My sister recently mentioned that a former high school classmate maintains a list of the books he reads during the course of a year and then shares said list with friends. What a great concept! I am stealing his idea, but with a Joan twist. I will publish my recommended reads on a quarterly basis. Here is a compilation of books I have read January through March 2017:
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance-This is my first memoir of the year, and one with local ties. Mr. Vance chronicles his life in Middletown, Ohio where he was raised mostly by his Kentucky native grandparents. The book covers alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty and much more. It is a rag to riches kind of story, with the “riches” being his ability to graduate from both The Ohio State University AND Yale Law School. I devoured this book in a matter of hours, and highly recommend it.
Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller-Continuing with the memoir theme, I stumbled upon this book on a Google search. Ms. Miller is an only child raised by her hoarder father and shopping addicted mother, who has hoarding issues of her own. Her home definitely qualifies for an episode of Hoarders with its endless stacks of paper, trash, rat infestation and more. This was another easy read and one that held my attention as the depths of her parents issues became worse with time.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay-This a book of fiction, though one that reads like a memoir or an anthology on the trying and traumatic lives of women. This book is not for the faint of heart as it contains graphic depictions of sexual violence, adultery and more.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi-This memoir was recommended to me from two separate sources. The book is the story of a 36-year old Neuro surgery resident who learns that he has a terminal form of lung cancer. He chronicles the details of his diagnosis and treatment as a physician who has now become the patient. The book reminded me of Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Album and The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch. Read all three if you are so inclined, but be sure to have a box of Kleenex nearby.
Memory Man by David Baldacci-This is my second book of fiction this year and a murder mystery. While not my typical read these days, it is a page turner. The story revolves around a former detective whose life becomes unraveled with the murder of his family. A school shooting sucks him back into police work as he and his former colleagues work to solve two mysteries in their small town.
In addition to books, I also gobble up my monthly issue of The Sun, a magazine overflowing with great stories-both true and fiction-poetry, and photography. It contains zero advertising. I have subscribed to this little gem for many years and highly recommend it. However, reader beware. The magazine leans to the left, so may not be suitable for those who lean to the right. I also flip through the monthly issues of the Costco magazine and the AARP Bulletin. The latter is addressed to Mr. Joan. AARP tracked him down as he turned 50, but I remain off of their radar. Perhaps that is due to the fact that I was granted a do-over of my 40’s and therefore am a mere 46 years of age.
A big thank you to Mr. F., my former high school English teacher, who shared a must-read book list with me. I intend to seek out several of the titles for my future reading pleasure. Also, a thank you to family members who loaned me a few books from their own collections. My neighborhood public library has been a great source of reading material as well. If you know of any good reads, especially memoirs, shoot me a text, email or a message on Facebook with your suggestions.