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Welcome to the AGEIST Book Club, a carefully curated and considered monthly selection of titles from our editors, ranging from familiar names that may stimulate the desire for a second look, mixed with some fresh names to help sharpen our book smarts.

We have included a comments section, where all of us wanna-be literary aficionados can give license to our inner book critic. Give us your raves and rants. How did you feel about the plot lines? The languaging? The character development? Looking forward to seeing you in the conversations.

This Month

In an elegant hôtel particulier in Paris, Renée, the concierge, is all but invisible–short, plump, middle-aged, with bunions on her feet and an addiction to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she’s everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in an upscale neighborhood. But Renée has a secret: she furtively, ferociously devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor, she scrutinizes the lives of the tenants–her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth.

Paloma is a twelve-year-old who lives on the fifth floor. Talented and precocious, she’s come to terms with life’s seeming futility and decided to end her own on her thirteenth birthday. Until then, she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop culture, a good but not outstanding student, an

Paloma and Renée hide their true talents and finest qualities from a world they believe cannot or will not appreciate them. But after a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building, they will begin to recognize each other as kindred souls, in a novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us, and “teaches philosophical lessons by shrewdly exposing rich secret lives hidden beneath conventional exteriors” (Kirkus Reviews).

When the narrator of The Hearing Test, an artist in her late twenties, awakens one morning to a deep drone in her right ear, she is diagnosed with Sudden Deafness, but is offered no explanation for its cause. As the specter of total deafness looms, she keeps a record of her year–a score of estrangement and enchantment, of luck and loneliness, of the chance occurrences to which she becomes attuned–while living alone in a New York City studio apartment with her dog.

Through a series of fleeting and often humorous encounters–with neighbors, an ex-lover, doctors, strangers, family members, faraway friends, and with the lives and works of artists, filmmakers, musicians, and philosophers–making meaning becomes a form of consolation and curiosity, a form of survival.

At once a rumination on silence and a novel on seeing, The Hearing Test is a work of vitalizing intellect and playfulness which marks the arrival of a major new literary writer with a rare command of form, compression, and intent.

What does it take to accomplish the impossible? What does it take to shatter our limitations, exceed our expectations, and turn our biggest dreams into our most recent achievements?

We are capable of so much more than we know–that’s the message at the core of The Art of Impossible. Building upon cutting-edge neuroscience and over twenty years of research, bestselling author, peak performance expert and Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective, Steven Kotler lays out a blueprint for extreme performance improvement. If you want to aim high, here is the playbook to make it happen!

Inspirational and aspirational, pragmatic and accessible, The Art of Impossible is a life-changing experience disguised as a how-to manual for peak performance that anyone can use to shoot for the stars . . . space-suit, not included.

2024

May

Populist rage, ideological fracture, economic and technological shocks, war, and an international system studded with catastrophic risk–the early decades of the twenty-first century may be the most revolutionary period in modern history. But it is not the first. Humans have lived, and thrived, through more than one great realignment. What are these revolutions, and how can they help us to understand our fraught world?

In this major work, Fareed Zakaria masterfully investigates the eras and movements that have shaken norms while shaping the modern world. Three such periods hold profound lessons for today. First, in the seventeenth-century Netherlands, a fascinating series of transformations made that tiny land the richest in the world–and created politics as we know it today. Next, the French Revolution, an explosive era that devoured its ideological children and left a bloody legacy that haunts us today. Finally, the mother of all revolutions, the Industrial Revolution, which catapulted Great Britain and the US to global dominance and created the modern world.

Alongside these paradigm-shifting historical events, Zakaria probes four present-day revolutions: globalization, technology, identity, and geopolitics. For all their benefits, the globalization and technology revolutions have produced profound disruptions and pervasive anxiety and our identity. And increasingly, identity is the battlefield on which the twenty-first century’s polarized politics are fought. All this is set against a geopolitical revolution as great as the one that catapulted the United States to world power in the late nineteenth century. Now we are entering a world in which the US is no longer the dominant power. As we find ourselves at the nexus of four seismic revolutions, we can easily imagine a dark future. But Zakaria proves that pessimism is premature. If we act wisely, the liberal international order can be revived and populism relegated to the ash heap of history.

