We recently wrote a blog about some of the top legal movies. Summer is coming, and lots of people like to have a summer reading list. Here is a list of great novels involving the legal world.
Anatomy of Murder (1958) first started as a novel, and was then made into a movie. It was also on our list of top legal movies to watch. The novel is about a former district attorney in rural Michigan who opens a defense practice by taking on a case with a bad-tempered client accused of murder. This is a great option for people who like to read the book first, then watch the movie.
Another interesting read is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985). This best-seller is about a dystopian nation that used to be the United States. The Constitution is overthrown in favor of a Christian theocracy. As a result of the change, there is a reversal of women’s rights, where women are forbidden to do things they are allowed to do today. If you like women’s rights and a unique new view of society, this is a great book for you.
The Firm by John Grisham (1991) is an action filled book for the adventurous reader. It’s about a character by the name of Mitch McDeere who just got the dream job any associate would love: high paying, a cut-rate mortgage, and a BMW. However, he soon finds out he is actually working for a crime family. After the accidental deaths of some lawyers, he finds out their deaths are not fully “accidental”. Grisham also has another novel that became a blockbuster called A Time to Kill (1989).
The classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), written by Zora Neale Hurston, is an all-time favorite for many. A young African American woman and granddaughter of a slave struggles to gain control over her life. During this time, she is charged with the murder of her estranged husband. This novel is written in a nonconventional dialect, and explores the ups and downs of sexuality and identity in a male defined world.
Another classic novel is A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens. Set in London and Paris, this 45 chapter novel is a story of a lawyer named Sydney Carton who is a cynical alcoholic. The novel depicts the issues between French peasantry and aristocracy during the years leading up to the French Revolution. A Tale of Two Cities is great for readers who enjoy a combination of history and law.
Another great legal-related novel by Charles Dickens is Bleak House (1852), which is about Ester Summerson who lives at Bleak House and is unaware that she is the illegitimate child of Lady Dedlock. A murder occurs with Lady Dedlock as the main suspect, but lawyers are not drawn to the house to find out who committed the murder. Find out why in this mysterious novel.
The Paper Chase by John Jay Osborn Jr. (1970) is about a 1970 Harvard Law graduate. Hart, a first year law student, talks about obsession with his professor, Charles Kingsfield, a brilliant, demanding instructor whom he idolizes. The novel soon turned into a film and TV series as well. Read the novel first, and then check out the film and television versions. In fact, Osborn wrote the novel as a third-year law student at Harvard Law.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850) has been a favorite for many for decades. The novel explores the notions of justice and revenge that is deeply rooted in America’s religious and governmental history. This is an amazing novel that should be read by all.
Reading legal novels is a great way to escape, relax, and experience uncommon legal issues through imagination. They also give lawyers a chance to think about how they might handle a similar situation, or how they might handle a situation with the legal system we have today.
Do you have any other legal and law-related novel suggestions? What are your favorite summer reading books?