Book Recommendations

Now that there’s not a bookstore on many corners, knowing what you want to read and trusting the recommendation of others is even more important. This is an ongoing feature that encourages members to recommend books at any time and keep our list of good books growing.

IWD: Move: Putting America's Infrastructure Back in the Lead by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

I recently had the opportunity to meet and speak with Harvard's Rosabeth Moss Kanter at a symposium I helped organize for AWESOME (Achieving Women's Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education). She has written this book not just for people involved in transportation planning and administration, but for all of us because we use highways, drive over bridges, take train trips, etc. and our infrastructure is in terrible shape. Professor Kanter sought out and wrote about some of the more innovative approaches to solving the problem.

May 30 2015

337: The Arsonist by Sue Miller

This is more than the story of someone intentionally setting fires in a small New Hampshire town. It also weaves through subplots involving characters that are likable and relate-able. The author builds suspense, while giving the reader time to pause and experience the human aspects. Sue Miller really seems to understand the complexity of human emotions and relationships.

February 18 2015

007: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

The Supreme Court Justice's autobiography is an inspiring story with interesting anecdotes. Reading the book, I felt like I had made a new friend.

February 05 2015

1933: The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler

As a longtime Anne Tyler fan, I chose this book as a break from the business books, CIA spy novels, and biographies I've been reading lately. The tone of the story -- about a man who loses his wife to a freak accident and then re-inspects his marriage while working through his shock and grief -- is both soothing and thought-provoking. Tyler lets us look into the heart of other people's lives without feeling embarrassed about it.

April 04 2013

1257: Road to Tomorrow by Mary Metcalfe

Andrea Garrett is trying to escape her abusive marriage. Fearing for her life, she leaves her two small children with her twin brother and flees her home the day before her husband is due to arrive back from a tour of duty. After falling asleep at the wheel and landing in a ditch, her life takes on a new direction when strangers step in and introduce her to a life she could only have imagined and one that could save her soul and give her children the future they deserve.

Read more about this author and her work:

January 29 2013

012: Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America by Adam Winkler

(This book was mentioned in a comment submitted to the IWD feature Open Air)

I am currently reading a book titled Gunfight. I happened to be in the middle of this (I feel it is balanced, written by a constitutional lawyer) book when the CT shootings occurred. The most important thing I've learned from the book is how much I don't know. Gun rights/control is really complicated and I now take seriously my responsibility to understand it.


Read reviews in the LA Times:

and the Wall Street Journal:

December 27 2012

654: Until Brazil by Bethe Lee Moulton

Engrossed by the story of self discovery that was the center of this novel and then found myself continuing to daydream about an exotic and passionate country long after the last page was turned. I recommend this fast-moving story if you want an arm-chair adventure or sneak preview of a trip to this colorful country! It was a book that I couldn't put down and made me smile through-out.

The best comparison would be Eat Pray Love. It's about a woman, Beth, who is facing a bit of a rut in life...job isn't going anywhere...married but restless. She decides to go on a business trip to Brazil in hopes of a promotion and in doing so falls in love with the culture, the lifestyle and the people! A book of personal transformation and there is even an unexpected love story. I love books about travel (especially with a female that I can relate to!). I hope you give it a chance -

December 05 2012

IWD: Into the Light: The Healing Art of Kalman Aron by Susan Beilby Magee

This story of hope, courage, and healing -- illustrated by the work of artist Kalman Aron -- tells of Kalman's life journey as he emerges from the ashes of the Holocaust to hel himself through his art. Read IWD's interview with author Susan Magee.

October 15 2012

213: No Easy Day by Mark Owens

This promises to be one of the most controversial books of the season. It is fascinating to learn of the inside details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden -- but the account hasn't generated all praise. For example, some say that the author (not his real name) broke a code of silence to give these details.

Note from IWD: If you'd like to see a televised interview with the author, who has been disguised to hide his true identity, click here to watch 60 minutes.

In terms of controversy, an e-book entitled No Easy Op has been published to give a different view of the mission; and according to the Christian Science Monitor, the author of No Easy Day was "pushed out" of the Seals.

September 09 2012

400: The President's Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

Documented stories of the interrelationships between past and present presidents of the United States, how some helped and some hurt others. A fascinating look into a very private world.

August 13 2012

248: Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu

I recommend this book with both an invitation and a caution: If you want to focus on just the pageantry and the patriotism of the Olympic games, you might want to wait to read this book until they are over because it sheds light on the seamier side of Olympic training and competition. I read this book after I saw Dominique Moceanu interviewed on TV and learned she was the youngest gymnast (14 years) ever to win a gold medal. She seemed to be a sweet and well-adjusted young woman, but to become that person, she had to grow beyond the effects of a harsh father and an abusive coach.

July 17 2012

394: Keeping the House by Ellen Baker

This novel chronicles the journeys of different women, during different time periods, as they enter marriage and learn that it may not pan out for them exactly as they anticipated. Dark secrets that have been woven through a family's generations are revealed in this story of women's conflicts with issues of conformity, identity, forbidden dreams, and love.

July 16 2012

149: Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley

I wasn't born yet when President John Kennedy was shot, but one of the clips I've seen over and over is the one of news anchor Walter Cronkite announcing on TV that the President had died. As a journalism grad, I am curious about Cronkite and other leading news anchors and the role they played during the early years of television. This book gives insights into the real person behind the persona.

Note from IWD: A person interested in behind the scenes stories of famous news broadcase personalities, could spend a year just reading books with that theme. In addition to the new Cronkite biography, Cronkite wrote his own book A Reporter's Life. (published in 1997) Other books by or about famous news personalities include: This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell you on TV by Bob Schiefer; Mike Wallace, A Life by Peter Rader (published in April 2012); Rather Outspoken by Dan Rather (published in May 2012); A Reporter's Life (about Peter Jennings) (published in 1997); A Memoir by Barbara Walters (published in 2007); Katie: The Real Story (about Katie Couric).

July 11 2012

094: The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

This is by the author of Bee Season and it takes the complex relationships between young girls and adds a suspenseful twist. The main character returns to her childhood home when a memory surfaces about the day she and a friend took a route through the woods on the way home from school and only she came out. I'm including a link to a book review by Barnes & Noble.

June 07 2012

311: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book reminds me of The Magus by John Fowles. Its twists and turns have to do with magical things that aren't part of our everyday reality. I found it a tremendous mind-opening fantasy (and a good love story) that we need every now and then.

May 28 2012

041: Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine

Sara is a dear young friend. I was fascinated by her language, style and creativity, and loved the book. I am including the review from NPR (Nancy Pearl):

In Sara Levine's Treasure Island!!! an unnamed 20-something narrator finally reads Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel and realizes that if she models her behavior on that of young Jim Hawkins, she can change her life!!! For the better!!! She'll be intrepid!!! Resolute!!! Independent!!! "Careless, clearheaded and brave!!!" Steals an Amazon parrot named Richard from her job at the Pet Library!!! Loses job!!! Lars, her endlessly patient and loyal boyfriend becomes less patient and loyal!!! Endlessly loyal and patient parents become less patient and loyal!!!

How will this obsession play itself out? This being the 21st century, with an intervention, of course, something Jim Hawkins (a young man of the 19th century) never had to endure. As might be apparent, I found Treasure Island!!! to be a total hoot. Outrageous!!! Delightful!!! And a good part of the fun for me came from the fact that I became so involved in the lives of the characters that I found myself frequently wincing at their behavior and wanting to enter into the pages of the novel to tell them in person to stop acting so foolishly.

May 22 2012

012: The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service by Henry A. Crumpton

On the recommendation of another IWD member, I read In the President's Secret Service and liked getting a behind-the-scenes look at one of our country's most notorious organizations. When I saw this author, Henry Crumpton, interviewed on TV, I decided this book about the CIA would be interesting, tool. It's eye-opening.

