A religion book recommendation: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2mVCZPw.
The thickly bound format is ideally read in bed. This is just the kind of book to shut out the world with a sense of Scandinavian comfort.
Book description from Google Books:
The Sunday Times bestseller The New York Times bestseller The Danish word hygge is one of those beautiful words that doesn’t directly translate into English, but it more or less means comfort, warmth or togetherness. Hygge is the feeling you get when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, in warm knitted socks, in front of the fire, when it is dark, cold and stormy outside. It that feeling when you are sharing good, comfort food with your closest friends, by candle light and exchanging easy conversation. It is those cold, crisp blue sky mornings when the light through your window is just right. Denmark is the happiest nation in the world and Meik puts this largely down to them living the hygge way. They focus on the small things that really matter, spend more quality time with friends and family and enjoy the good things in life. The Little Book of Hygge will give you practical steps and tips to become more hygge: how to pick the right lighting, organise a dinner party and even how to dress hygge, all backed up by Meik’s years’ of research at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. This year live more like a Dane, embrace hygge and become happier.
The book is rated 3.72/5 at goodreads.com, from 13847 ratings. See 1631 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mKHIa1.
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A romance book recommendation: A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uE3Yqk.
I also enjoyed that the resolution of the romance didn’t go exactly smoothly either. Given how the situation started, the way it ended felt more realistic. This is another Mansfield winner for me.
Book description from Google Books:
During the holiday season, a governess loses her heart to an earl with no intention of marrying again, in this Cinderella story set in Regency England. After defending her virtue by striking the besotted son of her employer, Miss Evalyn Pennington is discharged from her position under a cloud of scandal. With no place to go and no prospects for the coming year, the impoverished governess accepts an invitation from Jamie Everard, heir to an earldom, to spend the holidays at his family’s estate. But Evalyn has barely settled in at Gyllford Manor when she catches the eye of Philip Everard, the fourth Earl of Gyllford—and Jamie’s father.   After his wife died, Philip vowed to never marry again, despite his sister’s best efforts to reintroduce him to London society. Then, his son brings a guest home for Christmas. Is the lovely, intelligent Evalyn the woman to make his footloose son settle down at last? But why does Jamie treat Evalyn in such a cavalier manner? And what is Philip to do about the reigning beauty of London who has set her cap for him—and is about to set in motion a scheme that will have far-reaching consequences for them all?   A witty and warm tale about morals, mores, marriage, and mistaken intentions, this classic Regency holiday romance introduces a woman who refuses to surrender her ideals, and a man in danger of losing the one thing he swore never again to give: his heart.    
The book is rated 3.66/5 at goodreads.com, from 115 ratings. See 25 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uWU4eQ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uE5clz.
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A fiction book recommendation: Blood of the Dawn by Claudia Salazar Jiménez

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2mZJctT.
Blood of the Dawn is a short novel, and maybe that’s why it’s so effective. Salazar Jiménez and translator Elizabeth Bryer make every word count, and the result is a work of concentrated intensity with no room for the reader to escape the horrors that fill just about every page.
Book description from Google Books:
This novel follows three women whose lives intertwine and are ripped apart during what’s known as “the time of fear” in Peruvian history when the Shining Path militant insurgency was at its peak. The novel rewrites the armed conflict in the voice of women, activating memory through a mixture of politics, desire, and pain in a lucid and brutal prose.
The book is rated 3.75/5 at goodreads.com, from 97 ratings. See 19 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mzbDRO.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2twYYT7.

A business-economics book recommendation: The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline by Jonathan Tepperman

