Forum opens up the phone lines to hear from listeners about their favorite books of 2011. Call or write in and let us know about the books you think everyone should read and why.

Here is a list of books mentioned during the show:


Holiday Books 2011 23 November,2011forum
  • Katie

    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

  • Reggie

    Book: Living in the rear view mirror, By Kim Vazquez

    It’s a great book about living through substance abuse….

  • caleb

    robopocalypse by daniel h. wilson

    A great book about the war between robots and humans, different perspectives from robots and humans.

  • Sky C.

    By far the most important book of 2011 is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The 30 Day Vegan Challenge.  It is filled with a wealth of information to help people transition to a plant-based diet; something that becomes more crucial by the minute as factory farming destroys the planet, animal cruelty destroys our psyches, and cholesterol-laden food destroys our health.  Plus, Colleen’s writing is upbeat,  inspirational, and compassionate… and the book itself is just gorgeous!

  • ann

    Inivisible Bridge – by Julie Oringer. Fiction set in pre WWII Paris, and Budapest, as told in the voice of a young, naive Hungarian Jew. Beautifully written, compelling, touching without being overly sentimental – and interesting perspective on what was going on in Europe in that time frame as told from the average person’s point of view.

  • Sarah

    So many good options.  I’ll go with Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Ghost Ship.  this is a fabulous universe they have created, and the characters are so amazing they’re like family.

  • Rene

    As a lover of fiction with eclectic taste, I would like to recommend the literary magazine Granta, which puts out a quarterly issue of new fiction.  It’s always a wonderful collection, including authors as wide-ranging as Don Delilo and Roberto Bolano and themes such as Feminism, Horror, and 10 years later (after 9-11). Best of all, it’s enjoyable fiction–my family fights over who gets to read it first!

  • I think on everyone Christmas list should to have on hand for every child that is afraid of monsters…

  • Ann

    Owen Meany – John Irving. A fascinating story told as only John Irving can – laugh out loud funny at times, tears in your eyes touching at others. A wonderful first person character.

    • Noelle

      A Prayer for Owen Meany

  • Alan Krakauer

    Not a new book, but topical because of the holiday and because of a recent adaptation by PBS Nature. The book is “Illumination in the Flatwoods” by Joe Hutto. The author spends a year raising wild turkeys-  a wonderful portrait of the relationships between the man, his new feathered “children” and their environment. A unique look at a species many people only think of as the centerpiece of their Thanksgiving meal.

  • CeCe

    Tilden Merry Go Round, 100 Years of Spinning Dreams by Richard Langs…
    Wonderful history of an iconic East Bay treasure  

  • Darshana Nadkarni

    Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – True story of science beautifully weaved in with the impact on black woman & her family and politics, race and ethics in medicine. Review posted at
    Cutting for Stone – Amazing story where story of medicine and health is beautifully told in the context of history unfolding in Ethiopia. Must read. Review posted at
    Galileo’s Daughter – Amazing story about a genius that Galileo was, his enormous contributions to science, how he prevailed despite the political climate, and the story of his kind and nurturing relationship with his daughter. Review posted at

    Some other great books
    Poisonwood Bible
    God of Small Things
    Daughter of Fortune
    Catfish and Mandala
    List goes on and on and on………….

  • Guest

    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. It’s for those who love baseball and for those who want a peek into the human condition – its coming of age, its triumphs, its disappointments, its capacity for forgiveness and redemption.

  • Eileen Jones

    The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle, Ph.D. After being a vegetarian for 41 years I read Will Tuttle’s book this year and promptly became a vegan. His eloquent writing makes it an easy read. He makes a solid argument that until we stop slaughtering living creatures, we can’t expect humans to live in peace. Eileen McCullough Jones

    • Eileen Jones

      My apologies to Mr. Tuttle, as he focuses more on COMPASSION, not slaughter. Eileen Jones

  • Kai Ling

    The Buddha at War by Robert Sachs is an excellent book for all people looking for a thoughtful set of instructions for protesting peacefully and productively.  This is a must read for the Occupy movement.