As few public intellectuals can, Zakaria combines intellectual range, deep historical insight, and uncanny prescience to once again reframe and illuminate our turbulent present. His bold, compelling arguments make this book essential reading in our age of revolutions.

Learn how to overcome anxiety, self-doubt & self-sabotage without needing to rely on motivation or willpower. You’ll discover the root cause of all psychological and emotional suffering and how to achieve freedom of mind to effortlessly create the life you’ve always wanted to live. Although pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

This book offers a completely new paradigm and understanding of where our human experience comes from, allowing us to end our own suffering and create how we want to feel at any moment. No matter what has happened to you, where you are from, or what you have done, you can still find total peace, unconditional love, complete fulfillment, and an abundance of joy in your life. No person is an exception to this. Darkness only exists because of the light, which means even in our darkest hour, light must exist.

‘Don’t Believe Everything You Think’ is not about rewiring your brain, rewriting your past, positive thinking or anything of the sort. We cannot solve our problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. Tactics are temporary. An expansion of consciousness is permanent. This book was written to help you go beyond your thinking and discover the truth of what you already intuitively know deep inside your soul.

Women can be heroes. When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these words, it is a revelation. Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path.

As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is over-whelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets–and becomes one of–the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost.

But war is just the beginning for Frankie and her veteran friends. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America, to angry protesters, and to a country that wants to forget Vietnam.

The Women is the story of one woman gone to war, but it shines a light on all women who put themselves in harm’s way and whose sacrifice and commitment to their country has too often been forgotten. A novel about deep friendships and bold patriotism, The Women is a richly drawn story with a memorable heroine whose idealism and courage under fire will come to define an era.

April

Raised in Marrakech by a French mother and English father, a 17-year-old girl has learned above all to avoid mauvais ton (“bad taste” loses something in the translation). One should not ask servants to wait on one during Ramadan: they must have paid leave while one spends the holy month abroad. One must play the piano; if staying at Claridge’s, one must regrettably install a Clavinova in the suite, so that the necessary hours of practice will not be inflicted on fellow guests. One should cultivate weavers of tweed in the Outer Hebrides but have the cloth made up in London; one should buy linen in Ireland but have it made up by a Thai seamstress in Paris (whose genius has been supported by purchase of suitable premises). All this and much more she has learned, governed by a parent of ferociously lofty standards. But at 17, during the annual Ramadan travels, she finds all assumptions overturned. Will she be able to fend for herself? Will the dictates of good taste suffice when she must deal, singlehanded, with the sharks of New York?

We burn 2,000 calories a day. And if we exercise and cut carbs, we’ll lose more weight. Right? Wrong. In this paradigm-shifting book, Herman Pontzer reveals for the first time how human metabolism really works so that we can finally manage our weight and improve our health.

Pontzer’s groundbreaking studies with hunter-gatherer tribes show how exercise doesn’t increase our metabolism. Instead, we burn calories within a very narrow range: nearly 3,000 calories per day, no matter our activity level. This was a brilliant evolutionary strategy to survive in times of famine. Now it seems to doom us to obesity. The good news is we can lose weight, but we need to cut calories. Refuting such weight-loss hype as paleo, keto, anti-gluten, anti-grain, and even vegan, Pontzer discusses how all diets succeed or fail: For shedding pounds, a calorie is a calorie.

At the same time, we must exercise to keep our body systems and signals functioning optimally, even if it won’t make us thinner. Hunter-gatherers like the Hadza move about five hours a day and remain remarkably healthy into old age. But elite athletes can push the body too far, burning calories faster than their bodies can take them in. It may be that the most spectacular athletic feats are the result not just of great training, but of an astonishingly efficient digestive system.

Revealing, irreverent, and always entertaining, Pontzer has written a book that will change how you eat, move, and live.

