BOOKS To LOVE

After reading a good book, we want to share.  This BOOKS To LOVE reading list is inspired by the books read and loved by members and friends of the On2In2™ Book Buzz Club.  To find more book recommendations and share your personal favorites, please join us → Engage Social Network  You’ll also find book suggestions within the posts and articles of On2In2™ → go to the “Books” button under MediaMix to search the category using the On2In2™ search feature.

Book Buzz Club members enjoy reading an eclectic mix of books, and go to a variety of sources for reading material.  Some prefer a trip to the local library (always a great resource and free access with a library card) or an independent book store for a unique experience, and others use the latest tech innovations.  Now’s a good time to give tech a try — Amazon is offering free trials for → Kindle Unlimited Plans (a subscription for access to titles in the Kindle Store) and Audible (an app that allows you to listen to audiobooks on multiple devices).

 

DRAMA

A Gentlemen in Moscow by Amor Towles – It’s a novel full of intrigue, conspiracy, mystery and danger at the famed Metropol hotel during some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history. Initially, Book Buzz member @cyndi1 didn’t think she’d really be into the story, but ended up reading the book twice!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – An action-packed, unforgettable story of two sisters taking separate paths toward survival, love, and freedom in Nazi-occupied France.  #1 New York Times Bestseller

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (novel, published in UK as Cross Stitch) – This New York Times Bestseller is the first in a series of eight novels full of history, adventure, fantasy, suspense and passion along with a seductive love story.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn – Historical novel about two courageous women, a member of the “Alice” network, WWI’s successful spy organization for the British, and a young American woman searching for her cousin who had disappeared during WWII, and their epic journey to find the truth in 1947.  New York Times Best Seller

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – Moving and memorable stories of three women that reveal courage when facing cowardice and cruelty during World War II.  New York Times Bestseller

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan – Heartbreaking, yet uplifting. This many-faceted historical fiction set in Normandy, France during WWII invokes self-reflection on hope, humanity, resistance, courage and sacrifice.

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young English Woman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French – A true crime thriller that chronicles the unsolved murder of Pamela Werner, a British school girl, in 1937 ‘Peking’ (an old English spelling of the city of Beijing) during the final days of colonial China.

Crazy For the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad – A beautifully told story of growing up in 1970’s Malibu with a mother’s abusive, alcoholic boyfriend and a demanding, “adrenaline-junkie” father who expected his young son to participate in competitive hockey, downhill skiing, and surfing.  He resented it, but eventually understood the motives as the skills training along with his father’s ‘never give up’ philosophy ultimately saved his life on a dangerous mountain descent.

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala – This is a haunting, very personal memoir of terror and agonizing grief endured by a family’s sole survivor during the deadly Sri Lanka tsunami disaster, triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on December 26, one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.  One of The New York Times’s 10 Best Books of the Year

 

LIFE STORIES

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – Louis Zamperini’s inspirational life story of survival is simply extraordinary.  #1 New York Times Bestseller

A Book of Secrets (Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers) by Michael Holroyd – Hidden lives, uncelebrated achievements, and family mysteries are revealed by guests at the magical Villa Cimbrone in the Italian village of Ravello.

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (or Zheng Nian, pen names of Yao Nien-Yuan) – A compelling memoir of the torment, violence, loss, and wrongful, six year confinement Cheng endured during the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976).  In 1980, Cheng was able to immigrate to Canada, then the US, where she wrote Life and Death in Shanghai.  She died in 2009 at age 94 without returning to China.

Wild Swans:  Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang – The stories of three generations of Chinese women epitomize the drastic changes in the lives of the people of China during the political turmoil of the 20th century.  An international best-seller, the book has been banned in China.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is the tragic tale of a young man’s solo journey into the wilderness north of Mt McKinley, Alaska.  In The Wild Truth, his sister, Carine McCandless, sheds light on what compelled him to do it.

A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot.  It was a family mystery, so the author moved to a small village in the south of France to try to uncover the cause of her grandparents failed marriage and embittered silence.  In the process, she discovered more about herself.

L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz – If you’ve experienced the creative pain of home renovation or thinking about taking on the challenge of purchasing a home in a foreign country, this book is a must read.  Lebovitz, an American pastry chef, author and blogger, recounts his frustrating and sometimes funny experiences during the purchase and  renovation of an apartment in Paris, along with a mix of recipes.  Book Buzz member and experienced French home renovator, @robbi gave it a 👍

Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley – This memoir offers solace, humor, and compassion to those coping with aging, terminally ill parents by telling a personal story of life and death with his one-of-a-kind mother and father.

Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived by Andrew Wilson – Using previously unpublished letters, memoirs, diaries, and interviews with family members, the award-winning journalist Andrew Wilson brings to life the voice of Titanic’s survivors.

