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What I'm Reading: March 2009

March 04, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Here are the books I've read and especially admired in recent months, August-February 2009.

  • Away by Amy Bloom, fiction
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, fiction
  • Here If You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Braestrup, nonfiction
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, fiction
  • Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Though His Son's Addiction by David Sheff, memoir
  • Run by Ann Patchett, fiction
  • In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, historical fiction
  • The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper, memoir
  • Leadership and Sustainability: System Thinkers in Action by Michael Fullan, professional
  • Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata, fiction
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History by Lewis Buzbee, memoir
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck, memoir
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, historical account, biography
  • The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer, fiction
  • Casanova: Actor, Lover, Priest, Spy by Ian Kelly, biography
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, fiction
  • Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips, fiction
  • Leading Professional Learning Communities: Voices from Research and Practice by Shirley M. Hord and William A. Sommers, professional
  • Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir by Diana Athill, memoir

The most memorable book on the list is Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I bought the book over a year ago and it sat on my bookshelf because it seemed daunting, 700-pages plus an additional 200 pages of references. But what a book! When I heard President Barack Obama say (while he was still a candidate) that if he could only take two books with him into the White House, Team of Rivals would be one of them, I was spurred into action. When the book ended, I wanted to start reading it all over again. I learned so much about Lincoln's character, the Civil War, politics and life in Washington, D.C. and America in the 1860s, and so much more. In particular, I found Lincoln's essential character to be a model not just for national and world leaders but for us all. Lincoln's self-confidence, capacity to grow and evolve, respond to crisis, to listen with an open mind to new ideas and make changes when warranted, to stick to his principles and high moral standards, to clearly and eloquently communicate his ideas, and to tell a great story are all qualities I admire and aspire to.

Commentary: Buying Books

I buy a lot of books. I used to feel guilty about it but no longer. After reading The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee, I believe I am doing my part for the economy by supporting our local, independent booksellers. I purchase all my books at the University of Washington Bookstore or at the Elliott Bay Book Company in downtown Seattle. Buzbee convincingly argues that the $25 you might spend on a dinner entree will have longer satisfaction if spent on a book. "Books are digested, Francis Bacon reminds us, but never consumed." (p. 132.) The author reminds us what a bargain books are, given the enormous satisfaction they give us readers. As if this bookaholic needed convincing. In fact, since reading The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, my book buying is up, way up.

Category: My Reading

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