JAN 26, 2018
Now that all the drama over Fire and Fury has started to subside, life in the world of nonfiction seems to be getting back to normal. This week I’ve got a couple of new books – one that I’ve actually read! – along with news about the Best American series and an award going to a very deserving doctor.
But before we jump in, make sure you enter our giveaway for your very own library cart! Enter here!
Sponsored by Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old by John Leland, published by Sarah Crichton Books – FSG
The New York Times journalist John Leland set out to meet some of the city’s oldest inhabitants for a series on America’s fastest-growing age group: those over eighty-five. He wondered: Is there a threshold at which life is no longer worth living? The six elders Leland interviewed took him in a different direction. Beyond illuminating what it’s like to be old, physically and materially, they provided a life-changing education in resilience and joy. Happiness Is a Choice You Make is a rare, intimate glimpse into the end of life, and the insight that can enhance the years preceding. What he finds is deeply heartening: Even as our faculties decline, we still wield extraordinary influence over the quality of our lives. Happiness is a choice we make.
New Books, Read and On My Radar
The Milk Lady of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan – Woo, it’s a new book that I’ve read and can officially endorse! After years in New York, Narayan and her husband decide to move back to India to raise their daughters. Soon, Narayan develops a relationship with the woman who sells fresh cow’s milk across the street, Sarala. They become friends, of a sort, and the relationship leads Narayan to explore the role milk and cows play in Indian culture. I thought this book was an engaging and funny cultural history of a subject that I didn’t know I was excited to learn about. I wish Narayan had done a little more to interrogate some of the economic disparities that were part of her neighborhood, but that’s a quibble with an otherwise excellent book.
Swearing Is Good for You by Emma Byrne – I am in for a book of popular science on the benefits of swearing. In the book, Byrne explores recent research on swearing – why we like to do it and what it can tell us about other humans. Swearing, as you may have guessed, has a long history, and a range of possible benefits to from trauma recovery to increased cooperation. Sounds like a damn good read!
Editors for Best American Series announced
I am so psyched that Cheryl Strayed will be guest editing the 2018 edition of Best American Travel Writing from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Theater critic Hilton Als will be overseeing the Essays book, and food critic Ruth Reichl will edit a new edition on Food Writing.
Paul Farmer recognized by National Academy of Sciences
Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, has been awarded the 2018 Public Welfare Medal by the National Academy of Sciences. Farmer’s name may ring a bell if you’ve read Tracy Kidder’s 2003 book Mountains Beyond Mountains. In it, Kidder writes about PIH and the organization’s work fighting tuberculosis in Haiti, Peru and Russia. Farmer also wrote extensively about his work in Haiti and what was needed to help that country following a devastating 2010 natural disaster in the book Haiti: After the Earthquake. Both books are excellent, but Mountains Beyond Mountains is the more narrative of the two, if that’s your reading preference.
Great Bookish Deals
It’s another week of great memoirs in Kindle Deals. A few of my favorites are:

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Happy reading everyone! – Kim

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Jacquelynn Burke

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