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Some books I recommend

This entry is specifically for Leigh Day, but it's a public entry for all who might be interested.

I don't think I can present these in an order that suggests I liked any one more than any other; I obviously liked them all (for different reasons, though) if they're on the list.

So, I'll just make some comments about each:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Non-fiction)
I was introduced to this book by way of NC State's Common Reading Program, which recommends a book each year for incoming freshmen to read before they get to campus. It was the 2011 selection in its history of selections. This is a compelling story about which I'll give you this teaser from Goodreads.com: "HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave." And now, it's an HBO movie.

Born a Crime (Non-fiction)
This was one of my book club's selections, and I know I would not have read it had it not been. I've only seen Trevor Noah in a couple of YouTube clips of short segments of his show, so I wasn't that interested in him. However, this is a well-told story, consisting of a lot of "scenes" of his childhood growing up in South Africa during Apartheid. You'll learn about Apartheid in the best way possible—by it being "shown" to you instead of "told" to you. It's very, very powerful. I can't say enough good things about this book, and now I am a Trevor Noah fan.

Cutting for Stone (Fiction)
You might want to put this one on the back burner after just finishing All the Light We Cannot See, because it's a challenging read, but so worth it in the end. ☺ The only other caveat I'd add for this one is that I get a little impatient with a lot of description at the expense of moving the plot along, and I definitely experienced that in this book—a couple of times to the point of almost abandoning it. But, then I just started skimming over some of the long instances of description, and in the end, I was glad I stuck with it. It's a very compelling story overall.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Fiction)
This is one of the quirkiest books I've ever read, and years and years and years after having read it, I still can't think of it without smiling. This would be a good "break" after All the Light We Cannot See." This line from the Goodreads synopsis resonates with me: "Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity." Caveat: It's quite an old book, but it's still "in print." I recently (11/2016) checked it out from the Wake County Public Library and re-read it.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed (Non-fiction)
This is non-fiction about the motives, inequities, and collateral damage that can result from public shaming. In addition to several case studies, there is a fascinating chapter about the enormity involved in repairing damaged online reputations. While reading this book, I sometimes thought of some of the postings that appear on memo-list or rdu-list (e.g., the "let's-start-a-garage-parking-shaming-list"). I read this for a book club, and we had great discussion about it. It's also our next book, since it was my turn to pick a book, in my Mostly Social Book Club.

South of Broad (Fiction)
I love Pat Conroy's writing, which is what prompted me to read this one. It did not disappoint. I've also read The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini by Conroy and loved those, too. Not unlike Paula McLain's Circling the Sun and The Paris Wife, it's beautifully written and a compelling story, which if you've read any Pat Conroy at all, you'd expect.

The Secret History (Fiction)
Another compelling, deeply involved, story from Donna Tartt of The Goldfinch fame, which I know you read. I read this one, maybe 15 or 20 years ago, and it still haunts me.

The Art of Racing in the Rain (Fiction)
If you're a dog lover, this one will undoubtedly make you boo-hoo, but it's very good. What I loved about this book was that the narrator, who's actually a dog, is the one who made me cry. That's pretty good writing, because in general, the idea of a dog being a narrator is completely ridiculous to me. :-)

The Kite Runner (Fiction)
This one ranks up in my top 5 books of all time. It's another beautifully written (hmmm, I see a theme in the books I like ☺), "sweeping" story with themes that include class, diversity, betrayal, redemption, and the love between a father and his son. This was one of those books I hated to see end.

A Prayer for Owen Meany (Fiction)
In the past, I have called this book "my favorite book of all time." It still ranks right up there, at least in the top 3. What I loved about this book was that it was the quintessential exposition of the notion of fate, and even though I'm more of a "you-create-your-own-destiny-kind-of person" than a "fate person," I was totally into this story the whole way through. I just loved it when we found out how the things Owen had thoughts and visions about all through the book unfolded at the end.

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