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Books I Read in 2013

January, 2013
The Song of Achilles Madeline Miller
    Brilliant first novel. Orange Prize 2012 fiction winner. The story of Achilles told by his love, Patroclus. Couldn't put it down. Yes, Achilles is gay.
Canada Richard Ford
    Good, thought-provoking read.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union Michael Chabon
    Chabon is one of our great American novelists. This one has it all: murder mystery, down-and-out lovable good guy hero cop, humor, international intrigue, religion, chess, and love sweet love - all sown together so very eloquently. "She looked like hell, only hotter."
Telegraph Avenue Michael Chabon
    Superb new (2012) novel by master Chabon. Does so much and so well. Entertains and illuminates. Can a white writer write black? Chabon shows that skin color has been socially and culturally defining, but is fundamentally irrelevant. We need more work like this. Selected fun features: black pantropy, blaxploitation, maumau, appearance by Barack Obama, Oakland, midwifery, nostalgia, father-son fighting and forgiveness across generations, lots of great music and an experiment that succeeds surprisingly well: the third chapter, 12 pages long, is one sentence!
February, 2013
Married Love and Other Stories Tessa Hadley
    Wonderful. Hadley just seems to know us all oh so well.
How Children Succeed Paul Tough
    Well-referenced, engaging and cogent. To graduate from college and get better jobs, our kids need, not just academic, cognitive skills, but character: grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, optimism, curiosity, conscientiousness, resilience, perseverance and gratitude. And they need a good start, in infancy, with the establishment of a strong attachment relationship with a loving parent or two.
Werewolves In Their Youth Michael Chabon
    Nine good stories.
March, 2013
The Best American Short Stories 2011 eds. Geraldine Brooks and Heidi Pitlor
    All good. Especially liked the stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman, Allegra Goodman, Bret Anthony Johnston, Claire Keegan, Richard Powers and Jess Row.
The Round House Louise Erdrich
    Most recent gripping page-turner from the inimitable Erdrich. 2012 National Book Award winner.
The Final Solution, A Story of Detection Michael Chabon
    Fascinating little gem.
The Best American Short Stories 2005 eds. Katrina Kenison and Michael Chabon
    Twenty entertaining stories.
The Echo Makers Richard Powers
    National Book Award winner. Real thought-provoking page-turner.
April, 2013
A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children James T. Webb, Ph.D, Janet L. Gore, M.Ed., Edward R. Amend, Psy.D., Arlene R. DeVries, M.S.E
    Excellent. Best of breed reference that should be on the shelf of every family with a gifted child.
Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides
    Pulitzer Prize winner. Told by an intersex person with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency who was raised as a girl until age fourteen when when he decided that he was a boy.
Salvage the Bones Jesmyn Ward
    National Book Award Winner 2011. Rural Mississippi young teen girl and her family, motherless, living with poverty, alcoholism, unplanned pregnancy, lose almost everything to hurricane Katrina but not their love and hope for themselves and each other. Great novel. Feels like a classic. Comparisons to Faulkner not overdone; Ward may know her characters just as deeply, and tells it all just like it is.
May, 2013
The Best American Short Stories 2012 eds. Heidi Pitlor and Tom Perrotta
    Twenty entertaining stories. Especially liked the stories by George Saunders, Carol Anshaw, Roxane Gay, Jennifer Haigh, Lawrence Osborne, Taiye Selasi, Sharon Solwitz and Kate Walbert.
Antarctica Claire Keegan
    Impressive debut (1999) story collection by a very talented writer.
June, 2013
Shadow Country Peter Matthiessen
    A merciless masterpiece. Epic saga of infamous cane-farmer and gun-slinger E.J. Watson on the southwestern Florida frontier around the turn of the twentieth century. National Book Award winner, 2008.
Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl
    Read it, a chapter a night, to my 3 & 5 year-old sons. Perfect! Young Danny tells about his life and adventures with his sparky Dad. Happy Father's Day!
Killing Lincoln Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
    Well told.
Wheat Belly William Davis, MD
    Cardiologist, medical director of Track Your Plaque, discusses lots of evidence that modern, genetically modified dwarf wheat is perhaps the most important cause of our current epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. That the decades-old advice to eat "healthy whole grain" wheat is a dangerous mistake. In fact, wheat (and several other high-glycemic-index foods) should be eliminated from our diets and replaced with healthy real (not processed) foods. See also the wheatbellyblog.
Tenth of December George Saunders
    Ten stories. Original. Inimitable. Hilarious. Satirical. Loved 'em all.
And the Mountains Echoed Khaled Hosseini
    Very superior story-telling. Another gem, at least as good as his The Kite Runner. Shows that love can live, not only over great distances and periods of time, but also across generations!
July, 2013
Carry the One Carol Anshaw
    Moving page-turner. Group of family and friends find their lives permanently redirected after accidentally hitting and killing a young girl pedestrian while they drove home from a wedding party.
The Paleo Diet for Athletes Loren Cordain PhD and Joe Friel MS
    Classic Paleo plus appropriate carbohydrates before, during and after significant endurance work. Sweet potatoes the night before the race. Fruit, dried fruit and sports drinks.
Mrs. Kimble Jennifer Haigh
    Irresistible page-turner won PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction.
