May 2022 Book Marks
I’m often asked, “do you really read all those books?” And the answer is “yes.” But don’t necessarily expect me to remember all the details four months from now.
Writing this blog is a labor of love, not a source of income. Over the past few years of writing these monthly reviews, I’ve been thrilled when people tell me they enjoy receiving it or pass it on to friends. It’s the highest compliment when someone shares that they purchased a book I recommended, or their book club is reading it. I take great care in trying to determine what books might have broader appeal for you, the reader, although I can’t exactly articulate what makes excellent writing other than I know it when I’m in it. Kind of like hitting a vein of gold in a mine.
Reading tastes are highly personal. And how we read is personal too; hard cover, audiobook, Kindle. I’m one of those people who pretty much knows within 50 pages if it’s the book for me. I leave a fair amount of books on planes, in the YMCA locker room and just give them away every chance I get to people who might enjoy them. That “pass along” quality of a book is a gift that keeps on giving, the pebble tossed in the pond that ripples out to create enjoyment for others.
And now that it’s May, you’ll find a selection of great nuggets here….
The New Megatrends – Seeing Clearly in the Age of Disruption by Marian Salzman
In a century already defined by change and disruption, it feels impossible to accurately nail a roadmap for the next 20 years. Yet Salzman demonstrates, once again, that her gifted third eye has a track record of seeing around corners. Since coining the term “metrosexual,” Salzman has been illuminating the most meaningful and prescient cultural shifts that are hiding in plain site, weeding out the blips from the fundamental shifts in culture and society. Looking ahead at the next two years, she unpacks the course of human life from the “end-of-days worry” over Y2K through the chaos of the “together apart” pandemic and now remote work. Navigating across timelines and geographies, she finds the through-line between business, civic life, consumers, entertainment and family life to reveal the ways in which we can view the past, shape the future and reframe our identities. This is your best book to spark the next lively dinner table and workplace conversation.
The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian
A-list actress Katie Barstow, and her new husband, are taking their closest friends on safari for their honeymoon in 1964. Everyone is dreaming of days spent photographing gorgeous landscapes and watching for herds of zebra, hippos and lions in Tanzania’s Serengeti. What they never could have imagined is a kidnapping that quickly turns violent, with devastating effects on the “Lions of Hollywood” as they’ve dubbed themselves. Once again, proving he’s a master storyteller after the success of “The Flight Attendant,” Bohjalian keeps us completely engrossed in the action while giving us the backstory of each character. Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of the 1960’s, where race and colonialism are in flux in both Africa and America, this book had me digging my nails into my skin in a good way.
Fly Girl by Ann Hood
Most of us know Ann Hood as an accomplished writer, but long before she penned her first novel, she graduated from college in 1978 and took to the skies as a TWA flight attendant in high heels, pouring beverages and asking “chicken or beef?” This was the golden age of air travel, before TSA frisking and sweat pants, when first class meant little gold foil numbers on the end of your roast duck leg. As she goes from the new girl to working the first-class cabin on international flights, she flies through deregulation, the oil crisis, a strike and the ultimate demise of TWA. Packed with stories that will make you laugh and give you deep respect for anyone that wears the uniform, this is a look into a bygone era when women were fired for being overweight and the stories of heart attacks, overdoses, air marshals and love in the air (yes, the mile high club) were all just part of the job.
Anna by Amy Odell
“The Devil Wears Prada” made her a mainstream name in America, but long before that, Anna Wintour was a force to be reckoned with, the most powerful woman in media and the fashion industry. This exhaustively researched book (with no input from Wintour) covers the rise of the icon, going back to her days as a tomboy in the 60’s swinging London scene, where her father was a powerful newspaper editor. Leaving school early, she moved to the competitive magazine world of New York and the rest is history. With her mysterious black sunglasses and ever-present bob, Wintour shaped fashion, media, and Hollywood for decades. A ticket to the Met Ball, created by Wintour, is still the hardest and most impossible “get” in New York, maybe the world. This book is an inside look into a relentless and ambitious woman who fought through every obstacle to remain dominant in the magazine world.
Burn Rate, Launching a Startup and Losing My Mind by Andy Dunn
Most memoirs about startups have a dash of hubris, lots of “How I Made This” tossed in with a few bro-hugs and hoodies. This book is an entirely different variety than an insider’s guide to entrepreneurism, written by the co-founder of the menswear company Bonobos. It’s a humble, honest and brave look at the author’s struggle with bipolar disorder, a disease that nearly cost him everything, from his business, his relationships and his life. Not only does the book humanize this affliction, which affects more than three percent of the population, but it offers a rare look back at where things went wrong, what could have been done differently and also provides a template for families worried about a loved one. So many things are extraordinary about this story, but what stands out first and foremost is the incredible strength and devotion of Dunn’s family, his friends who he shared the information with, his board of directors and the woman he would ultimately marry. And it’s always nice to get a happy ending!
Blood Orange Night – My Journey to the Edge of Madness by Melissa Bond
Any story of addiction is raw and brutal, but this one is embedded in our image of motherhood, America and apple pie. After she gives birth to her down syndrome son and then a daughter, an exhausted new mother Melissa develops insomnia, getting down to one hour of sleep a night. She loses her magazine editor job in the 2008 recession and as her relationship with her husband frays, she seeks help from a doctor who prescribes her benzodiazepines to sleep, increasing her dosage on a regular basis. Thus begins her descent into addiction to one of the most powerful substances that takes hold in the brain with potentially deadly consequences. Melissa’s drive to survive and be present for her children is often the only slim margin that keeps her alive. Bond’s deft writing and compelling, emotional chronicling of this hour by hour battle puts a very human face on something that has become an epidemic.
*These are books I genuinely love and am thrilled to recommend to my friends. These are Bookshop.org affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I get a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Alternately, if you prefer to rent books at your local library or buy from your local bookstore, I very much support that!