A Moveable Feast  Ernest Hemingway’s personal accounts, observations, and stories from when he was a struggling young writer in Paris during the years 1921-26.  [Published posthumously in 1964 by his fourth wife and widow, Mary Hemingway, three years after Hemingway’s death.  A “Restored Edition” (2009) is an altered and revised version by his grandson, Seán Hemingway.]

 

HISTORY

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir –  Despite knowing how this is all going to end, there is great suspense in Weir’s telling of Anne Boleyn’s arrest, trial and execution in 1536 along with a close examination of every piece of evidence and charge against her.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard – Not many know much about James A. Garfield (20th US President) because of his short time in office (only 200 days), but Millard’s fascinating historical account of this remarkable man and the people and tragic events surrounding his assassination bring it all to life.  A New York Times Notable Book

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin – #1 New York Times Bestseller.  There’s so much to learn from the story of President Lincoln and the disgruntled political opponents he chose to serve in the Cabinet.  A great book from a great writer.  Books by author Doris Kearns Goodwin  

John Adams by David McCullough – An epic biography about one of America’s founding fathers as well as the history of revolutionary politics, war and social issues.  Included in the book are excerpts from remarkable letters written by and between John Adams and his wife, Abigail, that reveal their mutually supportive, devoted love for each other as well as Abigail’s strength, courage and keen intellect, and the invaluable correspondence between Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.  David McCullough is a master historian.  Books by author David McCullough  John and Abigail Adams letters were edited and published in a comprehensive 2010 edition My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams.   

Napa: The Story of an American Eden by James Conaway – If you’ve ever wondered what goes into making a bottle of wine, you should read this history of Napa Valley, California with its fascinating stories of the early vintners, families and winemaking empires, and fortunes won and lost.

17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew Morton – An intriguing story of WWII spies, lies, sex and betrayal surrounding the frivolous Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  Andrew Morton’s Wallis Simpson biography, Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, is an engaging read of the scandalous life of this complex, infamous woman.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie – The story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most powerful women in history will have you spellbound.  New York Times Best Seller

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell – This book reveals fascinating stories about the lives of American fiction writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda (members of the ‘Lost Generation’), his writing of The Great Gatsby (1925), and the investigation into a still unsolved 1922 double murder.  Gatsby is the perfect follow-up read.  Now considered a masterpiece, it did not gain popularity until after Fitzgerald’s death in 1940.

 

ACTION and ADVENTURE

Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven – One of the most amazing untold adventures of the 20th century.

Close to the Wind: An Extraordinary Story of Triumph over Adversity by Pete Goss – Personal story of Pete Goss’ 126+ day solo voyage while competing in the 1996 Vendee Globe, an intensely challenging non-stop, round the world yacht race.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed – It was a #1 New York Times Best Seller before adapted to film.  This candid memoir captures the pains, gains and frightening challenges while hiking a thousand miles alone along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer – In May 1996, eight climbers died on Mount Everest during attempts to descend from the summit.  Jon Krakauer was there on assignment for Outside magazine in a party that lost four climbers on the south side of Everest.  In his book, he describes his climb to the summit, the people and events he witnessed, and his search for an answer to what went wrong that harrowing day.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, Nathaniel Philbrick –  It’s a harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole with a crew of 27 men on board the ship Endurance.  One of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger – The author explores the history of the fishing industry, the science of storms, and candid accounts of the people whose lives the ‘Storm of the Century’ touched — crews of swordfish boats, including the doomed, Andrea Gail, the beleaguered sloop Satori with its crew of three, and heroic rescuers.  It’s a thrilling and sobering read, also a #1 New York Times Best Seller.

 

INSPIRATION

What French Women KnowAbout Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind by Debra Ollivier – Realistic, inspiriting alternative thinking for women on topics of sex, love, dating, marriage, motherhood, raising children, body politics, seduction, and flirtation from a culture that knows how to live and love.  Read, and you’ll recommend to all your friends.

The Art of ProcrastinationA Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing—or, getting things done by putting them off) by John Perry –  Brilliant!

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment  –  Eckhart Tolle speaks to the topic of personal happiness in a question and answer format, and recommends methods for living in the moment without troubling thoughts of past regrets and worries about the future. The book was first published in the late 1990’s, and remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for years afterward. The Power of Now was recommended to @zeester by Fernando.  He said, “It will change your life”, and he was right. Some people find the book hard to read, and get more from listening to the audiobook.

 

SPORTS

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown –  You don’t have to know a thing about rowing or care about sports to love this book because it’s an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of remarkable achievement, and poignant story of nine hard-working young men on a long shot University of Washington team, their coach and a boat builder.  #1 New York Times Best Seller

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi – #1 National Best Seller.  Agassi is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and his memoir is an eye opener, honestly revealing about his childhood, pro-tennis career, personal relationships, and on and off-court struggles to find joy in a sport he felt forced into by his demanding father.

