Book List

We intend to read a lot while we travel.  On this page we’ll share a bit about the (good) books we read. Also, if you’re not a member of your local library yet, check it out.  Our library has Kindle and other e-reader books for download/borrow, which is how we’ve been doing most of our reading while traveling. And be sure to fill out the form at the bottom of this page to give us recommendations from what you’ve been reading.  We’re always in the mood for a good book.

Book Who Read It Quick Take
2016
a-little-life Olivia I received a lot of respected recommendations to read this book that came with the disclaimer “it is so good but it is so sad.” Yes, both are true. It was a beautifully written book that brought the reader in, through, and around the deep struggles and inner workings of multiple characters. It challenged what it means to have a good life, and what this may look like for each of us.
cutting-for-stone Jason I’d been “reading” this book for over a year and finally finished it.  My pedestrian pace had nothing to do with the quality of writing, it is just a bit long and I needed to break it up with some lighter reads.  It was fun to finish it here, close to Ethiopia and very close to medicine in East Africa. The focus on physical exam was of particular interest. Verghese at his best.
the-pillars-of-the-earth Olivia I was a little late to the party on this one but better late than never. While the descriptions of church building were sometimes too detailed for my liking, the long story was the perfect mix of being fascinating enough to keep returning to it but not so fascinating that I was staying up past my bedtime. It almost felt like reading Game of Thrones, without all the sci-fi involved. A solidly entertaining book.
hotel-on-the-corner-cover Jason An excellent, moving, important book.  Recommended to me by many. It is amazing to think how little I knew about Japanese internment before reading.  And I appreciated the lyrical narrative introduction to what is an unbelievable part of US history, as opposed to a more removed historical non-fiction approach. Because those interned were Americans but also humans, not merely pieces of history.
the-light-of-the-world Olivia I knew nothing about this memoir except that came recommended. I started and found myself completely unprepared for the eloquent and moving portrayal of love, life and loss. The author brings you into the intimate moments of her love for her husband and the life they have built and subsequently also into the grieving for his sudden death. She takes us through her own process, that anyone who has lost someone they love dearly must attempt, of how to keep on living.
wright-brothers Jason I love David McCullough’s books.  But what I enjoyed most about this one was being reminded of how people used to write 100+ years ago, as excerpts from letters the brothers wrote are featured throughout.  There was a romance and purpose to language and communication that we’ve lost.  And inspiring stories about good people never get old.
fates Olivia The first book I’ve read by Groff and I’ll be back for more. A fascinating and surprisingly dark telling of a marriage between a man and woman, with many surprising twists and turns along the way. It is a ‘page turner'(although I listened via Audiobook so what is that?).
the lowland cover Olivia Jhumpa Lahiri eloquently parallels and then intertwines life in India and life in the US through the story of two Indian brothers. Through the platforms of love, politics, duty, gender roles, education and family is a beautiful narrative of finding one’s space of belonging in the world.
into africa cover Jason You may have heard the phrase “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”  Well this Dr. was an explorer who journeyed “Into Africa” in the 1800s by way of Zanzibar and what is now northern Tanzania.  It’s a fun read (especially if you’re traveling here) and gives some insight into the slave trade, highlights British and American popular interest in Africa in those days, and sets the stage for East Africa’s colonial history.
selfish shallow and self absorbed Olivia Sixteen different authors write about their lives without children, whether by intention or happenstance or something in between. It is a fascinating look at the history of the roles children and women have played in society and what that means in our modern context.  It effectively challenges the idea that either to have or not to have is selfish.
wild cover Jason (most recently) Jason: Olivia recommended this book long ago and I finally read it.  It was awesome. While reading I often felt incredibly moved and inspired to hone in on the important things in my life.  Any book that can claim such inspiration is worth a read. (Also if you listen to podcasts, check out Dear Sugar which features Cheryl giving advice to listeners)

Olivia: I love Cheryl and I love this book.

2015
all the light we cannot see cover Both of us Jason: a beautifully written work of fiction about two children from disparate backgrounds whose lives intertwine around the context of World War 2 in Europe. Doerr has a lyrical style that swept me up.  One of my favorite books from 2015.

Olivia: I do not like books about war but I loved this book. It is a powerful portrait of two young lives during WWII, demonstrating the capacity we all have for evil and good and the gray line that fills the space between.

americanah cover Both of us Jason: my favorite book in a long time. If you haven’t read it you should.  A fictional story about an African living in the US and offers incredible insight into what being black, but not African-American, is like in the US.  Mind-expanding to the core.

Olivia: An eloquently written, insightful novel that explores what it means to be a black female in America. No words can summarize how Ngozi Adichie artfully tells a story that at once is only hers (the main character) and yet all of ours.


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