Book Log

Colleen Gordon

Course Log



John Gordon

Photo Gallery


Colleen Gordon
Deb Cooper
Heather Gordon

Books I Read in 2015

January, 2015
Swamplandia! Karen Russell
    Original. Imaginative. Creepy at times.
The Unnamed Joshua Ferris
    Profoundly moving, tragic tale. Progressive psychiatric illness relentlessly drags a bright attorney away from his family into a wandering homelessness.
The Triple Package Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld
    Two Yale Law School professors argue convincingly that, in the U.S., a minority group is disproportionately successful to the degree that it has the triple package: a sense of group superiority, a deep feeling of insecurity and well-practiced impulse control.
A Map of Betrayal Ha Jin
    Examines the stressful life of a Chinese spy, a mole, working in the US CIA, and it's profound impact on his family members in both countries. Told very effectively by two voices that alternate chapters.
February, 2015
Katharine Leslie Audrey White Beyer
    Read to my two older sons. Fine piece of historical fiction. Katharine, a young governess, wrongly jailed in England, escapes to a new life in Maine, and joins the rebel cause after witnessing the burning of Falmouth by British warships in 1775.
The Soul Thief Charles Baxter
    Powerful thought provoker. Forgiveness is everything.
Money, Master the Game Anthony Robbins
    Inspirational. Think, evaluate, save, invest, allocate, diversify, give, grow and enjoy a permanent income for a full and fulfilling life.
Excellent Sheep, The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life William Deresiewicz
    An overgrowth of his internet viral essay "The Disadvantages of an Elite Higher Education." Makes a few good points, but critically weakened by a overarching, exaggerated and almost whining cynicism regarding everything about our top colleges (especially Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford) and the culture that supports them; while offering little in the way of workable suggestions for improvement. "Is there anything I can do, a lot of young people have written to ask me, to avoid becoming an out-of-touch, entitled little shit. I don't have a satisfying answer, short of telling you to transfer to a public university."
The Drama of the Gifted Child, The Search for the True Self Alice Miller translated (German) by Ruth Ward
    1979. Exploration with examples of the idea that current psychological difficulties develop from repressed traumatic interactions with the mothering parent during infancy.
The Newlyweds Nell Freudenberger
    Very superior story-telling. Irresistible story.
Chasing the Scream, The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs Johann Hari
    Great journalism. Thoroughly annotated. It's long past time to end the war on drugs.
March, 2015
The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway
    One of our greatest stories. Read aloud to my two older sons.
To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
    Classic meditation on life and death, men and women, pain and forgiveness, grief and acceptance.
Burning Down the House, Essays on Fiction Charles Baxter
    Musings of a master.
April, 2015
Honeydew Edith Pearlman
    Outstanding, profound, delicious.
The Harder They Come T.C. Boyle
    Profoundly gripping tale from one of our best!
May, 2015
The Collected Stories Grace Paley
    Funny, serious stories. Paley may be the William Faulkner of New York City.
God Help the Child Toni Morrison
    Gripping if a bit gruesome.
Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
    The autotelic self sets goals, becomes immersed in the activity and pays attention to what is happening.
Prayers for the Stolen Jennifer Clement
    In rural Mexico, mothers pretend their girls are boys, then very ugly girls, attempting, all too often in vain, to avoid their being "stolen" to become slave-mistresses to the drug traffickers who still control too much of that county. Scary story, very well told.
Drive Daniel H. Pink
    Let's replace carrots and sticks with autonomy, mastery and purpose.
June, 2015
Moon Over Manifest Clare Vanderpool
    Superior piece of historical fiction for young readers. 2011 Newbery Award winner. Read to my two older sons.
The Wives of Los Alamos TaraShea Nesbit
    Wonderful little piece of historical fiction told in first person plural. Their husbands were secretly creating the first atomic bomb.
The Ambassadors Henry James
    Classic thought-provoking tale of our friend Strether on his mission in Paris.
Time of the Locust Morowa Yejide
    Very impressive first novel, 2012 Pen/Bellwether Prize finalist, successfully blends elements of historical fiction, personal tragedy and dreamlike fantasy.
July, 2015
Once A Runner John L. Parker, Jr.
    Best story about running! What it feels like to be a young, serious, top notch, competitive miler.
The Road to Character David Brooks