Note from IWD: Henry Crumpton was an operations officer in the CIA's Clandestine Service for 24 years, then served as the U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism. To read more about the author before deciding whether to read the book, visit,,9781594203343,00.html

May 18 2012

017: Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

This book is set in the 1530s when King Henry VII is plotting with Thomas Cromwell to get rid of his wife so he can marry Anne Boleyn (we all know how that turned out). This book really makes history come alive. Mantel has written a new book -- Bring Up the Bodies -- that continues the story with the kind now turning from Anne Boleyn to Jane Seymour.

Note from IWD: Wolf Hall won the Man Booker Prize in 2009.

May 18 2012

271: Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's Leaders by Chester "Sully" Sullenberger

Talk about a twist of fate changing someone's life! Sully Sullenberger was an unknown airline pilot until he landed a plane in the Hudson River. Now, he's a safety consultant and an author of two books. This is his second -- and he's chosen people he admires for a variety of reasons.

May 18 2012

035: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

I imagine that there will be a lot of books written about the experience of being deployed to Iraq and then coming home to get readjusted to our society -- and this book is about that and oddly enough takes place on one day at a football game.

May 18 2012

194: Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

This book has a combination of espionage, psychoanalysis, and a setting in 1913, and it has a lot of twists and turns. The era of World War I is always fascinating to me.

May 18 2012

208: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

Just finished reading this one and enjoyed it, in spite of its rather far-fetched premise -- a man who's just been fired from his job is shown a photo of a little girl who looks surprisingly like him -- and who has the same last name as his old girlfriend. He uses his new free time to track her down.

May 18 2012

032: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

About New York society in the late 1930's (1938 & 1939 to be exact) with the main character a young woman in her mid-twenties amidst a group of high society and ones that wish to be. There is the young George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation at the end of the book. Fun to read and the Rules at the end -- amazing how so many are still practiced and some...not.

May 09 2012

032: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

An Australian escapes from prison in Australia and gets to India (based somewhat on the author's life) and what his life was like in India. He lived in the slums, knew nafarious individuals, and the sordid life of India's underworld. It tells the story with lots of interesting facts about the Indian customs and country.

May 09 2012

032: Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

The last six weeks of Abraham Lincoln's life leading up to his murder by John Wilkes Booth. Interesting facts surrounding this difficult time in America's history.

Note from IWD: Here's a link to read about Bill O'Reilly and his reasons for writing this book.


May 09 2012

032: The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund DeWaal

DeWaal tells the story of his ancestors, the Ephrussi Jewish family of great wealth in Europe from the middle 1800's to the present time, on an equal level with the Rothchilds. Their collection of netsuke and other works of arts.

May 09 2012

032: That Woman by Anne Sebba

About Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, her early life, courtship by Edward, the Duke of Windsor, and how the world perceived her.

May 09 2012

IWD: The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

One particular strength of this book is the narrator's persona, which is strong and believable and easy to relate to, with responses and reactions a real woman might have to the situation -- her grown-up and slightly estranged son being charged with murdering his girlfriend. As she gets involved to try to untangle some of the details, their relationship repairs.

April 19 2012

093: In the President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler

As we come up on the election, this is a truly interesting book about what our former Presidents and First Ladies have been like, as seen from the perspective of Secret Service agents who see them as the public never does. I'm only partially way through, but already I've seen Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagen -- and Mrs, Reagen, too -- in a whole new light. I can't imagine how the author persuaded these agents (whom he names) to reveal these secrets. I guess the Secret Service isn't so secret!

April 05 2012

339: The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood

(In response to a question in IWD's feature "Open Air" about navigating through a serious problem) An excellent book about handling crises.

April 05 2012

339: Choosing the Future: The Power of Strategic Thinking by Stuart Wells

Wells focuses this book on forward thinking. He emphasizes that a person or business should be focusing on what is possible rather than what has been done. A direct quote from the book that I especially like is as follows: "Intellectual capital is the sum of what everything, and everybody in the company knows is what gives it a competitive edge....” and, of course, I consider this book a cross trainer as well. Cross trainer is what I consider is a useful learning tool for many environments.

