Novels, history, biographies - this year had a little bit of everything and these were some of the ones I enjoyed the most.
It’s been a good year from every point of view and reading was no exception. I came across many different books and stocked up with new editions at an alarming rate. So much so that we might need to buy a library sometime soon. You’d think there’s not enough time but I have a system: each Saturday and Sunday morning I read for at least a couple of hours with no interruption. Just some nice jazz and my reading corner.
But I digress… Although many books made their way to my reading corner, I would only wholeheartedly recommend a few.
These 4 are just a few. If you don’t find anything interesting in this list or want more ideas, drop me a line with the subject: Mo’ books, less problems.
1. “Vanderbilt. The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty” by Anderson Cooper
Part history book, part autobiography, this book takes its readers on a colorful journey from the very birth of one of the most important American dynasties, to present times.
Although there are many books written about the Vanderbilt family, “Vanderbilt. The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty” is written by broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt (only child of railroad heir Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt), which makes it a lot more personal and insightful.
Why it’s so good: it emphases not just how a man coming from a humble background ended up defining the American Dream but it also objectively explains how they also lost it all.
2. “Lillian Boxfish takes a walk” by Kathleen Rooney (one of my favorite books!)
Do you ever have the feeling that you don’t want to read something because that means it’ll be over soon? That’s how I felt about this book. Based on Margaret Fishback, poet and the highest paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930s thanks to her brilliant work for R.H. Macy's, “Lillian Boxfish takes a walk” is the story of a retired New York copywriter that goes for a walk in her neighborhood on New Year’s Eve and revisits some of the most important moments (and places) in her life.
Why it’s so good: It’s a very well-written, honest introspective story about a woman that takes some time to look back and assess how things went and where she might have gone wrong. Not at all sappy or nostalgic, but rather acid and ironic, it’ll make you think. While she takes you through New York and many of its landmarks.
3. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson
You can love his products or not but there’s no denying Steve Jobs was a pretty remarkable person. Walter Isaacson is a master biographer but what’s interesting about this book is that Steve Jobs actually agreed to be interviewed by him so we can safely assume all the facts are 100% correct.
Why it’s so good: It’s detailed, insightful with a whiff of a personal touch. You’re not reading a fact-based book that could very well be a bullet point list. Up until a certain point, you get to understand a bit better who Steve Jobs was, how his mind worked, what his priorities were, what his philosophy was when it came to life and work, but also his flaws. And I don’t mean that he was a bully. We know, we all heard the stories.
4. "Five Love Affairs and a Friendship" by Anne de Courcy
You can tell how much I liked this book because it’s so worn out. Part of it is because I took it everywhere even though it’s a hardcopy and weighs a ton, but also because my dog munched on one of the corners… It’s safe to say we all loved it in this house.
Anne de Courcy is by far my favorite biographer and it’s because she will dive into certain less-than-know historic figures in such depth and with such a passion, that you end up wondering if the characters were indeed so amazing or if it was her writing that gave them this out-of-this-world dimension. Either way, this book is a window into the 1920’s in Paris. Nancy Cunard was a British socialite that broke free from the strict society she was born into, and settled down in Paris for a life of indulgence together with some of the most important figures of the Lost Generation.
Why it’s so good: Due to Anne de Courcy’s attention to detail and her ability to paint a picture, you basically visit Paris in 1920-1930. You also learn about Nancy who wasn’t just a party girl. She lived in the close-knit artistic community and knew Hemingway, Constantin Brancusi, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein to name a few, she was as against racism as you can be, and fought to bring to the public important publications. This is a book you just lost in.
These are just a few of the many books I unknowingly stumbled upon and enjoy thoroughly. I still have a few tucked away in my reading corner like the Copy Book which is the Bible of ad copy. I dedicated a whole article to some of them but if you want to learn more, I often share ideas in my super on-point newsletter cause... Who has the time to read the Bible in an email?
There’s no rush though. Reading is not something you have to do, it’s something you get lost in.
But that’s just me… thinking out loud.