features a high-profile case that could rocket Brinkman’s small firm to the forefront of criminal law—or destroy her life.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – Seth Graham-Smith

Well, Lincoln was an attorney. And, in this historical-revisionist horror book, he also chops up the undead like he’s splitting rails. This is one of those books that ended up being way better than I thought it would on the virtue of the author’s writing and research, so don’t talk yourself out if it based on the completely bonkers premise.

Thinner – Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

Thinner may have sold a lot better once King owned up that Bachman was his penname, but it’s good no matter whose name is on it. In it, a morbidly obese attorney gets away with manslaughter—and winds up with a gypsy curse that causes him to drop more and more weight every week. Can he reverse it before there’s nothing left of him?

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

The conflict between Henry the VIII and the Catholic Church over divorce is legendary, and Thomas Cromwell, the king’s attorney, found himself at the center of all the politicking. This book is the first in Mantel’s masterwork trilogy, the finale of which, The Mirror and the Light, was released earlier this year.

The Last Days of Night – Graham Moore

This historical fiction novel revolves around the Current Wars and perhaps the most important IP question of all time: Who invented the lightbulb? A young, unknown attorney named Paul Cravath is determined to win the case for client George Westinghouse in this thriller.

The Poe Shadow – Matthew Pearl

How did Edgar Allan Poe really die? Baltimore attorney Quentin Clark is determined to find out. The amount of research that Pearl has done into the legendary poet’s last days is extraordinary, making this book a standout.

When Katie Met Cassidy – Camille Perri

Why does it seem that litigators get all the love in legal fiction? Well, Perri breaks that rule with this phenomenal queer legal romance. Katie and Cassidy have their meet-cute across the negotiation table, sparking a romance that’s equal parts sweet, charming, and plagued by BigLaw pressures.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, go on the acid-and-booze-soaked road trip that could only have happened in the early 1970s—and could only have been taken by Thompson himself, as this book is based on a real-life trip he took with his friend, attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta. A wild ride, literally.

The Partner Track – Helen Wan

Ingrid Yung in on track to become the first partner of color at her BigLaw firm. But after an “insensitive incident” at a summer party, the firm ramps up a D&I program and asks Ingrid to run it—which could draw her focus from the partnership-making deal she’s about to close. Can she reconcile her ambitions and her conscience?

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