  • MM

    The Flower Daughter by K. R. Lobel is a very well written book about the history of men and women and society. It is like a Mitchner book that starts in 2000BCE and ends with a father and daughter exploring the Moon.

  • Jschlocker

    Stienbeck’s East of Eden. Awesome! Lots about Human Nature…

  • emma

    This book was written long before 2011, but it definitely is a book that few know but many should read: “Sunset Song” by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. It’s written in a lovely mixture of English and Scots, and contains probably the most lyrical and beautiful prose I’ve ever read. It’s better known in Scotland, where it was written, but in the US it’s so obscure I haven’t been able to find either of its two sequels in the library yet. Our loss…

  • Michele

    I would like to encourage those people who have planned for years to SOMEDAY read Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to go ahead and do so now. I always thought it would be a bit dry and probably heavy going, but in fact it is just the opposite. Gibbon has a delightful and wicked sense of humor that comes through on almost every page. It is really quite as engrossing as any page-turner, and I found myself grabbing every opportunity to fire up my iPad to get back to it. (The iPad is a wonderful way to read it because of the ease and speed with which you can pull up ancient maps, historical timelines, pictures of apparel and military hardware — all of which enhance the experience.) I can’t recommend The Decline and Fall enough!!

  • Mia Buettner

    Some great books:

    FICTIONAntwerp – Roberto BolañoThe Interrogation – JMG le ClézioHerzog – Saul BellowRunning Away – Jean-Philippe ToussaintDisavowals – Claude CahunDead Souls – Nikolai Gogol (I think someone just mentioned that one the air… I second that!)Nadja – André BretonThe Naked Eye – Yoko TawadaThe Leopard – Giuseppe LampedusaZeno’s Conscience – Italo SvevoContempt – Alberto MoraviaAgainst Nature (A’Rebours) – J-K HuysmansAuto-da-Fé – Elias CanettiBlindness – José SaramagoLiquidation – Imre KerteszCry, the Beloved Country – Alan PatonSHORT STORIES (authors)Isaac BabelThomas MannAngela CarterHeinrich von KleistNONFICTIONBlues People – Leroi JonesK Blows Top – Peter Carlson
    Savage Peace – Anne Hagedorn
    Trotsky – Robert Service

    Diane DiPrima
    William Boroughs
    Antonio Lobo Antunes
    Vaclav Havel
    Alan Robbe-Grillet

  • Judy Handley

    The 30-Day Vegan Challenge is my favorite holiday book of 2011. 
    Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has made everything so very easy and delicious.  Love this book.

  • Dahagelberg

    I HAD THREE LIVES, Selected Poems of Mikis Theodorakis, translated by Gail Holst-Warhaft; Livani Publishing 2004; ISBN: 960-14-09157

    Poems by the composer, political activist, and statesman Mikis Theodorakis. Tortured by the Nazis, tortured by the Greek military junta of the late 1960’s-1970’s, Theodorakis’ strong images are translated by a sensitive soul.

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey: I laughed out loud once per page, on average.

  • StegnerFan

    Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner – a rich, warm novel about good people trying to lead an ethical and valuable life.  Not new but enduring over decades.

  • Alison

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because it is full of action, adventure and cliff-hangers. 

    From 11-year-old Alison

    • East Bay Teacher

      As an adult, I’d like to echo Alison’s recommendation. Collins’ series has changed the academic lives of easily a dozen of my students over the last couple of years. Students who swear they don’t like reading are immediately captivated by this story. By the time they finish the series, their self-image has changed and with it their attitude toward their school work. It inspires amazing conversations about celebrity, PTSD, sending our youth to wars they don’t understand, and relationships. 

      • Alison

        I agree. When I found the series I couldn’t put them down.

    • upfrom

      i’m always looking for good books for my constantly-reading niece.  you may be a mature reader — do you think an “average” 11 yr. old reader, female, would enjoy the books?   some of the themes sound a little scary. 

