A break from schools allows space for reading. Sigh.

My dear friend, Heather, works nights as an OB nurse.  If that weren’t enough, she works over an hour away from home, and her shifts are 12 hours long.  She has arranged to not drive back and forth everyday, but even so, audio books have become her new best friend.

We “chatted” this week via email and I had a chance to share some favorite reads with her.  I’m not an audio book gal, and I tried to discern readability versus listenability, but I could be off.  At a minimum, these four books are ones that I have and will read again and again.

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan is amazing.  The http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5128581 reads, The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.  Enough said.  It’s nonfiction of the best type–a true story with all the nuts-and-bolts of history woven in.  His NPR interview (linked above) gives a good flavor of the story.

Mountains Beyond Moutains by Tracy Kidder makes me want to leave my confortable life and start a crusade just like Dr. Paul Farmer.  Dr. Farmer is a one man force against Tuberculosis in Haiti.  The story really makes you scratch your head/cry over the disparities between western medicine and the rest of the world.  I don’t know a single person with TB, let alone know anyone to die from it.  And yet, in Haiti (and other locations on our planet), TB is rampant.  And 100% preventable.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is elegant and earnest.  Not a page-turner by any means, but beautifully written and thoughtfully crafted.  Renee is the concierge for an upscale apartment building who plays up the role of uneducated, slow servant to the rich.  But secretly she’s a self-taught intellectual with many an opinion.  She has her own private joke on all the inhabitant of the building.  Renee goes so far (at the start of the story) to share that a TV plays in the front room of her small living space to give the allusion that she is glued to the machine all day.  But truly the TV serves to drown out her classical music in the back room to her tenants walking by.  Love this woman!

And finally, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.  I already wrote about this story when I first started it, and I can only gush even more.  She’s an amazing story-teller.  This reminds me of my all-time-favorite book: The Poisonwood Bible in that it’s told from specific points of view throughout rather than a one-narrator kind of tale.  We hear from and learn about the main character, Harrison Shepherd, through letters, his own writing and straight narrative and newspaper clippings.  The Lacuna is historically rich and thoughtfully written.  I always appreciate an author who assumes an intelligent readership.  I’ve been a big fan of anything Booker Prize winning, but this one has a seal on it entitled Winner of the Orange Prize.  I’ll have to investigate.



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