Come inside a jury room as one juror leads a starkly divided room to consensus. Join a young CIA officer as he recruits a reluctant foreign agent. And sit with an accomplished surgeon as he tries, and fails, to convince yet another cancer patient to opt for the less risky course of treatment. In Supercommunicators, Charles Duhigg blends deep research and his trademark storytelling skills to show how we can all learn to identify and leverage the hidden layers that lurk beneath every conversation.

Communication is a superpower and the best communicators understand that whenever we speak, we’re actually participating in one of three conversations: practical (What’s this really about?), emotional (How do we feel?), and social (Who are we?). If you don’t know what kind of conversation you’re having, you’re unlikely to connect.

Supercommunicators know the importance of recognizing–and then matching–each kind of conversation, and how to hear the complex emotions, subtle negotiations, and deeply held beliefs that color so much of what we say and how we listen. Our experiences, our values, our emotional lives–and how we see ourselves, and others–shape every discussion, from who will pick up the kids to how we want to be treated at work. In this book, you will learn why some people are able to make themselves heard, and to hear others, so clearly.

With his storytelling that takes us from the writers’ room of The Big Bang Theory to the couches of leading marriage counselors, Duhigg shows readers how to recognize these three conversations–and teaches us the tips and skills we need to navigate them more successfully.

In the end, he delivers a simple but powerful lesson: With the right tools, we can connect with anyone.

March

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life — until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father’s prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.  Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change – and maybe even redemption.”A visceral full-body experience, a sharp jolt to the heart, and a treat for the senses…Cosby’s moody southern thriller marries the skillful action and plotting of Lee Child with the atmosphere and insight of Attica Locke.” —NPR

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with–of all things–her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

February

It’s time to crank up the heat and lose the measuring spoons because the secret to cooking is hiding in one simple motto: MORE IS MORE. In her bestselling debut cookbook, Cook This Book, Molly Baz taught the cooking essentials and put her love for mortadella and dill on blast. In More Is More, she’s teaching cooks how to level up their cooking, loosen up in front of that ripping hot pan, and seek deliciousness at all costs. (And yes, there will be more mortadella.) More Is More is a philosophy that encourages more risk-taking, better intuition, fewer exact measurements, and a “don’t stop ’til it tastes delicious” mentality.

The recipes in More Is More are fit for any day of the week and for cooks of all skill levels. Each recipe will teach a technique or flavor combination that takes Molly’s maximalist, “leave no flavor on the cutting board” approach. So crank your ovens! Grab a fat pinch of salt! And if you’re going to use an ingredient, truly use it. Just one lonely clove of garlic? Not in this cookbook!

The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.

As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.

A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice.

In an unprecedented collaboration between three of today’s most powerful minds, Deepak Chopra, M.D., teams up with physicist Jack Tuszynski, Ph.D., and endocrinologist Brian Fertig, M.D., to bring readers a visionary work that delves into the innovative world of quantum science and shows how unlocking its secrets can revolutionize how we live and age–and, ultimately, how we can eradicate disease. The key is the quantum body.

 

Unlike our physical body, which is subject to aging, injury, and decay, the quantum body exists on a sub-atomic level and is the infinite, invisible source of everyday reality that affects your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and biological responses. Without your quantum body, there is no physical body. And this lack of awareness of the most crucial part of ourselves negatively impacts our lives every day.

Through a powerful combination of prescriptive exercises and innovative research into the quantum world, the authors unveil seven breakthroughs that will revolutionize the future of everyone’s well-being. Central to this revolution is a groundbreaking understanding of metabolism–the way our cells process energy–that promises to challenge our understanding of modern medicine as we know it.

In this groundbreaking book, Chopra, Tuszynski, and Fertig show you the way by unveiling the “real” reality of your body and mind as never before and providing a vision for a tomorrow that is already here.

January

Gnar Country is the chronicle of his experience pushing his own aging body past preconceived limits. It’s a book about goals and grit and progression. It’s an antidote for weariness that is inspiring, practical, and, often hilarious. It is about growing old and staying rad. It’s a feverish reading experience that makes you put down the book, get out there, and move. Whether hurtling down a mountain side, running your first 10K race, or taking your career to new heights, Kotler challenges us to test ourselves, surpass our limits, and achieve our own impossible, whatever it might be. Part personal journey, part science experiment, part how-to guide, Kotler takes us on his punk rock, high-velocity joy-ride for a better life in spite–and often in defiance of–the perceived limitations of the aging human body.

