I read a lot of books. I grew up in a family that encouraged book reading over television and I’ve adopted that philosophy all of my adult life. I read a wide variety of books, from historical novels to biographies of people and places, as well as fiction.
For the next few months we’ll all be spending considerable time indoors at home and sequestered from our friends and colleagues. If you find yourself getting bored with binge watching, grab a book and curl up in a cozy spot and teleport yourself to a new dimension. Here are some books I’ve read in the past year that I really enjoyed:
Edison by Edmund Morris
Edmund Morris is such a reknowned biographer, with Beethoven: The Universal Composer and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt among my favorites. Thomas Edison is of course a major inventor and fascinating, driven, distant personality. I consumed this book in great gulps and stood in amazement just taking in all that this one person accomplished in an extraordinary lifetime.
Before We Sleep by Jeffrey Lent
Jeffrey Lent is one of my all-time favorite authors. He builds his characters one brush stroke at a time, revealing depth and nuance as the story arc takes shape. I think the word ‘elegiac’ was invented because of this tender, passionate, wise author. I savored every sentence.
The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
A compelling story centered around a small group of women and a ring of female secret agents during the second world war. A compelling exploration of female friendship and the indomitable courage of some truly brave women. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is best know for Bel Canto, which I highly recommend. The Dutch House takes place over five decades and explores paradise found and paradise lost. It is at once suspenseful, yet poses questions of love and memories and inheritance. And how they all come together, which is what makes life so unpredictable and painful at times. Ann Patchett is a joy to read, no matter the subject.
Titan by Ron Chernow
John D. Rockefeller has been referred to as “the Jekyll-and-Hyde of American capitalism.” He was a ruthless business magnate while also being a major philanthropist. This book is not only a business staple, but also an historical document about the founding of our oil and gas industrial complex. Ron Chernow is a great writer and he captures both sides of Rockefeller’s persona – the driven business visionary and the family man/philanthropist.
Den of Thieves by James Stewart
This is a classic. It details the greatest insider-trading ring in financial history. The book profiles all of the main players who almost walked away with billions of dollars. A page turner, Den of Thieves exposes the dark side of human nature, combining crime and business – who could ask for anything more?
America’s War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew Bacevich
Andrew Bacevich brings a unique clarity of expression and directness when laying out this historical, essential take on America’s engagement in the world’s most volatile region.
The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie returns to fiction and no one comes out unscathed. If you’re a fan of The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, you will enjoy this modern day Great Gatsby.
The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore
One of the best reads of the past year. A dynamic and full bodied biography of the most successful dynasty in modern history. Mr. Montefiore’s previous book, Jerusalem, was equally captivating, so order that as well if you are interested in learning about the city’s history.
The Glass Palace by Amitov Gosh
Our story opens in 1885 in Mandalay, Burma. From the historical British conquering of Burma and the teak trade, to love and the inevitable triumph of the human spirit, this is a brisk, fun read.
The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
The story of Red Cloud, an American legend. Red Cloud was the only American Indian in history to defeat the United States Army in a war, forcing the government to sue for peace on his terms. At the peak of Red Cloud’s powers, the Sioux could claim control of one-fifth of the contiguous United States.
And a few of my long-time favorites:
Damascus Gate by Robert Stone
The March by E.L. Doctorow
Bone by Bone by Peter Matthiessen
Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo
All the Names by Jose Saramago
In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie