This is SUCH a good book year, you guys. I have been quite the happy camper, turning pages and getting immersed in one great story/collection/new idea after another. Here’s a roundup of blurbs so you can find one (or seven) to add to your TBR pile. Because summer reading season IS coming, right? Right! Even though it’s 30 degrees here. And yesterday we had snow…


9780307962904Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

Oh, I loved this! Set in the world of professional ballet, this is a quiet story of intense people going after what they want in a variety of ways. I was drawn into the plot even as I struggled to understand some of the characters’ motivations. That’s one of the most interesting facets of this novel, actually–the way some of the characters are so much more aware of what they want and go after it, trampling those who are less sure…and how those less sure emerge from the experience, changed.



9781594631573The Vacationers by Emma Straub

A great vacation read – whether you are on vacation or just feeling like you need one. A tightly written page turner about a family that travels to Mallorca for two weeks with friends. Each character bring their own worries and troubles, and the particular strength of this book is how the author lets us inside these different minds and deftly illustrates how much of ourselves we hide in our daily interactions.  Highly recommend.



9780385533546Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman

An intriguing, detailed novel about the Hungarian Gold Train. I usually prefer stories that follow people, rather than things, but Waldman generates enough curiosity about the peacock locket to keep me turning pages. This novel is similar to Nicole Krauss’ Great House, but less obtuseI appreciated that.



9780385351485Problems with People by David Guterson

Fabulous cover, beautifully written, and some of the saddest stories I’ve ever read. This book made my heart hurt.





NON-FICTION (AKA: red titles on a white backgrounds)

81vdw7HoISL._SL1500_Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin & John Heilemann

Deep inside, I’m still a poli sci geek who loves a peek at the inside workings of our government. My favorite thing about this book (and its prequel, GAME CHANGE) is how it personalizes the candidates, presenting them as multi-dimenstional, differently-motivated characters in this high-stakes contest, shifting perspectives and showing us just how fluid campaign strategy needs to be. My favorite kind of soap opera. Loved it.



978006226542510% Happier by Dan Harris

This book is worth reading just for the entertainment value of (Nightline anchorman) Dan Harris’ writing. This guy is REALLY funny. Always a nice touch in an otherwise serious book.

He does a good job of taking us through on-air panic attack that prompted his spiritual quest. But then the book bogs down structurally: chapter after chapter, he discovers some new insight or perspective shift, only to realize a few pages later that when the stress of real life hits, the great new idea isn’t as helpful as he’d expected. There were several times that I thought I must be near the end of the book only to discover it was still the vast middle. At one point, the author admits that, 2.5 years into his quest, he still has the same questions.

That said, I appreciate his premise that almost anything that makes you 10% happier is an excellent return on investment. And the behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of network news reporters adds a layer of interest to the book.


9781426772009Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin

Fun premise for a book. It’s a collection of interesting suggestions and perspective shifts about how our quirks and flaws are important aspects of who and how God designed us to be. I wish these ideas were explored in more depth, rather than just plopped down one after another. But this book could be the starting place for some really good conversations.



9780062267856Supersurviors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success by David Feldman & Lee Daniel Kravetz

Interesting & encouraging. As a former foster parent, I love the premise that one doesn’t need to be pampered and coddled to succeed in life – that indeed, traumatic incidents can, under the right circumstances, be a catalyst for tremendous success. I’m really glad I read this book. It sheds some much-needed hope into what look like hopeless situations.



9780385348683Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception by Joseph T. Hallenan

A different take on the question of how we respond when bad news strikes, this book suggests that a bit of delusional optimism goes a long way towards longer life, success, and overall well-being. Somehow the author manages to convey this message without sounding ridiculous. Much food for thought on these pages, and I’m excited to read his previous work.



What are you reading that you’ve loved/hated/can’t stop thinking about?

Disclosure: With the exception of Double Down, I received all of these copies for free from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. Double Down I received for free from my local library, an experience that makes me happy, every single time.