16. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

By Susanna Cahalan

Rating:  4 of 5

Another book suggested by my friend, Tiffany

This is the fascinating story of a young woman who developed mysterious neurological symptoms and the efforts to diagnose what was wrong with her.

Along the way, the book explains some of the amazing things about how the brain works and what kinds of things make it stop working correctly.

An alarming majority of autoimmune diseases – around75 percent – occur in women, affecting  us more than all types of cancer combined.  Autoimmune diseases are most likely the number one cause of disability in women of all ages.  There are multiple theories about why women are so disproportionally affected, ranging from genetic, to environmental, to hormonal (most women are of childbearing age when they are diagnosed), to the fact that women’s immune systems are more complicated (they need to identify and safeguard fetuses, which are half-foreign entities, during pregnancy), and with everything more complex, malfunctions are all the more severe.


14. The Statue of Liberty

By Barry Moreno

I probably shouldn’t really count this one.  It is only 126 pages, and it is mostly pictures.

I’ve wanted to see the Statue of Liberty (actual name:  Liberty Enlightening the World) for as long as I can remember.  We finally went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to New York last October, andI bought this book on Liberty Island.  This statue is a really impressive statue to me.  I like what it stands for, but I’m also impressed with how it was made and has been maintained and repaired over the years.

I wish I could live on the island with her and go all the way up to the torch.

This statue and David – my two favorites.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen Giant of Greek fame,

with conquering limbs astride from land to land.

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

mother of exiles.  From her beacon-hand

glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

the air-bridged harbor that twins cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!”

cries she with silent lips.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

your huddled masses yearning to breath free,

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Take that, Trump!

13. The House We Grew Up In

By Lisa Jewell

Also recommended by my friend, Tiffany

This is a good book.  It is well-written and is about a hoarder and her family.  The hoarder’s explanations of why she has too keep things are very interesting.  They lead me to believe the author has first-hand knowledge of the affliction.

The mother’s behavior affects her whole family, each member in a different way.

Let me indulge in some lengthy quotes:

“Oh, God, Meggy.  You just don’t understand, do you?  You never have understood.  Everything that I posses is part of the context.”

“The context?”

“Yes! The big picture!”  She made a frame with her hands and then finally joined Meg at the garden table.  “For example, today, the tenth of April 2004.  Easter Saturday.  The day that Meg and the children came to stay.  The day that I wore my favorite rainbow cardigan and painted my toenails periwinkle.  The day that was cloudy and cool with the threat of localized showers later.  The day that I got an e-mail from Daddy in Thailand telling me that he’d landed safely and was on his way out for dinner with Rory.  The day that I had yet another argument with you, darling.”  She smiled sadly and looked tearful.  Then she brought her shoulders up and said, “So the newspaper fills in some of the gaps.  Of the context.  Of the big picture.  So, does the bottle of nail polish.  Once it’s empty I can’t throw it away.  Because it’s like throwing away something that happened.  It’s like throwing away the e-mail from Daddy and the visit from you.  It’s like throwing away the clouds in the sky and the chill in the air and the very momen’t we’re living in.  Do you see darling, do you see?”

So, the mother has agreed to let Meg remove ONLY the trash – empty food packaging – from the kitchen.  Then, there is this funny exchange:

Lorelei jumped up from her chair and said, “I shall want to watch, you know?

“Yes,” said Megan, “of course you will.  Come on then, Mother dearest, let’s go and have a big old screaming row about egg cartons.”

“Oh, no,” said Lorelei, “I never throw away egg cartons, darling, they’re useful.”

“No,” said Megan, “they are not useful.  And I will be throwing them away.  Are you coming?”

Lorelei let her shoulders slump just a degree and then she looked at Megan and smiled, “Yes,” she said, “I’m coming.”

10. The Life We Bury

By Allen Eskens

Rating:  4 out of 5

This is a book I found while searching for an “award winner” for book club.  We didn’t choose this for book club, but I’m reading it anyway.  Based on the last sentence of Chapter 6, I already have a theory about what happened.  I was wrong about Don’t Go, though.

Chapter 6 is a well-written good setup to the story about to be told.

Good line:  “Carl may be dropping weight like a snowman in a skillet, but don’t underestimate him.”


I’m already more than halfway through this book.  It is a good, fast read.  It is telling a couple of stories, and doing it well.  The relationship between Joe and Lila is developing at a realistic pace, unlike the relationship between the two main characters in The Promise.

Content alert:

The book has the major profane words and references to three rapes, so far.  The end had a little more violence than I like, but this book gets a thumbs-up and a recommended read from me.

Buy it from Barnes & Noble