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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 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

7 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

  2. “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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