Like many genre writers I find it difficult to write when I’m also reading in genre. Occasionally, while writing, I’ll read a romance in another genre and sometimes, after the writing is done I’ll treat myself to a book within my own contemporary genre but most times I read non-fiction. And there is so much non-fiction out there that intrigues me.
Here’s a sampling of some books from frothy to serious that caught my eye or were gifted to me by those who know my interests, struggles and weaknesses…
Back in 2014 Atul Gawande, M.D. released Being Mortal a surprisingly readable discussion of the limits and role of American medicine at the end of life. Dr. Gawande’s thoughts and insights are born from expert experience in the field, fortified by the observation of the decline and death of his own physician father. “As an adult watching him in his final years, I also saw how to come to terms with limits that simply couldn’t be wished away.”
Born to Run (2016) by Bruce Springsteen. I’ve never read an autobiography where every word, sentence, and paragraph, shows so richly the voice of its author. Yes I’ve been a Bruce fan from way back so I would have read it anyway. But from the first page I sank deep into Bruce’s vivid, original descriptions of the people, places and influences of his youth.The 508 pages roll along fast and prove once more Bruce is an amazingly gifted storyteller. The mature insights he shares about his early struggles, fears and ever-present ambition were a beautiful bonus. “…in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” You did it, Bruce.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino.
This falls into the froth category and a true life opposites attract romance as well. Couldn’t help sneak in some romance. I’ll be the first to admit I fell for the Fixer Upper couple (I adore all those HGTV shows) hook, line and sinker or hammer, nail and SHIPLAP (inside joke). It’s a quick read but it manages to give you the sense that the Gaines’ truly complement each other as a couple, as parents to four adorable kids and as entrepreneurs. And they don’t seem to take their good fortune for granted. Fingers crossed these folks keep it all going for the long haul.
These last two books are the kind that take a while to absorb. They are also the type I will go back to again and again to reinforce what I’ve learned from them.
They were both exactly what I was looking for to face the challenges of 2017.
The Book of Joy (2016) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams
This book calms and centers the reader. If I can act on even a small portion of the vast wisdom shared by these two humble humans, my year will have been a success. With vignettes describing and exercises to attain the Eight Pillars of Joy – Perspective, Humility, Humor, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Compassion & Generosity.
Thank You for Being Late (2016) by Thomas Friedman
I’m so happy to live in a world where three time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman breathes, reads and thinks. An unparalleled explanatory journalist, Friedman first assures us that we are living in an extraordinary time of rapid change then breaks it all down, explaining the confluence of tech innovations that have, since 2007, rapidly changed the world we live in. Friedman urges us to take the time to appreciate these changes, understand rather than fear them and move forward into this new era (not retreat into an idealized past.) A long book (496 pages) that needs to be savored and digested.