When I have the time, and often when I don’t have the time, I spend hours in the real and fictional worlds brought to life by the written word. Books offer more than anyone could ask: education, laughter, escape, identification, serenity, tears. These are some of the books on my shelves and my opinion on why you should slip into their worlds, too.


Red Hook Road {Ayelet Waldman}

A look at authentic characters working their way through unimaginable loss and grief. Waldman’s storytelling leads you through the families’ pain, addressing religious and cultural conflicts along the way. Serious, thoughtful, and hopeful.

One Day {David Nicholls}

Hilarious. Laugh-out-loud when you’re all alone in a quiet room hilarious. It’s touching, too. What hooked me most, though, was the authenticity of the characters and their relationship dynamic. You’ll fall for the male protagonist though you know you shouldn’t, and you’ll pull for the female protagonist to get it together for herself.


Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain {Portia de Rossi}

A raw and intimate portrait of a life ravaged by, and ultimately saved from, eating disorders. If you know someone struggling with this, read it. If you want to understand how people spiral into self-destruction, read it. It’s one of the only books I’ve read that clearly communicates both the clinical and personal aspects of eating disorders. As someone with both academic and personal interests in the subject, the most interesting realization I had while reading it is that no matter how varied the manifestation of eating disordered behaviors, the psychological and emotional process is so much the same for all of us. I will make this disclaimer: If you have a history of eating disorders or are currently struggling with one, this book may be a trigger. It’s graphic and detailed. I had some trouble with it but was ultimately comforted by hearing so many of my own thoughts echoed by someone else, not to mention her inspiring, practical recovery.

Good Calories, Bad Calories {Gary Taubes}

As a population, we need this. Mr. Taubes is extreme in his conclusions, but the basic message is soundly supported by his detailed, open-minded exploration of the scientific literature. This particular book presents the science in nitty-gritty detail, which I think is helpful (though potentially boring) for us to understand. (His follow-up, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, is more straight forward.) I especially appreciate his approach–as a science journalist willing to side either with or against the establishment. As you read about the food and nutrition industries, the type of establishment issues he discusses become a commonly cited problem. It’s not just one author being “anti”; it’s a pattern. Read this and get over your fat-phobia.


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