2. We still watched Elf and Christmas Vacation this winter and thought of pithy, ironic, and sardonic ways we could incorporate their dialogue into our letter
The 2013 Kruzoo Family Reading List
- West with the Night by Beryl Markham--see Jack's review here. An aviation pioneer--the first woman to fly from Europe to North America solo--an accomplished horse traininer--illicit lover of the Duke of Gloucester--writer without equal. These monikers alone describe the the central character in the best autobiography you've never heard of. And West is one of the best written books--ever. Hemingway's evaluation of Beryl in a letter to a friend should rocket this novel to the top of your amazon wish list: [Beryl] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.
- The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. First off, as an English major I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know the correct definition of the word prodigal. From the parable in the Bible, I always thought it referred to someone who screws up and comes back around, hat in hand. I couldn't be further from the truth--prodigal means someone who is wastefully extravagant, who spends their resources recklessly and freely. The author takes this parable and uses it as a framework by which to illustrate God's reckless and extravagant love for both sons in the parable. For the skeptic and believer alike this short book will challenge your conception of true religion and Christianity at large. On our Yearly Re-Reading List.
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A riotous look at the fictional-ish journey of one Nigerian woman to the college campuses and social circles of the US. Tuck a copy of Adichie's deft and funny tale into your bag to read this summer a la plage ou a la piscine. Among her many insights into our culture is the American propensity to give visitors a full tour of their home--in Nigeria you will never get past the kitchen and living room.
- The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) by Adam Johnson. This incredible story falls firmly into the book category fiction-ish. This lengthy tome is part spy caper--swashbuckling romance--scathing indictment--political commentary but is fully engaging. Johnson imagines the narrative arc of one ordinary North Korean citizen who struggles for an identity amidst a government imposed monolithic culture. This arc spans the globe from North Korea to Japan to Texas--you won't be disappointed.
- Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela. I started Mandela's autobiography a few weeks before his passing after watching it gather digital dust on my kindle bookshelf for over a year. My reticence to dive into this book stemmed from a general disdain for dense, bloated, self-important celebrations of one's life often captured in autobiographies. My misgivings could not have been more misplaced. More a serious of chronological vignettes than a traditional biography, Madiba beautiful and humbly tells not only his story--but that of South Africa. Click here to read a poem Jack wrote after reading this book.
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro has an ear for the naivete of youthful aspiration and a heart for tragedy--a great story.
- Ender's Game: 1 (The Ender Quintet) by Orson Scott Card. A million times better than the mediocre movie. Start with this one and revel in reading the whole series.
- Warrior's: Life and Death Among the Somalis by Gerald Hanley. Read everything that you can get your hands on by this gifted author. As Africa threw of the chains of colonial oppression, Hanley examines the Somali experience through the eyes of a british soldier stationed there.
- Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. An insightful and side-spliting fictional look at the American obsession with "supporting the troops."
- People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry. A pretty creepy (true) story that examines a seedy sub-section of Japanese culture. Incredibly well-written but I wouldn't recommend it for your small town book club.
- Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. One of South Africa's premier writers of our time. This story is about pride, lust, and the rural aftermath of a post-apartheid South Africa.
- Foe by J.M. Coetzee. Wow. What a weird book. Coetzee reimagines the Will Robinson Crusoe story. I know it means something deeper and if I was getting graded I could figure it out.
- Crossroads by W.M. Paul Young. Thought-provoking but not as good as The Shack.
- The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry. A favorite book of one of my younger brothers. This is a meandering examination of memory, reconciliation and regret. Don't expect a page-turner.
- The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillippa Gregory. Emily will have to add her .02. But I know she liked this one.
- The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. This one is a tear-jerker--read it in the privacy of your living room.