Best ‘New to Us’ Books of 2012: Sharon S.’s Picks

I love to read nonfiction as well as fiction, so in presenting my best “new to me” books for 2012, I decided to use the categories of my favorite nonfiction, my favorite “how to” book, my favorite biography, my favorite novel, and my favorite collection of short stories. (You can see the full list of books I have blogged, too.) — Sharon S. Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman
I found this book to be deeply reassuring! It’s OK to have cluttered desks and crammed closets, say the authors, and in some cases it may even be beneficial (up to a point, of course). Abrahamson and Freedman present many examples of successful scientists, business owners, politicians, homemakers, and people from many other walks of life who spend that time they could have spent organizing being creative and productive instead. Also, staying loose and not locked in to one system allows us the freedom to adapt quickly to changing events. Running Step by Step by Roy Wallack and Ken Bob Saxton
You’ve got to be kidding, I thought when I first picked up this book, but I ended up being a convert. I’m no runner, so I tried barefoot walking instead (which Ken Bob says is just like running except you always have at least one foot on the ground). There’s no doubt in my mind—heel striking is a bad thing for your joints. When you learn how to bend your knees like Ken Bob suggests, your calves act as shock absorbers that preserve your joints. Of course, you can do this even with shoes on, but when your foot is not cushioned with a running shoe, you have a constant reminder not to bang that heel down! Also, it adds a new dimension to the experience to learn to place your feet lightly and actually feel the ground under them. the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg
Steinberg was tired of being a free-lance writer and wanted a job that had health insurance, so he answered an advertisement for a librarian position at a prison on the outskirts of Boston. He ended up with more than he bargained for. What is or should be the purpose of a library in such a place? In trying to help the prisoners learn and prepare for lives outside of prison, he often runs afoul of the rule-bound guards. On the other hand, in getting too emotionally involved with those he is helping, he finds himself in some difficult moral dilemmas. There is no easy answer to the question of why people end up in prison, nor is there an easy way to help them get out and stay out. Pioneers! by Willa Cather
This slim novel set on the Nebraska prairie at the beginning of the twentieth century contains some of the most moving scenes I have yet encountered in literature. It is a story about love, friendship, betrayal, and the price of self-knowledge that readers will not easily forget. I am amazed at Cather’s ability to create characters that seem so real to me that I feel like I have actually met them. See my full review. of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Lahiri also creates memorable, realistic characters in these stories, each one a view into the hearts and lives of people of different ages and cultures. A young married couple suffers a devastating loss that rocks their faith in each other. A school-age girl slowly learns to appreciate the fact that everyone does not live the privileged life she does. A young man and an old woman come to know and respect each other through mundane events that turn out to have been not so mundane after all. Each story shows us something unique about human nature, how and why we move toward or away from one another, how we mature and come to understand the meaning of life. See my full review.


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One Response to “Best ‘New to Us’ Books of 2012: Sharon S.’s Picks”

  1. Claire 'Word by Word' Says:

    Intrigued by barefoot running, reminds me of childhood on the farm where it was the norm, we even used to hide our shoes before catching the school bus, since so many other kids at school were barefoot – makes me wonder now.

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