Books To Read After Running

Close Your Eyes (Kendra Michaels, #1)

by Iris and Roy Johansen

The debut of the Kendra Michaels/ Adam Lynch series. Oddly paired, Kendra was blind at birth and once she gained sight from a scientific breakthrough, she was sought after by the FBI because of her heightened other senses, which helps her 'see' things others don't. Enter loner Lynch an outcast former FBI agent who is a hired hand of many Federal Agencies for his adept abilities. Strange bed partners (and perhaps real ones?). This duo is on the trail of a sinister group who has developed a lethal weapon they are ready to sell to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, bodies are dropping left and right in their wake. What is going on? Can Kendra and Adam solve the mysteries in time to save the world? I guess you'll have to read it to find out.

Look Behind You (Kendra Michaels, #5)

By Iris and Roy Johansen

This one keeps you on the edge of your seat! Kendra Michaels, a consultant with the FBI in San Diego, is called in to help solve the case of a local serial killer. The case explodes when the FBI discovers that their serial killer, Zachary, has actually killed in different states across the country and is obsessed with 'beating' Kendra. He begins leaving souvenirs from his older cases in the current ones in San Diego taunting Kendra. The FBI brings in a "dream team" of agents who were chasing down Zachary in their own states. Kendra begins to suspect that one of the dream team members may be Zachary and in the climatic confrontation between Kendra and her nemesis, we are simply blown away! Fifth in the Kendra series, this one will make you want to read them all! 

Pieces of Her

By Karen Slaughter

The Georgia Peach is at her finest in her newest novel about a daughter who finds out she really doesn't know who her mother is....32 year old Andrea Oliver has been floating through life without a real purpose, and lives in the garage above her mom's house. Good ole loveable mom, Laura Oliver. Until they are attacked by a deranged killer in an Atlanta mall and her mom goes all John Wick on the guy. We actually follow the story two as told by Andrea in the present as she goes on the lam trying to figure out who her mother is and two as told in 1986 by Jane Queller, a reticient, but rich, and extremely talented concert pianist who is mixed up in a cult-like gang. Picture Patty Hearst. And somehow these two stories intertwine in a bizarre and unique way.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Sarah Smarsh

This memoir is about working class poverty in America’s heartland. Sarah Smarsh describes in compassionate detail her chaotic upbringing in Kansas and the cycle of poverty that persisted through generations of her family. Weaving personal historic narrative with sociological data and research she relays in first-hand account how difficult it is to break the poverty cycle, despite the persistent American myths of the value of hard work and rugged individualism. Smarsh does break the cycle with a laser focus on education, attentive teachers who recognize her ability and provide opportunity, and avoiding the pitfall of unplanned pregnancy which she knew early on was a primary reason for the poverty cycle in her own family. This is an empathetic and bold memoir but not without complications. I think Smarsh breaks new ground in the national conversation about class, rural poverty and gender politics and I greatly appreciated how she described the anxiety that permeates your life when you grow up poor but I feel she downplays some inherent privilege that made her success possible. Still, a compelling and important read.

The Great Believers

by Rebeccas Makkai

This is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel about the AIDS crisis in Chicago in the late 1980s when the virus spread virulently and violently through gay communities, and gripped the nation in fear and unfounded bias that delayed research and treatment. It was a turning point in American life and this novel has the important function of reminding us of that time and how destructive fear and discrimination are. But it is also about the power of love, especially in times of crisis and how we connect to survive. There were so many poignant moments in this novel and it is a very emotional read.

Florida: Stories

by Lauren Groff

These stories are dense and atmospheric, just like the Florida climate in which they are set. The humidity and the ecosystem are as much characters in these stories as any person. At the center of this collection are women in some level of crisis--from marriage ennui to homelessness--whose inner turmoil is unleashed in the midst of severe weather events. Groff is brilliant with language, using nature and environment to reflect and represent human emotion and the interplay between our inner lives and external factors.

The Library Book

by Susan Orlean

Reading this book was a joyful, engrossing, wondrous experience. The Library Book tells a deeply meaningful and human story about the Los Angeles Central Library. It is sweeping and detailed, describing with history, anecdote and character study the power of books and libraries to connect us, to move us forward, and strengthen our democracy. This book is a timely reminder of the poignant and significant influence that books and, more importantly, the sharing of books, has to enrich us as individuals and citizens in countless, beautiful ways. It’s a love story that will deeply resonate within anybody who treasures books.

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