BOOKS 40-60

I’ve underlined the ones that I think you should DEFINITELY READ. I’ve put an asterisk by the ones I wouldn’t spend time on. The rest are somewhere in-between. If you have an e-reader, can I suggest jumping on your FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY’s e-books? I’ve been able to read a lot of current books on my kindle lately thanks to the support of the American taxpayer and our great public library system.

  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
    • If you don’t know much about farming in America and want someone to spell out all of the complex systems for you in a way you can understand, this is your book. If you care about the economic systems you pay into and the way what you put into your body touches the world, get reading!
  • Spinster, Kate Bolice
    • The history in this book was interesting, but frankly I found the memoir side of it quite boring. The place in the world for unmarried women is especially interesting here in Benin, but the book focused very much on white, middle class to rich, American women.
  • Getting Stoned with Savages, Maarten Troost
    • If you like my blog, you will probably like this book. (I think? Really, I have no perspective.)
  • Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose
    • Non-fiction war book that reads exactly like a non-fiction war book. I don’t suggest it if you are looking for a fast-paced war story or deep strategy discussion, but if you like the army or want to learn more about day-to-day war and preparation for war in WWII, go ahead and read it.
  • Rabbit, Run, John Updike
    • Well written, good imagery, but I disliked the main character VERY MUCH so that kind of killed it a little.
  • The Infinite Plan, Isabel Allende
    • Isabel Allende never disappoints. Stunning imagery, characters that are very human, and just a touch of the bizarre. Worth reading.
  • Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
    • I haven’t read a book about India in quite a while and this one made me realize that I need to 1) eat much more Indian food and 2) brush up on my history. Also, read more Salman Rushdie books. This was a great combination of image, magic, and emotion.
  • My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories, David Lebovitz
    • The story part of this wasn’t as good as I was hoping, but I liked the recipes. I’m far from most of the foods available in Paris but the techniques and flavor combos are stored away in my head for the future! And I did just make a killer lentil salad inspired by one in this book, albeit with generic lentils and not whatever fancy-shmancy lentils Lebovitz suggested. And no celery. Celery doesn’t exist in Benin.
  • The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt
    • The most interesting book about business I’ve ever read. Got a little tedious at the end… I GET IT ALREADY! But talked about many things I had never thought of before in an easy-to-read way. Not great literature, but a great business book.
  • Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee
    • Upsetting book, but illustrative of the time and place it is set in. I feel like I need to go back and read To Kill a Mockingbird again.
  • The Tiger’s Wife, Tea Obrent
    • I haven’t read a book about Eastern Europe in too long. This was a beautiful weaving of real life and fairy tale. I also particularly enjoy reading about the cold here in Benin because it makes me feel smug that even though I may be sweating, I am never in danger of frostbite.
  • Sugar Queen, Sarah Addison Allen
    • It was nice to read a book written in the style of magical realism set in the South of the US. This wasn’t a spectacular book, but it made me think of home.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, L. James***
    • I read this book after I realized that the content was world-wide knowledge (as I saw the movie playing at a restaurant in Benin. See my previous post about that traumatic experience.) Fifty Shades of Grey is Highly Disturbing. This is not the piece of culture I’d like going out to the world. Also, just a reminder, if you are actively afraid of your partner, as the woman protagonist in this book explicitly states several times, you should leave your relationship immediately. That is not sexy. I made myself laugh, though, when in the book the couple turned on the shower and then got distracted and started fooling around outside of the shower. I was horrified—DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH (fictional) WATER YOU ARE WASTING???? So that was my second moment of outrage, after the part where this book normalizes controlling and abusive behavior.
  • Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari
    • This book takes a lighthearted but data-driven approach to discussing romance in the modern world. I really enjoyed it—it spelled out some things I knew to be true but wouldn’t have been able to articulate. If you are interested in how romantic relationships (for middle-to-upper class straight people) are evolving, definitely read this book.
  • Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Gabriel Garcia Marquez ****
    • This book didn’t sit well with me. I live in a place where statutory rape is normalized and I don’t need it romanticized in my books as well. Luckily it is a short book.
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • Important book to read, especially today. At times I was uncomfortable reading this book, and I think that was a good thing. It puts a lot of thoughts that are difficult to express into eloquent words. My advice is, read the book. Even if part of it doesn’t sit well with you, keep reading. There were a couple of times where I was like “YOU AREN’T LOOKING AT THE WHOLE PICTURE!” and then whatever I thought was being left out was addressed later on.
  • Candide, Voltaire
    • This book is funny and relevant even though it is hundreds of years old. Proves that satire will never go out of style.
  • Fortune Smiles: Stories, Adam Johnson
    • A really interesting collection of short stories. Acts as a reminder that short fiction offers such refreshing little treats!
  • Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut
    • This book struck me as sad. I understand what it was driving at, but the future was so unimaginative, so sexist, and so far from what I perceive the reality to be today that it felt unnecessary and shallow.
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zuzak
    • This was a quick read that was emotionally stirring (but what holocaust book isn’t?) and full of beautiful prose. It is marketed as a “young adult” book, which tend to spell things out and be overly cheesy, so I almost didn’t read it, but I’m glad I did.