Reading List: November 2017
I absolutely love the month of November and this year has given me another reason to do so with the publication of some delightful reading gems, to add to my endless reading list. But before we go into that, here is a quick recap of some of what I have read recently, what I am currently reading and what I plan to read in the future
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin written by this parents, was was in all honesty one of the most difficult books I have had to read and I was coming at it from different personal angles – as a parent, a person of color and most importantly reading how the events unfolded and knowing how the story ends.
Some of the books of fiction that have recently kept me company are: Home Fires by Kamila Shamsie, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal and The Leavers by Lisa Ko.
A Moonless, Starless Sky. Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo, The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro, and Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type are some of the books that are currently keeping me company. I have to pause here to say that the UK cover of Mr. Hanks’s new book of short stories is so much more appealing than the US cover. I got both. Yes, I am that nit picky.
I also got an advance copy of Sharon Bala’s The Boat People, which is set for release in January 2018, and even though I am not a huge fan of e-readers, this is the only way it was sent to me, so I am reading it on the Kindle app of my iPad and not complaining once because it is such a brilliant read.
Amy Tan’s Where the Past Begins and Isabel Allende’s In the Midst of Winter are patiently waiting in the wings for me to pick them up. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I revere these women’s writing so color me brilliantly excited to read some new work from them.
So here is what we have on this month’s reading list.
Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga. Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her. Julian asks Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes. With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian is not the father that Taliah has always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.
The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch. St. Petersburg, New Year’s Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers’ rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.
As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina’s own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman’s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.
The House by the River by Lena Manta. Translated from Greek by Gail Holst-Warhaft. Theodora knows she can’t keep her five beautiful daughters at home forever—they’re too curious, too free spirited, too like their late father. And so, before each girl leaves the small house on the riverside at the foot of Mount Olympus, Theodora makes sure they know they are always welcome to return.
A devoted and resilient mother, Theodora has lived through World War II, through the Nazi occupation of Greece, and through her husband’s death, and now she endures the twenty-year-long silence of her daughters’ absence. Her children have their own lives—they’ve married, traveled the world, and courted romance, fame, and even tragedy. But as they become modern, independent women in pursuit of their dreams, Theodora knows they need her—and each other—more than ever. Have they grown so far apart that they’ve forgotten their childhood house in its tiny village, or will their broken hearts finally lead them home?
Innocence by Kathleen Tessaro. It’s 1986 and eighteen-year-old Evie dreams of being an actress. Leaving her hometown of Eden, Ohio, for the first time, she’s heading to London to study drama. Together with fellow students Imogene (a born-again Laura Ashley poster child and frustrated virgin) and Robbie (a native New Yorker, budding bohemian, and very much not a virgin), Evie’s flung into a thrilling new world: a world illuminated by the glamorous, outrageous Robbie. Together, anything’s possible. But then life, and love, intervene. And everything changes. Fifteen years later, Evie is a single mother teaching drama to night students and living with the eccentric Bunny in her house of artistic renters. Robbie’s gone now, killed in a car accident. And Evie’s doing her best to forget the past, as well as the dreams they once both shared. Then an old friendship comes back to haunt Evie. Literally. And suddenly everything is about to change again.