Baker Towers Jennifer Haigh
    Very good read.
The Forgiven Lawrence Osborne
    Bad-luck couple in a stale marriage run over and kill a Moroccan desert fossil picker on a night-time drinking drive to a select group of well-to-do partiers. Feel the heat inside and out. Very good read. Surprising but somehow fitting ending.
Faith Jennifer Haigh
    Priest falsely accused of molesting a child. OK, but no Mrs. Kimble.
August, 2013
Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime and the Era of Catholic Scandal Michael D'Antonio
    Fine piece of work. Sad, but true tale of many years of sexual abuse of our children by almost 6% of Catholic priests. The characteristic response of the Church has been to try to cover up and hide those crimes, withhold relevant information and documents, attempt to silence the accusers and repeatedly transfer the child molesters to new parishes where they go on to molest more children. Let's pray that new Pope Francis listens to God and helps make some long-needed major changes in the Church.
Nemesis Philip Roth
    Admirable, exasperating, tragic Bucky Cantor deals with guilt, fear, love and death during and after a 1940's polio epidemic in Newark. Very good read.
The Birchbark House Louise Erdrich
    Read this beautiful book to my sons over several weeks. Simple and profound. Touched our hearts.
The Paleo Diet, Revised Edition - Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
    Eat the foods our bodies have been genetically programmed to eat - the foods eaten by our Paleolithic ancestor hunter-gatherers: lean meats, fish, seafood, fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Not cereals, legumes, dairy or processed foods. See thepaleodiet.com.
The Secrets of Happy Families Bruce Feiler
    Fun and informative. Adapt all the time. Talk - a lot. Go out and play.
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity Andrew Solomon
    Profoundly moving masterpiece! Product of 10-years of study involving multiple interviews of hundreds of families. Solomon compassionately and humanely relates the stories of parents with children whose marked differences forced them to identify or be identified "horizontally" with others outside of their own family. What do we do when our child is born with or develops deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disability, prodigious musical brilliance, or is a product of rape, begins a life of crime, or convincingly claims to have been born the wrong gender? Solomon transparently begins and ends the book with his own story. "Sometimes, I had thought the heroic parents in this book were fools, enslaving themselves to a life's journey with their alien children, trying to breed identity out of misery. I was startled to learn that my research had built me a plank, and that I was ready to join them on their ship." Love for our children is nearly the strongest emotion that we know. Love. That's why and how it works.
A Short History of Women Kate Walbert
    Intimate glimpses at various times forward and backward into the lives of some quite interesting ladies belonging to several generations of the same family. Very well done.
NW Zadie Smith
    Loved it! Share the lives of several flawed but irresistible northwest Londoners.
Tampa Alissa Nutting
    First person story of attractive young Celeste who chose her profession as a middle school teacher so that she would have ample opportunity to pursue her obsession - sex with fourteen-year old boys. Quite a page-turner, though some parts are just not quite believable enough.
September, 2013
The DASH Diet Action Plan Marla Heller, MS, RD
    Full of practical tips to help you follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Eat fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meat, poultry, fish, some nuts and beans and some grains. Portion control important. See dashdiet.org
On Beauty Zadie Smith
    Fell in love with all the characters, so humanely and thoughtfully crafted by the brilliant Ms. Smith.
My Education Susan Choi
    Very well done, hard-to-put-down page-turner. Just a bit too much alcohol abuse on the part of too many of the otherwise completely convincing and very likable main characters.
White Teeth Zadie Smith
    Playful, poignant, hilarious, warm.
October, 2013
Transatlantic Colum McCann
    Masterful. Artful. Ireland and America, historical fact and fiction, past and present, old and new generations all woven together most gracefully.
The Noon Demon, An Atlas of Depression Andrew Solomon
    Must read for one suffering from depression, caring for someone with depression or treating depression.
The Condition Jennifer Haigh
    Thoroughly satisfying story.
November, 2013
The Five Love Languages Gary Chapman
    Some good ideas.
Hateship, Friendship, Loveship, Courtship, Marriage Alice Munro
    One of our best storytellers!
The Best American Short Stories 2013 ed Elizabeth Strout

Storm Runners, Eruption Roland Smith
    Good to read to two young boys.
News from Heaven Jennifer Haigh

Death is Not an Option Suzanne Rivecca
    Great new talent! Piercingly perceptive.
December, 2013
The Suicide Index, Putting My Father's Death in Order Joan Wickersham
    Moving memoir.
Checkmate Tactics Garry Kasparov
    Good stuff for serious players.
Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver

The Magician's Elephant Kate DiCamillo
    Beautiful, moving story to read aloud to your children.
The News From Spain, 7 Variations on a Love Story Joan Wickersham
    Seven unique, luscious vignettes by a very talented writer.
Ghana Must Go Taiye Selasi
    Impressive, huge first novel!
Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family Dr. Peggy Drexler
    Psychology professor discusses her interviews with various, generally successful, women, that focus on interesting aspects of the daughter-father relationship.

Greg Gordon MD, CFII