  • Andrea

    Some old books, but great for gifts. 

    The Arrival – Shaun Tan (oscar winner for animated short) – a sophisticated, complex, gorgeous picture book. One that every reader can grow with and see/learn something new upon ever re-read
    Soulless – Gail Carriger – an entertaining light steampunk austen-esque romance. Great fluff.

    The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell – demonstrating the best that sci-fi can be encompassing discussions on religion, philosophy, anthropology and still thrilling.

    I second the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, In the Shadow of the Wind. In the Shadow of the Wind was such a perfect book that I haven’t reread it since because the first reading was so perfect I didn’t want to disturb it. 

  • RD

    “Its Easier Then You Think” by Sylvia Boorstein.  One of the most accessible books about practical spirituality wonderfully illustrated with Slyvia’s own foibles as she talks about the basics of the buddhist teaching.  One of the crispest accounts of practical wisdom for dealing with life.

  • Ilse Cordoni

    The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.  A wonderful haunting story about a man who has lost his short term memory and the woman who cares for him.  My reading group read this last year and we are still talking about what a charming and touching story it is.

  • Cathy Messier

    The 30 Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Entertaining and informative, with amazing recipes sprinkled throughout. It answers virtually any question you might ever have about veganism, in a way that is just brimming with kindness and compassion. No matter where you are on the spectrum, you don’t feel attacked or judged. If you’ve ever listened to Colleen’s podcast, you can almost feel her smiling as she’s talking. That’s how the book reads, and that’s why it’s perfect for the holidays (or um…always). Also, no better time to start making positive changes in your life!

  • Lise

    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – I have Forum to thank for this one. A page turner that is almost impossible to define: historical novel, romance, mystery… none of those descriptions do it justice. constantly surprised me. Fascinating language. I am currently reading Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.

  • Noelle

    Just Kids by Patti Smith(national book award winner last year)
    I recommend it to all artists and aspiring artists, it evokes the artistic milieu of New York in the 1960s and 70s so eloquently. It’s also an untraditional love story of Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Beautiful book.

  • Melissa

    Shards by Ismet Prcic, an astonishing debut novel by a young Bosnian now living in Oregon, an inventive, quirky, captivating tale about two young men, war and life during war, and the joy and sadness of emigration.

  • Jackie

    A Sense of Place by Michael Shapiro – the author interviews 18 of the world’s great travel writers (Isabel Allende, Bill Bryson, Pico Iyer, Frances Mayes, Jan Morris, Paul Theroux, Jeff Greenwald, Peter Matthiessen, Simon Winchester, Arthur Frommer, Tim Cahill, Rick Steves and more). An illuminating and entertaining read. These writers talk about their craft, lives and inspiration. For my keeper shelf!

  • Kristen in Santa Rosa

    I just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The writing is wonderful and I often laughed out loud. Isaacson shows us Jobs with warts and all, a complex individual who’s influenced so much of our lives. 

  • Mark

    Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Book is made of recycled plastics and soy ink. Waterproof and tear proof, no tree or polluted river from bleaching paper products. A must read for every human being–the power of intent and great design. The solution to the environment and business–

  • Christina

    ANYTHING by Isabel Allende–I await all of her books–I was turned on to her books by your program and have enjoyed her interviews w/Michael–also Nora Ephrom great comic light reads thanks I listen to your show everyday and have discovered many great books because of you!  Thanks

  • David

    Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s Quest, it was a great read. Highly recommended

  • Kt

    My favorite book this year was “the pain
    chronicles” by Melanie Thernstrom. I heard her on NPR discussing
    her book. When the show came on, I was feeling so isolated from chronic pain, and was so shocked to hear others describing my life, exactly. I was crying at my desk, sitting perfectly still. That book changed my life. If you or anyone you love deals with chronic pain, give it a read.

  • Lisa

    The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Literally about a deadly South Dakota winter circa 1880. More about resiliency, stoicism, strength in the face of starvation and despair.  Pa standing up and shaking his fist at yet another howling blizzard gives me internal resolve to make through the hopelessness of this Great Recession. My favorite “Little House” book as a kid, still is.  

