“A Best Friend Is Someone Who Gives Me a Book I’ve Never Read”- A. Lincoln
Not wanting to wait until December to report what books various MillersTime readers are enjoying so far this year, I asked all those who have contributed over the years to ‘Favorite Reads’ to send me the titles and a few sentences about what they’ve been reading and enjoying in the first half of 2016.
Here are the results so far. I say “so far” as I hope this post will encourage others of you to send in what’s brought you reading pleasure over the last six months. When I get another batch of responses, I’ll post those too.
- Gabrielle Beaumont:
I loved Sweetbitter by Stephanie Daniel (F). Here’s what the NY Times had to say.
2. Elizabeth Lewis Goodman:
The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe by Elaine Showalter (NF) – she of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” fame, but it turns out of so much more.
I just finished this book, and the story moved me so much that I had to let you all know what awaits you if you pick up the book. It is a scholarly, feminist piece –quite brief and written plainly. The broad outline of the story of a 19th century woman endowed with artistic and political gifts who was hamstrung by “Victorian” society, her father, and her husband is a story you think you know. And then it turns out you know nothing about someone who gradually threw off the restraints, travelled widely, read broadly, struggled with her own racism and social beliefs, and in 1908 went on to become the first woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (the 2nd woman wasn’t inducted until 1930). Her poetry is “mush.” But her life is amazing. Give it a good 3 hours; then give it to your daughters.
3. Emily Nichols Grossi:
A quick note that I am reading and loving Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller (NF), an author whose work I like very much. I’m nearly done and really sorry to see it coming to an end. I love Fuller’s memoirs out her childhood in Africa (then Rhodesia) and her family who threads the needle between crazy and delightfully eccentric. This book is about all of that but also the dissolution of her marriage.
Just finished 32 Yolks: My Mother’s Table to Working the Line (NF) by Eric Ripert. It’s not a literary powerhouse but is a very enjoyable, illuminating read. The world of professional chefs is not one I’d ever want to be part of, but as I love to cook and hold great chefs in the light of admiration and esteem, I really enjoyed this peek into Ripert’s childhood and early culinary education and experiences. This book stops just as he arrives in the States, so nothing about Le Bernardin. But his childhood in St. Tropez and Andorra, the sad stories of his parents and parental figures, his years with Robuchon…it all makes for an engaging tale!
4. Fruzsina Harsanyi:
A Hero of France by Alan Furst (F) is also a good companion to Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. I’m sure his hero and the Nightingale worked together.
Just finished Smoke by Dan Vyleta (F). It takes place in 19th century London. Part allegory, part science fiction, reminiscent of Aldous Huxley. Not my kind of book, but I couldn’t put it down. Somebody please read it so we can discuss.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF). It’s likely to become my favorite this year and is right now my most talked-about book experience. I will re-read it…and can’t wait to discuss it.
5. Kate Latts:
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (F) was one of the best books I have read in a long time. Far exceeded The Nightingale and All the Light You Cannot See. I loved it!
6. Chris McCleary:
One book to suggest: Captain Riley by Fernando Gamboa (F), translated from Spanish).
7. Larry Makinson:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (F). Two sisters take different paths in wartime France. This is a very popular book, which kept me from reading it at first. But it’s definitely worth it.
A Rage for Order, by Robert F. Worth (NF). Whatever happened to the Arab Spring? This book chronicles the chaos and unmet promises that followed. Excellent background as the drama continues.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F). Cross-cultural love story, following a Nigerian woman who comes to the US, makes it, then returns to Nigeria to a life and former soulmate she had left behind. Absorbing and very wise.
Dark Money by Jane Mayer (NF). Definitive history of the billionaire ideologues – led by the Koch brothers – who’ve taken over American politics in the age of unlimited giving. Sobering, but ought to be required reading.
8. Ellen Miller:
I’m on a pretty good reading streak this year, and number of books have gotten four and five stars in my own rating system. (Five stars = must read; four stars = very good read).
In the 5 star category I have to agree with Richard that Peacekeeping, by Mischa Berlinski (NF), The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine Di Giovanni (NF), Redeployment, by Phil Klay (NF), When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (NF), LaRose by Louise Erdich (F), and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbes (NF), (high on last year’s lists) all belong there. I’d add another nonfiction piece to this list as well, The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland, by Dan Barry (NF), an incredible story of an effectively enslaved group of mentally disabled men, and the people who ultimately saved them. And my final 5 star read thus far this year – especially a must for anyone visiting Iceland — is entitled Burial Rights, by Hannah Kent (F), the story of a convicted murderess set in the harsh landscape of that country which we visited last February.
9. Richard Miller:
A. Books suggested by other readers from the 2015 list (See earlier post — I’m Reading What You Recommend — for details on these):
- The Door by Magda Szabo (F)
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (NF)
- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (NF)
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (F)
- The Martin Beck Detective Series by Per Wahloo & Maj Sjowall (F)
New Reads (See earlier post for details on these):
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF)
- Redeployment by Phil Klay (F)
- The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria (NF)
- The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien (F)
- Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski (F)
- LaRose by Louise Erdich (F)
PS – Son-in-Law BT claims I should have included the book in this ‘sneaked’ photo:
10. Donna Pollet:
I saw that you listed Redeployment by Phil Klay (F) MillersTime. You may have already read, seen or heard about this title but just in case here is a story in the same vein that may be of interest…..Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman (F).
