NEW: A Comrade Lost and Found: A Beijing Memoir by Jan Wong
Jan Wong was a starry-eyed Maoist in 1972, one of the first two Westerners allowed to study in China as the Cultural Revolution was about to end. She made a snap decision to turn in a fellow student, only to realize years later that her action likely impacted this student in ways she hadn't intended. As a reporter 30 years later, she decided to make a pilgrimage back to Beijing to find this student and come to terms with her action. Wong's sharp wit and unique perspective on her ancestral homeland make her journey worth following.
Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy by Carlos Eire
This is a well-written memoir by a participant in the 14,000 child Pedro Pan Cuban child refugee program, a poignant coming-of-age tale during trying circumstances. While the author seems to have come through the experience reasonably whole though profoundly changed, his brother did not. A book that caused me to reflect on fate, family, and how much of our own destiny we control.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Simply the best book I’ve ever read, this memoir by Jeannette Walls recounts her beyond eccentric family’s story. You follow her feelings for her parents, which start with an almost magical love, then move to frustration with her move to adolescence, and end with ambivalence with her adult maturity. Compellingly written, this book was on the NY Times bestseller list for 100 weeks.
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Fascinating case studies of brain damage and disorder shared by physician and professor of neurology and psychiatry Sacks with a combination of scientific interest and a physician’s compassion.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Another NY Times bestseller, the true story of how a computer science professor faced his last months with the pancreatic cancer that would take his life makes us re-examine how we are living our own.
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Written by the author of the best-selling Tuesdays With Morrie, Albom tells the true story of his childhood rabbi’s request to have him deliver his eulogy. Having drifted from the faith of his youth, we follow the author on his adult journey to discover his rabbi’s faith and, in the process, rediscover his own.
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell
Attacked by bloggers based on early publicity, Bell’s book jumped to #6 on Amazon weeks before it was even available. Passing a message that God’s love is so overpowering that He may allow everyone who chooses it to enter heaven. Bell uses a combination of biblical scripture and compassionate logic to make his case, his book makes you re-examine long-held ideas.
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
For someone with Christian leanings and ready for a step-by-step walk through a faith journey, The Purpose Driven Life helps guide toward a deeper belief and meaningful life. This is a great gift book for someone ill or struggling through a personally challenging time.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The first novel by this physician of internal medicine creates unforgettable characters in exotic Ethiopia. Amazing medical detail weaves throughout the story, but as an integral part and not a distraction. Though over 500 pages, I couldn’t put it down and finished it in two days.
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence of Belief by Francis S. Collins
Written by the physician-geneticist who led the project which decoded the human genome, Dr. Collins is also a professed Christian who sees evidence of God in the findings of his profession. He has called mathematics and genetics “the language of God.” This book explores some of that possible evidence and why he believes science and faith can easily co-exist.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
I had never read the classic as a child, but it was free on my Kindle. For a novel written over 150 years ago, the language is not dated and the characters are richly and memorably portrayed. Credited with helping promote support for the anti-slavery movement, its author deliberately takes on its target indirectly, with some slaveholders characterized almost benevolently. But take on its target it does, leaving readers with no doubt of the inhumanity in the practice.
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