    1. We live for holiness (purpose, righteousness, virtue), not happiness. 2. Know that we are flawed creatures. 3. We have the capacity to struggle with ourselves and overcome sin. 4. In this struggle, humility is the greatest virtue. 5. Pride is the central vice. 6. The struggle against sin and for virtue is the central drama of life. 7. Character is the set of desires and habits built during the struggle against your weaknesses. You become more disciplined and loving. 8. Character traits endure: courage, honesty, humility. We are able to love unconditionally and commit permanently. 9. We cannot do it alone. We need God, family, friends, rules, traditions. 10. We are ultimately saved by grace. You are accepted. Grateful. 11. Defeating weakness means quieting yourself. Requires self-effacement-reticence, modesty, obedience to a larger thing-and a capacity for reverence and admiration. 12. Wisdom starts with epistemological modesty. Experience is a better teacher than pure reason. 13. A good life must be organized around a vocation. Look outside yourself and recognize what life is asking of you. Focus on being excellent at work that you are called to do and that is intrinsically compelling. 14. A wise leader is a steward who tries to pass his organization along in a slightly improved condition. 15. Struggling successfully against weakness and sin leads to maturity. A settled unity of purpose.
The Island of the Blue Dolphins Scott O'Dell
    Wonderful children's book based on the true story of a young Nicoleno Native American girl left alone on San Nicolas Island for 18 years. Newbery Award winner, 1961. Read aloud to my sons.
John Quincy Adams, American Visionary Frank Kaplan
    Superb piece of work! Like looking over the shoulder of John Quincy Adams and experiencing history unfold.
As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
    Classic story of the poor farmer family of Anse Bundren and the death and eventual burial of his wife, Addie. Anse and his children and some others alternately relate their unique, personal perspective on the unfortunate misadventures they suffer as they struggle for many days and nights to cart Addie's coffin in a mule-driven wagon to her chosen burial place.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold John Le Carre'
    Great, gripping spy thriller!
August, 2015
Angle of Repose Wallace Stegner
    Excellent story within a story. Both compelling. Are you man enough to forgive?
Because of Winn-Dixie Kate DiCamillo
    Warm, moving story about 10-year-old Opal, deserted by her mother, learning to survive and make friends in a new town with her preacher father. Read to my two sons.
Plainsong Kent Haruf
    Irresistible page turner! Haruf surrounds us with unforgettable characters and tells their story with language elegantly simple but precisely accurate.
The Social Animal, The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement David Brooks
    Enjoyable way to review lots of fascinating insights in psychology and sociology by applying them to the lives of a realistic fictional couple.
September, 2015
Benediction Kent Haruf
    Beautiful, sad, moving story, very well told.
Dead End in Norvelt Jack Gantos
    Excellent, funny, rewarding book read to my two oldest sons.
Updike Adam Begley
    Thoroughly marvelous piece of work looks closely into and discusses openly the life and work of one of America's most prolific writers. A must-read for all serious John Updike fans.
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
    Yes! Superior story telling. Unforgettable characters.
The Year of Billy Miller Kevin Henkes
    Heart warmer read to my sons.
October, 2015
The Naked and the Dead Norman Mailer
    Classic masterpiece. Best WW II novel. Very honest and compassionate.
Our Souls at Night Kent Haruf
    A beautiful, sad, hopeful little story, so simply, directly, perfectly told.
Voices from Chernobyl, The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Svetlana Alexievich
    National Book Critics Circle Award winner, 2005. Profoundly moving work based on interviews taken a few years after the event by the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
    National Book Award finalist, 2014. Superior page turner. Life before and after a deadly virus wipes out more that 99% of us.
The Desire Map, A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul Danielle LaPorte The Sacrifice Joyce Carol Oates
    Very good page-turner. Fictional re-telling of the Tawana Brawley story.
The Fishermen Chigozie Obioma
    Cursed by a homeless madman, a Nigerian family suffers tragic losses. Gripping.
November, 2015
A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara
    Yanagihara wants us to feel that his extraordinary characters really exist. Even the brilliant, but permanently traumatized, self-mutilating Jude St. Francis. He succeeds masterfully!
Redeployment Phil Klay
    Former Marine who served in Iraq telling it like it is with this fine collection of hard-hitting stories!
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China Evan Osnos
    Very fine piece of work, based on 8 years of in-depth study in China, from New Yorker writer Osnos.
Smaller and Smaller Circles F.H. Batacan
    Two priests help the NBI find a serial killer. Debut novel, winner of the Philippine National Book Award.
Quicksand Steve Tolz
    Wow! Quite a trip!
December, 2015
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate Jacqueline Kelly
    Very nice story of budding girl scientist in 1899 Texas. Read to my two oldest sons.
A Brief History of Seven Killings Marlon James
    Jamaican drug gangs, their dons and associates at home and abroad in Miami and New York. Told like it is from several inside points of view. "If it no go so, it go near so."
Lovely, Dark, Deep Joyce Carol Oates
    Wonderful collection of unforgettable, poignant stories from the brilliant, inimitable Joyce Carol Oates! "It is the purity of desire, that requires another person to coax it into blooming."

Greg Gordon MD, CFII