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2eNemPU.
Though the book is not long, Tepperman goes into impressive detail in each case study and delivers his assessments in clear, pared-down prose, careful to describe most of his success stories as experiments that could still fail.
Book description from Google Books:
A provocative look at the world’s most difficult, seemingly ineradicable problems–and the surprising stories of the countries that solved them.   We all know the bad news. The heady promise of the Arab Spring has given way to repression, civil war, and an epic refugee crisis. Economic growth is sputtering. Income inequality is rising around the world. And the threat of ISIS and other extremist groups keeps spreading. We are living in an age of unprecedented, irreversible decline–or so we’re constantly being told.         Jonathan Tepperman’s The Fix presents a very different picture. The book reveals the often-overlooked success stories, offering a provocative, unconventional take on the answers hiding in plain sight. It identifies ten pervasive and seemingly impossible challenges–including immigration reform, economic stagnation, political gridlock, corruption, and Islamist extremism–and shows that, contrary to the general consensus, each has a solution, and not merely a hypothetical one. In his close analysis of government initiatives as diverse as Brazil’s Bolsa Família program, Indonesia’s campaign against radicalism, Canada’s early embrace of multiculturalism, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to prevent another 9/11, Tepperman captures the moments in time which reveal the broadly applicable measures which can boost and buttress equality, incomes, cooperation, and cohesion in wildly diverse societies. He flips conventional political wisdom on its head, showing, for example, how much the U.S. Congress could learn about compromise and conciliation from its counterpart in Mexico.         Tepperman has traveled the world to write this book, conducting more than a hundred interviews with the people behind the policies. Meticulously researched and deeply reported, The Fix presents practical advice for problem-solvers of all stripes, and stands as a necessary corrective to the hand-wringing and grim prognostication that dominates the news, making a data-driven case for optimism in a time of crushing pessimism.
The book is rated 3.70/5 at goodreads.com, from 99 ratings. See 20 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dS2kaz.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2eN9Hhf.

A thriller book recommendation: One or the Other (An Eddie Dougherty Mystery) by John McFetridge

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://natpo.st/2dzTGNU.
The cover copy calls One or the Other a mystery and in fact Dougherty spends a lot of time investigating a killing. But the book reads more like a sweet love letter to the Montreal of four decades ago.
Book description from Google Books:
“An extremely good crime novel, brimming with historical verisimilitude . . . with a richly detailed protagonist and a seriously compelling mystery.” – Booklist on Black Rock In the weeks before hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Montreal police are tightening security to prevent another catastrophe like the ’72 games in Munich. But it isn’t tight enough to stop nearly three million dollars being stolen in a bold daytime Brink’s truck robbery. As the high-profile heist continues to baffle the police, Constable Eddie Dougherty gets a chance to prove his worth as a detective when he’s assigned to assist the suburban Longueuil force in investigating the deaths of two teenagers returning from a rock concert across the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Were they mugged and thrown from the bridge? Or was it a murder-suicide? With tensions running high in the city and his future career at stake, Dougherty faces the limits of the force and of his own policing, and has to decide when to settle and when justice is the only thing that should be obeyed.
The book is rated 3.92/5 at goodreads.com, from 12 ratings. See 6 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2es7jfC.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2fjMwiL.

A self-help book recommendation: Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide by Michael Kinsley

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2ctjpIG.
This is probably the place to remark that reading “Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide” depressed the hell out of me. Not because it is a dirge. Hardly. Mr. Kinsley is as rational and appealing as one can be about our coming exits from this world.
Book description from Google Books:
Vanity Fair columnist Michael Kinsley escorts his fellow Boomers through the door marked “Exit.” The notorious baby boomers–the largest age cohort in history–are approaching the end and starting to plan their final moves in the game of life. Now they are asking: What was that all about? Was it about acquiring things or changing the world? Was it about keeping all your marbles? Or is the only thing that counts after you’re gone the reputation you leave behind? In this series of essays, Michael Kinsley uses his own battle with Parkinson’s disease to unearth answers to questions we are all at some time forced to confront. “Sometimes,” he writes, “I feel like a scout from my generation, sent out ahead to experience in my fifties what even the healthiest Boomers are going to experience in their sixties, seventies, or eighties.” This surprisingly cheerful book is at once a fresh assessment of a generation and a frequently funny account of one man’s journey toward the finish line. “The least misfortune can do to make up for itself is to be interesting,” he writes. “Parkinson’s disease has fulfilled that obligation.”
The book is rated 3.24/5 at goodreads.com, from 608 ratings. See 170 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1ToracZ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2e37nBJ.

