The Carry Home by Gary Ferguson (2014)

A stunningly beautiful book, The Carry Home is the chronicling of Gary Ferguson's grief after his wife Jane dies in a canoeing accident, but it's also a story of life in nature, of environmentalism, the culture of the West, of wanderlust, and what it means to truly love. Spending much of their lives trekking around… Continue reading The Carry Home by Gary Ferguson (2014)

Evicted by Matthew Desmond (2016)

I'm not sure what was most shocking about this book and its comprehensive story of eviction: the squalid conditions that many urban poor live in or the shockingly high rents they pay for these conditions or the percentage of their income that goes toward rent (sometimes as high as 80+%) or the number of people… Continue reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond (2016)

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (2017)

Alice McDermott is a beautiful writer.  That sounds cheesy, I know.  But The Ninth Hour had the exact same effect on me as Charming Billy: I could not put it down. Yet it's not a thriller, it's not melodramatic, and it's not a skim-get-to-the-end-quickly type of book. Rather, her understated, poetic approach to detail pulls… Continue reading The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (2017)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

A Gentleman in Moscow is a gem of a book that could be just as easily double as a self-help book about how to live life with a positive attitude despite challenging circumstances. The mere suggestion of the self-help genre would undoubtedly ruin the experience, but thematically, it fits.  This novel about a Russian aristocrat, Count… Continue reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potuk (1972)

I've never taught this book, and as an English teacher, I'm a bit embarrassed to say I've not read it until now. I do know this: there is no way I could have appreciated this book as a student the way I can as a parent. I'm sure some students would really like it, but… Continue reading My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potuk (1972)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (2014)

This might be the most important book I've read this year.  Paired with Ta-Nehisi Coates's  Between the World and Me, these two memoirs offer a raw and brutal lens with which to examine race in America.  As a recent Harvard Law graduate in the 1980s, Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a firm based in… Continue reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (2014)

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (2013)

Before reading this book, I knew next to nothing about Chechnya aside from the fact that it was in a seemingly constant battle for independence from Russia.  And in some ways, I guess that's still what it's known as: a republic that would like to be independent of Russia except that it can't seem to… Continue reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (2013)