We've all been admonished at least once in our lives not to judge a book by its cover, but we know we do. In an attempt to widen my reading horizons, I have, for the past month or two, allowed the much maligned book cover to be my compass. The following books were chosen because of their cheery yellow/orange covers:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Breezy and informative, personal yet impartial, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the remarkable story of a black woman's cancerous cervical cells that spawned a host of scientific advancements and jump-started the multi-billion dollar medical industry. At the heart of the book, however, is the twin odyssey of two women, the author's and Deborah's (Henrietta's daughter), whose unrelenting pursuit of the details of Henrietta Lacks' life reveals suspect medical practices, one or two shady interested parties and a family profoundly affected by the bewildering immortality of a woman whose physical life was too soon cut short. An excellent read for book clubs, non-fiction aficionados, scientists, doctors, ethicists, high school students and just about everyone else who can read.
Spooner by Pete Dexter
Surrounded by genius siblings and a martyr mother, nothing comes easy for Spooner. His biggest ally is his stepfather whose steady and quiet approach to daily living is a welcome antidote to his mother's allergic-to-life disposition. In rollicking language, laced with Mark Twain-like humor and pointed irreverence, Spooner chronicles the parallel journeys of two misfits whose uphill battles with life finds them often bloodied but rarely unbowed. A great novel to tackle when you want to give good ol' reality a sucker punch in the gut.
The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman
Alice Thrift, second in her class at Harvard Medical School, is floundering as a surgical intern at a Boston hospital. Her ho-hum life switches into fifth gear when she becomes romantically involved with a fudge salesman whose dogged attentions catapults her out of her socially-challenged shell. Smart writing plus a smart heroine with a variable learning curve make this novel a delicious respite from the more sober book club fare. For chicks of all stripes, sophisticated teens, newly-minted couples and all those who would like to be forewarned, forearmed and/or reminded about the hilarious tangles men and women get into to find, keep or ditch love.