On My Reading List – September 2019 through June 2020…

Early each year I pick out the books I’ll be reading with my Book Discussion Group for the coming year. We read books from September through June. After reading reviews, getting opinions from readers I trust, and scanning classics I might have missed, here are the titles I’ve come up with and the reasons they… [Read More]

The Year I Was Peter The Great by Marvin Kalb Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Year I was Peter the Great; 1956, Khrushchev, Stalin’s Ghost, and a Young American in Russia by Marvin Kalb; Brookings Institution Press, 2017. 290 pages; $24.99 (hardcover); reading level adult. This “professional memoir” by famed NBC/CBS news correspondent Marvin Kalb (who is now in his 80s) looks back on the year 1956 when Kalb (fluent… [Read More]

Steam Jobs in Cyber-Security by Cynthia Argentine Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Steam Jobs in Cyber-Security by Cynthia Argentine; Rourke Educational Media, 2019. 48 pages; $10.95 (paperback); reading level: grades 4-8. This book’s lively page layout will be the first thing to engage young readers. A traditional text is surrounded by three running sidebars suggesting a computer screen with multiple open windows. But Argentine’s words more than… [Read More]

Improvement by Joan Silber Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Improvement by Joan Silber; Counterpoint, 2017. 227 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. Part I of this three-part novel dangles the prospect that this will be an intriguing but straightforward story. It’s 2012 and Reyna, living in Brooklyn and the single mother of a four-year-old, narrates. We meet Aunt Kiki, Reyna’s boyfriend Boyd and, after… [Read More]

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Random House, 2017. 343 pages; $17.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. Set in February of 1862, in a very real cemetery where the very real body of Willie Lincoln has just been placed in a borrowed crypt by his bereaved father, the first character we meet is a very… [Read More]

The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Mayor of Mogadishu; A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding; St. Martin’s Press, 2016.  278 pages; $26.99 (hardcover); reading level: adult. As Harding admits in his introduction, this is both a biography of Mohamud “Tarzan” Nur (mayor of Mogadishu, Somalia from 2010 to 2014) and a recounting… [Read More]

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 247 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. In the opening chapter of this brilliant novel, set in Brooklyn in the first half of the 20th century, 32-year-old Jim commits suicide and three nuns sweep in to comfort his pregnant wife, who, in the final paragraph… [Read More]

Happiness TM by Will Ferguson Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Happiness TM by Will Ferguson; Canongate, 2003.  309 pages; reading level: adult. First written in 2001, then re-titled and re-issued in 2003, this is a satirical look at pre-9/11 America through the eyes of a Canadian writer.  It was recently recommended by one of my favorite authors (also Canadian) so I was surprised to find… [Read More]

The Professor and the Mad Man by Simon Winchester Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Professor and the Madman; A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester; HarperCollins, 1999.  242 pages; $15.99 (paperback); reading level:  adult. In 1634, the French established the Académie Française to catalogue, and keep a watchful eye on, their language.  It wasn’t until 1857 that Richard Chenevix… [Read More]

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; Viking, 2016.  462 pages; $27.00 (hardcover); reading level:  adult. On June 21, 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is declared to be a “former person” and sentenced to house arrest in the Hotel Metropol in Moscow. Despite this setback, we sense that it is the Count, rather than the… [Read More]