I love books. I always have. When I was younger, books were my escape, my education and my entertainment. They allowed me to grow and learn and to slip into places to discover parts of myself that were not defined by the outside world.
I am a lifelong learner and avid reader. For the past 50 years I have tried to stay on top of new titles, waiting patiently for the latest books from my favorite authors. Having worked in bookstores for 10 years of my life, I have a deep respect for physical books.
There is something so substantial about the weight and texture of a “real” book. Turning the pages with deliberate reflection and intention has its own magical feeling. So, I was pretty skeptical when I first tried audio books. Boy, was I wrong!
“State of Wonder” was recommended to me by so many women in the Sixty and Me community that I decided it was time to add it to my reading list. Now that I have had a chance to see for myself, I can say that the praise for author Ann Patchett is totally justified.
The story is about Dr. Marina Singh, a pharmaceutical researcher. She travels into the Amazon jungle to collect the remains and effects of a colleague who had recently died. On the way, she wants to connect with a renowned gynaecologist who has studied the reproductive habits of an Amazon tribe, in which the women can have children well into middle age.
“Brain Rules” is a fascinating book, which looks at the brain and explains how little we actually know about it. Dr. John Medina, who I interviewed in 2013, is a neuroscientist at the University of Washington. He offers great insights and shares his passion for the brain with a wonderful sense of humour. One of the things that I love most about Dr. Medina’s approach
“Chestnut Street” is a collection of thirty six short stories by Maeve Binchy, a much loved writer who passed away in 2012. Her husband, Gordon Snell, recently decided that the time was right to share these stories that his wife had written over many years. I am glad he made that decision.
These are wonderful stories, set on Chestnut Street, a fictional place in Dublin, Ireland. Each story is told from the point of view of a different resident. They include stories told by adults, teenagers, and children.
“Mom & Me & Mom” is the story of Maya Angelou’s personal relationship with her mother. Many women have special relationships with their mothers. But, with someone as famous as Maya Angelou, it is interesting to see how that relationship shaped her life and her writing.
The story is also relevant to the Sixty and Me community. Many women have lost their moms and are working through complex emotions, just like Angelou’s did.
“Water for Elephants” is a book about memories, aging, and nostalgia. It is also a story of loyalty and love. Jacob Jankowski is in his 90’s and the movie starts with him looking back on his days with the circus. The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth was his life.
His story spans a lifetime. He starts with memories of losing his parents the Depression and learning how to survive on his own. He has to give up his studies as a veterinarian and hope to find an opportunity that will keep him sane and safe. By chance he finds himself drawn into the world of the circus.
“I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” is a collection of essays about the experience of growing older by Nora Ephron. She is best known for her movie scripts for romantic comedies like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.”
As Ephron reflected on her aging body, she decided to use humor and lighthearted cynicism to reveal her observations. She applied her dry sense of humor to soften the edges of the emotional and physical aches and pains emerging as she got older. It is a light read about a serious topic and a welcome addition to Ephron’s collection of books in light of her death in 2012.
“The Goldfinch” is described by author Stephen King as, “a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind.” The author, Donna Tartt took 12 years to write this book. She took her time to create authentic and complex characters that bring the book’s primary theme of loss to life.