April 05 2012

213: Tension City by Jim Lehrer

I learned about this book after attending a meeting where Lehrer was the featured speaker. He has been a Presidential debate moderator more than anyone else (14 times, I believe) and the book contains the "behind-the-scenes" stories of the candidates feelings about debates and ways the debates changed the course of the elections.

March 01 2012

105: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I'd like to thank the IWD member who mentioned State of Wonder last spring. I read it because of your recommendation and what a trip! Into the heart of the Amazon --  sort of a modern Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Great plot, two great female characters.

Note from IWD: We also enjoyed this very much as an audio book. To read a review:,0,1721600.story

January 23 2012

244: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie & Associates

The Dale Carnegie Foundation has updated this classic "self-help" book offering advice about how intereaction with other people can either hep or hurt your career -- or anything else you're trying to accomplish. For example, how you can "smile" in digital communications (other than emoticons and :)s). I found this a refreshing, non-cynical look at how people can get along and benefit mutually from their intereactions while improving their chances for success.

Note from IWD Founder: I agree! As a young advertising copywriter, I was sent -- as was every other young copywriter, art director, and account manager --by my company, Foote, Cone & Belding to a Dale Carnegie workshop. How surprised I was to read some of the same classic advice refreshed and made relevant to the digital age.

January 23 2012

057: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

A story of twin boys who grow up in the midst of political turmoil in Ethiopia and both go into medicine. I read that when the author, who is a physician and professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, spoke to first-year medical students at Stanford, someone asked him which he was more interested in: medicine or writing. His passionate response was medicine.

Note from IWD: The title of the book comes from a passage in the Hippocratic Oath: "I will not cut for stone even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art."

January 23 2012

057: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

More recommendations: All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West and Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. By an author in the San Francisco area: The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell. By a Chicago author: Another Way Home by Ronnie Hartfield. For Africa-philes: West with the Night by Meryl Markham. Two of my absolute favorite authors: Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig and Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. 

January 23 2012

186: Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence by Gail Sheehy

The author's husband fought a 17-year battle with cancer. Along the way, Sheehy interviewed people across the country, listening to their stories about different illnesses or circumstances they were dealing with. The book is relevant to a lot of different kinds of situations and relationships.

Note from IWD: On Gail Sheehy's web site the book is described as " strategies to outwit our rigid health care system and keep your loved one safe and satisfied without sacrificing your own health, happiness, and financial security." Sheehy also wrote Sex and the Seasoned Woman and The Silent Passage (about menopause). 

November 01 2011

114: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

This book, by the author of Devil in the White City, is a fascinating book about the US ambassador to Germany and his family when Hitler came to power. It's so important that these times and incidents are remembered and the stories told.

October 06 2011

203: Sheer Radiance by Lauren Belfer

Historical fiction and love story centered around the days (during World War II) when penicilliin was being developed, changing medicine forever.

October 06 2011

076: Mismatched by Tami Hoag

I haven't read this yet, but it's by an author I enjoy.

August 01 2011

069: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book is on my nightstand. "Doctors took her cells without asking...Those cells launched a medical revolution vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping and more. Nonfiction

August 01 2011

069: Disraeli by Andre Maurois

Disraeli was first published in 1936 and reissued in 1965 by Time Life Books. Benjamin Disraeli was a fantastic character who typifies the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. Unbroken by Hillenbrand is an excellent book -- not light reading, but excellent! Loved Mennonite in a Little Black Dress - funny but not just fluff.

August 01 2011

046: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Wench is the story of pre-Civil War slave mistresses.

Note from IWD: You might enjoy a review of this book as well as the web site that carries the review.

