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Books I Read in 2017

January, 2017
Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis J.D. Vance
    Important new voice speaks for our white working-class poor.
Settle for More Megyn Kelly
    Good read!
The Fortunes Peter Ho Davies
    Wow! A brilliant masterpiece! History and fiction woven gracefully together in four parts, epic, yet intimately personal. Davies' language often sings so musically it must be read aloud. Any American can recognize essential parts of himself in this Chinese-American immigrant story. "What else can we represent if not ourselves, however uncertain or contradictory those selves might be?"
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Marie Kondo
    Inspirational. Keep only what "sparks joy!"
Moonglow Michael Chabon
    Clever combination of memoir and novel, fact and fiction, real and imagined.
Drug Dealer, MD Anna Lembke MD
    Excellent, well referenced, analysis of how our faltering health care system is driving the current prescription drug addiction epidemic. A clarion call for major change.
February, 2017
The Little Red Chairs Edna O'Brien
    Amazing piece of work. Charming. Frightening. Captivating.
Human Acts Han Kang
    Finely crafted historical fiction, remembering the massacre at Gwangju, South Korea in May, 1980.
Lila Marilynne Robinson
    Superb! Lila's deeply moving story is one of sorrow and joy, loss and love, a search for meaning that touches the peace that passeth all understanding.
The Sellout Paul Beatty
    Clever, comedic demonstration of the absurd insanity of racism. Winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize.
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life Yiyun Li
    Recommended reading for all writers and readers! Profound. Deeply personal. Li shares words about literature and life, often in a private language that helps bring us closer together.
March, 2017
Hot Milk Deborah Levy
    Serious fun. Short-listed for 2016 Man Booker Prize.
The Boat Rocker Ha Jin
    Good, but missing something?
The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen
    Eight powerfully poignant stories about our refugees from Viet Nam. More strong work from Mr. Nguyen.
Outline Rachel Cusk
    Interesting development of character through interactions, especially conversations, with other characters.
Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
    Excellent work, thoroughly referenced, very well written! We become experts through deliberate practice!
Black River S.M. Hulse
    Wow! Ms. Hulse has built a dazzling debut novel! Winner of the 2015 Reading the West Book Award. A 2016 PEN/Hemingway Finalist.
All That Man Is David Szalay
    Insightful looks into nine characters from youth to old age. Well done.
Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens Laszlo Krasznahorkai
    Lamenting the loss of ancient Chinese culture.
April, 2017
A Book of American Martyrs Joyce Carol Oates
    Close look how the abortion issue can inspire violence with profound personal consequences. Good read.
Transit Rachel Cusk
    Good stuff. Relationships, life, in transit.
The Power of Meaning, Crafting a Life That Matters Emily Esfahani Smith
    Well done. We need belonging, purpose, storytelling and transcendence to give our lives meaning.
The School Days of Jesus J.M. Coetzee
    Well spun allegorical tale of child rearing.
The Girls Emma Cline
    Well written debut novel. Shades of Charles Manson's girls.
Selection Day Aravind Adiga
    Even a notch better that his debut novel, The White Tiger, which won the Man Booker Prize in '08.
Autumn Ali Smith
    Wonderfully told story of an unlikely but especially warm and influential relationship.
May, 2017
Man's Search for Meaning Victor E. Frankl
    Frankl writes of his Nazi concentration camp experiences and the principles of logotherapy. Meaning can be found even in suffering.
The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness Todd Rose
    Very well written and referenced. We need to move from averagarianism to individualism in business and education. Key principles of individualism: talent is always jagged, behavior depends on context, and there are many different pathways to competence. Key concepts to individualize education: grant credentials not diplomas, replace grades with competency, and let students determine their educational pathway.
Public Library Ali Smith
    Good words and stories in support of our public libraries.
How To Be Both Ali Smith
    Refreshingly original. Sensitive. Observant. Compassionate.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
    Sandberg shares her personal story and those of others in dealing with the death of a loved one or with other major adversity. Beware the three P's: personalization, pervasiveness and permanence. Teach your children these four core beliefs of resilient kids: 1) they have some control over their lives, 2) they can learn from failure, 3) they matter as human beings, and 4) they have real strengths to rely on and share.
Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence Andy Molinsky, Ph.D.
    Move out of your comfort zone using the tools of conviction, customization and clarity.
June, 2017
Stretch Scott Sonenshein
    Stop chasing stuff and start stretching what you have. Just say no. Find a sleeping beauty. Go explore. Take a break. Pick new neighbors. Appreciate. Shop your closet. Plan backward. Scramble the back row. Make midyear resolutions. Break it down. Turn trash into treasure. Any map will do.
Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State Ali Soufan
    Good, detailed, well-referenced analysis by a former FBI special agent. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are manifestations of dangerous Salafi-jihadism. To help counter the threat we need to expose its basic hypocrisy, and spread a new narrative based on the truth.
The Penderwicks Jeanne Birdsall
    Wonderful story. Read aloud to two sons. National Book Award winner.
Hotel World Ali Smith
    Award winning tale, told by five unique voices connected by an sudden accidental death.
The Forever War Dexter Filkins
    Excellent inside tale of the disastrous Iraq war, told by an award winning journalist.
True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey
    The exciting adventures of 19th-century Australian bushranger and outlaw, Ned Kelly, and his gang, as might be told by Kelly himself. 2001 Booker Prize winner.
July, 2017
Compass Mathias Enard, translated (French) by Charlotte Mandell
    Deep, sophisticated, intelligent, subtle, informative, romantic, brilliant. Prix Goncourt winner. Man Booker short list.
August, 2017
Judas Amos Oz, translated (Hebrew) by Nicholas de Lange
    Excellent. Wonderful story telling with thoughtful historical and religious analyses. Was Judas the first and, perhaps, the last true Christian?
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry Niel deGrasse Tyson
    We are part of an awesome universe full of mysteries!
September, 2017
Flight Sherman Alexie
    Flashes of historical fiction woven together into a story told with sensitivity enough to make us laugh and cry at the same time.
The Feast of Love Charles Baxter
    At least as good on second reading!
Blue Window Deborah Gordon Cooper
    Cooper shows us that every little, ordinary thing holds beauty and profound meaning!
Fates and Furies Lauren Groff
    Very well done!
October, 2017
The Cold War, A World History Odd Arne Westad
    Superb, clear picture of how the Cold War significantly impacted much of our planet.
Forest Dark Nicole Krauss
    Excellent. Parallel stories about two characters distracted by life in their search for meaning.
Hue 1968, A Turning Point in the American War in Vietnam Mark Bowden
    A fine masterwork! Puts the reader right into the thick of things, politically and militarily.
Different Hours Stephen Dunn
    Fine collection of poems. Clear, honest, human.
Saul and Patsy Charles Baxter
    Pleasant read. Baxter's characters are real.
November, 2017
The Forsyte Saga John Galsworthy
    Brilliant piece of work! Superb characterization of sad, pitiful, determined, introverted, little-loved Soames Forsyte.
The History of Love Nicole Krauss
    Wonderfully imagined and artfully constructed novel with parallel stories that intersect so sweetly in the end. 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction finalist. 2008 winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for fiction.
December, 2017
Born on a Blue Day Daniel Tammet
    Interesting autobiographical sketch by a brilliant autistic (Asperger) savant.
The Red-Haired Woman Orhan Pamuk
    Modern middle eastern Oedipus by a nobel laureate. Life follows myth.
Manhattan Beach Jennifer Egan
    Great read. Irresistible characters.
Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng
    Tragic tale of an almost unbelievably dysfunctional family dealing with the rather mysterious death of a teen age daughter.
The Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans Josh Shipp
    Great, helpful resource for anyone who cares about teens. See joshshipp.com.
Great House Nicole Krauss
    Thoroughly compelling gem of a story.
Moving Kings Joshua Cohen
    Masterfully told, poignant tale of tragic immigrant failure, homemade in New York City.

Greg Gordon MD, CFII