I was feeling adrift. It had been forever since a book had gripped me viscerally and not let me go until the final page. THE NORTH WATER by Ian McGuire was the cure for my every literary ennui. Beyond being a book I couldn’t put down, it was one I didn’t want to finish, realizing on the very first page how rare a reading experience this would be.
In 2016, we lost many of film and music’s greatest, ending with the deaths of two of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, mother-and-daughter duo Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. Not only were they show-stopping performers, but they were celebrated writers as well. I grew up watching “Singin’ in the Rain” with my mother, and always waited impatiently for “Halloweentown” to come on television each October.Recently I fell in love with the Star Wars franchise (better late than never, right?) and developed great respect for Carrie Fisher because of her work as a mental illness awareness, female rights, and addiction rehab advocate. As such, I thought it only right to commemorate the lives of these great women with a list of their significant contributions to literature.
There is this silly word that only exists in book reviews and was probably invented by a book reviewer. It’s “unputdownable.” Spell check will always underline it in red, auto-correct will always suggest confusing replacements, and I’ll always picture a book with some sticky, glue-like substance on it preventing you from releasing it. The word might be silly, but the concept isn’t.
I happen to judge books by their “stickiness,” or how long the story, resolution, or characters stick with me after I finish the last page. The stickiest book that I’ve read in a long while was Mindy Mejia’s EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE.
Shortly before President Obama left office, Powell’s—the great independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon—sent him a going-away present: 10 books, thoughtfully selected by Powell’s customers and curated by their booksellers. We love this informative, entertaining, and inspirational reading list so much that we are sharing with it you. Now that President Obama has a little more time on his hands, perhaps he can start a book club so we can read them all together!
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There’s an unwritten rule (possibly one I made up myself) that if you’re in a reading rut, it’s best to turn to a book that you’re certain will deliver. I was introduced to the book that rescued me from my latest slump in the middle of a “Parks and Recreation” binge—during which I came to admire Leslie Knope’s (Amy Poehler) aggressive optimism and unfettered ambition (two attributes I was seriously lacking). I picked up Amy Poehler’s bestselling memoir YES PLEASE—and I was not disappointed.
As we envision the future of our country, we’re seeking out brilliant and diverse voices to help us understand the challenges that we face—to understand what problems need solving, and what we can do to help make peoples’ lives better. These 12 books show just a sliver of American experiences and history, but they are resources that we as citizens—and our newly elected leaders—can turn to. They help us to understand how we’ve gotten to where we are today and grasp the consequences of how decisions made today will shape our future.
With the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer, winter is the perfect time to sit by the fire and lose yourself in a deliciously long book. From epic fantasy to searing romance, these 13 books are some of our extra-long favorites to enjoy while waiting for spring!
Paul Kalanithi recounts the story of his own mortality with the precision of a surgeon and the poeticism of a gifted writer—because, of course, he was both.
But his uncanny ability to inhabit two seemingly disparate worlds does not end here; his narrative also straddles the divide between doctor and patient, caretaker and cared for, lackadaisical philosopher and man of reason. At the heart of this reckoning is the battle that consumes his days: “to pursue death: to grasp it, uncloak it, and see it eye-to-eye, unblinking.” WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR is the beautiful, heartbreaking exploration of this very inevitability that we all fear—but that few dare to look straight in the eye.
President Obama has made it clear over the past 8 years that books are a big part of his life—whether he’s shopping on Small Business Saturday or releasing his vacation reading list. (Plus, he did an impressive interview with author Marilynne Robinson, which you can listen to here. Cross your fingers for a post–White House podcast!) A bestselling author himself, our reader-in-chief has followed his predecessors in recommending some great nonfiction titles, but has surprised us all by being a particularly prolific fiction reader as well. Here are some of the books he’s picked up during his time in office.
When I look back at my teenage self, with my ill-advised bangs and strange affinity for glittery blue eyeliner, I remember both the highs and lows of growing up. There were hilarious adventures with friends and moments of intense loneliness in which I felt unsure of who I was. I’ve done my fair share of growing up since then, and I still have a little way to go, but reading Caitlin Moran’s coming-of-age story HOW TO BUILD A GIRL instantly brought back all the memories that I had somehow managed to forget.