11. Cindy Olmstead:
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah (F). Excellent novel about two French sisters and their individual participation in the resistance movement in WWII. A very poignant read.
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (NF), her journey with raising a goshawk and how it helped in overcoming her grief for her father’s death. It is interesting but dense.
Lights Out: A Cyberattack by Ted Koppel (NF). Reveals the impact of a cyberattack on our power grids and the reality of it occurring.
12. Fran Renehan:
Find Her by Lisa Gardner (F). About a girl that gets abducted twice. Very dark.. But well written
Placebo by Steven James (F). An old books (2012). Mystery/Drama. OK. His later books were better.
The Last Mile by David Baldacci (F). An inmate on death row gets a last minute reprieve.The true story about the murder ensues!
13. Lydia Hill Slaby:
Oh! When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF)…yes. Yes yes yes. Heartbreaking, beautiful, wonderful read. I’m so glad it’s on this list! Oliver Sachs (On the Move) and Christopher Hitchens (Hitch-22) also wrote extraordinary terminal cancer memoirs…much longer, but if you’re engaged in the genre (maybe not for the summer), they’re worth reading.
14. Brandt Tilis:
I just finished The Arm by Jeff Passan (NF). Read it! Touches every part of baseball (youth levels, struggling minor leaguers, fringe major leaguers, and stars like Jon Lester). It even goes into Japanese baseball.
15. Elizabeth Tilis:
You can probably see a theme here. Probably only helpful only for someone with a young baby. Nevertheless, here they are:
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth (NF)
- Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber (NF)
- Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenthood by Drew Magary (NF)
16. Carrie Trauth:
Two books I really liked:
The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran by Nazila Fathi (NF). This tells her story of her life in Iran as a child and as a reporter. She explains the struggle between the people and the government.
Father, Son, Stone by Allen Goodman (F). Although fiction, much authentic history regarding The Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
17. Judy White:
Yes, Mike & I also loved When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF) and Being Mortal by Atul Gwande (NF) — by the way did you catch Atul Gwande in a visual version of the book on PBS last week?) And Mike just finished The Morning They Came for Us by Janine di Giovani (NF). So some of our reading has been on parallel tracks with yours.
A few others I’ve especially enjoyed this year:
The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy (NF) — I’ve never been a fan of Conroy’s fiction, but this true tale of his year teaching on Dafuskie Island in the 1960s was delightful and very funny, taking me back to our year of teaching in D.C. about that time.
Crashing Through by Robert Kurson (NF) — Amazing story of a very talented man who became blind at age three and what he was able to do with his life. Kurson’s Shadow Divers (NF) is a big favorite of Mike’s.
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (NF) — The latest research about the workings of our brains, complete with lots of good stories. Like the previous book, there are so many exciting and riveting real-life stories that I rarely read fiction.
A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home by Sue Halpern (NF) — This book has more substance than the title and cover would suggest. Halpern’s experiences bringing her therapy dog into a nursing home illuminate all the choices we have — and don’t have — about growing very old. (Helpern is married to Bill McKibben, by the way.)
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If you’re looking for book suggestions from last year’s MillersTime readers’ favorites, you can get to the list in any of three ways:
MillersTime Readers Favorite Reads of 2015. This post includes a list of the favorites of the favorites as well as individual comments by every reader who contributed to the list.
Favorite Books Listed by TITLE, (non-fiction then fiction), then author, then the MillersTime contributing reader. A quick way to scroll through the list, bypassing what readers’ said about each book. You can easily print out this list.
Favorite Books Listed by the NAMES of the Contributing MillersTime readers, followed by title, (non-fiction then fiction), and then author. A quick way to check out what people whom you may know liked best. You can also easily print out this list.
Suzanne Stier said:
some of the books on the list would be on my list too, so I won’t repeat
Here are a few that you don’t have.
Girls and Sex, NF by Peggy Orenstein…This will raise the hair on your head if you are of a certain age. The amount of sex and sexism that Orenstein reports is staggering. She interviews young girls of junior high school age, high schoolers and college women.
I fear for both my grand-daughters and grand-sons…Reader beware.
on a different note, NF Elon Musk, a biography of Elon Musk, Space and Tesla motors. Fascinating. The man is a visionary, persistent and egotistical.
Fiction…Daniel Silva, The English Spy. I do love reading Daniel Silva and his character, the Israeli spy who is a restorer of ancient art.
Just finished The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. It is fiction and the surprise is a bit of biographical history about the artist Camille Pissarro. A good read.
Fiction….I finished the four book saga by Elena Ferrante (whose actual identity remains a mystery) The first one is “My Brilliant Friend, the second is “Those who leave and those who stay” the third one is”the STory of a New Name,” and the last is “The story of the Lost Child.” The books follow two Neapolitan women, who know each other since childhood, their loves and losses. Well written and compelling.