1. Things I Wish I’d Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out
by Deborah J. Cornwall, 2012
Family caregivers are the unsung heroes of the life-saving drama that’s triggered by a cancer diagnosis. Nearly three quarters of American households will find themselves caring for a cancer patient at one point in their lives. This book is the first to capture their thoughts, feelings, and insights on a large scale. It is based on 86 formal interviews with non-professional caregivers (some of whom are cancer survivors themselves), covering 107 patients in 19 states who ranged in age from 2 to 90 and faced 40 different cancer diagnoses. Practical lessons drawn from caregivers’ experiences are intermingled with their own words to forge a compelling narrative intended to help both patients and their family caregivers to understand and cope with the full range of issues they should anticipate as they fight the battle of their lives.
2. The Cuckoo’s Calling
By J.K. Rowling, 2013
The Cuckoo’s Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
3. America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation
By Joshua Kendall, 2013
Lucky Lindy is just one of several American icons whom Joshua Kendall puts on the psychologist’s couch in AMERICA’S OBSESSIVES. In this fascinating look at the arc of American history through the lens of compulsive behavior, he shows how some of our nation’s greatest achievements-from the Declaration of Independence to the invention of the iPhone-have roots in the disappointments and frustrations of early childhood.
Starting with the obsessive natures of some of Silicon Valley’s titans, including Steve Jobs, Kendall moves on to profile seven iconic figures, such as founding father Thomas Jefferson, licentious librarian Melvil Dewey, condiment kingpin H. J. Heinz, slugger Ted Williams, and Estee Lauder. Entertaining and instructive, Kendall offers up a few scoops along the way: Little do most Americans know that Charles Lindbergh, under the alias Clark Kent, sired seven children with his three German “wives.” As Lindbergh’s daughter Reeve told Kendall, “Now I know why he was gone so much. I also understand why he was delighted when I was learning German.”
4. My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Family’s Past
By Ariel Sabar, 2009
In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers and humble peddlers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. Yona’s son Ariel grew up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor, dedicating his career to preserving his people’s traditions. Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father’s strange immigrant heritage—until he had a son of his own.
Ariel Sabar brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, discovering his family’s place in the sweeping saga of Middle-Eastern history. This powerful book is an improbable story of tolerance and hope set in what today is the very center of the world’s attention.
By Shelby Smoak, 2013
When he turned 18 in his senior year of high school, Smoak’s parents and doctors told him he had tested HIV-positive several years earlier, the result of a blood transfusion administered to treat his hemophilia. This remarkable first book from Smoak, an English teacher and writer, begins during his final year of high school in rural North Carolina. The narrative follows his student days at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and several years beyond. Unlike most HIV-inspired memoirs, this one is also a coming-of-age story, one that describes a transition that was sometimes excruciatingly difficult owing to Smoak’s HIV and hemophilia. Without self-pity, the author recounts the trials of dating girls and working odd jobs in college, while simultaneously enduring the fear of disclosing his HIV to his friends. By the end of the book readers will cheer for Smoak, feeling an affinity sparked by his perseverance and humble humanity.
6. Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family and a Way of Life
By Alicia Oltuski, 2011
In the middle of New York City lies a neighborhood where all secrets are valuable, all assets are liquid, and all deals are sealed with a blessing rather than a contract. Welcome to the diamond district. Ninety percent of all diamonds that enter America pass through these few blocks, but the inner workings of this mysterious world are known only to the people who inhabit it.
In Precious Objects, twenty-six-year-old journalist Alicia Oltuski, the daughter and granddaughter of diamond dealers, seamlessly blends family narrative with literary reportage to reveal the fascinating secrets of the diamond industry and its madcap characters: an Elvis-impersonating dealer, a duo of diamond-detective brothers, and her own eccentric father.
With insight and drama, Oltuski limns her family’s diamond-paved move from communist Siberia to a displaced persons camp in post–World War II Germany to New York’s diamond district, exploring the connections among Jews and the industry, the gem and its lore, and the exotic citizens of this secluded world.
7. Across A Star Swept Sea
By Diana Peterfreund, 2013
Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction–the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars–is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.
On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.
In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.
8. And The Mountains Echoed
By Khaled Hosseini, 2013
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
9. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Zazareth
By Reza Aslan
From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal. Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God. Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion.
10. Better Off Without ‘Em
By Chuck Thompson, 2013
Chuck Thompson—dubbed “savagely funny” by the New York Times and “wickedly entertaining” by the San Francisco Chronicle—spent two years traveling the American South to determine whether, as he’d long suspected but not yet proven, the whole country might be better off letting Dixieland make good on its two-hundred-years-old threat to secede. The result is a long overdue and serious inquiry into national divides that is deliberately provocative and uproariously funny while making a compelling case for “a kind of no-fault divorce for nation-states: no hard feelings, just two adults who can’t quite make the relationship work, shaking hands and walking away” (The Oxford American).