The Best Books to Read When __________

On Friday, I was contacted by the Washington Post for an article on the best books to read when you’re waiting out a hurricane (and they used the quote- see!). I thought this was an absolutely GENIUS idea, so like so many creative types over the years, I stole it and adapted it for my own use.

Here’s a totally incomplete list of, in my opinion, the best books to read when…

You think your sister/co-worker/roommate is acting nuts: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. This book really isn’t going to be for everyone- and it’s certainly not for those who read before bed to get relaxed (I had to read this book during the day and read another at night, which I almost never do) but it creates a vivid portrait of how a totally normal, healthy person can totally lose it. It taught me to really give people a second look.

You’ve read all your Malcolm Gladwell books:  Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Let’s assume you love Malcolm Gladwell as much as say, everyone else does. This has a similar style, and similar analysis of both the people and the facts. My boyfriend says this is not a baseball book, but I sort of disagree. It’s certainly a book about baseball- that’s just not all it’s about. Also, if you like Brad Pitt, he’ll be in the movie version. Well, he will be, whether you like him or not.

You can’t make up your mind if you want to think or laugh: The New Kings of Nonfiction by Ira Glass. Man oh man did I love all over this book. Every single essay is different, and very worth reading. My favorite is The American Man, Age 10 by Susan Orleans. When I used it for a reading in a college class, it had everyone giggling for the rest of the session. This is a great book to give as a gift, as well, if you have no idea what someone likes to read.

You’re on the train: Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. Now, this is a young adult book, but I think we’re all mature enough (see what I did there?) to know that good literature can be written for any age group. This book is a strange combination of engrossing and light and breezy. If you read ten pages while your seatmate is yammering on his cellphone and don’t fully absorb it all, you’re okay. Yet it’s still a fantastic read, and interesting enough to make your trip fly by. I also really love the cover, and there’s an awesome story behind it in the book:

You’re feeling like a Grinch: Christmas on Ice (specifically The Santaland Diaries) by David Sedaris. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for Christmas. But I was working in retail last year during the holidays, and even though I totally loved the job and would have done it for free, pushing Christmas gifts in early November really sucked the fun out of things for me. Maybe your favorite squirrel died last Christmas, or you’re allergic to tinsel. Whatever the reason, if you’re simply not in the mood for cookies and eggnog once that time comes around, pull this out and have a nice little laugh. It’s still jolly- it’s just not claymation jolly.

You want to read a totally awesome fun book about cool people and the extremely fantastic things they did: Why yes, The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma! Good idea!

What are your favorite books to read when ____?

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Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (7)  

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  1. During Lent I like to read Chocolat. Part of what I enjoy is having the story told from two points of view….. the owner of the chocolate shop and the priest.

    From Wikipedia: The story begins as a woman, by the name of Vianne Rocher, and her daughter, Anouk, move into the small French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. They are brought by “the wind” during the last days of carnival, and they settle and open a chocolaterie, La Praline Celeste. The village curate Francis Reynaud, is initially mystified, because Lent, has just begun, but his confusion turns rapidly to anger when he understands that she does not obey the church, and “flaunts” the unspoken rules that he feels should govern his “flock”.

  2. ….when I want to go to Savannah I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

  3. ….when you want to go to 1940s Hollywood I read one of Stuart M. Kaminsky’s Toby Peters mysteries.

  4. Great recommendations, especially the Alice Ozma book!

  5. Just been reading Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson and im definitely a little/big bit over 21. I also read Matilda Roald Dahl and i enjoyed it but the film, which was added upon, made it a little disappointing too. Also if you haven’t the Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpogo its a must, very beautiful.

  6. I love that Sharon Draper made your list. That book is a favorite. BUT!!! What is the backstory??

  7. When I want to feel that anything is possible and to be reminded of how wonderful just existing can be, I read one of several books by William Steig, especially Dominic or Abel’s Island. My eight year old and I both think Mr. Steig wrote the best books ever!


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