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Books I’ve Read This Summer

This Summer I’ve tried to watch almost no television and instead read a lot of books that have been on my shelf for a while. Some have been great, some not so much. Here’s a brief summary of what I’ve read so far:

Cork Dork – Bianca Bosker

An interesting book by a woman who tries to become a sommelier (wine expert). This book helped me think about how we taste and experience not just food, but life. It helped me learn to appreciate the food I eat more. I also realized that paying a lot of money for wine is usually worthless. Rating: 7/10

In the Lake of the Woods – Tim O’Brien

Reread. One of the most novel novels I have ever read (did you see what I did there?). A man’s wife goes missing. The book looks at all the different ways it could have happened. It reminds me that things are not always as they seem, and there are usually two (or three, or four) sides to every story. Rating: 9/10

The North Water – Ian McGuire

A very dark novel. A surgeon goes on a whaling ship and depraved humanity ensues. Just when you think it can get any more deranged, it does. I kept waiting for a ray of hope, but there really wasn’t one. This novel was a tough read, but kept me interested the whole time. Rating: 8/10

The Billion Dollar Spy – David Hoffman

The true story of one of the most prolific spies ever recruited by the U.S. from the U.S.S.R. It reads like a novel, but was true. Set during the Cold War, this book taught me a lot about how spies work and the danger they put themselves in. Rating: 8/10.

Narconomics – Tom Wainwright

Wainwright is an investigative journalist who looks at the drug trade from an economists standpoint. There were parts of the book that were fascinating, but a lot of it was dry. If you love economics, you’ll find this book interesting. If you love drugs well…Rating: 6/10

A Gathering of Old Men – Ernest J. Gaines

A horrible cajun farmer is shot in Louisiana and a group of elderly black men all gather together so no one will know who did it. This is good southern literature. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Rating: 8/10

What is the Bible – Rob Bell

I like Rob Bell’s writing. I don’t agree with every word, but it always makes me think. In this book he takes an interesting look at the Bible, how it was formed, how parts of it fit together, and more. The book taught me a lot of things about the Bible I didn’t already know. After a while it got repetitive, but it was worth the read. 7/10.

Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough

One of the most ridiculous books I’ve ever read. I’m not even going to describe it because I’m so mad at myself for even finishing this book. In fact, the last page took the ending in such an unbelievable way that I almost threw the book away right then. Instead, I’m going to use it as a fire starter this fall. 0/10

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a **** – Mark Manson

The premise of this book is that we only have so many “darns” to give in life, and we give them in the wrong places. The first part of this book got me thinking about what is really important in my life and led to some interesting discussion between Julia and me. The second half is very “self-helpy” (is that a word?), but still worth reading. 7/20/

A Lesson Before Dying – Ernest J. Gaines

A black man is unjustly convicted of a crime and sentenced to death. His mother wants the town teacher to “make him a man” before he is executed. It is a good picture of race relations from last century. Well worth reading. 9/10

Love to Stay – Adam Hamilton

Julia and I read this out loud together as we were driving on our trip this summer. It is a very simple relationship book, but it served it’s purpose to get us talking. Hamilton is his usual nerdy self, full of way too many facts and figures, but it’s still worth the read. 6/10.

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

I read this book years ago but saw it at the bookstore and decided to reread it. It is the autobiographical story of Didion’s first year after she suddenly lost her husband. It is a beautifully written book that talks about grief, loss, mourning, and the beginnings of redemption. If you have ever lost someone close to you, this book will be tough to read, but wonderfully meaningful. 10/10.

Fight Less, Love More – Laurie Puhn

This book should be titled How to Have Great Conversations with Your Partner.  Julia and I also read this book together on our trip. It is filled with short chapters that lead to really good conversations about your relationship. We are already applying a lot of what we have learned in our relationship. If you are in a relationship and want to make it stronger, this is a good book for you. Rating: 8/10

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