Nantucket’s most beloved bookworm shares the reads that got him through the winter.
AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins
My year of reading began with this highly controversial novel by Jeanine Cummins. American Dirt was an Oprah Book Club Pick and slated to be one of the most anticipated reads of 2020—but then the book faced major backlash. Critics cited cultural appropriation and harmful stereotypes that degrade the immigrant experience. I debated adding the book to my “Need to Read,” but I feel it is an important pick in today’s society. I loved American Dirt for its fast-paced, fictional storyline complete with vivid characters. I also welcomed the controversy surrounding the book. It encouraged me to dig deeper into American Dirt and listen to those voices that oppose it so passionately. I include it here not to divide us as readers, but to inspire healthy conversation.
DARE TO LEAD: BRAVE WORK. TOUGH CONVERSATIONS. WHOLE HEARTS. by Brené Brown
This winter, WE CAN Nantucket and the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce hosted a book club featuring Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead, a playbook for “developing brave leaders and courageous cultures.” This book is not just about leadership; it is about a skill set that we should all learn and practice in our daily lives. I found Dare to Lead extremely useful in a work setting as well as my personal life. After two decades of research, intimate studying of the human experience, and the daring “to choose courage over comfort,” this four-time #1 New York Times best-selling author gives us the tools to step up and realize who we are is how we lead.
HERE FOR IT OR HOW TO SAVE YOUR SOUL IN AMERICA by R. Eric Thomas
The creator of Elle’s “Eric Reads the News,” R. Eric Thomas didn’t know he was different until the world told him so. He was black in his mostly white suburban high school. He was gay in his conservative black church. And he grew up seeing the world differently, finding unexpected hope and experiencing every awkward stumble along the way. This collection of essays was a hilarious and heart felt memoir perfect for Black History Month this past February, but also a worthwhile read all year round.
THE BOOK OF LONGINGS by Sue Monk Kidd
There was no better way to celebrate Women’s History Month this past March than with a novel about the power of women’s stories and how many of those stories have been written out of history. In that spirit, you will meet the fictional Ana, a brilliant and rebellious young woman living in the first century who becomes the wife of Jesus. Ana writes, “When I was finally able to read the scriptures for myself, I discovered (behold!) there were women. To be ignored, to be forgotten, this was the worst sadness of all.” Whether you want to believe Jesus had a wife or not, this meticulously researched account of a woman way before her time is still very relevant today.
THE GLASS HOTEL by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was one of my absolute favorite novels of 2014, so I was eager for whatever she wrote next. The Glass Hotel achieves the same gorgeous prose that had me so enthralled reading Station Eleven. You never quite know where the story is going, how it’s all connected or where the characters will end up, but you are in the hands of an author who casts a powerful spell with every sentence, every character and plot development. I was in a literary trance and read this in one sitting.
THE DEEP by Alma Katsu
The Deep by Alma Katsu is a haunting, psychological twist on one of the world’s most renowned stories: the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic. The twist? Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. I am obsessed with Titanic stories and I appreciate author Alma Katsu’s books that mix history with horror elements. She perfectly captures the class divide, the real-life characters and the mystery that is key to every Titanic story. I am picky with my supernatural fictional, but the author’s historical research makes this book a worthy addition to the Titanic canon.
Support your Island Indies. All books are available at Mitchell’s Book Corner & Nantucket Bookworks!