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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. In collaboration with Early Bird Books.

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

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

6 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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