A few years ago I copied my friend Nina Badzin in writing a post about the best books of the half year, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on what I’ve read at the year’s halfway mark (my 2015 post is here). I wouldn’t say it’s a been the best six months of reading (I need more fiction), but I have nonetheless read some excellent books.
The good books I’ve read this year so far have fallen almost entirely into the non-fiction category. I need good novel suggestions, clearly!
Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Belonging in a Secular Age – I adored my friend Katherine Ozment’s book, which I reviewed here for Great New Books. So, so, so wonderful.
Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living – Krista Tippett. This book, which elucidates the richness of this life while holding its essential paradoxes – in listening we are heard, in grief there is gladness, and, my favorite, the interrelationship of light and dark – moved me tremendously. Dense and beautiful.
It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War – Lynsey Addario’s powerful book was transporting and riveting and made me think of Whit’s godmother, my dear friend Gloria.
Between the World and Me – There’s not much I can say to add to the extraordinary chorus of voices celebrating Ta-Nehisi Coates’ beautiful book. I’ll just say this line, which encapsulates how I think about parenting, still runs through my head on a daily basis: “My work is to give you what I know of my particular path while allowing you to walk your own.”
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood – I have been recommending Untangled to everybody with a daughter, teen or not. Damour’s book is thoughtful, well-researched, and I found it profoundly reassuring.
A few novels that I’ve really enjoyed:
The Course of Love – I’m about 3/4 of the way through Alain de Botton’s novel and I love it. This book’s steadfast determination to honor married life, and the many joys and challenges that make up Adult Life remind me of another book I loved years ago, Carol Edgarian’s lovely Three Stages of Amazement. “We seem to know far too much about how love starts, and recklessly little about how it might continue,” says de Botton early on, and the book unpacks this question beautifully.
Age of Consent – I devoured Marti Leimbach’s new novel last weekend, and closed the cover feeling uneasy and informed at the same time. About mothers and daughters and the nature of desire and obsession, this book combines a courtroom drama with an intimate emotional story about wounds and recover. Really good.
And a wonderful children’s book that we recently discovered:
Feynman – Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick have created, in Whit’s view, the perfect book. It’s a comic about science. I plan to give this to everyone that I’ve already gifted with Randall Munroe’s fantastic Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words.
What have you been reading that you loved? I am very interested!
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