“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, here is the third posting of mid-year favorites which adds 15 more to the two previous posts (1st: Ellen and My Favorites and 2nd: 15 from MillersTime Contributors)
When I get another batch of responses, I’ll post those too.
16. Nicole Cate:
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (F). I just loved this book. I thought the writing was beautiful, and the story compelling. I love character studies and being immersed in the feelings and lives of interesting people. Of note, the author managed to write a book that I just couldn’t put down (or couldn’t wait to get back to) despite very heartbreaking and horrific aspects of the story that were tough to read. So far my favorite of the year.
Two memorable books I would highly recommend to anyone were When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF), and Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates (NF). Both short reads, well-written, about important topics (about life/death, and about race).
Two guilty pleasure-type books that I’ve enjoyed were Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (F) and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (F). Both “fun” page-turners with down-and-out yet strong female protagonists and some mystery and crime.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (NF). Really excellent writing and a vital read for anyone interested in understanding more about crime/punishment/race/justice.
17. Meg Gage:
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson (NF) which is excellent … and horrible.
The Givers, Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in the New Gilded Age by David Callahan (NF) about the super rich who are buying our democracy.
Night Train To Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (F) also excellent.
18. Suzanne Stier:
Commonwealth by Ann Patchet (F). I think it was on NYT book list….well written about a dysfunctional family, with many characters. Yet each character has his or her own story and is developed…J
The My Brilliant Friends saga…all four books by Elana Ferrente (F).
Breaking Rockefeller by Peter Doran (NF), the story of the Rockefeller Oil empire and how Royal Dutch Shell broke the monopoly and Rockefeller came out richer…
The Matthews Men by William Geroux (NF), the story of a group of men who sailed the Merchant Marine vessels during WWII..and how the government never recognized their heroism…A wonderful and enlightening read.
Reed Notice by Bill Bowder (NF), the son of the head of the American Communist Party became a entrepreneur and bought oil stock in Russia for pennies on a dollar, started a hedge fund, was a great success until Putin decided the oil companies should be owned by his friends…A glimpse into Putin’s way of doing business. Very Timely…!!
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis (NF).
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (NF), a memoir of a woman scientist, her hopes/dreams and difficulties as a woman in science. Well written, a good read and of interest for anyone who cares about the environment.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson (NF). This book was a hard read for me, and I am not sure I got all the Astrophysics part…Chapter 11 is definitely worth the price of the book…Important for those of us who treasure the Planet Earth.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (F). The cover makes the book look like a beach read. It is anything but that. It’s an historical novel of sorts…True happenings of women at Ravensbrook Concentration Camp (probably the descriptions aren’t the worst of what happened). The book is about Polish Women caught in the Nazi net and what happened to them….I really had no idea that Ravensbrook was a women’s concentration camp…The story brings the horrors to real live people. I woke up one morning, frightened that ‘they’ were coming for me…
19. Sam Black:
What’s Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies (F) – If you like involved, erudite novels, you’ll love Davies, who died in 1995 after a long and diverse literary career. This novel explores subtle dimensions of art forgery, scholarship, and art dealing.
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayer (NF). Fascinating and moving.
Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhik (NF), a short, witty sketch of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career, with lay-language case and opinion analyses.
Animal Spirits by George Akerlof & Robert Shiller (NF). A short discussion of how emotions and culture can affect national economics. Key to an understanding of how economies really work and why some do well and others stall. Schiller is an American economist who is immune to fads, a good communicator, and has been right on some of our biggest issues.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (F). Short, funny and insightful. Fiction, of course, but truth-telling. Two complicated American middle-class families and 50 years. A good beach read.
20. Elliott Trommald:
If you are having trouble with today, you might find (these) two books comforting as to what we have experienced in the past and what we can experience in the future. Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography and President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman 2009 both by William Miller (NF). I reread Duty of a Statesman in February and after watching the news last night took Virtues off the shelf and am enjoying myself again. Context seems to have gone missing in the world today, at least in our world.
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (F) and Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson (NF) were painful reads — reminded me how much the role of race still consumes us; even after the Civil War we are still kicking that can down the road. As a white person growing up in a privileged society, my view of reality is often unillumined.
Picked up Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (F), a deliciously feeling and moving batch of stories. If you only read one of them, read the last one while you are standing in the bookstore deciding whether or not to buy. And she writes beautifully.
I read the last Lee Child book Night School (F) and of course thoroughly enjoyed the escape.
For $.25 picked up The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross (F),hoping it will make the plane ride to Newark bearable. Will let you know in the future if it rises above schmaltz. Wish more of your people would share mindless reads they enjoy. I need them.
Just finished Small Great Things by Jodie Picoult (F), did not initially grab me but by the end I was reading passages aloud. Beautiful story – but again it makes me wonder how far we have really come in dealing with the traumas of our story.
21. Chris Boutourline:
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (F). An semi-fictional account of the Nazi’s arrival into Paris and points south. Reading it with the benefit of hindsight heightens the tragedy.
The Sympathizer by Nguyen, Viet Thanh (F). Read it on the recommendation of MT’s readers. Not unlike the above book but was more a fiction and substitute Vietnam for France.
22. Laurie Kleinberg:
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (F).