A politics book recommendation: Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dTbCmL.
…these are quibbles, for over all this is a tremendously readable and enjoyable book. The material may feel well rehearsed to Churchill buffs, but breaking new research ground is not Millard’s goal…
Review from booklistonline.com:
Biographer Millard “gets at” her subject by a somewhat out-of-left-field path that leaves the reader satisfied and feeling that her approach is right and perfect. In The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey (2006), she lets TR’s post-presidency activities speak for the great president’s natural “rough-rider” attitude toward life. In Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (2011), she defines James Garfield’s extraordinary qualities by reconstructing his slow, gruesome death by an assassin’s bullet. Now she writes about one of the most famous statesmen of the twentieth century, British prime minister Winston Churchill. Rather than facing the man in full bloom during WWII, she casts dramatic light on the incidents that brought “to the attention of a rapt British public a young Churchill.” In 1899, he was already aware of his future importance in the political world and certain that he would need to show glory on the battlefield during the colonial Boer War in South Africa. The perfect opportunity arose when he was taken prisoner and managed not only to escape but, after great hardship, also return to the fight. Millard’s rendering of the exciting details of Churchill’s heroic exploits result in a magnificently told story. — Brad Hooper
The book is rated 4.21/5 at goodreads.com, from 678 ratings. See 141 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dFOVCf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2dTcLKV.

A non-fiction book recommendation: The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2cWL2Zp.
Entwining one quality inextricably with the other, she ensures that even her warmest moments are at least a little bit squirmy. All the better to capture what is, after all, a pretty weird world.
Book description from Google Books:
Welcome to the world of Marlys and Maybonne”Lynda Barry’s comics were my YA, before YA really even existed. She’s been writing teen stories with an incredibly clear voice since the early 80s. [The Greatest Of Marlys] is raw, ugly, hilarious, and poignant.” –Raina Telgemeier, Smile & DramaEight-year-old Marlys Mullen is Lynda Barry’s most famous character from her long-running and landmark comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, and for good reason! Given her very own collection of strips, Marlys shines in all her freckled and pig-tailed groovy glory. The trailer park where she and her family live is the grand stage for her dramas big and small. Joining Marlys are her teenaged sister Maybonne, her younger brother Freddie, their mother, and an offbeat array of family members, neighbors, and classmates.Marlys’s enthusiasm for life knows no bounds. Her childhood is one where the neighborhood kids stay out all night playing kickball; the desire to be popular is unending; bullies are unrepentant; and parents make few appearances. The Greatest Of Marlys spotlights Barry’s masterful skill of chronicling childhood through adolescence in all of its wonder, awkwardness, humor, and pain.
The book is rated 4.45/5 at goodreads.com, from 1209 ratings. See 63 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dARmmP.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2dASk2D.

A thriller book recommendation: Under the Harrow: A Novel by Flynn Berry

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2cyB68p.
Perhaps, as the title implies, we are all of us “Under the Harrow” — vulnerable to the mysterious brutality of strangers and so often deceived by the people we love most and think we know best.
Book description from Google Books:
“Once I started reading Under the Harrow, I couldn’t stop. It’s like Broadchurch written by Elena Ferrante.” –Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs “I read Under the Harrow through the night–I couldn’t put it down.” –Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.   Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.   A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.
The book is rated 3.47/5 at goodreads.com, from 2485 ratings. See 434 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cyCt6E.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2d2RJWP.

A business-economics book recommendation: Losing It: A Novel by Emma Rathbone

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2cMRnJy.
This is trademark Rathbone, who has contributed Shouts & Murmurs pieces to The New Yorker and has a knack for coming up with sharp images and painfully funny observations.
Book description from Google Books:
A hilarious novel that Maggie Shipstead calls “charming… witty and insightful,” about a woman who still has her virginity at the age of twenty-six, and the summer she’s determined to lose it and find herself. A candid yet funny take on just what desire and love mean. “The Millions” Julia Greenfield has a problem: she’s twenty-six years old and she’s still a virgin. Sex ought to be easy. People have it all the time! But, without meaning to, she made it through college and into adulthood with her virginity intact. Something’s got to change. To re-route herself from her stalled life, Julia travels to spend the summer with her mysterious aunt Vivienne in North Carolina. It’s not long, however, before she unearths a confounding secret her 58 year old aunt is a virgin too. In the unrelenting heat of the southern summer, Julia becomes fixated on puzzling out what could have lead to Viv’s appalling condition, all while trying to avoid the same fate. Filled with offbeat characters and subtle, wry humor, “Losing It”is about the primal fear that you just. might. never. meet. anyone. It’s about desiring something with the kind of obsessive fervor that almost guarantees you won’t get it. It’s about the blurry lines between sex and love, and trying to figure out which one you’re going for. And it’s about the decisions and non-decisions we make that can end up shaping a life.”
The book is rated 2.65/5 at goodreads.com, from 567 ratings. See 99 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cMRrsQ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2cMRtAU.