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As many of you, my faithful friends know, my Top Tens aren't always very prompt. This week is no exception. But I have a pretty good excuse. I had to take Baby Girl to a doctor appointment. She'll live, just a bit of bronchitis. Nothing the antibiotics won't take care of.
So back to the task at hand...
These are a books that I would love to read this summer. It is by no means an exhaustive list. Man, it would take me a thousand years to read all of the books that sound good. They are in no particular order, either. Very precise, I know.
1. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
Baby was assigned to read it over the summer for her AP Biology class in the fall. I'm a little terrified, however. The blurb from Stephen King on the back cover reads, "One of the most horrifying things I've ever read." Are you kidding? If it scared the pants off the King of horror himself, I may end up in the corner sucking my thumb and crying for my Mama by the time I'm done.
2. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Synopsis: A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic "hot" virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the
appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their "crashes" into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.
I'm probably one of the last people on the planet to not have read it yet. But I want to. I love to read funny. I love to laugh out loud no matter where I'm reading. It's like you and the author are sharing a secret that no one else is in on. And seriously, how could it not be hilarious?
3. Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
This just sounds like a good read to me.
4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Synopsis: A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
I remember driving when an interview with Rebecca Skloot came on the radio (which to my family's chagrin, is always set to NPR). In the interview she was talking about her book which was slated for release that week, and exactly who Henrietta Lacks was. Every time I hear the title, I remember how much I want to read that dang book. But in between, I forget. Dammit. Really it's true...so many books, so little time.
5. A Year By the Sea by Joan Anderson
Synopsis: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.
Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?
Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
I saw this book listed on Hiking Housewife's Top Ten last week. It sounds good.
6. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Synopsis: Now available in paperback, the entrancing story of how one woman's journey of self-discovery gave her the courage to persevere in re-creating her life.
Life is a work in progress, as ever-changing as a sandy shoreline along the beach. During the years Joan Anderson was a loving wife and supportive mother, she had slowly and unconsciously replaced her own dreams with the needs of her family. With her sons grown, however, she realized that the family no longer centered on the home she provided, and her relationship with her husband had become stagnant. Like many women in her situation, Joan realized that she had neglected to nurture herself and, worse, to envision fulfilling goals for her future. As her husband received a wonderful job opportunity out-of-state, it seemed that the best part of her own life was finished. Shocking both of them, she refused to follow him to his new job and decided to retreat to a family cottage on Cape Cod.
At first casting about for direction, Joan soon began to take plea-sure in her surroundings and call on resources she didn't realize she had. Over the course of a year, she gradually discovered that her life as an "unfinished woman" was full of possibilities. Out of that magical, difficult, transformative year came A Year by the Sea, a record of her experiences and a treasury of wisdom for readers.
This year of self-discovery brought about extraordinary changes in the author's life. The steps that Joan took to revitalize herself and rediscover her potential have helped thousands of woman reveal and release untapped resources within themselves.
7. Stuff White People Like: a definitive guide to the unique taste of millions by Christian Lander
Again, I like funny. See #2.
And now for the couple of fiction pieces I have on my list:
8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
9.The Beach House by Jane Green
10. anything by Sarah Dessen as she appears nearly every week on many a Top Ten.
Thanks a million for stopping by. What are you hoping to read this summer?
Talk to you soon,