If you know me at all, you know I love reading. You’ll often find me walking slowly to my office with my Kindle in my face — careful not to step on any unsuspecting passersby. I spent at least an hour a day reading because of my commute on the metro. It makes the ride something to look forward to. I also read before bed and on the weekends when I can. I love nothing more than to get lost in a good book and I’m always looking for the next great read.
I constantly see requests on Facebook and Twitter from people asking for book suggestions! What should I read next?! Usually, when I ask that question, I get a lot of suggestions for books I’ve already read. Anyway, hopefully this list will help you find at least a couple of new books to either buy as Christmas presents this year or save for next year.
1. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher
The title sounds a little strange but the book is a treasure. I’ve read some of the author’s work in a previous book and in culture pieces he’s written for various publications. This moving, biographical story about about the life of his sister Ruthie is beautiful and as human as they come. You will not regret meeting Rod, Ruthie and their family. The lessons are wise, timeless and heartbreaking.
2. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
This is a book that spans the years — the kind of book I love. The main character knows her mother has a dark secret but can’t figure it out. The author takes you back to the mother’s girlhood past to slowly weave the story together. The book keeps you in suspense and has you wondering all the way through what really happened. Definitely a page turner!
3. The Engagements by Courtney Sullivan
I loved Sullivan’s first two books — Maine & Commencement — so I was really excited to pick up this one. It’s another that spans decades, weaving together stories of engagements in different time periods, following the path of one, lucky ring. There’s something magical about watching it all come together.
4. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sittenfeld is maybe my favorite writer — as her previous three books were all A+’s in my mind. While Sisterland didn’t quite live up to the ones that came before, it is still an intriguing and entertaining read. It’s well-written and also suspenseful as we wait to see if a prediction from clairvoyant twin sister Vi. Actually both twins have the trait in a sense but one has made it into a career. What happens when people believe what she says and waiting for if she’s right has you on your toes.
5. Silver Star by Jeanette Walls
I was lucky enough to have yet another favorite author come out with a new book this year. Walls is famous for her memoir, “The Glass Castle” — and I even got to see her speak in person a few months ago. This was her first novel and while it wasn’t as magically enthralling as her memoir (her real life had plenty of fiction-like tales!), I still enjoyed the story and Walls is truly a great writer.
6. Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harris
This is the true story of a foster mother who has mothered more than 100 children. Kathy Harris is that mother and her stories of the children that have come and gone through her household are heartbreaking. The book is well-written and documented, showing the realities of and sometimes evil circumstances that plague these kids’ lives. Foster care is not a pretty system but reading this book is important so that the rest of us will wake up and realize we need to help make a difference in lives of vulnerable children who have nothing else.
7. Burn Down the Ground by Kambri Crews
Loved this most recent memoir I read. Kambri’s story is so unique because she grew up the child of two deaf parents, surrounded by the deaf social community. Her eclectic upbringing is entertaining and a definite coming-of-age tale. The book focuses a lot on her alcohlic father — who was 100% deaf — and the role he played her life — from extreme love and violence and love again. If you like memoirs, you’ll like this one.
8. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
This book has been swooped up by the thousands no doubt — and I’d add it your list. You need to hear Malala’s story of bravery in the face severe persecution. Her stamina and courage is so admirable — as she follows in the strong footsteps of her father. The hatred towards women and especially women’s education in Pakistan is very real — and the Taliban stop at nothing. Read this one.
9. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Like the Kite Runner before, this book presents a rich history of Afghanistan through a unique story with twist or two you never saw coming. Hosseini is a wonderful writer that’s able to weave together complicated Afghani history with personal stories in a way someone whose never been there can understand empathize with.
10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Another memoir I loved! It’s like the “Eat, Pray, Love” of the wilderness. When Cheryl takes off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own, she didn’t know the people she’d meet or the things she’d learn about herself. You can’t guess the troubles you’ll run into during a months-long hike along the length of California — and she has plenty of stories. It will make you want to break free from your everyday life, breathe deep and experience something as hard and refreshing and freeing as this.
*Bonus: A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington
I love loved Chrissie once I read this book. She’s an untouchable athlete with an impossible story of victory you’d never guessed was possible. Her perserverence and determination is unmatched and you cannot help but be inspired by her story. Athletes of any caliber will like this one.