  • Noelle

    For motorcyclists who like traveling: I discovered some travel narratives by Rush drummer Neil Peart: Roadshow(about his motorcycling across America and Europe when he was on a concert tour with his band).
    He also wrote about his bicycling tour of Cameroon, The Masked Rider. He is a new discovery for me, witty and trenchantly observations about travel from someone who is famous as a rock drummer. You don’t have to be a Rush fan to enjoy his many books. Looking forward to reading his other books in 2012!

  • My vote is for Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”. This is good news, and Pinker both documents the strong evidence that violence HAS exponentially declined, starting in paleolithic times to the present and gives much theory and evidence as to why the world is now safer. The book is long (700 pages) but eminently readable.
    Pinker is a Harvard cognitive psychologist and linguist. I wish everyone could read this.


  • Lysa

    San Francisco Childhood, by John van der Zee.   A great read, filled with essays from SF natives, seen through the lens of childhood.  As a transplant from the Midwest, it makes you almost nostalgic for the experience of growing up here.

  • The Difference Engine is an alternate history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. The novel is chiefly set in 1855. The historical background diverges from our reality around 1824.

    It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer.

    Britain, rather than the United States, opened Japan to Western trade, in part because the United States became fragmented, due to interference from a Britain which foresaw the implications of a unified United States on the world stage.

    Counterpart successor states to our world’s United States include: a (truncated) United States; the Confederate States of America; the Republic of Texas; the Republic of California; a Communist Manhattan Island commune (with Karl Marx as a leading light); British North America (analogous to Canada, albeit slightly larger in this world); and Russian America (Alaska).

    Napoleon III’s French Empire holds an entente with the British and Napoleon is even married to a British woman. In the world of The Difference Engine, it occupies Mexico. Like Great Britain, it has its own analytical/difference engines (ordinateurs), especially used in the context of domestic surveillance within its police force and intelligence agencies. 

    As for the other world powers, Germany remains fragmented, with no suggestion that Prussia will eventually form the core of a unified nation as it did in our own world in 1871, which may be due to French sabotage analogous to that pursued in the case of the fragmentation of the United States noted above. As noted above, Japan is awakening after the British ended its isolation, and looks set to become one of this world’s leading industrial and economic powers from the twentieth century onward, as in our world.

    It’s a fascinating (and fun) read. The inside flap includes a detailed world map of this alternate world.

  • Simmachester

    I would like to recommmend Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
    His writing is completely compelling from the beginning.  It takes place in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War. It’s a tale of love, intrigue, history and it’s a page turner.

  • Rosie Powell

     A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, written in 1977 recalling his time in 1934 as a 18 yr old  walking from Holland to Constantinople. Continued in Between the Woods and the Water.

  • Kdeutsch

    I’d like to recommend Heiddigger’s Glasses, a remarkable novel by a local author. I found it captures an aspect of the horror of the holocaust in a manner that felt reminiscent of Saramago’s Blindness

    • Kdeutsch

      Oh, the author is Thaisa Frank

  • Carlene

    Oakland-based author Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn” is a fantasy classic that is witty, mesmerizing and sparklingly original. Although it was adapted in animated form, the book isn’t meant just for kids. This book is a must-read for fans of the fantasy genre.

  • Brian

    Peking Story, by David Kidd–an American who marries into an aristocratic Chinese family on the eve of the communist takeover. A moving, nostalgic look at the collision of two worlds.

  • Robhowjohnsn

    All Things Shining by Herbert Dreyfus now in paperback
    Fascinating gloss  on evolving values in western culture.  Recommended because it bridges apparent differences in our core allegiances.  Wonderful preparation for family gatherings as it engenders more curiosity than condemnation.

  • janice cattolica

    I’m reading CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL by Glen David Gold (it was the One Book One City choice for Lamorinda Libraries) and it’s fantastic!  Great historical fiction (my favorite genre) about a magician who did a trick with President Harding in San Francisco just hours before his death.  Great writing and I love all the geographic references to Bay Area locations from this local author.

