I'm compiling this list in spite of having lost a semester's worth of time to read. In the order I read them:
"On the Way to the Wedding," Julia Quinn: I still cast my mind back to this one every now and again. Yes, it's a cheesy romance novel, but it's a good one.
"The Year of Living Biblically," A. J. Jacobs: What it means to be a (Judeo-Christian) human being.
"Three Cups of Tea," Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin: I know this has been out for a while, but as I wrote after I read it, "Do you care less about 'why they hate us' than what we can do to get them to stop? Read this book."
"The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence," Gavin de Becker: I quote from (and think about) this book all the time. Read it because it (the book itself) is smart.
"Highway to Hell: Dispatches from a Mercenary in Iraq," John Geddes: I kind of had a crush on him by the end of the book.
"The Story of Edgar Sawtelle," David Wroblewski: A big story, about people that seem stunningly real.
"Madame de Staël: The First Modern Woman," Francine du Plessix Gray: You gotta love a feisty lady, especially a REAL feisty lady who was super-advanced for her time.
"The Book of Lost Things," John Connolly: A lovely, intense reminder of when fairy tales were scary, and how kids' fantasy lives can seem (and be) more real than their actual lives.
"An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England," Brock Clarke: Excellent and funny and heartbreaking.
"Lamb," Christopher Moore: Apparently I'm a sucker for books that gently mock Christianity.
Perennial recommendation: The "Pink Carnation" series: Historical AND romantic AND mysterious AND smart AND funny. If you can't find anything redeeming about these books you are dumb and boring.
And my most awesomely terrible:
"The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich," Timothy Ferriss: This is maybe my favorite review I've written all year.
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