*Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen portrays the demise of a Pennsylvania farm, the family that has owned it for generations, most of the family members and a way of life. As she matures from precocious youngster to purposeful young woman, Mimi comes to terms with life as it should be versus life as it is. She may manage enough grit, determination and intelligence to adapt and find her own definition of success and happiness.
**A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin is “a compelling family saga that follows troubled math genius Milo Andret from birth to death”. Milo goes from inauspicious beginnings in rural Michigan to solving a decades-old mathematical problem and teaching at Princeton. He destroys a promising career because of alcoholism and womanizing. The second half of the novel is told by his son, who inherits many of the same skills and problems. In addition to the engaging prose, “the novel is a subtle meditation on creativity, happiness, and fate." Canin's ability to explain complex mathematics and the minds of truly brilliant people is impressive.
*Ronald Reagan by Jacob Weisberg is an even-handed, balanced, brief and bracing portrait of America's fortieth president and the ideas that animated his political career and make him arguably the 2nd most influential president of the 20th century. "He didn't suffer from anxiety or self-doubt. The search for something beneath the surface has tended to produce few results."
**The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health by bestselling physician David Agus presents numerous fascinating scientific morsels—such as parabiosis (anatomically connecting two living creatures) and CRISPR (a tool for editing the genome). Agus recommends a daily aspirin and statin drug, envisions the smartphone as both a health diary and a "virtual personal therapist," and even suggests that individuals consider banking their plasma. He argues for a scientific and Zen-like approach to wellness that emphasizes listening to your body's signals, measuring and tracking important numbers (blood pressure, activity, weight, sleep), trusting your intuition, and keeping active.
*The Travelers by Chris Pavone has travel writer Will Rhodes being seduced and then coerced into a series of covert operations. As he jets around the world (from a chateau in Bordeaux to a midnight raid on a Paris mansion, from a dive bar in Dublin to a mega-yacht in the Mediterranean and an isolated cabin perched on the rugged cliffs of Iceland), he begins to suspect that his firm and his wife might also be hiding secrets that could upend (or just end) his life.
**The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross, former Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, identifies immerging innovations while making strategic recommendations for taking advantage of opportunities in such fields as robotics, cybersecurity, genomics and digital technology. Google’s Erick Schmidt says Ross “can see patterns in the chaos and guidance for the road forward. He has an unusual diversity of expertise that allows him to apply multiple lenses to the world's challenges. Despite good writing and excellent mastery of complex subjects, the book is heavy going at times.
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson is a twenty-year follow-up to his charming, funny, insightful Notes from a Small Island. Regrettably, I thought it possessed little of the characteristics that first made me a Bryson fan, and I didn’t finish the book.