    • Thanks, Janice … sounds great; I’ll check it out. Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine as well (see my comment about The Difference Engine). Cheers.

  • Skip Emerson

    The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis beautiful, haunting, profiling the disallusionment of the human race. I’ve read it multiple times.

  • Natalie

    The Sisters Brother by Patrick deWitt. Interesting, strange, western and I don’t usually like westerns. Loved the writing.

  • Dan

    Naked At Our Age by local author Joan Price. Easy to read, compassionate advice about sex in our 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. A friend bought this book for his 92 year old widowed grandmother who has a new boyfriend and is rediscovering how great sex can be at any age!

  • Claudia Newbold

    The Woman Who Could Not Forget by Ying-Ying Chang, mother of Iris Chang who took her life after writing the important book The Rape of Nanking.  It is an important book about the courage of one writer to take on a controversial subject and challenges she faced as a result. 

  • Bklyn2sf

    The Convert, by Deborah Baker, the fascinating story of a woman who grew up as a Jew in Larchmont, NY, converted to Islam, and spent most of her adult life as a follower of the radical cleric and leader of Jamaat al Islam. The book was a National Book Award finalist.

    For fiction, De Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes, a fascinating and beautifully told tale of a remarkable family, spanning the period from the last decades of the 19th century to e Anschluss.


  • Austen

    Blood Meridian by Cormac Mccarthy is a book which is about some horrible horrible things but told in the most beautiful way possible. For anyone interested in a fun intro to philosophy, I would recommend the Story of Philosophy by Will Durant.

  • Corey

    Night Watch by Terry Pratchett.  Night Watch deals with Revolution, mob mentality, government turning to
    methods like torture, but it centers on those caught in the middle- the
    cops caught between obeying martial law and trying to be good to the
    regular people caught in the crossfire.  I reread it with all the Occupy
    things going on and it remains wonderfully insightful. 

    Yes, Pratchett writes novels that are both fantasy and comedy, but no one since Shakespeare (who ranged from existential questions to fart jokes) has anyone appealed to such a wide range of humanity.  Barring the first few  where he was getting his stride, his novels are strewn with commentary on society, technology, religion, human nature, history, art… everything- and all with wonderful humor.  He tackles subjects as difficult as genocide with grace, always getting at a deep understanding of human nature. 

  • Kathleen Hurly

    If no one has mentined it, the best book i read this year is the Night Circus.  I read pages and pages every day and tens of books a year.  It is new, imaginative, memorable. 

  • eriksf

    Fallingwater Rising. Fascinating book about Frank Lloyd Wright and his client E.J. Kaufman. Much about architecture, the creative process and the evolution of this amazing structure.

  • C. Fogel

    I just finished Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved it! It is a beautifully written story set in Mexico, with the main (fictional) character a cook in the homes of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. But it evolves to become a thoughtful reflection on artistic freedom and and the political and social ills caused by Macarthyism and media misinformation. 

  • Eric Kritz

    Heaven save us from radio commentatiors and their callers who mention a title ONCE, and then go on for minutes saying “the book”  “the book” “the book”….and never once is the title re-stated, so that if we find the subject to be of interest, there’s no way to find out what it is called.  Reference the aller “Joanne” who must have said “the book” at least 20 times, and never was the title or author restated.

  • pacini51

    I would like to recommend Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.  Gives a shocking picture of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the experience of a Muslim American.

  • Maya

    The Art of Eating In – How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway.

    Great book about one woman’s experience not eating out in New York for 2 years. She talks about the pleasure of eating in, adventures in cooking and more all with wonderful humor.

  • Laurie-Ann

    How Bad Are Bananas – The Carbon Footprint of Everything.  It’s an interesting read that highlight the carbon footprint of things large and small to give perspective on that issue.  Very readable and worthwhile.

