What I’ve Been Reading Lately

I love to read. A lot.  And it’s not really a big thing for me to tear through a book a week–or even twice that.  I’ve gotten a few emails from you asking me what I’m reading and for book recommendations, and I thought this would be a fun way to share what I’ve been reading lately.

I debated long and hard about whether to share what’s on my bookshelf at the moment, or what I’ve recently finished.  I opted for the latter.  These are the books I’ve read–and enjoyed–in the past month:


A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen, edited by Susannah Carson, foreword by Harold Bloom

This collection of essays by 33 writers–some of whom you’ve likely heard of (Virginia Woolf, Anna Quindlen, Harold Bloom), others like not, is a fun and insightful read for any Austen fan.  With a caveat:  I recommend you read it slowly.  I breezed through the whole volume in a week (because I had to get it back to the library, which had me perpetually itching for more Jane Austen and less commentary.  My personal favorites are “Jane Austen for Nerds,” C. S. Lewis’s “A Note on Jane Austen,” and “The Girls Who Don’t Say ‘Whoo!,'”  which describes how Emma became Clueless.


Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat,by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

I knew Achatz (chef at Chicago’s Alinea) from Michael Ruhlman’s The Soul of a Chef, but I didn’t know the whole story.  I knew that in 2003, the James Beard Foundation named Achatz Rising Star Chef of the Year; in 2006, Gourmet Magazine named Alinea the best restaurant in America.  But I didn’t know that in 2007, Achatz was diagnosed with late-stage tongue cancer, and the treatment plan left the chef with no sense of taste–an irony business partner Kokonas dubbed “Shakespearean.”  (Thankfully, his sense of taste later returned.)  This memoir describes Achatz’s path to founding Alinea from his childhood family-restaurant days, and his battle with tongue cancer.  I could hardly put it down.  (Warning:  there’s a little salty language.)


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand.

I knew nothing about this biography when I picked it up.  It had been highly recommended by trusted friends, and I was 278th on my library’s waiting list when I spied a copy in my library’s new-release-get-it-while-you-can-7-day-circulation section.  I knew if I wanted to get through it, I had to dive in right away–so I did. Unbroken tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete turned World War II bombardier.  Since I came to the book knowing nothing, I was greatly surprised by the true-to-life plot twists–twice, so I won’t spoil it for you.  But I do highly recommend the book.  (So much so that I’m currently halfway through Seabiscuit, Hillenbrand’s previous biography.)


Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, by Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air was a re-read for me, and despite this, the book kept me up late till I reached the last page (again).  Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest while on assignment from Outside Magazine in 1996, which is now known as the deadliest year in the history of the mountain.  8 people died on the mountain the day Krakauer himself summited; 15 died that season.  A first-class adventure story.



The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate, by Marjorie Williams

Marjorie Williams was a journalist:  a Washington outsider who became a political player by virtue of her withering commentaries on the politically involved that ran in The Washington Post and Vanity Fair prior to her death in 2005.  Her Washington essays are still fresh, although the subjects–George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Colin Powell–don’t make the headlines as often as they did in her day.  But my favorite essays are those about her unexpected fight with liver cancer:  “Hit by Lightning,” and her last published column, “The Halloween of My Dreams.

Right now I’m halfway through Traffic, The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers, and Seabiscuit. (Yes, I like to read more than one book at the same time!)

What are you reading now?  Got any good recommendations?  Share them in comments!

photo credit: flickr user ginnerobot


Leave A Comment
  1. Mandi says:

    I always read more than one book at a time too! Sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from one book (but I could never take a break from reading entirely!). I really liked Seabiscuit, so I’ve been considering Unbroken for a while. I loved Into Thin Air and I have a secret desire to climb Everest, but for some reason, I don’t think that’s ever really going to happen. Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Lucky says:

    I am saving Unbroken for vacation. I’m glad to hear it’s good.

    Into Thin Air is one of my favorites. I usually read it around Christmas time because the writing is so vivid it makes it feel white and snowy even if it happens to be 50 degrees here in DC.

  3. Linda says:

    I’m read 3-4 books at a time too! Adding the Austen book to my pile. Currently in the middle of Franny & Zooey, just finished A Million Miles in A Thousand Years (Judging from your blog, I think you might like this one), and Shakespeare Wrote For Money.

    I had to return the World is Flat to the library but I have a bit more to read.

    • Anne says:

      Linda, you’re right! I loved A Million Miles. How Shakespeare Changed Everything is in my stack, but I’ve never heard of Shakespeare wrote for money. I’m adding it to my list!

  4. sarah beals says:

    I also have my hands in a few different books at a time. 🙂 I am currently reading “The Help”, “Nazi Officer’s Wife” and “What Did You Expect,” by Paul Tripp. I have a list of future reads that I am saving for our long car ride to SC in two weeks.

  5. Sara says:

    Pshew! You’re too fast for me! I’m enjoying your book recommendations. Right now I’m on A Jane Austen Education. Unbroken is for next month’s book club—I heard about that one from some other sites, too. I loved Into Thin Air, and that lead to my reading every single book written by the other survivors of that expedition. Plus a few other Everest books! I love books that lead me to other books (like Krakauer’s), and I think A Jane Austen Education is going to make me re-read all Jane’s books!!!

    • Anne says:

      I felt the same way after reading A Truth Universally Acknowledged….now I want to re-read all the Jane Austen books. I’m going to start with Emma. I have A Jane Austen Education on my list, too.

  6. Anna says:

    You ARE an avid reader! I usually have 3-4 at a time, too. You have a wonderful list. Do you tend to lean toward biography or autobiography and non-fiction?

  7. Amber @ neuronmommy.com says:

    I also read more than one book at a time! I am reading Ahab’s Wife and The young Victoria. Some of the other books sound really interesting too!

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