to read

I accumulate lists and scraps of papers with books that sound interesting and that I might want to read. But then they end up everywhere and I lose track of them. It is, admittedly, the one area of my life where I am a titch disorganized.

However, that's all about to change. I had this realization that my blog is supposed to be about books. So I may as well keep that list here. In case you're ever interested, you can easily search for these posts under the label Book-a-Day. Because most of them will come from the book-a-day desk calendar Sis gave me for Christmas.

Rameau's Niece by Cathleen Schine

Think of Rameau's Niece as the younger sister of Possession. Both are about academic women who encounter old books that make them rethink their notions of love. But while Possession is the sophisticated older sister, Rameau's Niece is the sparkly, funny youngster. All of Schine's novels are lively romps, and Rameau's Niece may be her very best.

The Last Duel by Eric Jager
True crime doesn't get more salacious--or more medieval--than this. In 1386 France, a knight returned home from battle to find that his wife had been raped and impregnated--or so she said--by his neighbor and friend. The neighbor denied it. The king ordered the dispute to be settled on the battlefield so that God could determine innocence or guilt. Would the knight avenge his bride? Were the neighbor's claims of innocence true? And if the knight lost, would his bride be killed, according to the law? History, true crime, and thriller combine in a ripping good read.

Life Is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman
Few books you'll read this year will be so filled with hope and honesty and tenacity and joy as George Dawson's memoir. Dawson wrote the book at 101 years of age, and in it he recounts his life as the grandson of a slave, a man who worked hard all his life, and didn't learn to read until he turned 98. The book is a plain-spoken portrait of a century, a reminder of a segregated South, and a tribute to perseverence and a positive attitude.

Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages by Mark Abley
Most travelogues chronicle the people, the food, the architecture, the famous sites. Abley's focuses on the languages, with fascinating results. Of the six thousand languages spoken today, only six hunderd or so are expected to survive another hundred years. Abley crosses the globe, from tiny islands off Australia to Maine to explore why languages fade and how that affects culture.

Duveen: The Story of the Most Spectacular Art Dealer of All Time by S. N. Behrman
Remember those wonderfully long, juicy articles that appeared in The New Yorker years ago, often in several installments? Duveen's first life took such form and was acclaimed by critic Edmund Wilson as "the best profile [the magazine] has ever printed." Art dealer Joseph Duveen based hiw whole career on one simple observation: Europe had plenty of art and America had plenty of money. A fascinating story of how many of America's mansions and museums came into their holdings.

The City: A Global History by Joel Kotkin
Kotkin, a planning consultant and journalist, boils 7,000 years of history into some 200 pages in his neat survey of cities. What makes a city work? What makes it fail? How important are sacred spaces? And how do politics give them shape? A wonderful, brie pimer whose only failing might be that it leaves readers wanting more.

Black Monday by R. Scott Reiss
Planes grounded . . . cars grinding to a halt . . . and it's only Monday.

It's a plague that will cause the death of millions. . . . A plague that will destroy countries. . . . A plague that will plunge the world into a new dark age.

But not one person will get sick.

Black Monday is a riveting debut thriller, chillingly crafted from science fact and guaranteed to keep you in the edge of your seat.

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