1. Educated. The first half of this memoir is a fascinating and harrowing account of growing up in a home with survivalist parents who don’t believe in schools or doctors (the scale of injuries is not for the feint of heart), and are so suspicious of the government the writer doesn’t even have a birth certificate. The book really gets going as she leaves this world behind to discover herself through education. A reminder that in those big classrooms, we all come from such different places with different family burdens and the power of good teachers to open our worlds.
2. The Weight of Ink. I love a book that teaches about history through a fantastic story and a mystery that you want to get to the bottom of. The protagonist here is a feminist Jewish girl who wants to be a scribe, strictly forbidden at the time. Like Possession, it weaves between the story of present-day academics and their historical subjects, both of whom are struggling between fulfilling the heart and fulfilling the mind.
3. Little Fires Everywhere. A page-turner about the seemingly perfect order of 1980s Shaker Heights, and the disorder just beneath those tidy lawns. It’s about what makes a good parent, how our ideas of race and class affect this, and the parenting and life mistakes we make and how we come back from them (or not).
4. Becoming. Hardly an original recommendation, but there’s a reason she’s got the best approval ratings of any political figure out there. The book shows her to be exactly the kind of best-friend-we-wish-we-had that we always thought she was. (We’ve heard the audio book, which she reads, is even better because it makes it seem like she’s in your living room.).
5. Bad Blood. It's hard to believe this emperor has no clothes story is really true it's so outlandish. A young phenom starts a company--at 19--with a bold promise-to get rid of invasive blood tests with just a pin prick. But there's never a there there, and the ruthlessness with which she dispatches anyone who threatens to expose the company and, more gallingly, the willingness of those in power, from Kissenger to the New Yorker, to believe her--for years--is compelling. More than anything, in this age when we hear about 'fake news,' it's an amazing testament to the power and importance of journalists.