The First To Know by Abigail Johnson. Dana Fields’s father never knew his parents. When Dana secretly does a DNA test for her dad, hoping to find him some distant relatives for his birthday, her entire world implodes. Instead of a few third cousins, Dana discovers a half brother her age whose very existence means her parents’ happy marriage is a lie. Dana’s desire to know her half brother, Brandon, and the extent of her dad’s deception, clashes with her wish not to destroy her family. When she sees the opportunity to get to know Brandon through his cousin, the intense yet kind Chase, she takes it. But the more she finds out about Brandon, her father’s past and the irresistible guy who’ll never forgive her if he discovers the truth, the more she sees the inevitable fallout from her own lies. With her family crumbling around her, Dana must own up to her actions and find a way to heal the breach—for everyone—before they’re torn apart for good
A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay. When Elsie Gormley leaves the Brisbane house in which she has lived for more than sixty years, Lucy Kiss and her family move in, eager to establish their new life. As they settle in, Lucy and her husband Ben struggle to navigate their transformation from adventurous lovers to new parents, taking comfort in memories of their vibrant past as they begin to unearth who their future selves might be. But the house has secrets of its own, and the rooms seem to share recollections of Elsie’s life with Lucy. In her nearby nursing home, Elsie traces the span of her life—the moments she can’t bear to let go and the places to which she dreams of returning. Her beloved former house is at the heart of her memories of marriage, motherhood, love, and death, and the boundary between present and past becomes increasingly porous for both her and Lucy. Over the course of one hot Brisbane summer, two families’ stories intersect in sudden and unexpected ways. Through the richly intertwined narratives of two ordinary, extraordinary women, Ashley Hay weaves an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.
Come Home by Patricia Gussin. Nicole Nelson and Ahmed Masud are a dynamic, highly successful Philadelphia couple. They are partners in a thriving plastic surgery practice, are very much in love, and they adore their young son, Alex. But cracks are beginning to appear in their fairy-tale life: lingering post-9/11 prejudice against Arab men, accumulating malpractice lawsuits for Ahmed, and most recently, pressure from Ahmed’s wealthy family in Cairo for him to return to Egypt–permanently–with his son. The Masud family pressure becomes a demand as the Hosni Mubarak regime is seriously threatened by protestors in Egypt. Ahmed’s family owes their control of the Egyptian cotton empire directly to Mubarak cronyism. If Mubarak goes down, the Masuds will surely lose their wealth, maybe even their lives. They need Ahmed back in Egypt to implement their plan to move their fortune and family out of Egypt and into South America. Ahmed must make a decision–stay with Nicole in America–or obey his father. And what about their son? Tragic consequences, that Ahmed could have never foreseen, propel both the Masud family and Nelson family on a path toward unspeakable tragedy.
Where the Wild Coffee Grows: The Untold Story of Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Ethiopia to your Cup by Jeff Koehler. Coffee is one of the largest and most valuable commodities in the world. This is the story of its origins, its history, and the threat to its future, by the IACP Award–winning author of Darjeeling.
Located between the Great Rift Valley and the Nile, the cloud forests in southwestern Ethiopia are the original home of Arabica, the most prevalent and superior of the two main species of coffee being cultivated today. Virtually unknown to European explorers, the Kafa region was essentially off-limits to foreigners well into the twentieth century, which allowed the world’s original coffee culture to develop in virtual isolation in the forests where the Kafa people continue to forage for wild coffee berries.
Deftly blending in the long, fascinating history of our favorite drink, award-winning author Jeff Koehler takes readers from these forest beginnings along the spectacular journey of its spread around the globe. With cafés on virtually every corner of every town in the world, coffee has never been so popular–nor tasted so good.
Yet diseases and climate change are battering production in Latin America, where 85 percent of Arabica grows. As the industry tries to safeguard the species’ future, breeders are returning to the original coffee forests, which are under threat and swiftly shrinking.
Blessed are the Misfits: Great News for Believers Who Are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers or Just feel Like they Are Missing Something by Brant Hansen. While American church culture (and American culture at large) seems largely designed for the extroverted, it’s estimated that half of the American population is introverted, and they’re often left wondering how, even if, they fit in the kingdom of God. As one of them, popular radio host Brant Hansen brings news. It’s wonderful, refreshing, and never-been-said-this-way-before good news. In his unique style, Hansen looks to answer questions that millions of people carry with them each day. It is for those who want to believe in Jesus, but inwardly fear that they don’t belong, worry that don’t have the requisite emotion-based relationship with God, and are starving for good news. Blessed Are the Misfits is going to generate discussion, and lots of it. It’s simultaneously highly provocative and humbly personal. It’s also leavened with a distinct, dry, self-effacing humor that is a hallmark of Hansen’s on-air, writing, and public speaking style.