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Rather than wait until I do a mid-year round up of readers’ favorite reads for the first half of 2018, I thought I’d mention four books that I’ve recently read and thoroughly enjoyed and might have interest for others.

All four are from suggestions by MillersTime readers, and all four are non-fiction, generally my reading of preference.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (NF) – Recommended by Ellen Hoff & Suzanne Stier.

Ellen H. wrote: “ A pure research scientist who writes well about her own adventures in science, her life, and, fascinating to me, bits of botany. If you are interested in botany, skip her struggle with mental disorders. If you are not interested in botany, some fascinating bits on her curiosity and fascination with pure research and asking new questions, and the struggles facing research scientists in finding funding and developing a lab.”

Suzanne S. wrote: “This book goes at the top of my list. It is a combination of science about trees and plants and a memoir by Hope about her journey as a scientist and her relationship with a man named Bill…who is her soul mate/twin/co-conspirator…The book is serious and funny and well written. A must read for all.”

Me: I listened to Hope Jahren’s narration of her book and that added immeasurably to my enjoyment as I felt she was basically talking directly to me. Certainly the best memoir I have ‘read’ in years. If you read and enjoyed H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, one of my favorites from last year, you’ll certainly enjoy Lab Girl. If you didn’t read Macdonald’s book, you now have two wonderful books in store for you.

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry (NF) – Recommended by Ellen Miller.

Ellen M.: “This is the story of the Tsunami that on March 11, 2011 hit the northwest coast of Japan, killing more than 18,500 people. It focuses particularly on the personal stories of several families and one community focusing on accountability for deaths in one school. It is heartbreaking.”

Me: I ‘resisted’ reading this exploration of the consequences of the Tsunami, doubting it would be of interest to me. How wrong I was. The author does a brilliant job of not just describing what happened but also of going inside the Japanese culture to give insights and understandings into a world that is often closed to outsiders.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tiva Bailey (NF) – Recommended by Melanie Landau.

Melanie: “Fascinating, meditative. Account of minutely observing a tiny snail while bed ridden and ill.”

Me: Snails? Another account of something I never thought I’d have interest in. Wrong again. A wonderful story/memoir and most enlightening both about the author and about these little creatures.

Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer (NF) – Recommended by Abigail Wiebenson.

Abigail wrote: “A totally fascinating story of saving thousands of ancient manuscripts in Mali which becomes entangled in the jihadi movement all of which the author describes with spell-binding dexterity.”

Me: Despite a totally misleading title, I found myself immersed in a true tale about so much I never knew, not only about manuscripts and the written word but also about the jihadi incursions and exploits outside of the middle east.

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If you are not already keeping track of books you’ve enjoyed/are enjoying, please consider doing so. In June, I will ask for books readers have most enjoyed over the first half of 2018, which I will then post in July.