Much of this short month was taken up with reading Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lubow as I was doing research. Takes a while to read 752 pages. Fortunately, I also managed to squeeze in some really fun reads as well.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: Viewers of Off the Shelf may remember that on our show about Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan, I revealed that I’d never read the Narnia Chronicles as a child. I was immediately chastised by my co-hosts.
I’m happy to report that I listened to the audio version of the classic on the way to visit Lt. Tattoo earlier this month and now understand why the book has become a classic. Sure, the religious overtones are pretty overt, but the writing has a lyrical, dreamy tone that makes you wish Narnia was a real place. It was a delight.
From Strength to Strength by Arthur Brooks: Arthur Brooks writes the happiness column for The Atlantic Monthly which is one of my favorite reads. When I saw that he had a book about finding meaning in the second half of your life, I was thrilled. Brooks premise is a simple one: Over time, our abilities to innovate and create new ideas decreases while our ability to understand complex ideas and bigger pictures increases. The key to happiness after age 50 is to accept your decline – something many people who are ambitious or success-oriented have trouble accepting – and re-evaluate how your career and priorities. It’s not about leaving the rat race, it’s about changing how you want to run. I loved every page of this book. My only disappointment was that it didn’t arrive in time for me to take on my vacation.
The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull: After my post on biographical fiction a couple weeks ago, it’s a tad ironic that I would be recommending one this month. However, Turnbull’s book hit all the right buttons for me. Perhaps it’s because I know so little about the Romanov dynasty, but I found this book very interesting. Turnbull’s research is meticulous and her writing superb. She did a wonderful job of humanizing Olga, Nicholas II’s oldest daughter without ignoring the mistakes and flaws that brought the family down. We’ll be digging deep into this book on the next Off the Shelf.