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The Tower on My Nightstand

For a few months, I went through a reading dry spell.  That's not to say that I wasn't reading. I was. But with one or two exceptions, I hadn't read anything that rocked my world. Last month, however, I hit the jackpot. The stack of rotating books that usually rests on my nightstand turned into a veritable tower of titles that delighted my imagination, made me think in new ways and stayed with me long after the last page. Here are some of my favorites from that huge leaning tower of literature:

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
A book by Jodi Picoult is what I call Reader's Crack; it's an incredibly addictive drug. I've learned not to start reading one of her books unless I have nothing to do for a couple of days because as soon as I start the book, I can't put it down. I started The Tenth Circle around noon on a Sunday. I read all day and all night, with a few short breaks, finishing at about one o'clock the following morning.  The author's topics are always complex and fascinating; this novel explores the journey that unfolds when a teenage girl accuses her ex-boyfriend, a star hockey player, of rape. If there's a bad Jodi Picoult novel out there, I haven't found it yet.

9 Lies That Are Holding Your Business Back: And the Truth That Will Set It Free 
by Steve Chandler and Sam Beckford
At  the recommendation of a friend and fellow entrepreneur, I signed up for Club Fearless, a world mastermind group that is the brainchild of business coach, Steve Chandler. I was very fortunate to have a brief conversation with Steve, and he sent me this book.  I've read dozens (if not hundreds) of business books, and I can honestly say that this is one of the best I've ever read. It's pure genius, and proved to be a perfect catalyst to get me thinking about new ways to improve and grow our business. I'm sure I will be reading it multiple times. 9 Lies has earned a place on my bookshelf with my most dog-eared and coveted reference texts.

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
What do you do when you're in a reading dry spell and you just can't seem to find an inspiring title? You ask every reader you know for their recommendations. I'm lucky enough to know a few extraordinary librarians (actually, I think all librarians are extraordinary).  My friend and retired librarian, Joan, told me about Carolyn Jourdan's memoir, Heart in the Right Place. She said: "I laughed; I cried." That was all I needed to hear.

Carolyn Jourdan is working as Counsel to the U.S. Senate when her life changes dramatically: her mother has a heart attack and Carolyn must return to rural East Tennessee to help her father, Dr. Paul Jourdan, run his local general medical practice. The only doctor for miles, Carolyn's dad works as a true general practitioner, helping anyone (human and sometimes not) with whatever injury or illness they have. He accepts whatever form of payment (money and sometimes not) his patients can give.

Based on Joan's recommendation, I already knew that the book would be delightful. What I wasn't prepared for, was how deeply I would be touched by Carolyn's musings on the life lessons she learned as a result of moving back home. Carolyn said of her glamorous work life in Washington D.C.: "You get to dress real good, eat real good and live real good". The same was true of my former situation in New York City. So how does one reconcile returning to a life that seems far less successful than the one you're leaving behind? Carolyn expresses her answer to this question beautifully. This book touched me so deeply I bought three copies (one for myself and two for friends). It's one of the most timely and personally impactful books I've had the pleasure of reading since My Life in France by Julia Child. I was grateful to find the answer to one of my own big "life" questions through her writing.

A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids 
by Margot Datz
This book which looks like a children's book for adults is a delight! Author and artist, Margot Datz, writes witty, yet profound text that accompanies her fabulous images of mermaids. Some of my favorites include a mermaid in a shoe store that says: "She couldn't explain her obsession with shoes", and a mermaid being wooed by an elegant gentleman entitled: "She was the kind of girl you courted with crustaceans." I discovered this book by accident on the shelves of my local library, and I was thrilled to learn about Margot, her charming artwork, and her charmed life. Margot herself looks like a mermaid with legs and lives in a magical house on Martha's Vineyard. You can see photos of her and her home in this article by Martha's Vineyard Magazine.

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