When the temperature begins to drop and the leaves begin to change, I find myself spending more time indoors, curled on my sofa with a good book and a mug of hot cider. While I have my favorite page-turners, I love discovering new titles and authors. When I’m in need of a new book, I turn to two self-described bookworms at Room & Board: Paul Bartlett, Delivery Market Manager and Vance Olivier, Retail Facilities Manager. We asked each of them to share their five most recent reads and what they thought about them.
- The Séance by John Harwood is an outstanding modern example of the Victorian Suspense novel. Harwood mixes in mystery, horror and Spiritualism to create a satisfying tale of intrigue.
- A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is a memoir of Beah’s early years growing up in Sierra Leone, where his village and family were torn apart by civil war, and he finds himself press-ganged into the nightmare life of a child soldier.
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is set in 1986 and can only be described as a loopy little love story between two quirky teenagers thrown together by their mutual existence in high school’s lower caste. The writing is quickly elegant, without threat of overburdened philosophy or wisdom. The plot is mildly predictable, but the characters are authentic and likeable, and the transformation of the title characters is worth the price of admission. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it is chock-full of wonderfully outdated memories, like Walkmans, corded telephones, mix tapes and the Sex Pistols.
- Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This novel tells the story, over and over, of one soul’s journey through multiple lifetimes, each building upon the last, seeking ultimately to find an elusive peace. Set amidst the trappings of World War II in Europe, the story intertwines with historic moments big and small, giving insight into not only the individual but society of the time.
- The Everything Store by Brad Stone evolved out of his journalistic research and expands on his earlier reporting on the rise of Amazon. The book tells one of the more intriguing corporate histories of the twentieth century, at once a story of the Brand and the founder, Jeff Bezos. The story is fascinating from both perspectives, as you get an opportunity to peek behind the carefully constructed veil of Amazon to gain insight on what drives the company, and to what lengths Bezos will go to achieve his goals. The story of Amazon’s rise is also the story of marketplace evolution, which makes this a particularly satisfying read as most readers were themselves witness to this convergence of technology and trend, which created a new class of consumer. It is hard to resist the constant revelations as a reader when you are able to say, “I remember that…” or “I was there when…”.
- The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie features a combined biography of Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Conner and Walker Percy. Elie defines pilgrimage as “a journey taken in light of a story” and he tells the story of how each of these authors traveled their own pilgrimages and the story that lit their way. They all came from different backgrounds but came together loosely through their writing and their shared beliefs.
- The Moviegoer by Walker Percy, is his debut novel and winner of the 1961 National Book Award. It is an existential look at life through the eyes of a man living “the most ordinary life imaginable.” While Percy is not the greatest wordsmith in my opinion, he is a great thinker which makes the book worth reading. I have read this book a few times, most recently this summer, and he influenced me enough to name my son Walker.
- The Brother Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky is surprisingly humorous early-on but the ultimate appeal is the ongoing contrasts between character types. Each of the Karamazov brothers are contrasted with aspects of their father, the father with the priest Zosima, Zosima with less compassionate priests. This contrasting allows Dostoevsky to explore sweeping issues of morality, nihilism, murder and love through the characters’ discussions and what their actions represent much like Gene Roddenberry did in the original “Star Trek.”
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is a young adult novel that does not follow the typical storyline but is fun, fresh and exciting. It is a fantastic story about mythical water horses and the two 19-year-olds who find themselves training to race the violent beasts.
- King Suckerman by George Pelecanos is the second title in the D.C. Quartet Series. Pelecanos was a writer and producer on the TV show “The Wire” and happens to be a favorite author of mine. It features the story of two young men who get wound up in the drug culture of the 1970’s. There’s an element to it that’s incredibly realistic, which is kind of scary.
Now it’s your turn to share: What book(s) are you reading now?
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