What I'm Reading: August 2008
August 16, 2008 at 2:45 PM
Here are the books I've read and especially admired in recent months, February-July 2008.
- In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan, nonfiction
- Why We Teach: Learning, Laughter, Love, and the Power to Transform Livesby Linda Alston, professional
- The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama, nonfiction
- Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, nonfiction
- Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott, nonfiction
- The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson, nonfiction
- The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin, nonfiction
- Major: A Black Athlete, a White Era, and the Fight to Be the World's Fastest Human Being by Todd Balf, nonfiction
- The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir by Isabel Allende, memoir
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, historical fiction
- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan, nonfiction
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jefffrey Zaslow, nonfiction
- My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, nonfiction
- The Six Secrets of Change: what the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive by Michael Fullan, nonfiction
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, fiction
- When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka, fiction
- Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, short stories
- The Mistress of Spices: A Novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, fiction
- Say You're One of Them by Uwen Akpan, short stories
My favorite on this list is The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende. I found this exuberant memoir of an unconventional, loving family so compelling that I finished the book in two days. Afterwards, I just wanted to savor it and deliberately waited almost a week before beginning a new book.
Reading as Respite
These past six months and more, I have been immersed in writing a detailed professional development project. The work is the usual combination of demanding, exhausting, and fulfilling. At some point in the day, usually by late afternoon or after dinner, I pick up a book and disappear into the world the author has created. This call-to-read feels as great as my hunger for food, friendship, and love.
In fact, the many books I read continue to sustain me and give me a life beyond work. Beautifully crafted stories, both fiction and nonfiction, satisfy my need for total escape, peace, adventure, knowledge, and entry into a space where anything seems possible. Happily, I also observe reading-as-refuge in my husband Frank and our granddaughters Katie and Brooke. To see them so peacefully lost in a book, hunched over a desk or squished into a soft chair soaking up the rhythms of language and life, shows me that they, too, have captured the magic. I hope reading does the same for you.
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