  • michelle lavoie

    My favorite this year was “Let the great world spin” by Colum McCann.

  • Foo

    The discussion feature doesn’t work on Google Chrome.  Please fix.

  • Ashley Bates

    I’d recommend Rabbi Michael Lerner’s latest book, Embracing Israel/Palestine, which just hit bookstores yesterday. It tells the story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a refreshing way: showing how both sides have a legitimate narrative and how both sides have been unnecessarily cruel to the other. It’s received rave reviews from Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals from diverse faith backgrounds, including: Jimmy Carter, Avrum Burg, Desmond Tutu, Sami Awad, Keith Ellison, and others. Check out the website, which includes a study guide for reading groups:

  • Keith

    Hello, great show! I’m reading, “American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America” by David O. Stewart (who is a lawyer). This book examines the ups and downs of Burr’s career with some balance and sympathy. Burr was charismatic, coy, courageous, talented and ambitious. However; he was non-ideological (probably a moderate-liberal in the todays terms). This, plus his errors caused great suspicion. Actually, any book on Burr is interesting these day because he was caught between the Hamiltonian-Federalists and the Jeffersonian-republicans. Thinking about Burr leads to thinking about the Founding Era and the structure of our government, which of course, is being re-examined today.

  • Lauren Ayers

    This is sort of a Freakenomics theory — the logic is unexpected, but give it a chance.

    One book explains how we went wrong and what to do to regain health: Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.  If America is the richest nation, and has the best democracy, how come so many children live in poverty and a handful of senators from small states are the tail that wags Congress?

    Could our decline have anything to do with the biochemistry of our
    brains?  We have the lowest levels world wide of the omega-3 fatty acids
    DHA and EPA, which are essential for the prefrontal cortex to function
    right.  That is the home in the brain for empathy and seeing the
    consequences of one’s actions.

    Further evidence of this decline is the people we elect and America’s
    reliance on 10-second sound bites to sway opinion and make public

    America’s lost physical and mental health is at least partially
    explained by the huge changes in our diet in that same time frame. 
    Double the sugar, especially fructose, leads to fatty liver and appears
    related to the rise in diabetes, along with demonizing animal fats like
    butter and lard and promoting vegetable oils instead (don’t be
    astonished, over the millennia we humans have gotten 40-90% of our
    calories from animal fat, and there is no traditional culture based on a
    vegetarian diet).

    Chronic and degenerative diseases account for 2/3 of medical care costs. 
    Big Pharma profits for our ignorance of how to prevent heart disease,
    cancer, and diabetes in the first place, or treat them.  Nourishing Traditions
    flies in the face of “veggie and vegan is environmentally better”
    because she gives the research on why humans need bone broth, organ
    meats, fermented foods for health, and the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D,
    K) based on the work of the “Darwin of nutrition,” Weston Price, DDS
    (who himself wrote a foundation book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 1939).

    Low fat diet is the wrong path, as Gary Taubes’ articles in the New York
    Times explain.  Vegetable oils are a key problem, and not just the
    trans fats.  Follow the money and you’ll see that ADM and Cargill
    push this on the FDA, and the FDA pushes starch, sugar, and vegetable
    oil on the children eating breakfast and lunch in the $12 billion school meal program.

    As a teacher, I agree with the research that primary school children today have much less impulse control than 60 years ago 
    They will fall to the worst propaganda and make terrible choices, if they even bother to vote.

    Our founding fathers (and mothers) ate a lot of fish, and their beef,
    pork, and poultry were pastured not feed corn and soy in feedlots.  They
    hardly ate any sugar.  They wrote the Declaration of Independence and
    the Constitution.  Could it be that returning to effective democracy
    requires us to return to an “old-fashioned” diet?

    Lauren Ayers

  • Lauriedunston

    I have just finished “the Gospels according to Jesus” by Author Mitchell.
    The book interested me after hearing the author regarding a more recent book he has published.
    I have a close friend that had just mentioned to me she like studying the bible but seemed only to understand when there were others around to help her.
    I read this book and found it particularly simple to understand and to make the times Jesus lived more understandable.  I will be giving her the book for Christmas.

