Our Take Ten staffer for April: Erin Yourstone
From Mamie: Erin is the manager of the Children’s Department but likes everything from board books to murder mysteries to nonfiction on obscure topics. She doesn’t believe in finishing a book you aren’t enjoying and isn’t much of a re-reader because there are too many good books on her to-be-read pile. However she has re-read all the fiction on this list—some three or four times—and each time discovered something new to enjoy. (She could’ve filled this list up several times over with pictures books, so if you’re in the mood for a picture book, head over to the Children’s Department.) Here are her top ten books, with her review below each one:
If Leif Enger were to rewrite the phone book, I’d read it; but his first novel is my favorite. Ruben Land is an asthmatic kid with a father who performs miracles, an outlaw brother, and a little sister who writes epic cowboy poetry. When the Land family takes a borrowed Airstream westward in search of Ruben’s fugitive brother, the trip becomes a journey for understanding, justice, and redemption.
No blurb could adequately describe Lahiri’s exquisite writing or memorable characters. Her debut short story collection proves she is a master of the form. After all, who wins the Pulitzer with the first book?
Stegner’s intimate portrait of the lifelong friendship between two couples never dips into the sensational. Instead, it provides a thoughtful meditation on love and friendship.
If you haven’t read this classic since high school, take another look. This one has it all: dramatic plot twists, exquisite writing, layers of imagery, and unforgettable characters.
Unfortunately, this YA classic about a rape survivor finding the courage to speak out is still timely. Well-crafted and thoughtful, this novel also features one of the wittiest protagonists in YA literature.
We all react differently in moments of crisis, but this simple picture book is a powerful reminder of the importance of listening with empathy. A must read for kids and adults.
This very readable crash course in nuclear history from the Curies to Fukushima is a great introduction to the conversation about nuclear power. Nelson’s sweeping overview provides context to historical events and policies and offers more in-depth information about some of history’s tragic nuclear catastrophes.
Accessible armchair geopolitics for anyone who even occasionally follows international news stories. In each chapter, Marshall tackles a continent or major region and theorizes how its physical geography influenced centuries of global politics.
Trevor Noah’s memoir of his childhood in South Africa is alternately humorous and harrowing. Noah’s ability to use humor to analyze and reframe fraught racial, social, and economic issues make this a book you’ll want to discuss.
Montgomery strikes the perfect balance of memoir and nature writing. The octopuses are fascinating creatures with distinct personalities, but for me it was the supporting cast of quirky octopus-loving humans that made this such an enjoyable read.