Setting Free the Kites by Alex George (F), a touching, easy read, coming of age story that is reminiscent of A Separate Peace and some John Irving works (Setting Free the Bears) with touches of Lord of the Flies. Also has been compared to some Stephen King. Set in Maine.
23. Micah Sifry:
I just finished The Wars of Watergate by Stanley Cutler (NF). Very timely. Trump and crew’s behavior make Nixon’s crimes seem like misdemeanors. Seriously.
Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown (NF) is a challenging read, at times a visionary exposition on how “science fiction is organizing,” and at times more like reading her author’s notebook than a well-constructed argument. Her core idea–that we need to learn from other emergent systems in nature how to build the kind of system-changing movement that we need–is worth ruminating on. The book also offers a fascinating window into contemporary Black organizing, citing many groups and projects I wasn’t familiar with. Left me with more questions than answers.
Twitter and Tear Gas by Zeynep Tufekci (NF) is the best single book on how and why the internet has changed the dynamics of social change moments and movements. Highly recommended and very timely.
24. Jeff Friedman:
Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin (F). Novel about a family of mathematicians struggling with genius and ambition.
Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partinen (NF). A Finnish journalist attempting to convince Americans that the Nordic way of life is better, and perhaps even more consistent with American values.
Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (NF). A book about how internet behavior reveals interesting/amusing/peculiar aspects of American society that (in many cases for obvious reasons) people are unwilling to admit directly.
25. Ellen Shapira:
I haven’t read a whole lot that I have really loved recently. The last few months my favorite books were:
LaRose by Louise Erdrich (F) and Moonglow by Michael Chabon (F).
I also liked Dear Mr M by Herman Koch (F) and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (F).
[I read a book that I didn’t enjoy but you might like it…….Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (F). He wrote How to Get Filthy Rich in Asia which I liked, but this book is more serious and an allegory with too much fantasy for me. Ed. See below.]
26. Fran Renehan:
A Man Called Ove! by Fredrik Backman (F). Didn’t like his character in the beginning but grew to love him as did all the towns’ people. I was touched by his relationship with his wife. Loyal, steadfast and true!
The Magdalan Girls by V.S. Alexander (F), a novel with a lot of truth to it! Very sad the way these girls were treated. Home for wayward girls in the 1960’s.The Fix by David Baldacci (F), an other Amos Decker character. Reading it now. I am always satisfied with his writing. Easy read. Relaxing.
Mississippi Blood by Greg Isles (F), the final book in the trilogy. Love his writing. This book sums up the other two culminating in the trial of Pen. Cage’s father . The truth about who killed Viola and various other sub plots were solved.
27. Mary Lincer:
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F). Author is very dark and unconcerned about same. It’s a coming of age novel about a young teenage, and its plot is sometime predictable. But it made me aware of a writer whose work I know I must keep reading.
28. Donna Pollet:
The Nix by Nathan Hill (F). A panoramic novel difficult to explain and compress in a sentence or two. Multiple plots filled with social commentary tracing the twists and turns of one near do well academic as he traverses the absurd and comic political correctness of contemporary academia, delves into his childhood marked by maternal abandonment, boyhood trauma and unanswered mysteries and secrets, unearths the complicated terrain of sixties politics, and, finally, reclaims his life.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (NF). Insightful analysis of how far we have not come. The redesign of “Jim Crow”. Revelations concerning the collateral damage of incarceration that create a caste system nearly impossible to escape. A takeaway for me, on a grand scale the lack of a collective empathy.
Blood at the Root by Patrick Phillips (NF). Racial cleansing in Forsyth County, GA told by one of it own, up close and personal. A horrific crime committed in 1912 leads to lynchings, a coordinated reign of terror and ultimately the systematic expulsion of the entire African American population There are heroic acts of conscience but they are utterly defeated by the violence of ordinary citizens in complicity with local functionaries. The county, just 45 minutes north of Atlanta remained “white” and proud of it through the 90s.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (F). A lyrical mix of magical realism and the very real violence of civil war, this is a tale of romance under siege as seen through the poignant and dislocating experience of a wandering couple as they attempt to survive, find a safe haven, and have a semblance of an “ordinary life”.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (F/NF). More than interrelated war stories about Viet Nam, it is a poignant self-revelatory commentary on memory, the power of story telling, and the compelling need to make sense of it all.
Dreamland by Sam Quinones (NF), the true tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic
A comprehensive, highly readable analysis of how small town/suburban America and rural Mexico have become inextricable partners in the opiate addiction trade due to a confluence of social/economic forces combined with entrepreneurial creativity, unintended consequences of pain treatment, and greed, corruption and irresponsible, unregulated practices by both individuals in the medical community and big Pharma. The personal stories behind the facts and figures on both sides of the border–the addicted, their families and the drug dealers make this narrative all the more compelling.
And, my guilty pleasure:
The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr (F). Bernie Gunther, an ex-Berlin police commissar, unwilling Nazi, German soldier, wanderer–the ultimate anti-hero and everyman dealing with one crime or another, caught in the moral crosshairs and dilemmas of World War II and its aftermath.
29. Elizabeth Lewis (Goodman):
The Nix by Nathan Hill (F). If you still like Dickens, then you’ll love this not exactly picaresque, not exactly a comedy of manners (and long) novel.
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Again. If you haven’t seen the two previous 2017 mid-summer post of favorites,
And if you haven’t sent in your favorites so far this year, please do so now.