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.

Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get.

Whether in lake, lido, river or sea, we know the benefits of swimming outdoors and in nature – environmentally friendly and accessible, it can influence our happiness, our energy and our inner tranquility, and give us that winter glow.

Danish scientist Dr Susanna Søberg leads us step by step into the icy water and explains the “cold-shock response”, the massive endorphin rush as our body reacts and adapts to very cold temperatures through the winter season. Not only do our circulation, heart, lungs and skin respond positively, but our immune system, metabolism and mental health too. In particular she explains how our “brown fat” is activated to benefit multiple health conditions.

Winter swimming is fast becoming one of our most popular pastimes. This beautifully illustrated exploration of cold-water traditions in Scandinavia and around the world shows how it can have a significant positive impact on our physical and mental health, confidence and well-being, providing such a boost to body and soul.

2023

December

Many famed music producers are known for a particular sound that has its day. Rick Rubin is known for something else: creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can home in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable. Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities.

The Creative Act is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow. It distills the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments–and lifetimes–of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us.

In My Name Is Barbra, she tells her own story about her life and extraordinary career, from growing up in Brooklyn to her first star-making appearances in New York nightclubs to her breakout performance in Funny Girl on stage and winning the Oscar for that performance on film. Then came a long string of successes in every medium in the years that followed. The book is, like Barbra herself, frank, funny, opinionated, and charming. She recounts her early struggles to become an actress, eventually turning to singing to earn a living; the recording of some of her acclaimed albums; the years of effort involved in making Yentl; her direction of The Prince of Tides; her friendships with figures ranging from Marlon Brando to Madeleine Albright; her political advocacy; and the fulfillment she’s found in her marriage to James Brolin.

No entertainer’s memoir has been more anticipated than Barbra Streisand’s, and this engrossing and delightful book will be eagerly welcomed by her millions of fans.

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and, in front of everybody, shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.

The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel. As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters–caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York–overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.

November

In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs, shows how the most fascinating of America’s founders helped define our national character.Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin’s life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America’s best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard’s Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation’s alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom.

These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

October

Bryan Johnson’s goal: to not die. He brings us his free book, DON’T DIE which explores the philosophical & practical questions about the future of being human, happening right now. Bryan shares his protocol and poses the question: Would you opt-in to having an AI run you in order to achieve ideal health?

Essential lessons in hospitality for every business, from the former co-owner of legendary restaurant Eleven Madison Park.

Will Guidara was twenty-six when he took the helm of Eleven Madison Park, a struggling two-star brasserie that had never quite lived up to its majestic room. Eleven years later, EMP was named the best restaurant in the world.

Today, every business can choose to be a hospitality business–and we can all transform ordinary transactions into extraordinary experiences. Featuring sparkling stories of his journey through restaurants, with the industry’s most famous players like Daniel Boulud and Danny Meyer, Guidara urges us all to find the magic in what we do–for ourselves, the people we work with, and the people we serve.

Tired of food blogs and cookbooks that look impressive but lack practicality? Find yourself Googling to figure things out while cooking? Could you pull a meal together with only the ingredients you have on hand?

The Cook’s Book is your ultimate kitchen companion. Filled with engaging lessons, techniques, and strategies–as well as delicious go-to recipes, food and wine pairings, and a beginner bar cart guide–this resource teaches you what you need to know to create and share great food with the people you love every day.

Perfect for graduates, newlyweds, new homeowners, and new parents, The Cook’s Book is everything you wish your mother had taught you (if she hadn’t also been brought up in a time of pricey packaged convenience foods and too-busy schedules). Strap on an apron and get ready for flavorful meals with fabulous company.

September

Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth–all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.

Hernan Diaz’s TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another–and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.

At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America’s oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone’s boss. Yet Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?

This is the story of a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world and worrying about losing her soul. It is the story of the moment restaurants became an important part of popular culture, a time when the rise of the farm-to-table movement changed, forever, the way we eat. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl’s leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. This was the golden age of print media–the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.

Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams–even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be.

August

Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different–and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Glucose, or blood sugar, is a tiny molecule in our body that has a huge impact on our health. It enters our bloodstream through the starchy or sweet foods we eat. Ninety percent of us suffer from too much glucose in our system–and most of us don’t know it.

The symptoms? Cravings, fatigue, infertility, hormonal issues, acne, wrinkles… And over time, the development of conditions like type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cancer, dementia, and heart disease.

Drawing on cutting-edge science and her own pioneering research, biochemist Jessie Inchauspé offers ten simple, surprising hacks to help you balance your glucose levels and reverse your symptoms–without going on a diet or giving up the foods you love.

In Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, Dr. Joe Dispenza combines the fields of quantum physicsneuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics to show you what is truly possible and how to recondition the body and create better health.

Not only will you be given the necessary knowledge to change your energy and any aspect of yourself, but you will be taught the step-by-step tools to apply what you learn in order to make measurable changes in any area of your life.

July

What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? According to the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize. With warmth, wisdom, and compelling life stories, The Good Life shows us how we can make our lives happier and more meaningful through our connections to others.

“At one point they tried to calculate when time began, when exactly the earth had been created,” begins Time Shelter‘s enigmatic narrator, who will go unnamed. “In the mid-seventeenth century, the Irish bishop Ussher calculated not only the exact year, but also a starting date: October 22, 4,004 years before Christ.” But for our narrator, time as he knows it begins when he meets Gaustine, a “vagrant in time” who has distanced his life from contemporary reality by reading old news, wearing tattered old clothes, and haunting the lost avenues of the twentieth century. Time Shelter is a truly unforgettable classic from “one of Europe’s most fascinating and irreplaceable novelists” (Dave Eggers).

Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the acclaimed 2009 documentary that turned publicity-averse Grace into a sudden, reluctant celebrity. Grace’s palpable engagement with her work brought a rare insight into the passion that produces many of the magazine’s most memorable shoots. Get the audiobook version to hear Grace read it.

June

In Tranquility by Tuesday, Laura Vanderkam explains that if you want something to happen, you need to design your life to make it happen. Work crises, childcare emergencies, and home repairs are inevitable, and the mundane tasks of life – cooking, cleaning, laundry – aren’t going anywhere. To make time for what matters, you need a resilient schedule, not a perfect schedule.

Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different–and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists’ ascent, a prelude to fame. Listen to the audiobook version that Patti Smith reads. 

May

In the wake of an unimportant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for a goddess, who begins to speak out of the girl’s mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana’s comprehension, the goddess tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga–“victory city”–the wonder of the world.

Brilliantly styled as a translation of an ancient epic, Victory City is a saga of love, adventure, and myth that is in itself a testament to the power of storytelling.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Wouldn’t you like to live longer? And better? In this operating manual for longevity, Dr. Peter Attia draws on the latest science to deliver innovative nutritional interventions, techniques for optimizing exercise and sleep, and tools for addressing emotional and mental health.

This is not “biohacking,” it’s science: a well-founded strategic and tactical approach to extending lifespan while also improving our physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Dr. Attia’s aim is less to tell you what to do and more to help you learn how to think about long-term health, in order to create the best plan for you as an individual.

April

Since its first publication, The Artist’s Way phenomena has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron’s novel approach guides readers in uncovering problems areas and pressure points that may be restricting their creative flow and offers techniques to free up any areas where they might be stuck, opening up opportunities for self-growth and self-discovery.

“To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.” –Reese Witherspoon

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Our Missing Hearts comes a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

Abedin’s stunning memoir is about the daughter of Indian and Pakistani intellectuals and advocates, Abedin grew up in the United States and Saudi Arabia and traveled widely. Both/And grapples with family, legacy, identity, faith, marriage, motherhood–and work–with wisdom, sophistication, grace, and clarity.

