"Malcom Gladwell's tale of success, and why it can prove so elusive. Gladwell explores the qualities it takes for individuals to traverse the plain from good to great, and explores the human potential lurking inside each of us."
"Sherman Alexie is, perhaps, the greatest Native American author alive today. Alexie's tale is inspired by real life experiences growing up on the reservation, and explores what it means to grow up as a Native American in a white-majority culture. It is easily among the wittiest books on the market, and equal parts hilarious/melancholic."
"Ayn Rand's tragic tale about the Russian Revolution, and the soul-sucking qualities of leftist, collectivism. Its relevance for the age of Obama are startling. Unlike her flagship works, Rand's volume depicts an intimate vision of love, loss, and the danger of forsaking one's freedom for the 'greater good.' Give me liberty, or give me death."
"This novel is absolutely abominable - but as an outsider to the Beltway it seems written with a certain familiarity that belies its fictional categorization. Certainly, an entertaining read for one's weekend at the beach. Perhaps it also offers a unique insight into DC's social scene."
"I became rather sucked into the Christopher Buckley vortex by reading his weekly columns on 'The Daily Beast.' Naturally, Buckley's spin on a modest proposal was too enticing to forgo. The plot is weak, but the characteristic Buckley wit coupled with caricature and sarcasm aimed squarely at Washington more than compensate for any lack."
"Bill Bryson is not one of my favorite authors. His comments about America range from snarky to condescending. But even a callous reader (such as myself) will have a hard time resisting the urge to laugh in parts."
"John Eldredge's wonderful hymn to Godly masculinity. Eldredge challenges Christian men to leave religion behind, and along the way to discover the adventure, fight the battle, and pursue the beauty in life."
"A couple of winters ago, I attempted to take a trek with Tolstoy, departing Bald Hills in the dead of winter for points unknown. Like Napoleon, I too was defeated by Mother Russia, and the good Count's epic work. Now that the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation has come out, I am resurrecting the journey once more."
"John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer-winning, and only novel. A wickedly funny read of mayhem and coarseness. The reviews say you will laugh out loud. The strange looks I received from the denizens of Bruegger's Bagels prove this correct."
"Hemingway's memoirs from post-WWI Paris. It easily contains some of the best descriptive writing that I have ever read. Hem's thoughts on the French countryside, Parisian cafes and his contemporaries is a luxury not to be missed."
"Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Marilynne Robinson's novel captures the voice of faith and mortality with a peculiar beauty not commonly seen in today's writing. A must read for anyone who appreciates depth and spirit in writing."
"I was encouraged to pick up Hemmingway's slim volume over the weekend and chided that every 'literary' person should read him. Having embraced the stark minimalism of his writing, I could not agree more."
"Merton's slim volume explores some of the basic ideas of God, community and individual first introduced in earlier in writings. It discusses these intersections with an eye toward reflection and succeeds beautifully in challenging old assumptions. A good read for anyone who seriously enjoys reflecting upon the Spirit and its relation to the world in which we live."
"Like the Average American Male, Apathy is another abominable tale. It's also a must read- and if you pick it up you probably will be unable to put it down. Neilan's wit is searing and his humor crude. But if you can get past that, the ideas are akin to Camus. You just have to dig deep to make the connection. Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"
"Milton Friedman has long been considered the intellectual firepower behind today's leading free market economists. Given the long break and spirit of commerce now associated with Christmas, it seemed an appropriate read."
"I am proud to say, I picked this up before Oprah followed my friends' lead. Follett's epic novel recounts the construction of a cathedral in a small village and explores the intersections of the community's denizens. Follett has a unique way of slowly drawing in readers, juxtaposing power with humility and hate with love. It makes one want to pick up the sequel."
"Nabokov's perverse tale of forbidden love. It's subject matter notwithstanding, Nabokov's writing has a way of taking you into the mind of the love obsessed. His hero villain will have you perversely rooting for evil in the final scene. Said to be a love story with the power to raise eyebrows, it has also been called mandatory reading for any literate person living in our day and age."
"A purely abominable novel. But one I nonetheless could not put down. It is sure to offend most sensibilities so consider this fair warning. In its defense, Kultgen offers a compelling assessment of modern relationships and makes one wonder how we've come so far afield."
"True to form I can't turn down a cultural phenomenon and J.K. Rowling's latest and final installment of the Harry Potter series has been anticipated by readers around the world. For the skeptics, HP7 melds classic elements of the hero narrative with accessible prose which can challenge both intellectual and child alike. Do not read until books 1-6 have been read first!"
"Fitzgerald's first work. Written by Fitzgerald at age 23, the novel explores the tumult of youth and the mini-life crisis experienced by most twenty-somethings in a nearly autobiographical way. Heralded as one of the most underrated books of the 1920s the story begins and ends with typical flapper style and elegance."
"I picked up Jenkins' tome during a brief visit to the UK. Then billed as the definitive biography of the famous British PM, it now seems like a good read in light of Prime Minister Blair's resignation at the end of the month. Written by Roy Jenkins, a former British politico, the writing gets a bit stodgy at times but is nonetheless readable and informative."
"Franzen's novel is a bit off-color for those with a more sedate reading palate. But his character development and intelligent descriptions make the book worthwhile. It takes a serious, hard look at the struggle families face in caring for seriously disabled loved ones."
"Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. Richard Russo's tale chronicles a man, his life and the delicate tension of choice and chance in effecting our lives. The ending seems a bit forced, but the story itself makes up for the abrupt end by providing no shortage of irony. The novel offers a good lesson against waiting on life."
"Pelikan is our generation's top scholar of Christian thought. His essays explore the relationship between the holy, true, good and beautiful as commended in the lives of Kierkegaard, Paul, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Luther and Bach."
"Bertrand Russell's collection of essays on the need for repose and reflection amid the hectic demands of modern life. Russell's words have a profound salience while I reside in Washington, DC for the summer months."
"I've long harbored vanities of writing a book. I've even gone so far as to sketch out a few characters and rough outline. Of course, my name is far afield of the best-seller list. Here's hoping that Stephen King can provide some inspiration."
"A current read. Proust has been called the greatest French author of the modern era. His work "In Search of Lost Time" has been called the finest work ever written. This is volume one of six from the Modern library's publication. So far, the Moncrieff/Kilmartin translation is absolutely stunning."