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Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Books of vacation (in three formats)

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With vacation comes time to read…

David Sedaris: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls book coverWe went through David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls in audiobook form, read by the author himself. David Sedaris may be the only author for whom I will tend to wait until I have time to listen to the audio version, rather than just read. Since they are all personal essays, something is added by hearing the stories through his distinct voice.

If you’ve enjoyed past books by David Sedaris, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like this one, too. If you haven’t read him before, you might want to start with an earlier one. Not that they’re chronological essays of his life, exactly, but still.

And if you don’t want to do the audio thing, the books do work fine in print as well.

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida was the last book club book, which I finished up at the start of vacation. I got the ebook for this one.

We all felt this book wasn’t quite all it was cracked up to be: a major revelation, fascinating, mesmerizing. Not that it was terrible, by any means, but… Well, it probably is different if read by someone who has a child with severe autism. For the rest of the us, it’s kind of interesting, but not earth shattering. Quite short, though, so don’t hesitate to read it if you’re curious.

Jonathan Tropper: One Last Thing Before I GoThe other audiobook we listened to, Jonathan Tropper’s One Last Thing Before I Go, was recommended by the owner of Wordsworth Books as the best book of the summer. We definitely enjoyed it. It’s the story of a musician, a drummer, who had one big hit song with his band and then had been on a downward spiral ever since. When he’s diagnosed with a fatal-if-untreated illness, he’s not so sure he has much to live for, anyway. His family doesn’t take so kindly to his response.

The novel deals with serious issues, but often in a humorous way. Some parts were laugh-out-loud funny. The story was engaging, and not entirely predictable. Partway through, we both tried to guess how it would go. Neither of us were exactly right. It was resolved satisfactorily, yet somewhat open-endedly.

I had read any Jonathan Tropper books before this. I would try them again.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks coverFinally, in good old-fashioned paper, I read the fascinating The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This is the true story of the woman whose cancer cells were taken and cultured, and found to have the remarkable ability to reproduce endlessly: they are “immortal” cells. These “HeLa” cells proved very important to medicine and biology, but the woman herself and her family knew nothing of this for many years. In this book, Rebecca Skloot tells how she become interested in Henrietta as a person, and gradually came to know the members of the Lacks family (who are still with us). The cross-section of personal and medical history is just fascinating. It may not sound like the kind of book that’s hard to put down, but it really is.

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