Brad and I share many hobbies with 80-year-olds. We play Scrabble, enjoy the occasional NOVA episode, and we read books out loud. To make things fair, we switch off picking the book. We read during road trips and whenever we feel particularly literary at home, so it takes a while to get through each selection. So far we’ve read What to Eat by Marion Nestle, The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, Stiff by Mary Roach, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, also by Lewis. The fiction is my pick, the nonfiction his. Which means it’s time for Brad to select his next book!
Since I’m far more obsessed with reading and books than he is, I usually pick a few I think he would like and he chooses from that list. Here’s what I compiled for him this time, in our most popular categories.
Farm City by Novella Carpenter. So this woman actually ran a small-scale farm in a lot in Oakland, California. I assume there are some hijinks involved in sharing a fence with normal city-dwellers while you’re shoveling manure out from under your pigs. Trust me, we are not even close to contemplating raising chickens (I don’t even want a dog), but we do fantasize about one day having a giant vegetable garden. If we read this, we’ll probably spend the whole book patting ourselves on the back for having a little patio herb garden but not being nutty enough to milk goats in our backyard. Does that make us insufferable? Don’t answer that.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I’m fascinated by this book. A sample of Ms. Lacks’ cells were taken in the 1950s and used–without her permission–to grow the cells labs have been using to perform research for decades. Her cells were used to find the cure for polio. We love books about bodies and we certainly love cures. Plus, given the ethical dilemmas this story poses, I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about.
Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Because we sort of have to since everyone around us is raving about how good it is. I have a suspicion that this is one of those books that will both open my eyes to how big God is and to how little I let that affect my life. So a downer. But an upper!
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I went to journalism school for magazine writing and I’ve never read this. I think that’s some sort of demerit. For the uninitiated (that’s me), this is one of the primo examples of long-form journalism or New New Journalism (basically really long, well-researched, sometimes slightly dramatized accounts of real events or circumstances, often with the author involved or sharing the story of how he/she got the story). Here, Krakauer investigates a murder by two men who said they committed the crime because God told them to. That sentence makes me sort of not want to read it, but I’m sure I’m underselling it.
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. Now here’s an idea I can get behind. To make sure you do everything you’re supposed to and do it the right way, make a list! I love lists! Obviously, there’s a lot more study and persuasion that goes into this, but it had me at “lists” on the cover. Speaking of the cover, that’s one of the cons of this book for me. Because you see, I organize the books in our living room by color and I already have so many red books. Would it kill Atul to go with yellow the next time around?
My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs. I love everything A. J. Jacobs writes. Except, strangely enough, his tweets. They’re too…twee, I guess. I’ve wanted to read something of his to Brad for a while now, but I think his other books might be too long and one-note for him. So this collection of his articles about trying everything from outsourcing his life to India to never telling a lie for a whole month might be perfect. And hilarious. I love hilarious books.
And now, the suspense. Which will he pick?