I've grouped them into sections and put a small review under each title. If you're looking for something to read or trying to find a book for the bibliovore on your Christmas list, check out some of the books below. Happy reading!
Biographies and Autobiographies
I read this book when I was working at Palmer Station in Antarctica. I was trolling the station shelves and picked it up because I'd never heard of Douglas Mawson. The book is about one man's triumph over amazing adversity. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Mawson but he persevered.
I love hearing Stefan Fatsis' reports on sports on NPR so when I heard about his book recounting his time learning to be an NFL kicker, I jumped on it. I've always loved football (a little secret about me: I wanted to play in high school but was too scared so I was the manager instead) and I really enjoyed this look behind the locker room doors. This book shows how difficult it is to make a living playing a game and how precarious it can be for those that make it.
I've always admired Amelia Earhart and this was a wonderful biography of her life. There was so much that I didn't know about her and I really enjoyed this honest portrayal of her life. While Amelia Earhart was an amazing woman, she was also human and made mistakes and the author doesn't sugar-coat her real life behind the headlines
I'm actually re-reading this book again right now- it ranks as one of my all time favorites. It's the story of a couple from Toronto that takes two years out of their lives to sail to and around the Caribbean. What I love most about it is how realistic it is: their five-year plan before sailing turned into a seven-year plan and they only sailed for two years because they wanted to come back to their lives. It has wonderful vignettes about sailing, island life and how travel can change your perspectives. I love the recipes she shares as well. Her coo-coo is a favorite at my house.
This book retraces Captain Cooks journeys around the globe, seeking out the far-away places he added to the map and commenting on them in the modern day. The author reflects on the affect of "discovery" on a culture and and on Cook's legacy centuries after his voyages. That makes it sound like a serious read but it's actually a pretty funny book. My favorite parts (unsurprisingly) are the ones set in the Pacific and I love his commentaries on Pacific societies today.
I spent this entire book nodding my head and agreeing with everything the author said. I think it should be required reading for anyone coming to the Marshall Islands for any reason. Peter Rudiak-Gould was a teacher with the WorldTeach program on one of the outer atolls and he is very honest about his time there- how reality burst into his expectations, how baffling the culture can be to visitors, and how wonderful this place can be.
This book has been around the world with me. I love the Francis Mayes' short stories about finding yourself, both literally and figuratively, in another place. She shares universal truths about rebuilding old houses, learning new languages, and falling in love with some place new. I've read all her books but this is the one that I keep coming back to.
I have loved almost all of Christopher Moore's books but I think this is one of the best one ever. Many people have speculate on the first 30 years of Jesus' life, time unaddressed by the Gospels except for a few short stories, and this book tackles that subject head on, from the perspective of Jesus' childhood best friend, Biff. This is a seriously funny book that with great "answers" to many of the mysteries and miracles in the Bible. To reassure my Christian readers, I am a follower of Jesus and I didn't find this offensive at all. The author hewed to the known "character" of Jesus and did a great job of addressing the dichotomy between the fully human and fully divine aspects of Him.
I just finished this book a short time ago and it's definitely on my list of books to re-read. While it's a fiction book, it digs into the world of art forgery and the fine lines that can be drawn between copying and forgery, as well as how hard it can be to make a living as an artist. I loved the unexpected plot twists and agonized with the main character over her moral questions and whether the end really
justified the means.
This is a sweeping history, covering more than 200 years in the life of a family. It begins with the overthrow of the royal family of Burma (now called Myanmar) and follows the characters through the colonial period in south east Asia and two world wars into the modern day. I was so absorbed by this book the first time I read it that I actually stayed up all night reading it. I just couldn't put it down.
I'm not sure how much of this book is fact and how much is fiction but it is the absorbing and (mostly) believable story of an escaped convict from Australia living in India and the Himalayas. It paints a very realistic picture of modern India and the struggles people face there, as well as how one can find their real selves in another culture. This would be a great vacation read, as long as you have big weight allowance or an e-reader, because it is a physically huge book.
I found this book by accident on my Kindle and I've re-read it several times now. The physics in it still escapes me if I don't pay attention but I really like how the main character admits his faults and keeps stumbling on through time towards... something. There's a wonderful plot twist at the end as well.
This book was almost has hard to read as Mawson's Will. It deals intimately with death; our reactions to it, our perceptions of it, and how we heal. To warn you, the death in this book is violent, as is the conclusion but the characters were so realistic that I enjoyed the book and related to them in spite of the violence.
Adoption and Parenting
Because each child is so different, it can be hard to advocate a single method of parenting but the "method" described in this book has worked amazingly well for my family. Pamela Druckerman is an American living in and raising children in Paris and after noticing some differences between how Americans and Parisians (and all French families, by extension) parent their children, she decides to research why the differences exist. One of the things I love most about this book is that it's not a parenting guide. Nowhere are there instructions that say, "You must do this" for your child to be healthy/happy/successful. The author simply shares how the French parent their children and what parts of that have worked for her family. We use many of the methods she describes including how to teach children to eat, the importance of hello and goodbye, and how to create space to be a couple and not just parents.
One of the truisms of parenting is that it will make you confront all of your inner demons head on. On the surface this book is the story of a single woman offering respite care to a little girl in foster care over Christmas but as you read, you'll find a beautiful story of self discovery. As I read this book, I found myself cheering the main character on as she struggled to deal with her own past and rise to challenge of parenting a child with a hard past.
This is the book I turn to when I need an injection of hope into my parenting life. It is a collection of sayings from the Tao Te Ching revised to speak to parents and it helps me remember that the simplest things are the most important.
Nia Vardalos, the star of "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding" and the author of this book shares her and her husbands struggles with infertility as they tried to grow their family. She addresses the grief that come with having to accept their infertility and how they came to consider adoption. Varadalos and her husband ultimately chose to adopt from foster care and she offers an honest and funny perspective on their lives after they brought their daughter home. I personally identified with their struggles after adopting a toddler and found myself wishing I could have read this before we brought Sky home.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of it? What's your favorite book and why?Do you reread books or is one time enough? Share your thoughts or your favorite book title in the comments below.