Three books I'm reading now:
1) Ashenden, or The British Agent by Somerset Maugham,' is a fictionalized version of some of Maugham's experiences as a British agent during World War I. It is set mostly in Switzerland, partly in Russia. Lots of train travel, luxury hotels, people who speak French. The narrative is compelling but I mainly like the book because of an undercurrent of self-deprecating humor. Might not be an easy book to find. I came across a paperback edition, with suitably lurid cover art, in a college library.
2) Pafko at the Wall by Don DeLillo. This novella is excerpted from DeLillo's novel 'Underworld'. It's a slice of life set in 1951 during the final baseball playoff game between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. Very artfully written. Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, Toots Shor and J. Edgar Hoover share a box-seat. Russ Hodges at the hot mike: "There's a long drive. It's gonna be. I believe. The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
3) The Shadow-Line by Joseph Conrad. Autobiographical maritime yarn of a young sea captain in the Malay archipelago. I could do with a little more matter and less art in this one. I find it somewhat slow going but keep coming back for the wonder of Conrad's writing. What will happen? How will it be expressed? It's worth reading to find out.