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood by Jane Leavy – Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, The Last Boy is so much more than book about a sports icon.  It provides stunning insight into Mantle’s incredible talent and prowess, personal failings and the demons that haunted him.  A New York Times Notable Book of the Year 

West By West: My Charmed, Tormented Life by Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman – Jerry West is a basketball legend, but you’ll be surprised to read in this brutally honest self-assessment how he struggles with misery and deep-seated anger despite the fame and glory.

Seven Deadly Sins: My pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh and Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong by Juliet Macur – Few heroes have fallen so shamefully, and that always brings up the vexing questions — what happened and why?  These two books with firsthand accounts are the best source to begin to understand the sordid facts about professional cycling and the atrocities of Lance Armstrong.

 

STORIES From HOLLYWOOD

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century by Sam Kashner & Nancy Schoenberger – “Our love is so furious that we burn each other out.” (Richard Burton)  But, there’s so much more to the scandalous Taylor-Burton love story, and this riveting book is an insightful portrait of their passionate yet tragic relationship as well as an intimate look at their private lives filled with money, movies, sex, and addictions.

Frank and Ava: In Love and War by John Brady – Speaking of tumultuous Hollywood love stories, the six year marriage of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner was high drama, including brawls, suicide attempts, boozing, infidelities, obsession, separations and reconciliations, and incredibly….the divorce didn’t end it.  Their story is thoroughly researched and told by Brady in this page-turner.

Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life by Carrie White – She was a hot celebrity hairstylist in Hollywood, but her life was never easy and she struggled, eventually losing everything to drugs. Incredibly, she battled back and wrote this engrossing tell-all memoir of her LA life.

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli – Most are familiar with a sensationalized Marilyn Monroe life story filled with sex and conspiracy.  This biography clears that up with a well-researched, well-written historical account of the personal tragedies and emotional struggles she faced in her private life.

My Wicked, Wicked Ways:  The Autobiography of Errol Flynn by Errol Flynn (with aid of ghost writer) –  Errol Flynn wrote his autobiography in such a casual, straight-forward style that it’s like reading a long, engaging letter from a friend with talk about what’s happening in his life and the world of Hollywood moviemaking, including both drama and scandal.  And, despite the fact it was published in 1959 (shortly after his death), it’s never been out of print, selling over a million copies.  Look for the 2005 edition because it contains portions deleted from earlier editions.

The Nöel Coward Diaries edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley – By the time of his death in 1973, Nöel Coward had published more than 50 plays, composed hundreds of songs, more than a dozen musical theater works, screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, a novel, and an autobiography.  If that’s not enough, his stage and film acting and directing careers continued for 60 years.  But, most appealing about Coward is that he was widely admired for his generosity and kindness, and he maintained close friendships.  That sort of fascinating, full life makes for an interesting diary!

Johnny Carson, by Henry Bushkin – Lawyer Henry Bushkin was fired and sued by Carson in 1988 after serving 18 years as “Swiss Army knife of a companion, attorney, manager, agent, henchman, crony, tennis pal and corkscrew, all in one”.  His book about those years with Carson is an engrossing celebrity tell-all with provocative details about the Hollywood high life, cutthroat network television, and Johnny Carson, a complex man, “endlessly witty and enormously fun,” and also “the nastiest son of a bitch on earth”.

 

♥ FEATURED FAVORITES

Winds of War and it’s sequel War and Remembrance by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Herman Wouk – Both are historical fiction masterpieces published in the 1970’s.  Poignant stories of the drama, romance and tragedy experienced by an American family during World War II are told in vivid detail and with historical accuracy.  [Wouk is the author of many other phenomenal novels that have stood the test of time, including The Caine Mutiny (1951)inspired by his personal experiences aboard a destroyer-minesweeper in the Pacific Theater during WW II, Marjorie Morningstar (1955) about the life of an aspiring actress, and Youngblood Hawke (1962) a tale about the rise and fall of a talented writer.]

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell – Originally published in 1936, it’s one of the bestselling and best loved novels of all time as well as winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Personal History by Katharine Graham – Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.  During her lifetime, Katherine Graham faced personal and professional challenges and crises while living in a world of politics, wealth and privilege, including feelings of low self-esteem, the suicide of her emotionally abusive/alcoholic husband, and becoming the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and she tells her inspiring life story beautifully with great candor.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand – Seabiscuit was a super-star in the late 1930’s, despite the fact he didn’t look (under-sized and knobby-kneed) or act (sleeping and eating most of the day) like a champion thoroughbred racehorse when he began his career.  His underdog story, the stories of the humans in his life as they face bad luck, injury and conspiracy, and the intense, high stakes competition of every race makes this book captivating and awe-inspiring.  #1 New York Times Bestseller

 

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