There’s just something about reading books set in your own backyard. I’m a sucker for stories that talk about the characters on the T, walking through the Common or the gritty sections of Dorchester.

I’ve recently read two very different books, both set in Boston, but at very different times and in very different situations. The first was Dennis Lehane’s ‘Sacred,’ the third book in his Kenzie and Gennaro series.

Lehane has written many fabulous books, and I’ve only read a small portion of them so far, but I’d be happy in the future to read everything he writes. And I’m certainly not alone. He’s popular enough that three of his books — ‘Gone Baby Gone,’ ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Shutter Island’ — were made into very successful movies. He’s perfected a fine balance in crafting stories that are both great mysteries/thrillers but also explore the inner workings of his characters and, by extension, people in general.

‘Sacred’ was such a gripping story that I plowed through all 200+ pages in two days. As usual, the story was full of twists and turns and plenty of shocking revelations. This time, though, I actually had a hunch who would be revealed as the ‘bad guy’ and, as it turns out, I was right. I admit I patted myself on the back a bit for that, but really that’s to Lehane’s credit. A good author nudges his reader in the right direction through subtle clues, and Lehane is a master of the seemingly innocuous, but ultimately very meaningful, moment or remark.

Lehane’s books are set in modern-day Boston, so the fun part is to think about my experiences in the places his characters end up. With my other recent Boston read, the neat part was imagining what is must have been like to be in those places more than a hundred years ago. Or in fact, to think about how I routinely visit areas of Boston that didn’t even exist 150 years ago — i.e. the Back Bay.

Matthew Pearl’s ‘The Technologists’ is a work of historical fiction that reads very much like a non-fiction account. It tells the story of the founding of MIT, then just called the Institute of Technology, through the lens of a series of scientifically engineered disasters that plagued Boston. It’s hard to say which is more fascinating: the story of a nascent college, fighting both the domination of Harvard and the general, pervasive fear among the populace of all things scientific/technological, or Pearl’s masterful unraveling of the horrific events happening in Boston. Pearl traces the steps of a band of students who struggle to solve the mysteries, all the while being accused of causing the events themselves. In 2012, it’s hard to imagine a time when MIT wasn’t a renowned, world-class institution, but Pearl sheds light on the challenges the institution faced at its inception.

Next chapter: Learn more about the history of Boston. I’ve always said that it’s a shame that we’re first exposed to history as teenagers in high school, when we’re too young to have any history of our own, and therefore possess very little inclination to care about it.

Bibliography: I’m definitely putting any book by either of these authors on my reading list, but first I’m re-reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, ‘The Hobbit.’ There’s a new movie version coming out, and I need to refresh my memory. Plus, I’m hoping it will inspire me to segue into the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read. (I have seen the movies, though, breaking my cardinal rule about always reading the book before seeing the movie. Don’t tell.)