Jennifer Haigh’s family saga takes place in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania. Baker Towers exudes family love, pain, and pathos, as the children of Italian/Polish immigrants go out to meet the world to find their calling, a sense of happiness, and directions to their lives.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
Laura Hillenbrand, the author of this book and the earlier book Seabiscuit, has written another winner. This book hooks you in from page one. It’s a great story of an American POW held by the Japanese during World War II. I learned a lot from this book, too.
By the way, did you know the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was yesterday?
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (2011)
This book is a quick read and is a very gripping, sweet story and true. A 4-year old minister’s son has a near death experience in surgery. In the weeks and months to come, Colson reveals things that make you realize he’s seen God and glimpses of Heaven.
Read an excerpt of the book here.
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall-Smith (2011)
Another fun, endearing book from McCall-Smith’s “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series. This one has less detective stories and is slower paced, though it picks up in the middle. It’s an enchanting read.
If you enjoy “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series you might like other books on our list Mysteries: Dateline Africa.
Here is the trailer for the television series based on the book.
Outliers: the Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (2008)
If you read Gladwell’s The Tipping Point or Blink, be sure to read Outliers. Gladwell looks at icons of our time: Bill Gates, star basketball players, The Beatles, Oppenheimer and more and comes up with the theory that brains and talent will only take you so far. It’s often being born at a certain time, luck, and luck-of the draw opportunities, which allowed these greats to be “great.”
Gladwell’s provocative ideas don’t convince me that he’s looked at all the angles of “success” and backed them with enough analysis. But as usual, this Gladwell book is entertaining and interesting to read.
Check out the author’s website and watch his YouTube video.
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (2009)
Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, has written another compelling, good read. This time it’s about two beautiful, wealthy sisters, Pearl and May, who are forced into arranged marriages with two unknown American men when the bottom falls out of their father’s lucrative business just as Japan invades China. Tragedy after tragedy befall them in China and in America. Their sisterly bond remains intact as they work to survive what happens. It’s a page turner, but be forewarned: the ending cries “sequel to come.”
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom (2009)
Mitch Albom, who hasn’t been to a church since he was young, is moved by the deep faith of two very different men, an elderly and spirited rabbi who wants Mitch to give his eulogy when he dies, and an ex-con turned minister to the poor and homeless. The book is touching and entertaining and just might get us thinking about our faith and the place God has in our life. Listen to Albom talk about his book. Also check out the author’s interview on Good Morning America, read reviews at Amazon.com and visit his website.
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (2009)
A light but very entertaining book for a beach or trip read, especially if you’ve been or are going to Italy. Valentine, raised in a true Italian family, lives with her aging grandmother as they try to keep their family business (a high-end Italian shoe designer/ manufacturer) up and running. Love enters in for both Valentine and grandma and the ending has a twist. Chick lit, maybe, but I truly enjoyed it!
The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan (2008)
John Grogan, the author of Marley and Me, writes another winner. This is a funny, sentimental good read about John Grogan, the not-so-good Catholic boy, who grows up navigating life with his ultra-conservative Catholic parents. His deep love for his parents shows through in every page as his values clash with theirs, and he becomes a man.
Catholic or not, this memoir will make you think about your life and your relationship with your parents. John Grogan is a wonderful storyteller and writes another beautiful memoir, minus Marley.