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one of the best books I've read in the last 6 months is . . .

epistrophyepistrophy 1511 replies36 threads Senior Member
edited January 2014 in Parent Cafe
. . . The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn.

Mendelsohn is a classics professor at Bard and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. The Lost is the story of his efforts to find out how six family members - his grandfather's brother, and his wife and four daughters - died during the Holocaust. Part memoir, part family history, part detective-like search, part history of WW II, part meditation on the relationship between the present and the past, it is one of the most deeply engrossing and affecting works of nonfiction that I have ever read.

How about you?
edited January 2014
5699 replies
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Replies to: one of the best books I've read in the last 6 months is . . .

  • AnyMom99AnyMom99 96 replies3 threads New Member
    Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations

    I like biographies and picked this up at the library. I was surprised that I had never heard of Gertrude, who had such a significant impact on today's situation in the Middle East. Many insights in this book on what it takes for a woman to survive in a male-dominated society.

    ."..English journalist Howell describes her subject as not only "the most famous British traveler of her day, male or female" but as a "poet, scholar, historian, mountaineer, photographer, archaeologist, gardener, cartographer, linguist and distinguished servant of the state.""
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  • epistrophyepistrophy 1511 replies36 threads Senior Member
    Coincidentally (having mentioned the New York Review of Books in the opening post), there's an essay-review of this Gertrude Bell book, as well as some related books, in the new issue:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20691
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  • alwaysamomalwaysamom 12281 replies217 threads Senior Member
    is not only one of the best books I've read in the last six months. It's one of the best I've ever read! In the past six months, I've read about 30 books, and, although I enjoyed most of them, none came close to The Thirteenth Tale. It's one of the most beautifully written books I've ever had the pleasure to read and it has one of the most intriguing stories, to boot! Here's a review that explains it better than I can:

    "This rich, multi-layered Gothic tale, in the tradition of Daphne DuMaurier and the Bronte sisters, grabs the reader from the first pages and doesn't let go.

    "Do You Intend to Tell Me the Truth?"
    The Thirteenth Tale is the story of Vida Winter, a best-selling British writer nearing the end of her life, and Margaret Lea, the youngish apprentice bookseller and part-time biographer, whom Ms. Winter has chosen to write her life story. The problem is that Ms. Winter has spent her life telling stories -- including 19 different ones about her background and childhood. Will she be able to tell the truth this time?"

    http://mysterycrimefiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/book_review__the_thirteenth_tale

    I've loaned out my copy to two of my Ds and my mother is currently reading it. When I get it back, I'm going to sit down and enjoy it again. :)
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  • NupiNupi 13 replies2 threads New Member
    Best book I've read all year: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.

    Other books I've enjoyed recently: In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin, The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.
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  • SBmomSBmom 5697 replies28 threads Senior Member
    I'd have to go with "Beloved" by Toni Morrison or "Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Novel" by Jane Smiley.

    I also re-read Love In The Time Of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Such a beautiful book!
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  • bethievtbethievt 6591 replies168 threads Senior Member
    Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. Written in 4 sections about apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes--how we've shaped these plants and they've shaped us. Wonderfully researched and written.
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  • bz2010bz2010 1422 replies18 threads Member
    "Faith of My Fathers" & "Worth the Fighting For" both by John McCain.

    Actually I first read them about a year ago, but I refer to them often. I've also read a few bios of the illustrious Hillary Clinton. Time to get educated, people! Know your candidate!

    "Botany of Desire" sounds interesting, bethievt, I'm going to have to look for that one!

    Currently reading "The Killer Angels"...
    Just finished "Gates of Fire" - very good!
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  • 2VU06092VU0609 3561 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Currently reading "The Nine" by Jeffrey Toobin and loving it. It has been an embarssment of riches for those interested in the Supreme Court with Jeffrey Rosen's "The Supreme Court" and "Supreme Conflict" by Jan Crawford Greenburg also arriving this year. Jeffrey Toobin appeared on BookTV last weekend and theorized that if HRC is elected she will want to appoint Barrack Obama to the Court based on his qualifications (Harvard Law Review, Con Law professor, etc.) and to get him out of the political arena!
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  • fendrockfendrock 2905 replies295 threads Senior Member
    I also read The Lost.

    This is a very long, dense book, and takes a different approach to the Holocaust.

