Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

gratitude

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A very slim yet powerful tome by Oliver Sacks, who’s written so many other great books.  These are a few short essays written as he’s contemplating his life once he has received a diagnosis of metastatic cancer.  As always, his succinct prose strikes a familiar chord about where priorities are and where they should be.

Hamilton : The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Hamilton

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My love affair with all things Hamilton continues as I finally got this audiobook from the library.  If any of you out there love actors and performers and hearing about how they get their ideas, then you’ll love this audiobook.  An added plus is that Mariska Hargitay is the narrator.  The story of how Lin-Manuel Miranda brought the story of Alexander Hamilton to the Broadway stage is really riveting, and just reinforces the genius of Miranda.  Staying true to himself and all his musical influences while being so aware of how it would translate on the stage is just awesome.  A huge thumbs up for this.

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls

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This debut novel for Emma Cline is very true to the 1960s, with young girls looking to find themselves and ending up finding security in cults. The main character,  Evie, is lost — her parents just got divorced, her dad is living with a younger woman, her mom is trying to find a new husband, and Evie and her best friend have a falling out.  What she ends up finding is this clan of girls in the park.  That leads her to their ranch, where she gets drawn into their wild lifestyle of drugs, sex, and eventually horrible crime.  The story starts in Evie’s present time and keeps flashing back to tell this story.  I enjoyed this weird book, which concentrated not on the horribleness of this time, but more on the relationship between the girls.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat

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This is a work of non-fiction that reads like a novel.

The “Nazi Olympics” of 1936 are remembered for the stunning victory of Jesse Owens.  But a group of young men from the state of Washington also made a splash.  After winning the national collegiate rowing championship — held in the Hudson at Poughkeepsie — a team of mostly rural rowers traveled to Berlin to take on the best in the world.

The book will introduce you to a host of characters you’ve probably never heard of.
Together, they would overcome incredible odds and make history.

 

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars) by Ian Doescher

Shakespeare's the Phantom Menace

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Well this was certainly fun to read!  It’s the Star Wars story written in Shakespearean iambic pentameter.  Very cool.  I was able to fly right through this.  As a lover of Shakespeare, I found  this a very cool way to read the first story in the Star Wars saga. The illustrations are beautiful as well.  Just an all around fun book, and for sure I’ll keep going with this series.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth

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Zadie Smith is recognized as one of England’s premiere fiction writers.  Her first book, published in 2000, made an enormous splash and vaulted her to instant prominence.

White Teeth features a complex weave of fascinating characters, from multiple ethnic and racial backgrounds, reflecting modern-day England.  The story centers on two friends — Archie, a redheaded English person married to an Afro-Caribbean woman, and Samad, a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh.  Their adventures are simultaneously funny and moving.  The storyline is entertaining, but the novel’s spice comes from the mosaic of peoples, cultures, and customs living in the same neighborhood, and the tensions and relationships that ensue.

I rarely laugh out-loud at a book, but I did with this one.  Give it a try.

 

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the Garden

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This is the first book by this author.  I read it over a weekend.  The story begins as a letter from Rahkee (a young Indian woman) to her fiance as she is leaving him to return to her ancestral home in India to deal with her past.  The bulk of the novel settles on Rakhee’s summer spent in India before her 11th birthday with her mother’s (Amma) mysterious family and away from her father, Aba. Most of the story is told through the voice of young Rakhee, an innocent girl exposed to a brand new life in India as she discovers a secret garden that holds dark secrets of her family’s past that will change her life forever during that summer.  It’s a quick read that was beautiful but also sad.