  • Mopillsbury

    I highly recommend a mystery series written by Canadian author Alan Bradley featuring 11-year-old protagonist flavia de Luce. Fun, engaging, and appropriate for young adult as well as adult readers. First book is “Bittersweet at the bottom of the pie”.

  • Tom I

    We The Animals, by Justin Torres.  A very lyrical and powerful book that culminates in a beautifully poetic and profound ending.  Best read in a single sitting.

    With Liberty and Justice for Some, by Glenn Greenwald.  If you want to know the substantive reasons behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, don’t miss it. An even-handed criticism of everything that’s fundamentally wrong with our political system, exemplified by both Democrats and Republicans

    The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.  Even if you don’t like Fantasy novels, you’ll like this one.  Clever, suspenseful, and at times hilarious, Rothfuss manages to paint his own vision of a mature “Hogwarts”. 

  • MelliX

    another local writer: Ulrica Hume’s An Uncertain Age, a spiritual mystery…

  • AnastasieMartin

    Type: Uplifting/Motivational

    From the moment I read this book I felt rejuvenated. By observing nature and gardening Jim Martin successfully reveals some of the secrets to taking responsibility for the choices we make and cultivating a more enjoyable and more fulfilling life. The Thinking Tomato is an easy book to follow and a story that you will relate to! Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or


  • Vickie

    We The Animals by Justin Torres. A  beautifully crafted first, and autobiographical, novel. The writing is exquisite. The story of three young, interracial boys growing up in a dysfunctional family is sad, hard and lyrical.
    Another book, though older, still haunts me months later, The PIano Tuner. Beautiful writing about another place and another time that I knew little about. Finally, Cutting for Stone, a vast and gripping novel about race, class, ethnicity and the practices of parenting and medicine.

  • Warped Passages by Lisa Randall. She shows that you do not have to  be a physicist or mathematician to grasp the concepts of String Theory and extra dimensions – the new frontiers of theoretical physics. Those who have enjoyed George Gamow or Stephen Hawking’s explanations and explorations of physics will immediately recognize this Harvard physicist as one of the most brilliant physicist and thinker of our time who could almost be sitting next to you at a baseball game and casually explain these mind-boggling concepts.

    Just bought her latest – Knocking on Heaven’s Door and looking forward to reading it soon.

  • Chris_Baker

    The Storm Leopard by Martyn Murray.  This recently published book starts many years ago when the author, then a student, meets an old man in Kenya prediciting that ‘They will all disappear one day, every single wild place’.  This inspires the author to become a zoologist and he subsequently spends many years in Africa.  The book is about a trip the author took much later in life, travelling from Cape Town to the Serengeti, with the old timer’s words as the foundation for the trip – are they true?  This is a wonderful, vicarious travel book brought to life by the author’s friends in the zoological world – one minute you are with him darting lions, the next capturing impala, the next dancing with Bushmen in the Kalahari. It mixes humor with an intimate understanding  of the issues that affect the survival of African wildlife.  If you love Africa, are interested in wildlife, are thinking of a safari, or just want to curl up in an armchair and immerse yourself in Africa, you will enjoy this book.

  • Chris McKinney

    What was the title of the book set in Hawaii that a caller mentioned this morning?

    • Rachel

      I’m with you! Can someone let us know? I loved the description and want to know!

  • Lauren Ayers

    A postscript to my entry on Nourishing Traditions, after reading the heart-felt endorsements of The 30-Day Vegan Challenge and The World Peace Diet. 

    A former vegetarian myself, it’s easy to see why people would want to have a smaller carbon footprint and to be kind to animals.  However, with a little more investigation, we can find the vegan/omnivore debate isn’t so clearcut.

