Oh, Dr. Sacks, why did I wait so long to read your work?! You delight me. Your writing inspires me, stimulates my intellectual curiosity, and fills me with admiration and joy. Best, my responses are not limited to the external, but turned within, kindling a compassion for myself that mirrors your for yourself, for my loved ones as you for yours. I believe that your work - in both science and the humanities - qualifies you as a secular saint. Bravo and AMEN.
I resisted this book of essays (by a woman whose life is just too close to my own fantasy for comfort) until it was the only book on ausio I had that interested me. I took it on the road and listened so intently, with such an interest in the insights Ms. Patchett has gleaned from her life, that the hours just drifted by in a thought-packed fog. I drove a lot that week, but not enough to finish listening, so I took home the hardcover so I could savor what remained and have it on my shelf for keeps. Ann Patchett may not yet have written The Great American Novel (though all 7 have been pretty darn good), nor won the Pulitzer, but if had to write a shortlist of our greatest living writers, she's near the top.
If you liked Blood, Bones & Butter, you'll eat up this memoir by Marcus Samuelsson, fmr. exec. chef of New York's acclaimed Scandinavian restaurant, Aqavit. Orphaned as a child in Ethiopia, adopted by Swedes, and trained in Switzerland and France, Samuelsson is a child of the world. And while Yes, Chef tells the reader much about the kitchens he has worked in, it is mainly a very powerful account of one young man's personal and professional maturation.
Forgive the cliche and my hyperbole, if it is that, but this book took my breath away. I read it long before publication, in one sitting, with awe, admiration, and an overwhelming desire to share it. I sent to a surgeon friend, a man who'd had his own unnerving brush with death, who is also one of the most perspicacious readers I know. He pre-ordered twelve copies for his colleagues and close friends. There will be no more Paul Kalanithi books, so you must read this one. Best to do so now.
If you, avid reader, like to read about reading as much as you love to read, pick up these essays by Peter Orner. Mostly literary and somewhat personal or mostly personal and somewhat literary, they're all terrific and inspiring.
If you are a frequent traveler and hotel guest, you need this book; if you simply like the behind-the-scenes genre (think: Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential or the anonymously-penned The Waiter, you want this book. An insider's romp through the hotel biz, Heads in Beds is full of tips (mostly about tips: GIVE 'em) and laughs. You'll never look at a mini-bar the same way again...