There are some books that leave you satisfied. And there are some that you just can’t stop talking about, no matter how long ago you’ve read them. People often ask me what I’m reading now, or what good read I would recommend. I usually start suggesting these 6. I realize this list may change and grow. But for now, these are the 6 books I just can’t stop talking about.
1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by science-writer Rebecca Skloot left me in shock, disbelief, and a feeling in my gut that I had an innate responsibility to change the world somehow. Henrietta Lacks was a poor, black tobacco farmer. In 1951, cells from her tumor (via cervical cancer) was taken from her without her knowledge. Her cells, known to scientists as “HeLa”, became one of the most important tools in the medical field. Her cells have been used to develop the polio vaccine, gene mapping, cloning, and it also developed medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, herpes, and syphilis amongst a host of hundreds of others. Her cells have been exposed to vigorous testing and experiments to find treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases. Her cells have been sold and bought by the millions and billions and has launched a multi-billion dollar industry. Yet, Henrietta Lacks is virtually unknown…and her family can’t even afford health insurance.
2. Kane & Abel, by Jeffrey Archer – In my own humble opinion, Jeffrey Archer is probably the best story-teller of this generation. I was so riveted by the novel from the first word of the first page, to the very last word of the last page. This isn’t a thriller with many twists and turns, or a “whodunnit” with many surprises. It’s just a darn good story that left me in tears on some parts, and triumphant by the end. Archer is a prolific author, so if you plan on just reading ONE novel of his, I would recommend reading this one.
3. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Who doesn’t love scandal, love, romance, mystery, and redemption all in one story? I re-read this book every few years, and each time, I remember why I love it so much. There is something about reading a classic that you don’t get by reading contemporary literature. Bronte is a classic author that can describe a single emotion in its deepest form in one sentence when most people usually do so in several paragraphs. One of my favorite quotes is this: “…I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, rightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boiserous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.” People just don’t write them like this anymore. What a pity.
4. Play Dead, by Harlan Coben – (Gasp!) Oh my… with every turn of the page of this book, I almost always nearly wet my pants (I apologize for the imagery). You want twist and turns? Every chapter has one. You want a real whodunnit? I can guarantee you that you will NEVER KNOW who and what and why until the very last sentence on the very last page. After every chapter, you think you might have a clue…but you have no idea. Even as I type this, I’m shaking my head, remembering what it was like for me when I read this book. I lent this book out to a friend who needed a book to absorb for an upcoming extended plane ride. I received a text as soon as she landed saying she couldn’t believe how unpredictable this book is. Read it. You won’t regret it.
5. The Empress Dowager Cixi, by Jung Chang – this is a biography of a Chinese Empress who modernized China. Cixi, at 14 years old, was chosen to be a concubine for the Emperor. She delivered a son who would eventually take over the throne when the current Emperor died. When her son died of a health complication, she waged a secret and overt coup and took over the throne herself. This woman was gutsy. She was strong. She saw China diving down to a neverending abyss under the reign of her husband, and son. She saw herself as the only one who could save her country, if she took over the throne herself. When she did, she ruled intelligently, wisely, fairly, and brought riches to her country and their citizens. Chinese history as frowned upon Cixi, but Chang revived her as a savior, showing more documentation and tangible proof that the history of Cixi is to be praised, not something to be ashamed of. This is one of the best biographies I’ve read, yet.
6. Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudus – in November of 2012, I received grave news from my doctor: that I would have full-blown metabolic syndrome at the age of 30. On top of that, I had already been on diabetes medication for the past 6 years for my pre-diabetes and my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I was 30 pounds heavier, my hair was falling off, and I had an incessant bout of cystic acne. I read every book I could, and Primal Body, Primal Mind was the book that changed my life. I followed its principles, and stand by the science. Just six months after implementing its fundamental rules, I’ve reversed my risk of metabolic syndrome, reversed my PCOS and diabetes, have gotten off my diabetes medication, lost 30 pounds of fat, grew all my hair back, and gotten completely rid of my cystic acne. Read this book with an open mind. Much of what it says goes against what most doctors tell their patients (i.e.cholesterol is good, eat your egg yolks). It has literally changed my health, thereby changing my life.