March

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of–and paean to–the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours–vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

In The Science and Technology of Growing Young, industry investor and insider Sergey Young demystifies the longevity landscape, cutting through the hype and showing readers what they can do now to live better for longer, and offering a look into the exciting possibilities that await us. By viewing aging as a condition that can be cured, we can dramatically revolutionize the field of longevity and make it accessible for everyone.

Join Sergey as he gathers insights from world-leading health entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors, and inventors, providing a comprehensive look into the future of longevity in two horizons:

– The Near Horizon of Longevity identifies the technological developments that will allow us to live to 150–some of which are already in use–from AI-based diagnostics to gene editing and organ regeneration.

– The Far Horizon of Longevity offers a tour of the future of age reversal, and the exciting technologies that will allow us to live healthily to 200, from Internet of Bodies to digital avatars to AI-brain integration.

From the legendary music producer, a master at helping people connect with the wellsprings of their creativity, comes a beautifully crafted book many years in the making that offers that same deep wisdom to all of us. The Creative Act by Rick Rubin is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow. It distills the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments–and lifetimes–of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us.

February

Robert K. Massie returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became Catherine the Great. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution. Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies–all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her life is lived to the predictable rhythms of the often funny, always moving confidences that casual mourners, regular visitors, and sundry colleagues share with her. Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of Julien Sole–local police chief–who has come to scatter the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear that Julien’s inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette’s own complicated past.

In An Immense World, Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses, allowing us to perceive the skeins of scent, waves of electromagnetism, and pulses of pressure that surround us. We encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth’s magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and even humans who wield sonar like bats. We discover that a crocodile’s scaly face is as sensitive as a lover’s fingertips, that the eyes of a giant squid evolved to see sparkling whales, that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs, and that even simple scallops have complex vision. We learn what bees see in flowers, what songbirds hear in their tunes, and what dogs smell on the street. We listen to stories of pivotal discoveries in the field, while looking ahead at the many mysteries that remain unsolved.

January

There may be no tidy solutions or pithy answers to life’s big challenges, but Michelle Obama believes that we can all locate and lean on a set of tools to help us better navigate change and remain steady within flux. In The Light We Carry, she opens a frank and honest dialogue with readers, considering the questions many of us wrestle with: How do we build enduring and honest relationships? How can we discover strength and community inside our differences? What tools do we use to address feelings of self-doubt or helplessness? What do we do when it all starts to feel like too much?

Michelle Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress.

Do you find yourself hoping that someday, life will be less hectic? One day, you say, you’ll finally have time for the activities that you love – writing that book, completing that triathlon, traveling with friends. But if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable. If we’re not careful, dull, unfulfilling tasks can quickly occupy our precious hours, derail our best-laid plans, and make life feel like a slog.

In Tranquility by Tuesday, Laura Vanderkam explains that if you want something to happen, you need to design your life to make it happen. Work crises, childcare emergencies, and home repairs are inevitable, and the mundane tasks of life – cooking, cleaning, laundry – aren’t going anywhere. To make time for what matters, you need a resilient schedule, not a perfect schedule. Based on a time diary study of over 150 people, Vanderkam shares nine strategies for building opportunities for joy, nourishment, and fulfillment into your week.

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

2022

December

A myth-busting tour of the body’s hidden foundations by evolutionary biologist Herman Pontzer. This book draws on his eye-opening research to show how, contrary to received wisdom, exercise does not increase our metabolism. Instead, we burn calories within a very narrow range: nearly 3,000 calories per day, no matter our activity level.

By taking a closer look at what happens to the energy we consume, Pontzer explores the ways in which metabolism controls every aspect of our health – from fertility to immune function – and reveals the truth about the dynamic system that sustains us. Filled with facts and memorable anecdotes, Burn will change the way you think about food, exercise and life.

In this instant and tenacious New York Times bestseller, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight “offers a rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh” (Booklist, starred review), illuminating his company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be is a handbook of how to succeed in the world: a pocket bible for the talented and timid alike to help make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible. This uplifting and humorous little book provides a unique insight into the world of advertising and is a quirky compilation of quotes, facts, pictures, wit and wisdom – all packed into easy-to-digest, bite-sized spreads. If you want to succeed in life or business, this book is a must.

