If you’ve stuck with me this far, congratulations! This final post rounds up my top books from the decade with some odds and ends: a memoir, books that have expanded my horizons, or taught me something I didn’t know I didn’t know. Most of these I read on my Kindle through Overdrive, so I only had one physical copy of all the books listed here. I’m trying to not buy ALL THE BOOKS, okay people? Help me out.
From food to murders to geography to wolves (YES we are going to talk about THOSE WOLVES again), these books took me by surprise in the most delightful way.
“Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir” by Ruth Reichl
Another Anne Bogel recommendation—this is a charming memoir from the editor of Gourmet Magazine. You get a little bit of everything in this book: recipes, insight into the publishing history, New York life glimpses. The chapter that took my breath away was the one on what it was like to be in New York during 9/11 and the harrowing days and weeks that followed. Really one of the most delightful books that I read all year.
“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann
Geez. Oklahoma. This book is a historical narrative that reads like a suspense thriller. Set in the 1920s, “Flower Moon” examines the systematic deaths of Osage Indians over their mineral rights. Why are all these rich Indians dying? Why is nobody doing anything? How can it be stopped? Woven in with this investigation was also the birth of our nation’s investigative office: the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was eye-opening and heartbreaking all at the same time. As soon as I finished reading it, I forced the book on Kurtis and made him speed-read it so we could talk about it. I originally read this on Kindle, but it’s definitely one I would consider purchasing a hard copy of and re-reading, especially since it has to do with state history.
“Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World” by Tim Marshall
Traveling by region/country, author Tim Marshall takes a brief look at the history of the country and its unique geography and then how that affects current day issues. This would honestly make a great addition to a high school geography/civics/government class—I wish I had read this in high school! But I would at least recommend reading it this year in particular as we head into an election year. I am for sure planning to re-read it this year. Spoiler: don’t skip the Arctic chapter at the end. More drama than you can shake a penguin at.
“The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary” by Simon Winchester
You know how you read a description of a book and you instantly know you’re going to love it? That’s how it was for me and this book. This book tells the history of how the Oxford English Dictionary came to be under the direction of Professor James and Murray and the mentally-ill prisoner who was one of its largest contributors, Dr. W.C. Minor. And it was one of the most fascinating books I read all year.
It’s an amazing look at the capabilities of the human mind and heart even when marred by illness and tragedy. Bonus: The film adaptation with Mel Gibson and Sean Penn is incredible!
“Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone” by Douglas W. Smith
If you were around me at all late this summer, you probably heard me mention this book. I know. I’m sorry. We’re going to talk about wolves again. In preparation for our family trip to Yellowstone, I read this book about the wolf reintroduction program in the mid-1990s. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I can tell you I didn’t plan to become #teamwolf at the end of this book. Written by a scientist, the book reads like anything but a scientific report but like once again, a moving family saga. Except the family is a pack of wolves.
Tracing the beginnings of the wolf reintroduction movement to the release of the wolves in Yellowstone, to the triumphs and fallout of the following years, you’ll follow a family dynasty with more drama than Dallas. I was blown away by the ripple effects that this one species has on the rest of the ecosystem. I was moved by how unique each pack was. And I very much hope to spot a wolf in the wild one day, though I may have to settle for re-reading Smith’s book.
Well, that’s all of my top books from the decade! Thanks for indulging me across THREE blog posts. Gah, that’s a bit excessive, but whatever. I hope you found a few titles for your TBR list this year. Happy Reading!