SALT LAKE CITY — January was too long and February was too short. But both months were just right for curling up with a good book.
Sure, Netflix added tons of movies and new shows this month, but who doesn’t prefer the satisfaction of finishing that final page of a great story?
Welcome back to the KSL.com Book Club.
It’s a book club with a twist where some of the KSL.com team members read a different book and then recap our picks on the last Friday of each month. The goal here is to simply read more and escape real-world distractions, if only for a few pages a day.
This month's KSL.com Book Club features book picks from social media manager Yvette Cruz, reporter Liesl Nielsen, copy editor Jordan Ormond and news director Whitney Evans. If you think of a book one of us might like based on our book choices and reviews, feel free to let us know!
Yvette’s pick: "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel García Márquez
"Love in the Time of Cholera" follows Florentino and Fermina, who fell in love with each other when they were young. Life and Fermina’s father had other plans, however, and she eventually marries a doctor. But Florentino never gives up hope and 50 years, nine months and four days later, he shows up at Fermina’s husband’s funeral hoping to win her back.
This was more than a love story to me. I saw it as a story about life and emotions — good ones and bad ones — and what people do with those emotions. This book had a lot of subtle moments that seemed unimportant to me at first but García Márquez does such a good job painting a vivid scene and describing the characters’ emotions that I couldn’t help but keep reading. When I first read the plot, I thought this was going to be similar to many other love stories I’ve already read or watched, but it finds its own identity, even through familiar tropes. There were parts that made me angry and others that made me downright sad, but I also felt joy and hope for the characters. If García Márquez’s goal was to make me feel something, he certainly got it.
Who would like this book? Hopeless romantics.
“Love in the Time of Cholera” contains sexual content and may not be suitable for all ages.
Next read: I've heard several people say Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is much better than "Love in the Time of Cholera," so I may check that out next.
Jordan’s pick: “The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold
“The Five” details the lives of five women believed to have been murdered by the infamous serial killer known only as Jack the Ripper. Through an incredible amount of research, author Hallie Rubenhold pieces together the histories of these daughters, wives and mothers, painting a vivid picture of what life was really like for the poorer classes in Victorian England. Often mislabeled as prostitutes, Rubenhold argues these women were actually victims of poverty, homelessness, addiction and rampant misogyny. As stated in the book’s synopsis: “They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time — but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.”
I found this book absolutely gripping. I couldn’t put it down, which is rare for me when reading non-fiction. I love how Rubenhold was able to make these women come alive. Their stories include all the love, loss, drama and tragedy of the best novels. If you’re a fan of shows like “Who Do You Think You Are?” or “Finding Your Roots,” you will love this book.
Who would like this book? History buffs, true crime enthusiasts, mystery fans, readers interested in genealogy.
My next read: While it’s been around for several years, I just heard about “The Man Who Loved Books Too Much” and am excited to read it. It tells the story the hunt for a rare books thief, and the man who caught him is Salt Lake City’s own rare books dealer Ken Sanders.
Whitney’s pick: "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World" by David Epstein
I loved this book, especially because it was written by an investigative journalist. It takes a look at how developing a range of expertise and talent can help you innovate and solve problems. The author contrasts that with the idea that one must specialize and specialize early in order to succeed. I am someone who has followed a non-traditional career path, so the research and ideas in this book really spoke to me. It helped me see that I've succeeded in part because of my range of experiences, not in spite of them. This review from The Wall Street Journal summed it up for me: Range is "a well-supported and smoothly written case on behalf of breadth and late starts."
Who would like this book? This book is for anyone who likes a compelling, research-based read that gets into the psychology of talent development. Also: If you're a late starter like me, you might also feel validated by this book.
What else I’m reading? I am like 100 pages away from finishing "The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle," if that counts. I also want to take a break from serious books and read something fun and light. I am open to recommendations.
Liesl’s pick: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
This book is, at first glance, a book about a real woman whose cancer cells inspired a medical revolution. Read further, though, and the book becomes a window to the human toll of that revolution and a medical class divide.
Henrietta Lacks was a young, poor black woman who died of cervical cancer in the early 1950s. Her life was short and, by worldly measures, unremarkable. But before she died, doctors scraped some of her cancerous cells for testing. This was not a wholly uncommon occurrence, but her cells were.
While most cells die quickly before much research is able to be performed or replicated, Lacks’ cells lived on. Suddenly, researchers were able to experiment and usher in amazing advancements in medicine, thanks to what are now known as HeLa cells.
But Lacks’ family didn’t know about this until much later. Lacks’ cells were priceless, but she lies in an unmarked grave, and her family could never afford to see a doctor. Her children — beaten, molested and abused — suffered horribly without their mother’s protection.
At times violent and unbelievable, this book is an extremely well-written thesis on an amazing breakthrough in medicine and the untold story of the woman (and inequitable system) behind it.
Who would like this book? An interest in biology or nonfiction is not a requirement to enjoy this book, and I’d recommend it to anyone — though especially the doctor who struggles with his bedside manner and needs a little help seeing the humanity in his work.
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" contains graphic content and may not be suitable for all ages.
What else I’m reading: I’ve recently started “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” which, so far, has one of the most fascinating and unexpected villains of all time.
Have you read any of these books? Let us know what you thought about it or what you’re reading in the comments below.