Book List

I found all the following books good reading these past few months, but you will notice I have been particularly captured by Geraldine Brooks, whether she’s writing about the Civil War, early New England, King David, or her own life. I completely understand that book preferences are dependent on too many variables to dare to recommend, so you’re on your own! (Graphics and commentary all lifted from Barnes & Noble’s website.)

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New  America by Gilbert King

9780061792267_p0_v7_s192x300San Francisco Chronicle: “[An] excellent book on a little known and horrifying incident in which four young black men were rounded up and accused of raping a white woman, readers cannot help but be awed by the bravery of those who took a stand in the late 1940s and early 1950s.”

 

Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant

The New York Times Book Review – Tom Zoellner

“Grant’s British accent doubtlessly served him well, allowing him to move throug9781476709642_p0_v4_s192x300h the tradition-bound society of the Mississippi Delta like a neutron, without obvious allegiances or biases. At times, it feels as if he’s initiating these experiences knowing full well they’ll provide zippy material for his memoir. But he succeeds, and with flair. His empathic manner, reportorial talent and eye for the unexpected detail make this a chigger-bitten trip that entertains as much as it informs.”

9780307279187_p0_v1_s192x300Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

“McDougall recounts his quest to understand near superhuman ultra-runners with adrenaline pumped writing, humor and a distinct voice…he never lets go from his impassioned mantra that humans were born to run.” —NPR

Live by Night by Denis Lehane

9780062197757_p0_v3_s192x300Booklist

“Lehane’s novel carves its own unique place in the Prohibition landscape. . . . This is an utterly magnetic novel on every level, a reimagining of the great themes of popular fiction—crime, family, passion, betrayal—set against an exquisitely rendered historical backdrop.”

The Old Man by Thomas Perry

9780802125866_p0_v3_s192x300“Perry steers this cat-and-mouse adventure across the United States and, eventually, back to Libya, with verve, including just enough verisimilitude to keep intact the willing suspension of disbelief.”Christian Science Monitor

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

9781250118325_p0_v3_s192x300“Riveting . . . His descriptions are beautifully precise . . . The genius of Smith’s book is not just the caper plot but also the interweaving of three alternating timelines and locations to tell a wider, suspenseful story of one painting’s rippling impact on three people over multiple centuries and locations . . . Smith’s book absorbs you from the start.” —Washington Post

The  Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

9780143109761_p0_v2_s192x300“The Secret Chord—a thundering, gritty, emotionally devastating reconsideration of the story of King David—makes a masterly case for the generative power of retelling. . .some of the magic here has to do with setting and time—for sensory dramatics, it’s hard to compete with the Iron Age Middle East. . .but Brooks’s real accomplishment is that she also enables readers to feel the spirit of the place.” —The New York Times 

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

9780143121077_p0_v2_s192x300“Brooks filters the early colonial era through the eyes of a minister’s daughter growing up on the island known today as Martha’s Vineyard…[Bethia’s] voice – rendered by Brooks with exacting attention to the language and rhythm of the seventeenth century – is captivatingly true to her time.” —The New Yorker
 

March by Geraldine Brooks

9780143036661_p0_v2_s192x300“With ‘pitch-perfect writing’ (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as a renowned author of historical fiction.”

Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks

9780385483735_p0_v2_s192x300“As a young girl in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longed to discover the places where history happens and culture comes from, so she enlisted pen pals who offered her a window on adolescence in the Middle East, Europe, and America. Twenty years later Brooks, an award-winning foreign correspondent, embarked on a human treasure hunt to find her pen friends.” – Overview from Barnes & Noble website.

Reality Show

Had this been a novel, I’d have found the story fiendishly clever and the product of a highly imaginative, complex mind, capable of spinning an exciting yarn with frightening implications. But it isn’t a novel. It’s reality. I have yet to wrap my mind around what has already taken place in our country, and what it portends. Read it and weep, or get very, very angry.

61k33eo1lvl-_sx322_bo1204203200_

Postscript

I keep reading, of course, and can’t let this book get lost without adding it to my list. I read Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility some time ago and liked it very much, so purchased his new one, A Gentleman in Moscow, and spent a week being delighted with his writing once again. I know we all have different reading tastes (I cannot enjoy wildly dysfunctional families or mayhem) so you can count on at least reasonable civility in my list of likes. I am very comfortable in thinking this could be a great Christmas gift for a reader on your list. (The graphic and review were lifted from Barnes & Noble.)

 

9780670026197_p0_v4_s118x184The New York Times Book Review – Craig Taylor
…sly and winning…Solzhenitsyn this is not. The frost gathers outside, but the book proceeds with intentional lightness…Towles is a craftsman…he chooses themes that run deeper than mere sociopolitical commentary: parental duty, friendship, romance, the call of home. Human beings, after all, “deserve not only our consideration but our reconsideration”—even those from the leisured class. Who will save Rostov from the intrusions of the state if not the seamstresses, chefs, bartenders and doormen? In the end, Towles’s greatest narrative effect is not the moments of wonder and synchronicity but the generous transformation of these peripheral workers, over the course of decades, into confidants, equals and, finally, friends.

 

 

Book List

img_9656

I’m nervous if I don’t have a stack of books waiting by my bedside. It’s been awhile since I recounted what I enjoyed this year and thought I’d better make a list before I forget. Here’s what I remember, in no particular order:

  • The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry by Fredrik Backman
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
  • Euphoria by Lily King
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  • The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman
  • Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill
  • Eight Months on Ghazzah Street by Hilary Mantel
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
  • Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  • Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Willful Behavior by Donna Leon
  • The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
  • The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria
  • Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh (final book of a trilogy)
  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah
  • The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
  • Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller