Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Sunday Bacon: Three Movies

My dad and I found ourselves at three matinees this week sharing buttered popcorn and a giant-sized medium coke. We’ve seen “1917,” “Ford versus Ferrari,” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” “1917” left us somber and awed, “Ford versus Ferrari” – energized and proud. “The Rise of Skywalker” sparked elation.  His feelings fade as he shuffles and I walk to the car. His thoughts …

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Sunday Bacon: Top Ten for Fall 2019

Book Titles: Say, Say, Say, Olive Again, Fight No More: Stories, The Dutch House, Late Migrations, Inland, Revolution Song, Exhalation, The Testaments, Conviction

I love a list. I especially love a to-do list and the ecstatic feeling of crossing things off. Making a Top 10 list of recommended reading, on the other hand, gets harder each time I do it. What you should read right now is intensely personal… what are you dealing with in your life? What has your best friend just read? Which book has been …

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Leaning In, 2019 Style: Radical Acceptance

Book Titles: Physical Disobedience: An Unruly Guide to Health and Stamina for the Modern Feminist, Threshholds: how to thrive through life's transitions to live fearlessly and regret-free

My friend Dallas chooses a guiding motto, or theme, each January – something she wants to lean into for the year. When she wrote about it at Bacon in 2016, I was intrigued. But it’s taken me until now to do it myself. There’s something about it that seems so wishful, so hopeful – as if we have any control over what lies ahead for us …

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Six Colorful Reads for Spring: Bacon Top Picks

Book Titles: Dreadful Young Ladies, The Immortalists, The Power, I Am, I Am, I am, Lincoln in the Bardo, The Hollow Land

Spring arrives – not a moment too soon – in pinks and purples and yellows and whites. We’ve been waiting! It’s time for a new book, too. Today’s post features four novels, a short story collection, and a memoir, all of them as fresh and engaging as the season. Spring Break bonus: two of the books are perfect to read with your middle schooler or …

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Summer Reading 2018: What is Love?

Book Titles: The Mars Room, Educated, Less, You Think It, I’ll Say It, Warlight, Sing Unburied Sing, Varina, Bury What We Cannot Take

I’ve just finished up a year of “Leadership Nashville,” which involved 14-hour days and field trips and a lot of time on the bus with strangers who – thankfully, wonderfully, quickly and sometimes slowly – became friends. In our group of 44: a sparkling news anchor, a beautiful rabbi. An editor of our newspaper and a museum curator. The heads of Metro Nashville Sports Authority, …

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A Quick History of Modern China (And Top Three Book Recommendations)

Book Titles: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, Red Azalea, Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China

China may be the country we most need to understand in today’s world. (Apart from our own, of course.) With 1.3 billion people, the world’s second largest economy, and its most powerful leader since Mao in Xi Jinping, China sings both ancient and modern songs. Today’s post features two memoirs and one collection of short stories I read traveling to and from Beijing (and during …

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Top Pick 2017: Lions in Winter, Lions in Love

Lions bridge in Sofia, Bulgaria Today’s post features my favorite read of 2017: The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott. I’m trying hard to be fair to the other novel in today’s post, which most of my couples’ book club enjoyed. But you could read between the lines. (Essay first published in NFocus, January 2018.) Winter comes for us, if we’re lucky – the winter of …

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Sunday Night Special: Drop Everything for “I, TONYA”

Friends – Don’t miss “I, TONYA,” the most heartbreaking, heart-pulsing, badass, ALL CAPS, affecting movie. It might complicate the way you think about one of the biggest scandals in sports history, and it explains in part how the scruffy tough girl Tonya Harding came so close – and fell so far. Tonya’s having her moment. A better moment, I should say. Sufjan Stevens is out …

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Fiction Lovers 2018: Go Big!

Book Titles: 1Q84, Matterhorn, A Suitable Boy, Seveneves, God is an Englishman

Friday’s Bacon featured a year’s worth of nonfiction reads for 2018. Today’s post offers only one recommendation for fiction readers: if you haven’t devoted yourself to a big brick of a novel lately – one that could be used as a doorstop or weapon – make this the year!  I just finished Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and might open an extra bottle of champagne. I’ve been dragging …

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Nonfiction Top Picks 2018: Our Moment in Time

Book Titles: Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, The Girl With Seven Names, I Was Told to Come Alone, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, Islam and The Future of Tolerance

The world today is noisy with news. We’re yanked from one story to the next with hardly a moment to pause and reflect. Anger sometimes simmers just beneath the surface of those making – and reporting – the news. It’s tiring, and I’m not sure we’re on a path to wisdom. What can you do? Take a deep breath. Try to gain a broader perspective …

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This Is Why I Read: Top Picks, Fall 2017

The light changes in September – and so does our mood. Beach reads just don’t look as good as they did a few weeks ago. Today’s post features three novels, three memoirs, and one collection of short stories that shine gloriously in the Autumn sun. My top pick for a shiny read right now is Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel, Young Jane Young, the story of …

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Bacon Readers Survey Results

