Reading Recommendations

I absolutely love to read. I’ll give just about any book a fighting chance, no matter the genre or style. I don’t have nearly as much free time as I’d like to be able to just sit down with a good book, but when I have the opportunity, it is definitely one of my favorite things to do. If you’re like me and love a good book, check out some of my recommendations below and feel free to suggest your own in the comments. I’m always looking for new titles to add to my list.

1. If you like multiple narrators: The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver.

This is one of my favorite books because the task of using multiple characters to narrate the story of missionary life during a dangerous and tumultuous time in Congo’s history is incredibly ambitious and I think Kingsolver succeeds here more than she fails. The Poisonwood Bible tells the story of Nathan Price and his family as they travel to a remote region of Congo with little more than some boxes of cake mix and the word of God. The story is told in alternating voices from the standpoint of each of Nathan’s daughters and his wife.

2. If you’re a fan of memoirs: Falling Leaves, Adeline Yen Mah

The author’s heartbreaking but ultimately triumphant story of growing up in China with a disinterested father and her horribly, atrociously cruel stepmother. At times, her story feels too horrific to bear, but in the end, the diligence pays off and you’re rewarded with a remarkable and highly memorable memoir.

3. If you’re a WWII buff who appreciates historical fiction: The Dark Room, Rachel Seiffert

Three beautifully written stories about young German men and women whose lives are connected to, but not directly involved with World War II Nazism. Helmut is a photographer’s assistant whose disability keeps him from serving in the German army, so instead he captures wartime Berlin on film. Lore is a teenage girl who must lead her younger siblings across Germany after her parents, both party members, are captured at the end of the war. And then there’s Micha, who sets out to discover why his grandfather was imprisoned in the Soviet Union for nine years after the war.

4. If you love architecture and/or have a creepy fascination with serial killers: The Devil In The White City, Erik Larson

Larson’s diligently researched tale of two men during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair masterfully intertwines the true tales of Daniel Burnham, the Fair’s mastermind and lead architect and H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer.

5. If you’re married: Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

I have never read a novel that more accurately and honestly captures the nature and unfortunate motivations behind marital squabbles. I read this book before I saw the movie and I definitely recommend picking up the former and just letting the latter disappear into the mists of time.

6. If you love a good adventure: Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer

I read this book last year and could not put it down. Detailing Krakauer’s personal account of his experience during an ill-fated and deadly ascent of Mt. Everest, Into Thin Air is an intensely exciting and engrossing read from cover to cover.

7. If you prefer your stories to be short: Lucky Girls, Nell Freudenberger

A collection of short stories about American women living abroad in places like Indian and Thailand. These are stories about culture, love, womanhood and the universal need to make peace with one’s place in the world.

8. If you’re a woman: The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

Narrated by Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob (who gets only a brief mention in the Book of Genesis), The Red Tent is a fantastic story about a sorority of women (the wives of Jacob) in Mesopotamia and the stories they share inside the Red Tent, where women gathered during the cycles of birth and menses. The novel follows Dinah from her birth to her death, sharing all the rich details of her life in between.

9. If you prefer more classic literature: The Awakening, Kate Chopin

Not even my least favorite professor in my entire college tenure could ruin The Awakening for me (though that crabby, passive-aggressive pain my butt certainly tried her best). Reading classic novels can often feel like a bit of a slog (I’m looking at you the first half of every Dickens book ever written!) but this one is a quick read, light and beautifully descriptive as the story unfolds.

10. If you want to relive the joys of Young Adult reading: Say Goodnight Gracie, Julie Reece Deaver

This was one of my favorite books when I was growing up and it’s definitely sophisticated and deft enough to appeal to adults. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, Say Goodnight Gracie is the story of 17 year old Morgan, whose life is turned upside down when her lifelong best friend dies in a tragic car accident.


1 Comment

  1. deanjbaker said,

    March 15 2010 at 1:09 pm

    good to see this blog – thanks

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