I spent the first three weeks of the pandemic watching 134 episodes of Chicago Fire, one after another. When that was over, and I needed a way to cope with the loss of my friends at Firehouse 51, I dove into books. All kinds of books. Many were wonderful. A few were, well…not. (We won’t talk about those right now) (Also, if you see a title below that I don’t mention here, that doesn’t mean it was terrible. Perhaps I’ll do a separate post called Books That Wasted My Time , but for now…we’ll keep things happy). Here, for your quarantine reading pleasure, are the ones I’d recommend. Some titles came out orange and I’m not sure why, but I’ve decided not to worry about it. Enjoy!
The Bright Side of Going Dark – The best fictional consideration I’ve seen of how different people, each with their own unmet needs and personal struggles, deal with social media. Also a great, fun story. A+
The Girls of Summer – A fizzy read set in Nantucket. Perfect for when you need to be reminded that love is possible and the story isn’t over yet.
Empty by Susan Burton – Not out until the end of June, but the best memoir I’ve read in YEARS. On the surface, this is the story of one woman’s struggles with disordered eating. But it’s so much more than that. Burton captures her own motivations so clearly that you can relate, even if eating is not your struggle. And if you grew up in the 70s? Her cultural references are so spot-on it makes you feel like you’re hanging out with an old friend.
All the Way to the Tigers by Mary Morris – Looking for a new way to deal with life’s angst? How about a solo trip to a remote refuge in central India to search for live tigers? I joke, but I enjoyed this more than I expected to. Mary Morris somehow balances her trip narrative, a wide array of tiger information, and unexpected moments of reflection and personal discovery. A treat.
Saints: Becoming More Than “Christians” by Addison Bevere – Ignore the bland title/silly subtitle. This is a really interesting take on why & how to live a life of faith. I’m about 2/3 of the way through and grateful I found it. This is that rare faith book I’d recommend equally to friends from church, friends exploring spirituality, and friends who wonder, “Who are you people and how can you believe that nonsense?” (I’d just hide the cover :) )
For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered World by Emily M.D. Scott – A memoir by a Lutheran pastor who inadvertently began a “dinner church” in NYC that drew a eclectic group of congregants seeing a different way to explore God and connect with community. It’s less about God than about the people, but still a compelling read. And her take on what it must have been like to be Noah’s wife, floating that ark away from everything & everyone you’ve ever known? I’m still thinking about that.
Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J.B. West – who knew I’d spend the first week of quarantine with the first ladies??? This account by a former White House chief usher is interesting, a little bit dishy, and made me think unexpected thoughts, like “I bet it would be hilarious to spend a day with Mamie Eisenhower!”
THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ ALL YEAR
Uncharted: How To Navigate the Future by Margaret Heffernan. THIS BOOK! It was so good I want to hug it. Seriously. Heffernan takes a hard look at some of the systems and strategies human beings have devised to try and control the future…and then writes beautifully about how glad we should be that we can’t. Her chapter about approaching problems from the perspective of an artist sounds hokey, but isn’t. It’s smart and thought provoking, and I basically highlighted every page. And the chapter on why we don’t actually want to live forever is just gold…comforting and wise, without devaluing what it means to live. This isn’t out until September, so put it on whatever list you have for books you want to read as soon as they hit shelves. You may find different things in these chapters than I did, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s that good.
Happy Reading! And if there’s anything you’d recommend, let me know!