Everyone’s posting their list of books to recommend in this strange time, so I thought I’d do it too. I went back over my reading list to find a few books with themes of strength and resilience. Here they are. (They are all available as e-books or e-audiobooks, but I can’t guarantee your library will have them.)
This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff. Grove Press, 1999. A classic coming of age story that reads like a novel, about a boy, his feckless mother, and the skills he developed to survive.
An American Bride in Kabul by Phyllis Chesler. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. What was Chesler thinking–a Jewish girl from Brooklyn–when she married a Muslim from Afghanistan? It was 1961, and that harrowing experience sowed the seeds of a distinguished feminist career.
The First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity N. Umrigar. HarperCollins, 2004. Novelist Umrigar grew up in a middle-class Parsi household in Bombay, surrounded by extended family, well-loved but caught in the undercurrents of family quarrels and jealousies. This is a sensitive, poignant coming-of -age portrait.
The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa by Douglas Rogers. Harmony Books, 2009. A terrifying and hilarious story of how Rogers’ parents managed to keep their farm-cum-resort and their sanity during the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. Random House, 2011. The Major tries to stand his ground against friends and family when he starts a romance with a neighboring woman who comes from India.
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota. Knopf, 2016. Several young men and women leave India to work illegally in England in this intense and heartwrenching story about the difficulties they face, the hardships they share, and the drama of their lives.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Random House, 2013. After retirement, Harold Fry wonders how he’ll fill his days until a letter arrives from a former colleague that changes his life.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles. William Morrow, 2016. After the Civil War, itinerant news reader Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is offered $50.00 to transport an orphan who was kidnapped by Indians to her relatives 400 miles away. The difficult journey is complicated by the girl herself, who has lost touch with what Kidd refers to as “civilization.”
Check here to see what books are most requested at New York Public Library in recent weeks. A very different list!