I really enjoyed Elise Juska’s latest novel, which centers on a large, Irish Catholic extended family living in North Philly. Told in alternating points of view by various family members and spanning 15 years, The Blessings is a lovely, sometime heartbreaking, tale of a family and what unites them.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (2009)
Good read about New York City in the 1970s. The descriptive writing of the author makes this book. The 1970s era was a heart wrenching time for many people and a reminder of what the Twin Towers were and the grief brought to America with 9/11. The author hints at historical events during the time of the story, but doesn’t bog down the reader.
For more about the book check out the New York Times book review.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (2005)
Interesting look at how the mind works or doesn’t work. I especially liked learning that often instinct and experience have value over details and facts when people make decisions. Malcolm Gladwell seems to select topics to write about which are of interest to him so he can delve into them for answers. The current science on the way the mind works is very interesting. Fast, enjoyable read.
Watch the YouTube interview with the author.
This book about identity theft will make you stop and think. There are wonderful characters that portray how it feels to be a victim of identity theft. The plot has twists along the way which keeps the story moving along. I was surprised by the story and think it is a good one. The best quote I saw after reading Talk Talk is from the Portland Oregonian. “Yet the book as a whole still resonates beyond the end, having provided not just entertainment but also tangible new experiences for readers to absorb.”
Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King by Bradford Matsen (2009)
Fast reading and informative book about Jacques Costeau’s 20th century inventions and discoveries. It is startling to learn that the undersea explorations and diving equipment inventions were due to Cousteau’s desire to dive deeper and search the world’s oceans.
There is enough information in this book to learn about ocean explorations in the 20th century without getting too detailed. Every person should read this book to understand that ocean exploration and space exploration are equally important and that space was done by countries’ funding and ocean was done by a few good, curious adventurers! Very interesting insight into the personal life and personality of Jacques.
Echo Park by Michael Connelly (2006)
A good L.A. crime story featuring Harry Bosch. Harry has been trying to prove who murdered a young girl for several years. Now out of retirement and working in the Open-Unsolved Unit with his current partner Kiz Rider, Harry has a chance to prove who murdered Marie Gusto. This is a good story which reveals the behind the scenes information one never gets from a newspaper about murders. The author is excellent at describing details without boring the reader. An enjoyable read for mystery fans.
Watch a YouTube.com video depicting the opening chapter and read the New York Times review.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (2008)
This is an enjoyable read about successful people and how they used skills and learning to take advantage of certain opportunities. The reader learns how timing and circumstances influence success. Gladwell provides reasons for why some succeed and others do not. Surprisingly, technology and the opportunities it offers for an individual to succeed are not as accessible in the U.S. or elsewhere as one would think. Hopefully, this book’s premise will encourage change in thoughts and actions. I now understand why Bill Gates’ foundation helps put computers in classrooms.
Visit Gladwell’s Outlier website and watch Gladwell discuss his book on YouTube.com.
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
This series is easy reading because Smith keeps you interested, guessing and solving the mystery without taxing your brain power! The author interweaves a view of African culture and geography amidst the detective agency’s business of solving its clients’ problems. Precious Ramotswe sets up her No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency after she grows up and survives a young marriage. This mystery series is not for the hard-core mystery reader. Most enjoyable is the African setting for a change of pace from other mystery stories.
The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford (2008)
Great fun to read about the astronomical success of Dickens’ stories. This is an easy read which covers the career of Charles Dickens as well as the history behind The Christmas Carol . The book was published the same year Disney made the story into a great movie.