As of this writing, I have read 35 books in 2020. It seems like a lot when I think about it and I suppose it is. I have learned to love to read and always have a book or two going at the same time (and one with me at all times). I fill idle time with reading but also start my day reading, read at lunch and wind down the day with my nose in a book. We do not have TV, so there is always time to read.
I stay pretty organized with the books I have read by using the app “Goodreads” which categorizes the books onto one of three virtual shelves: Read, To Read, and Currently Reading. I enjoy the discovery of a new author and drilling into a classic that should have been required reading in college or high school. I will read what my kids like to read, and I will take recommendations from friends and colleagues. There is a flawless policy that I have adopted in my reading that I intend to share with you. If the same title is recommended to me by three or more people (at different times) I must read that book, regardless of my interest I the topic.
I started this policy about ten years ago with the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. I am not crazy about WWII history like some people are, it’s not my cup of tea, but this book changed that for me. I would never have picked it up on my own had it not been recommended by three different people. The next book to test my new policy was The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. I had even less interest in a rowing crew in the 1930’s than I did in WWII, but there I was plugging away at a book which I otherwise would not have picked up. In both cases, I was fully engaged reading and rated both books 5 stars. It seemed like my new policy was working.
Fast forward to this year. Of the 35 books that I have read, I have only rated 2 of them with 5 stars. If you are looking for a good book (or two) to read, I will share their titles. The first is This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Think of this book as a Huck Finn sort of adventure which is beautifully written. The story begins in a school designed for orphan native Americans in Minnesota in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It is a story of two brothers who need to escape from the abuse and mistreatment they receive and their decision to bring two friends with them. The narrator is the younger brother and the story is told from his perspective. I found myself immediately invested in their plight and enjoyed every turn and bend in the river as they slipped away from the Lincoln School.
The second book is The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. Sam Hill was born with a rare disorder called Ocular Albinism which essentially means that he has red eyes. His devoutly Catholic mother loves him unconditionally and raises him with the expectation that he would truly live an extraordinary life. The school children have completely different ideas and refer to him as the devil boy and cleverly change his last name to Hell. Sam does find an ally in the only African American student enrolled in their private school. Since they are both mistreated for things over which they have no control, they become fast friends. The story spans over the course of about 40 years of Sam’s life beginning with his enrollment in kindergarten in the mid-1950’s. This story was also beautifully written and told from Sam’s perspective. I loved seeing the world through his eyes and his storytelling was also captivating. After I finished the book, I read the author’s notes and in it he mentioned that the story was about ten years in the making. I would say that it was worth the wait.
I will keep reading and if you are ever in need of a book recommendation (or even a book) I am more than happy to oblige. If you are not a regular reader, let me know and I can make a recommendation that may just change that.
*The photo in this post was taken of the Klementinum Library in Prague, Czech Republic of “The World’s Most Beautiful Library” by Brian M. Ursu.