    Part of the message is the difficulty in appreciating the loss of people who, by the very circumstances of their death, leave no story behind.

    It also includes long passages of biblical exegesis, plus just plain long sentences.

    An interesting book, but not light or easy reading by any means.
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  • HonduHondu 485 replies16 threads Member
    I just finished Devils on the Deep Blue Sea by Kristoffer Garin.

    A non-fiction account on modern cruise shipping. From the early rust bucket ships to the glitzy mega ships of today.The takeovers, schemes with port politicians, sailing under Flags of Convenience to skirt US labor laws and taxes, .....

    Would you believe that even though the two largest cruise companies have their home office in Florida, trade on the NYSE, fill the ships with mostly US passengers, that they pay no taxes and do not comply with US labor laws?
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  • churchmusicmomchurchmusicmom 3980 replies79 threads Senior Member
    Loved reading Middlesex and am currently reading Un-Christian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Chirstianity...and why it matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. That one has so much that I have wanted to express for so long...exciting and frustrating at the same time.

    But my favorite read in the last six months has been Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I have already read twice (read it too fast the first time). :)
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  • drbdrb 1326 replies57 threads Senior Member
    If you like hard science fiction/cyberpunk, the heir-apparent to William Gibson is Richard K. Morgan: Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies.
    Warning - before you recommend them to your 14-year old, these are NC17.
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  • spoonyjspoonyj 336 replies8 threads Member
    King Lear...in anticipation of seeing Ian McKellan and the RSC in two weeks!
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  • MomofWildChildMomofWildChild 22825 replies192 threads Senior Member
    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
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  • backhandgripbackhandgrip 1408 replies90 threads Senior Member
    The Myth of the Rational Voter
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  • RachachaRachacha 1199 replies67 threads Senior Member
    I normally do not read fiction, but on recommendations here I just finished "Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral" and "One Hundred Years of Solitude". Now I will go back to my favorite genre, autobiographies/memoirs, since I just bought Eric Clapton's....
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  • epistrophyepistrophy 1511 replies36 threads Senior Member
    fendrock wrote:

    I also read The Lost. . . .

    It . . . includes long passages of biblical exegesis, plus just plain long sentences.

    An interesting book, but not light or easy reading by any means.

    I agree that Mendelsohn often uses long sentences. (In part this seems to be a stylistic debt to Proust.) That said, I think that these sentences are long for a reason: because he has many different images or ideas that he wants to juxtapose before coming to a full stop with a period. And I found him to be an extremely graceful writer, so his prose never seemed (to me, anyway) swampy.

    As for "long passages of biblical exegesis," at the risk of sounding a bit like Bill Clinton, I guess this depends on what you mean by "long." It is true that stories from the Hebrew Bible (specifically, as I recall, the Torah) are one of the strands that Mendelsohn uses in weaving together his story. But for me these sections worked well and I don't think that any of them are longer than, say, five pages. (And while I don't think that this is necessarily too relevant here, when I say that these sections "worked well" for me, I do so as someone who is not Jewish, nor even much of a believer at all - more on the Buddhist/agnostic part of the spectrum, if anywhere.)

    As for its not being "light" reading - yeah, I agree with that (but then that sort of goes with the territory - the Holocaust, that is).

    As for its not being "easy," well, for me the "easiest" reading is that which yields the greatest pleasure - and I found this book deeply pleasurable.
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  • TreetopleafTreetopleaf 2680 replies41 threads Senior Member
    I really enjoyed Wild Trees by Richard Preston, about the undiscovered ecosystem atop the giant redwoods in CA. Now I want to go see them!
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  • epistrophyepistrophy 1511 replies36 threads Senior Member
    Since I started this thread with something - a nonfiction book relating to the Holocaust - that another poster found "dense," I'll add one more book that offers a very different sort of reading experience. A book that is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny, and that is one of the best, most brilliant short-story collections that I've ever read: Lorrie Moore's Birds of America. I don't know of anyone whose writing - sentence for sentence - offers more pure pleasure. (Yes, her humor is often dark, but, uh, so is life - right?)
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  • micromommicromom 199 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Seeing in the Dark by Timothy Ferris

    I can never get over our incredibly magnificent universe. How elegant and....ordered. And I get to be part of it - how cool is that?
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