November

In many ways, we’re more comfortable than ever before. But could our sheltered, temperature-controlled, overfed, underchallenged lives actually be the leading cause of many our most urgent physical and mental health issues? In this gripping investigation, award-winning journalist Michael Easter seeks out off-the-grid visionaries, disruptive genius researchers, and mind-body conditioning trailblazers who are unlocking the life-enhancing secrets of a counterintuitive solution: discomfort. The Comfort Crisis is a bold call to break out of your comfort zone and explore the wild within yourself.

Verna Flake is fleeing Utah, a failed marriage (her husband has left her for a former beauty queen named Pinky), and the constricted yet reliable Mormon way of life. Seemingly naive but also gifted with an almost second sight for the emotional heart of things, Verna relates her adventures on the road, in Los Angeles, and eventually in Mexico, as she confronts her future and muses over her past.

New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year and National Book Award finalist, Pachinko is an extraordinary epic of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan (San Francisco Chronicle). From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

October

Leverage your built-in rhythms of Upstates and Downstates to enhance energy, sharpen thinking, balance moods, fuel fitness, and more.

If you’re like most people, the relentless daily grind of go-go-go, do-do-do, can run down your energy and deplete your resources. While most of us find our lives full of “Upstate” moments that rev up our stress engines, it doesn’t have to be this way. World-renowned sleep researcher Sara C. Mednick, PhD, shows us how we can access the most replenishing and repairing aspects of sleep through activities and moments that happen during our day by diving into our “Downstate.” Dr. Mednick shows that bringing ourselves back to the Downstate is critical for our health, well-being, and cognitive longevity.

Drawing on her original findings–and those of others across many fields of medicine–Dr. Mednick creates a comprehensive picture of the Upstate/Downstate rhythms that orchestrate all of our bodies’ vital systems, along with a novel theory that aging is caused by spending less and less time in Downstate activities. The Power of the Downstate offers practical, evidence-based insight into how we can all enable those systems to work together in better harmony.

As the human lifespan increases, New York Times best-selling author Michael Roizen, M.D. offers an inspiring look into the future of longevity–and reveals how to prepare for a longer, healthier future.

Believe it or not, living to 100, 120, or even 130 years old will become increasingly common over the next decade–and life past 100 may not be what you think. In this groundbreaking narrative, best-selling author Michael Roizen explains how cutting-edge science and technology will revolutionize your ability to live longer, younger, and better.
As evidenced in the global press, today’s breakthroughs in longevity research are unprecedented. This provocative yet practical book will help you prepare for the next major social disruptor by making the best decisions for your brain, your body, and your bank account.

Dr. Roizen, along with acclaimed economists Peter Linneman and Albert Ratner, unpacks a wide swath of medical phenomena–from reengineering aging cells to DNA manipulation to bionic bodies–and shows how increased longevity will change our lives and our culture. They also provide a concrete action plan for good health, a youthful appearance, mental vigor, and strong finances in this brave new world.

The greatest haunted house story ever written, the inspiration for a 10-part Netflix series directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, and Timothy Hutton

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a haunting; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers–and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

September

A charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott. Mary thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy. But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies–check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right” but still felt all wrong. Taking on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood, Philpott provides a “frank and funny look at what happens when, in the midst of a tidy life, there occur impossible-to-ignore tugs toward creativity, meaning, and the possibility of something more” (Southern Living).

Once in a great while, a book comes along that changes our view of the world. This magnificent novel from the Nobel laureate and author of Never Let Me Go is “an intriguing take on how artificial intelligence might play a role in our futures … a poignant meditation on love and loneliness” (The Associated Press). 

Here is the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her. Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. This inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? 

August

First published in 1979, Joan Didion’s The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s.

Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era–including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall–through the lens of her own spiritual confusion, Joan Didion helped to define mass culture as we now understand it. Written with a commanding sureness of tone and linguistic precision, The White Album is a central text of American reportage and a classic of American autobiography.

The inspiration for The Durrells in Corfu, a Masterpiece production on public television: A naturalist’s account of his childhood on the exotic Greek island.