Map of the Invisible World is next in line with my book club -- Indonesia in 1960s - called "exquisite." Ava's Man by Rick Bragg -- bigger-than-life backwoods man -- given to me by my Alabama son-in-law. Cutting for Stone - incredible detailed story of twin doctors on their journey from Ethiopia to New York City. Looking forward to State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and Atlas Shrugged - again after teenage years.

August 01 2011

086: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

The story of an English-language newspaper started in Rome, told by featuring a different staff member in each chapter. Another recommendation: The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Barry.

Note from IWD: If you're interested in newspapers and how they struggle to stay alive during this time of electronic media, see the documentary Page One...The New York Times.

August 01 2011

074: Room: A Novel by Emma Donaghue

Incredible read!!!

August 01 2011

031: Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

More recommendations: The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, White Queen by Philippa Gregory, Sara's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.




Note from IWD: Attention dog lovers...the narrator of The Art of Racing in the Rain is a remarkable dog named Enzo who observes and then comments on human nature.

August 01 2011

148: Fearless by Arianna Huffington

Writes about empowering women to overcome fears. Didn't remember she'd written a book about Picasso. She also ran for Governor of California.

July 07 2011

161: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

A surgeon experiences dementia, little by little

July 07 2011

089: The Untold Story by Monica Ali

Here's a wild premise -- the very popular princess of Great Britain stages a fake accident so people will think she has died and then she moves to the United States and establishes a new life.

July 07 2011

114: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Creepy mystery by Swedish author

Note from IWD: If you're a fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Steig Larsson's other books in the Millennium trilogy, here's another Scandanavian crime thriller. Author Jo Nesbo is actually Norwegian, but a review in Norway said, "Nobody writes better crime fiction in Scandinavia than Jo Nesbo. It is a pleasure, a pure joy, to let oneself get lost in his writing art. The Snowman is the kind of book that you devour in a greedy gulp, and that stays with you long after you’ve put it away.”  

July 07 2011

094: Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson

I love books that are set in a different place and time. Tiny Sunbirds is about a girl's survival and fight for dignity in Nigeria. Here are two others: The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller (a soldier returns from World War II) and The Passage by Justin Cronin (if you liked Hunger Games, you'll like this).

July 07 2011

075: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Note from IWD: We aso recommend this book and listened to it as an audio book. If you spend any time in the car, give it a try because the voices of the characters are terrific and add so much to the story. 

July 07 2011

067: Forward from Here by Reeve Lindbergh

The author is the daughter of Charles Lindbergh and Ann Morrow LIndbergh. Here are several other choices from my book club: Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin (Mao's China from a boy's perspective); Island Beneath the Sea by Isabelle Allende; Widow of the South by Robert Hicks; and House at Riverton by Kate Morton.

July 07 2011

108: Generation Freedom by Bruce Feller

This book offers some optimism about our future relationships with the Muslim world. The author focuses on the under-30 group, pointing out that 2/3 of Muslims are under 30 and, in fact, one in every seven human beings is a Muslim under 30.

July 07 2011

091: Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Columbian Jungle by Ingrid Betancourt

I have just purchased this book and have not yet read it but I have followed the saga of this former Columbian senator, presidential candidate, long-time political prisoner of Farc who was freed in 2010.


Another good read is The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer about a Hungarian Jewish family in WWI. Easy to follow plot line.

Note  from IWD: Irene Betancourt was campaigning as a presidential candidate in 2002, when she was captured by Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia) and held as a hostage until Columbian security forces rescued her in 2008, along with 14 other hostages. Several controversies were raised by her story, including why she entered guerrilla territory and how she interacted with other hostages. Read an interesting description of her story and why she wrote the book at

July 07 2011

050: I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal

Kind of an off-beat choice because it was released in 1971 but not available in America until 1990. It's a funny portrait of Prague during the Nazi occupation and its narrator is a young waiter.

Note from IWD: This book is also available as a movie, reviewed in the New York Times in 2008. 

July 07 2011

051: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The tale of an Olympic runner turned World War II airman whose bomber crashes in the South Pacific.

IWD Note: This author also wrote Seabiscuit. 

July 04 2011