Summer Reading List 2015

So, what did you read?

Summer travel always provides extra reading time. Here’s what I read this summer:

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: I don’t even know how to begin telling you about this book. It is very dark, unrelentingly so. I had to walk away from it several times and take breaks of more than a day, which is very rare for me. Still, it remains with me more than anything else I have read this year. It moved me in unexpected ways. I’m glad I read it, but it’s difficult to recommend it without a warning.

Alone On The Ice: The Greatest Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts. I love history and am a special fan of the great age of polar exploration, having read biographies of Scott and Shackleton. This true account of one man’s will to survive is astounding and inspiring. Brushing against the human spirit of Douglas Mawson will leave you awed.

Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. It won the National Book Award a few years ago and tells the story of life in one of the notorious slums in India’s largest city. It’s also true, but won’t feel so unless you’ve actually been to Mumbai. It will leave you humbled, grateful and changed, if you allow it to do so.

The Giver by Lois Lowry: winner of the 1994 Newberry Medal for fiction. I don’t usually read young adult literature but this was quite good. It’s a futuristic novel about what it means to be human.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. I’d previously read his books, In The Garden of Beasts, Isaac’s Storm, and The Devil in the White City and this new historical novel didn’t disappoint. Even knowing the outcome, the stories of the real lives impacted will keep you turning the pages.

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott. I love everything she’s written, including this latest. Her humor and insight about life and loss and how faith anchors both will stay with you long after you finish.

And, finally, two works of non-fiction…

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Even if you think this sounds horrible, read it. It deals with the life we all face, a life of aging parents dealing with dementia, and our own mortality. Maybe because I lost my father late last year, or because another, much younger relative was recently diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, every page of this book helped. If you only read one book this year, read this one.

The Doctor Crisis: How Physicians Can, and Must, Lead the Way to Better Health Care by Jack Cochran and Charles Kenney. Like it or not, we — as a nation — need to deal with our dysfunction when it comes to health care and its costs. This short book helps us start that process.

So, how about you? What did you read this summer that’s worth my time and attention? I’m always looking for a great read.