It’s already past the middle of November! So we know what that means, right? The best of everything, very soon, will be in full display and those of us that haven’t seen [enter best movie ever here] or watched this series [enter best ever television show here] will be either 1) scrambling to catch up or 2) resolving to feel out of the loop that is pop culture for yet another year. Refusing to let us be completely out of the loop when it comes to books (literary soul sisters!) and given that I am hosting my first ever book club tonight (I’m cool!), I’ve made a list of books that have made the list for best books of 2013. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, so if we can just get to one or two or three (you didn’t actually want to spend your Thanksgiving long holiday talking to people, did you?), we’ll be ahead of those so out of the reading loop we’ll feel better about ourselves if we’re lacking in other areas, right?
- Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman [Based on the true story of Piper Kerman, a woman who's drug past of ten years prior catches up to her, sending her to prison with a year long sentence that interrupts the life she had since built, boyfriend, career, friends and family. A story of those behind bars, the painful realities and encouraging acts of human kindness.]
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris [This most recent collection of essays from Sedaris talks about everything from general life perspectives (trips to the dentist!) to his relationship with his father and a boy who was better at everything than he was, the whole thing is emotionally moving and hilarious.]
- The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne [Moving and inspiring, this is the true story of a Mormon boy with Tourette's (not diagnosed until high school) who is determined to win at life and finds 'salvation in books and weight-lifting.'
- Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living With Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel I first saw Susan on the Today show, and was so moved by her story: [Diagnosed with Lugerhig's Disease at 44 years old, she was determined to live her last year on earth with joy. The Goodreads.com description labels this book with the title, "Until I Say Good-Bye: A Book about Living," and Amazon.com gives it the said title above, I think the aforementioned one more accurately sums up this incredible story of a woman who, without anger and with a ton of humor, does everything in one year that she's ever wanted to do, with her kids and her husband, and types this book, one letter at a time on her iPhone (no longer able to speak), leaves us with 'a heartfelt record of their final experiences together--but an offering to all of us: a reminder that "every day is better when it is lived with joy." '
- Also: Lean In by Sheryl Sandenberg, Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger, David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Penek, A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
- Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit)
- The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism by Naoki Higashida
- The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan [via Goodreads.com: 'The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history.' via Amazon.com: 'forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage.']
- Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel: [A mesmerizing nonfiction account of the day-to-day hope and pain that soldiers carry upon returning home. As Finkel writes: “while the truth of war is that it’s always about loving the guy next to you, the truth of the after-war is that you’re on your own.” ] | via Entertainment Weekly and from Amazon: ["In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel has done something even more extraordinary. Once again, he has embedded with some of the men of the 2-16—but this time he has done it at home, here in the States, after their deployments have ended. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done."]
- Last historical book I read and loved: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erki Larson (which came out in 2004, so. . . it was a book club pick this year, so glad I went out my usual genre!)
- And the Mountains Echoed by Khaleed Hosseini [I was hooked by the first chapter, master story teller Hosseini does it again with a story of all types of love. Via Goodreads: "In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most."]
- The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert [Gilbert more than satisfies her fans (Eat Pray Love! Committed!) in a return to fiction. A book years in the making, this novel follows the main character, Alma Whittaker as, "she as she comes into her own within the world of plants and science. As Alma’s careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she loves draws her in the opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical."]
- Also: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, We Are Water by Wally Lamb, The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, The Interestings by Meg Wollitzer