What’s on your bookshelf? What are you thinking of reading next?
You’ll never guess where I got a great list of book recommendations recently: Perkin’s Restaurant in Bloomington, MN! Yes, Perkin’s, home of the American-Flag-Flown-as-Advertising-Billboard and Pigs in a Blanket.
A couple dozen of us gathered in a back room of Perkin’s, set with tables for four, a gas fireplace, a dedicated waitress, and a pleasant wallpaper border simulating the spines of books on a bookshelf which, if real, would have been suspended about seven feet up the wall.
The breakfast event featured Charlie Quimby and Susan Cushman, honoring Quimby’s new book, Monument Road, and Cushman’s new post-retirement career as blogger (“See You After Work“) and editor. We attendees were asked to introduce ourselves with our name and connection to Carleton College (MN), and offering the title of a recent book that had changed the way we approach life.
Under the gun, many of us wiggled out of the assignment by naming the most recent book we’d read, a classic that jumped to mind, or perhaps a book that was supposed to challenge our behavior or world view (whether it did or not). The result was an intriguing assortment of fiction and non-fiction, biography, psychology, and social commentary. I can’t testify to any more than that; this list is random, but explicitly the off-the-cuff suggestions of a group of college alum who gathered early on a winter’s weekday at Perkin’s (the one on the frontage road, under the flag).
Most of these immediately appealed to me (and I’ve read three on the list already). I hope you’ll find something here, too. These are presented in no particular order, just as I noted them.
Monument Road by Charlie Quimby.
The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence by Martin Gayford.
Bernard Beruch: My own story by Bernard Baruch.
Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn (one in a series.)
The Round House by Louise Erdrich.
Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn.
The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt.
A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan by Michael Kazin.
Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character by Jonathon Shay.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
The Broken Cord by Michael Dorris.
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon.
Stop Without Quitting by Joseph Danysh
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (This was my contribution.)
Your comments on these books or suggestions for other titles–specifically that have altered your life–are most welcome.