    Michael Pollan introduced many of us to Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farm in Virginia, where his animals have “a beautiful life with one bad day.”  His hilly land is not suitable for agriculture but his careful management of 10 acres provides 3,000 eggs, 1,000 chickens, 80 hens, 2,000 pounds of beef,
    2,500 pounds of pork, 100 turkeys, 50 rabbits and a few inches of
    topsoil. Nature takes 1000 years to generate an inch of topsoil.

    To see both sides of the debate, read The Vegetarian Myth — Food, Justice, and Sustainability, by Lierre Keith, who was a vegan for nearly 20 years.  Aside from the unfortunate put-down title, Keith identifies with all the the moral, political, and nutritional reasons why people are drawn to an animal-free diet, and shares her odyssey to find the ethical basis for traditional diets that include animal fat. 

  • booklover

    The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal: 
    Borrowed review:This is a mesmerising many-layered book. The fascinating narrative of the fabulously wealthy Jewish Ephrussi family moves through the decades from commercial Odessa to the Paris of the Impressionists and artistic salons to the brutal destruction of the Anschluss of 1938 in Vienna and a familial diaspora over three continents. Parallel to this, we follow with the author his own emotive journey to reclaim the lives lived in the vanished rooms of his forbears. This he does sensitively and successfully, imagining his way there through archives, letters and contemporary fiction. He visits all the great houses and, in Odessa, tasting the dust of the demolished palace rooms, he rejoices in the survival of the Ephrussi family emblem on a last remaining banister. Such evocative writing and small discovered detail make this a story we want to follow with him and we find that this is not, after all, a tale of acquisition but of loss. The 264 tiny Japanese carvings (netsuke) bought in the 1870s in Paris are all that now remain of the family possessions. We also come to understand another loss: the Ephrussis no longer felt defined by their Jewish origins: artists and socialites passed through their grand salons. It is shocking to discover that even those who enjoyed their patronage were casually anti-Semitic. It is hard to read the vivid account of the abrupt violence of the Nazis as they took (almost) every precious possession from them, leaving them, in the end, only their Jewishness.

  • Yoel

    The Immortal Game, by David Shenk – A modern look at the ancient, but still popular game of chess, and how it helps our understanding of war, science, and the human brain. Great for ANYONE who has ever played a game of chess, or has a set laying around….waiting to be re-discovered!

  • Skwetzler

    Is there a central list somewhere of all the recommendations? Would be helpful.

    • Dawn

      Yes, please!  It would be very helpful.  I enjoyed listening to the callers’ favorite books, some of which I’d love to read.  I was driving in my car at the time, unable to write down some of the titles.  I was led to understand there would be a master list of the books mentioned on today’s show. 

  • Susan Goode

    Tail of the Bluebird, by Nii Parkes, a Ghanaian writer and poet, is part mystery and part a study of power. Beautifully written, it shows what happens when corrupt urban police confront villagers whose lives have changed little over the centuries.

  • Susan Goode

    Don’t miss Surviving Xcarion by R.G. Chandler. This thriller with a touch of sci-fi is a page turner. But what is most impressive about this book is the writing–unique, visual, and powerful. It is only available electronically, which is unfortunate.

  • Michelle

    Possible correction to list: The Monkey Ranch Gang by Edward Ebby should probably be The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

  • Kari

    Am stunned that no one has recommended “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.  By far, the best book I read in 2011.  Hillenbrand is an amazing storyteller and it reads like fiction, even though it’s non-fiction.  Remarkable!

  • Miller1505

    THE LAPP KING”S DAUGHTER- BY STINA KATCHADOURIAN- local author has written a wonderful first hand account of her early years in FINLAND during the “three wars”- 1940-1945- Finland’s efforts to stay independent from both Germany and Soviet Union. Great account of the war time life of a mother and two daughters who have to relocate frequently to avoid danger, from Helsinki to Lapp Land to Sweden. 

  • Dusty

    I recommend Donkey Heart Monkey Ming. It’s a story of a young Berber from Algeria who escaped his country to live in America. It’s a story of courage, survival, and the kindness of the human spirit. You will be blessed to read this book, written by Djaffar Chetouane.

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