Thank you, Bacon Readers, for your enthusiastic and candid responses to last week’s survey! I especially appreciated the warm, honest, heartfelt, and often funny comments about your worries and what makes you happy… but first, the nuts and bolts. If you don’t live in or around Nashville, you most likely call another Southern city home (hello, Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville, Louisville, Paducah, Richmond, Chattanooga, Raleigh, Miami, …

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The Deep Dive: Eight Great Summer Reads

Book Titles: No One Can Pronounce My Name, Anything is Possible, The Stranger in the Woods, Since We Fell, The Women in the Castle, The Essex Serpent, The Radium Girls, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

“We want to know, I think, what it is like to be another person, because somehow this helps us position our own self in the world. What are we without this curiosity?” asks Elizabeth Strout (My Name is Lucy Barton, Olive Kitteridge, and the brand new Anything is Possible). Today’s post features eight inquisitive books as we stand at the edge of summer, ready to …

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Six Spring Reads: Goin Outta My Mind

Book Titles: Exit West, All Grown Up, Swing Time, Her Every Fear, Lincoln in the Bardo, Transit

Mindfulness has a stellar reputation these days, well deserved – but sometimes you don’t want to be where you are (more mindfully). Today’s post – at Styleblueprint – features six compelling, delightful, harrowing, entertaining, funny, and/or challenging current reads that promise to take you out of your own head. Below are a few Bacon bits to get your mouth watering…  We’re on a Road to Nowhere …

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Episode IV: The Princess Diarist (He Was Always On My Mind)

Book Title: The Princess Diarist

I recently finished reading The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher’s account of what went on behind the scenes during the filming of Star Wars. It broke my heart for her – for the girl she was at age 19, in love with Harrison Ford, and for the woman she was at age 59, writing the book. The first and last thirds of the book provide general …

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Election Special: Prisoners of Geography

Book Title: Prisoners of Geography

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know about Global Politics is a stunning little snack-sized book – delicious, nutritious! – that provides an incredibly engaging account of the world our next president will face.  It’s an international bestseller – #1 in London when I picked it up this summer – and I’ve never read a pleasanter book covering so much territory.  …

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Adventures in China

I am not a hearty traveler.  “If you were a farm animal, you would have been put down,” quipped my husband.  Between the food poisoning and the vertigo, the garden variety infections and anxiety, I’d have to agree. Despite distressing health, I was able to make a few observations and take a lot of pictures during the 17-day trip to mainland China and Hong Kong …

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Bacon at the Beach: Top Pick, Summer 2016

Book Titles: The Summer Book, The Excellent Lombards, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Modern Lovers, Maestra, Tiny Beautiful Things

I have to tell you about The Summer Book, a quietly beautiful little novel first published in 1972 and still in print.  The paperback is just the right size for your beach bag, and it’s like the perfect sand dollar you find maybe once in your life:  a small miracle, ordinary in its way, but also extraordinary.  It has given me a vision of who …

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Couples Book Club: “Gentlemen, This Is Why We Have Survived as a Species” (The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen)

This month, my couples book club read The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, and I suppose you could call it a spy novel of the tortured soul variety.  It’s the story of a communist mole for the North Vietnamese who finds himself – in a bizarre turn of the screw – writing his “confession” under duress in a communist re-education camp.  The son of a French priest and Vietnamese mother, …

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Late Summer Special: He Said/She Said Featuring Governor and Mrs. Haslam

A boy from Knoxville and a girl who grew up in Memphis found some pretty good real estate in Nashville: the Tennessee Governor’s Residence!  Today’s post concludes the Summer Reading series at Bacon, featuring Governor Bill Haslam and his wife, Crissy.  In a taxing political season, it’s reassuring to have a Governor and First Lady like ours – nimble of mind and generous in spirit.  The Governor is living …

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First GREAT novel of 2016: My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

Book Title: My Name is Lucy Barton

  My Name is Lucy Barton is the book your friends will be reading this winter, this spring, and beyond.  I try not to be a bully about recommendations, but you should join them!  I was recently reminded of Muhammed Ali’s approach to the ring: “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and this seems to me Elizabeth Strout’s genius in My Name is Lucy …

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If You Liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… (on Act One, by Moss Hart)

Book Title: Act One: An Autobiography

I have a book to recommend to you – a grown up tale, and true – that has every bit as much cruelty, wonder and suspense as you find in the world of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka. “I grew up in an atmosphere of unrelieved poverty, with … ‘the dark brown taste of being poor’ forever in my mouth and the grim smell of …

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Margaret Mead – Among the Tribes – with Malaria – and Between Two Men

Book Title: Euphoria

Lily King makes no grand claim that Euphoria explains Margaret Mead, though her bibliography suggests extensive research.  Reading it made me feel as if I could understand at least partially what it might have felt like to be Margaret Mead – among the tribes – with malaria and big ideas – and between two men. “While this is a work of fiction,” writes King, “it was …

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The Last Days of My Dog

Book Title: Dog Songs

These are the last days of my dog, Belle.  She remains in good spirits – at least, today – but lymphoma has caused the nodes in her neck to swell to the size of golf balls.  The vet says the time will soon come when we shouldn’t let her suffer. I am walking around with a hole in my heart already.  Mary Oliver’s beautiful new …

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