Books to Know – Top 10 List – June 2012


June 1, 2012
By Miriam Laufer
Book Critic
Books to Know

1.  God’s Hotel: A Doctor, A Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine

by Victoria Sweet, 2012 (See book review)

2.  Barack Obama: The Story

by David Maraniss, 2012

David Maraniss, associate editor of The Washington Post, tells the story of Barack Obama’s family, childhood, and young adulthood. Some of Maraniss’ source materials, namely letters and diaries from Obama’s past girlfriends, have drawn significant attention. This biography promises important insights into the character of our current president.

3.  Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

by Hilary Mantel, 2012

Thomas Cromwell, representative of the new middle class, is Henry VIII’s man. Responsible for Henry’s world-shattering split with Catholic Rome, divorce from the royal Catherine of Aragon, and marriage to lady-in-waiting Anne Boleyn, now Cromwell must undo that marriage while keeping his own head. Hilary Mantel’s sinuous style continues to worm its way through the rotten core of the Tudor court in this sequel to the mesmerizing Wolf Hall.

4.  Home

by Toni Morrison, 2012

Frank Money returns home from the Korean War to find racism still raging in the country he risked his life for. Rescuing his younger sister, Cee, from a terrible fate brings them both back to their less than beloved hometown in Georgia. Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison writes an unusually lean novella on familiar themes including home and identity.

5.   How Great Women Lead: A Mother-Daughter Adventure into the Lives of Women Shaping the World

by Bonnie St. John, 2012

Come along with Olympic skier, amputee, and bestselling author, Bonnie St. John, and her teenage daughter, Darcy Deane, on an incredible mother-daughter adventure into the lives of some of the most fascinating women shaping our world today. You’ll go behind the scenes at Facebook headquarters, inside the State Department in Washington, down the red carpet of a Hollywood movie premiere with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, into a home-spun tortilla factory in Nicaragua, backstage at The Jon Stewart Show, mingling with athletes at the Paralympic Winter Games, shopping in London, into the cockpit of super-sonic fighter jets, and through many other exotic and exciting locations. In each rich, heart-to-heart visit with these amazing female role models, you will feel their warmth, absorb their wisdom, and experience what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Once you take this rare and unique opportunity to visit with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Movie Star Geena Davis, Condoleezza Rice, a fashion designer, a fighter pilot, a dynamic stay-at-home mother of five, and many more—you’ll forever feel like an insider in this elite club of extraordinary leaders. Long after this sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always entertaining journey ends, the life lessons, the laughter, and the honest vulnerability of these women will stay with you, equip you to embrace your own leadership potential, and perhaps even inspire you to guide others along the way to greatness.

6.  Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter

by Sara Mansfield Taber, 2012

Recounting a childhood spent all over Asia, North America, and Europe, literary journalist Sara Taber explores what it means to be an American. She tells both the highly relatable story of a young woman’s journey growing up and the unusual story of growing up as the daughter of her father, a CIA operative. Taber lives in the Washington D.C. area with her husband and children.

7.  Insurgent

by Veronica Roth, 2012

The much-anticipated follow-up to last year’s Divergent finds Tris embroiled in the war between the factions. Now that her secret is revealed, Tris must learn to use and embrace her Divergent mindset, which does not fit neatly into the factions’ categories of Amity, Erudite, Candor, Abnegation, and Dauntless. Allegiances become more complicated and new characters take prominence, while romance and thrills reach new heights.

8.  Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens

by Andrea Wulf, 2012

The transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769 marked one of the first large-scale transnational scientific operations-in this case, with the goal of measuring Venus’ transit between the Sun and the Earth in order to calculate the size of the solar system. Andrea Wulf chronicles the endeavors and trials of the Enlightenment scientists whose data led to a greater understanding of the heavens. The next transit of Venus will be June 5, 2012.

9.  Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden-From 9/11 to Abbottabad

by Peter L. Bergen, 2012

Peter L. Bergen, National Security Analyst for CNN and author of three previous books on Al Qaeda, met with Osama bin Laden in March 1997. At that time, the soft spoken man revealed a “raw hatred of the United States,” that would manifest in the 9/11 attacks. Bergen provides a detailed account from behind-the-scenes sources on the search, discovery, and assassination of America’s Most Wanted man in the past decade.

10.  Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots

by Deborah Feldman, 2012

Deborah Feldman’s memoir lifts the veil on the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism in Brooklyn, New York. Married at seventeen and a mother at nineteen, Feldman chose to leave her community in order to shield her son from the oppression she experienced, including her arranged marriage, and childhood where she was banned from speaking English or reading secular books. Although her memoir reflects her particular family’s experience, it will speak to those interested in Satmar culture as well as proponents of women’s rights.



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