I was like a kid in a candy shop with my Christmas holiday reading — delighted, and a tad bit hyper-active. I bounced back and forth between three winners: Anna Quindlen’s Miller’s Valley, David Brooks’ The Road to Character, and Zadie Smith’s Swing Time.
Since its recent publication, I had been saving Miller’s Valley, and, much as I enjoyed it, I also regretted finishing it. For me, having an unread Anna Quindlen novel is akin to possessing a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s comforting to know that when hard-times come I have an almost-guaranteed good read on the shelf…all I can say is that my girl Anna better be hard at work on her next novel and taking good care of her health.
The Road to Character is my kind of non-fiction: interesting, well-researched, digest-able, and relevant. I don’t read anything that I think is entirely irrelevant (is anything entirely irrelevant?), but hey, a biography of Marcel Proust is uncontestedly less applicable to my life than the insights of David Brooks. What I particularly appreciate about Brooks is his ability to, on top of presenting thought-provoking information, instigate self-reflection. I certainly wouldn’t consider his non-fiction “self-help,” but it prods me to examine my way of being in the world.
And Zadie Smith? Well, she’s just flawless. Swing Time includes almost all of my favorite attributes of R.F.P.P: it’s a coming-of-age story meets family drama meets tale of female friendship. On top of that, it’s an “expand your worldview” kind of novel, giving me the opportunity to look at the world from a new perspective.
I would highly recommend all three of these books.