When the Durrells could no longer endure the gray English climate, they did what any sensible family would do: sold their house and relocated to the sun-soaked island of Corfu.

As they settled into their new home, hilarious mishaps ensued as a ten-year-old Gerald Durrell pursued his interest in natural history and explored the island’s fauna. Soon, toads and tortoises, bats and butterflies—as well as scorpions, geckos, ladybugs, praying mantises, octopuses, pigeons, and gulls—became a common sight in the Durrell villa.

Uproarious tales of the island’s animals and Durrell’s fond reflections on his family bring this delightful memoir to life. Capturing the joyous chaos of growing up in an unconventional household, My Family and Other Animals will transport you to a place you won’t want to leave.

Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. One spring afternoon, the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow. Mikhail Bulgakov’s fantastical, funny, and devastating satire of Soviet life combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with historical, imaginary, frightful, and wonderful characters. Written during the darkest days of Stalin’s reign, and finally published in 1966 and 1967, The Master and Margarita became a literary phenomenon, signaling artistic and spiritual freedom for Russians everywhere.

The incredible true story of one woman’s solo adventure across the Australian outback, accompanied by her faithful dog and four unpredictable camels.

I arrived in the Alice at five a.m. with a dog, six dollars and a small suitcase full of inappropriate clothes. . . . There are some moments in life that are like pivots around which your existence turns.

For Robyn Davidson, one of these moments comes at age twenty-seven in Alice Springs, a dodgy town at the frontier of the vast Australian desert. Davidson is intent on walking the 1,700 miles of desolate landscape between Alice Springs and the Indian Ocean, a personal pilgrimage with her dog—and four camels. Tracks is the beautifully written, compelling true story of the author’s journey and the love/hate relationships she develops along the way: with the Red Centre of Australia; with aboriginal culture; with a handsome photographer; and especially with her lovable and cranky camels, Bub, Dookie, Goliath, and Zeleika.

Adapted into a critically acclaimed film starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver, Tracks is an unforgettable story that proves that anything is possible. Perfect for fans of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

Spill The Tea

9 COMMENTS

  1. A Gentleman in Moscow, wow, one of my all-time favorite books! A bit unrealistic but who cares it’s entertaining – loved the count!

  2. Just read a book by someone you interviewed on Ageist, Sandy Hanna, titled “The Ignorance Of Bliss- An American Kid In Saigon”. Fascinating book about a military kid growing up in Saigon before the U.S. went all in there. It read like a spy novel but through the eyes of a very smart little girl. I never read anything like this before. Baby powder and Hershey bars will never be the same.

  3. I’m currently reading My Family and Other Animals. Absolutely adore it. Durrell has a way with his flora and fauna descriptions and laugh-out-loud story telling about his family. This makes me feel like a kid again, collecting my own little specimens and examining under a microscope. I only wish I could share this book with my dad, he would have loved it.

  4. “When Breath Becomes Air” is Fabulous but equally as tremendous is “Between Two Kingdoms” by Suleika Jaquod . She wrote a column for the Nytimes called The Isolation Journals and has an eponymous facebook page. She is a beautiful, wrenching writer…a must read.

  5. I enjoyed “When Air Books Breath” It reminds me of the “Last Lecture” Both Books where great. They both make you think when your are having a tough day or a few weeks, months, years, life.

    You can re-ready the books over when you are have some tough time.

  6. Rarely does a writer change the way, language is used, and that is what Joan Didion does. Often imitated, but no one is one par with her. The White album is about her time in the 60s and 70s California, the “home of the natural disaster”. Fun fact- our cover star Cynthia Adler, no creative slouch herself, was working at Vogue in the 50s as a writer when Joan came in, and boom, the job was over. If one is going to lose one’s writing gig, losing to Joan Didion is not so bad. The White Album is filled with the memory searing stories from Didion observations of her home state.

  7. I first heard of The Master and Margarita from of all people, Flea, the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who is a massive reader. This is his all time favorite book. Then I saw that Patti Smith was another big fan of it. Of al the books I have read in the last few years, this is one of the most unusual and most memorable.

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