Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp were long time friends. Both were writers, Caroline the leading literary celebrity with her book Drinking: a Love Story propelling her to popularity. They also shared a love of drinking, which both had to overcome. They also had a great love of dogs. The book celebrates their levels of friendship, Caroline’s battle with cancer and Gail’s great grief at the loss of her friends. This is a great read for lovers of books, lovers of dogs, and everyone who has had a deep friendship and lost that friend.
Augusten Burroughs writes a memoir about his life with alcohol and drugs, his experience with rehab and his subsequent experiences post-rehab. The author writes humorously, yet poignantly about the advertising industry, the life of a single man in New York City, love, HIV, as well as drug and alcohol addiction. His writing is both salty and compelling.
I don’t usually go for books about near death experiences. They tend to come out reading like an episode from Touched by an Angel or The Ghost Whisperer, but a book written by a neurosurgeon about his own experience sounded fascinating, and it was. In this book, Alexander describes his near-death experience, while in a six-day coma after contracting Bacterial Meningitis. He then goes on to find research that could help to explain this and put it into a scientific context. This is a good read for the believer in the afterlife and the skeptic alike. One caveat the book will be disconcerting to those who take a biblical/ Christian view of the afterlife. in this case, read with your eyes wide open.
Balram Halwai tells the story of his rise as a successful entrepreneur in In India. He begins as one of the lower casts and gets a job as a driver for a wealthy man. As he ages he finds a way to get out from under his master’s control and become a business owner of a taxi service in his own right. The book looks at the complex psychology of a man who does what he has to do to rise in the turbulent world of modern India. The novel, while being general fiction, contains elements of suspense fiction that will leave the reader on the edge of his seat. The novel is also a commentary on the rise of China and India as the new economic dynamos of the world. It also serves as a commentary on the tendency of democratic government, specifically the government of india to fall prey to corruption.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel is the memoir of a Holocaust survivor, followed by his insights of the source of the many of the causes of mental illness today. Frankel recommends that we ought not seek happiness, but rather seek meaning in suffering. This is one of the 100 Best Books of the 20th Century. It is well worth reading.