End of Summer Reading List

I have been enjoying some excellent books lately, new favorites and old friends. In the spirit of generosity, I share my bounty with you. All are equally worth your time. Happy Reading!

  • Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik“In Paris explanations come in a predictable sequence, no matter what is being explained. First comes the explanation in terms of the unique, romantic individual, then the explanation in terms of ideological absolutes, and then the explanation in terms of the futility of all explanation.” One of my all time favorite books. Mr. Gopnik is one of the finest essayists around and a keen observer of modern culture and nuance.
  • La Sombra del Viento / the Shadow of the Wind by Spanish Carlos Ruiz Zafón – I read this book late last year. A literary feast. A mesmerizing book about Daniel Sempere, a young boy who in the 1950s discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is a rare find as a mysterious character has made it his mission to burn every single existing work by Mr.  Carax. The characters in this novel are expertly crafted, especially that of Fermín Romero de Torres who might just be the best male gossip out there. Warning, I read this in 3 days and was terribly unproductive while at it.
  • Nada by Spanish novelist Carmen Laforet – I read this during my 1st visit to Spain and it is affecting. This is the story of 18-year-old Andrea as she spends a year with crazy, nasty relatives in a squalid townhouse in post-Civil War Barcelona. I understand the 2007 translation by Edith Grossman is supposed to be excellent.
  • The Likeness by Irish novelist Tana French. They say that everyone has a double out there and this novel takes that to a sinister place: Detective Cassie Madoxx’s doppelganger is found stabbed to death in an abandoned cottage outside of Dublin. Even freakier is the fact that the victim assumed an undercover identity Maddox abandoned years ago. A sick page turner. An interesting blog on the subject.
  • Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini – I heard Mr. Cialdini speak at a conference recently and it was the only time I have stopped multitasking while listening to a lecture. If you have always wanted to know why people say yes and how to use this knowledge and exploit it, read this book. Fortune Magazine lists Influence in their “75 Smartest Business Books.”
  • Naked in the Boardroom by Robin Wolaner – great autobiography and advice book on how to navigate the corporate world as a female. Even if I had not gone to a women’s college (shameless plug here) I would recommend this one.
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz – Any 1st generation American worth his or her illegal Dominican passport knows this is a MUST read. Also by Mr. Diaz: Drown.
  • Elizabeth I by Anne Somerset – “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” Excellent bio by Ms. Somerset. Anybody interested in leadership lessons during a recession should read this. Elizabeth the I inherited a bankrupt state and by the time she died it was the richest and most powerful empire in the world.
  • MidLife Crisis at 30 by Lia Macko and Kerry Rubin- I read this while I was having my own breakdown and ran away to Anguilla. A must read for anybody being pulled in 50 different directions by their crazy job.
  • Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin – Delightful, fun, beautiful book about cooking anything and everything. Julia and Jacques dish and argue about it all in a fun and loving way. A must READ and have for any serious home gourmet.
  • Appetite for Life by Noel Riley Fitch – Julie Child was a WILD and crazy fun woman. This would be a great read before watching the current film that is about to come out. Here was a California girl and Smith College undergraduate who ended up breaking EVERY role there was about food. A delightful and amazing book about a woman with a voracious appetite for fun, a silly voice and a marriage of mutual devotion and affection that I can only aspire to have. Timely given the new movie, which is excellent. Savor and enjoy.
  • French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France by Richard Goodman. I once gave an old boyfriend 12 bottles of Bordeaux, each with a beautiful quote attached to it’s top. Most of the quotes where from this book. Read it with an excellent glass of wine, preferably some of this awesome Pinot Noir.
  • The Know it all by A. J. Jacobs – Seriously, A. J. read the ENTIRE encyclopedia Britannica, in a year! hilarious, laugh out loud, hysterical read. You will learn very useful trivia so you can be king or queen of your next cocktail party trivia. And he is at it again.

So, do you have any favorites to share? Please do!

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