February Reading Roundup

With the election, holidays and other drama seemingly in the past, I was finally back in the reading groove.  This month I managed four reads that weren’t research related.  Two of the books I recommend highly for everyone. The other two I enjoyed, but will appeal to select audiences only.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman:  For two and a half years, I walked past this title on the Barnes & Noble science shelf and told myself that I would read it. On my last day at the store, I grabbed a copy.  Thinking, Fast and Slow is a behavioral economics book. For those (like me) who weren’t familiar with the term, behavior economics is basically the study of how human nature effects decision making.  In other words, taking classical economic theory and then looking at how it works in the real world with real people.  My inner social psychologist was in geek heaven. It also made me quite sad that the field was still too new when I was an econ major, because I would have loved a class in the subject.  Fascinating, although a bit dry.  You really have to love reading about economics and psychology.  I’ll confess that when the math got a bit heavy, I skimmed. 

The Wisdom of Women: 10 Women, 10 Decades, 5 Questions by Deborah Monk: I was lucky enough to see portions of this book in the draft stage. I thought then, and I still think, it’s a fascinating concept. Deb Monk interview ten women from childhood to age 90 and asked them the same five questions. Her goal is to learn if the way women view themselves and the world changes as they age.  The participants answers are both unique and surprisingly similar.  I found their responses intriguing.  It’s a short book, perfect for a snowy Saturday morning with coffee. 

Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig: Let me say upfront that while I’ve never been a fan of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, I absolutely adore her single title books. That said, Band of Sisters might be her best work yet.  The book is based on a real-life group of Smith College alumna who traveled to France on a relief mission during World War 1. These women braved over a year near the front lines providing medical care, education and supplies to the local villagers. Their goal was to give the French back their dignity as well as help repair their homes. Willig portrays the frustrations and hazards these women faced with her trademark combination of humor and drama.  There’s also a wonderful storyline about the power of friendship and an adorable wartime romance.  The book hits shelves March 2.  Get it! You won’t be sorry. (Thanks to William Morrow and Netgalley who provided the advanced copy in exchange for my review.) 

Journal of a Novel by John Steinbeck: While writing East of Eden, Steinbeck kept a running journal of his progress in the form of letters to his editor.  The result is a fascinating look into Steinbeck’s life and process. While the book is of interest to everyone, it’s especially appealing to writers.  They will find themselves nodding in recognition at Steinbeck’s various creative foibles.  (The man wrote two pages on the need for the proper pencil. Trust me, if you’re a writer, you will love it.) 

Reunited with Her Blue-Eyed Billionaire by Barbara Wallace: What? You didn’t think I’d let this blog pass without mentioning my own book, did you?  If you’re looking for a sweet (and a little spicy) on a cold afternoon, this book is for you.  Roman baths, ice skating in the park, botanical gardens and a wedding. Need I say more?

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