The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
A perfect pick by my husband for Christmas, this book hits the trifecta for me. It’s a first hand account written somewhere between a memoir and a work of journalism. It takes place in the Amazon jungle. Then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, BAM! Medical mystery. Preston’s writing style is conversational and engaging. I could not put this book down. When I was finished I still didn’t want to. I’m pretty sure I just sat there hugging it for a good amount of time. I plan to write up a full length review of this book at some point. For now all I can say is I want more.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
I’m not usually into books about current events and world issues, but this memoir is worth a read. Today Malala Yousafzai is a human rights advocate and the youngest winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. This memoir is about how she got there. The way she writes about Pakistan, the Taliban and all the nuances of her culture and the current events makes this book accessible to someone with minimal knowledge of what was/is happening there. The novel does at times seem hyper-focused on education, but this is Malala’s way of talking about women’s rights in general. It is gut-wrenching to read about how Malala’s freedoms as a woman ebb and flow with the change in governments.
Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel
This is a fantastic coming of age memoir that follows a young man’s journey walking across the United States. Andrew is a relatable character who shows much appreciation for his privilege to be able to take on such a journey. Through his memoir we read about the lives of the many people he meets on the road. We see how these interactions change him while also broadening our own perspective on things. He paints all the people he meets with a positive or at least sympathetic brush. He also has a website where you can listen to audio clips from his journey. You can read my full review of the book here.
Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St. John
I love Writer’s Digest books. I’ve never read one that doesn’t offer something of value to me and Write Smart, Write Happy is no different. This book falls somewhere between reference book and motivational pep talk for me. It’s aimed at newer or unpublished writers who are trying to get into a writing routine that sticks. Cheryl St. John has a no nonsense attitude that is flexible enough not to be off-putting. She basically says you do you, but make sure you get it done. This is an excellent read for any casual or want to be writer. If you’re interested in hearing more of my thoughts on this book you can read my full review here.
Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
I waited far too long to read this book. These fairy tales are entertaining for adults, but I could also see reading them at bedtime to (maybe slightly older) children. I remember being impressed with the telling of The Tale of the Three Brothers in The Deathly Hallows Part 1. I was also lucky enough to see a live rendition of The Fountain of Fair Fortune at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. I highly recommend seeing some of the plays if you get the chance to go. For now enjoy this video clip from The Deathly Hallows.