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15 Books in 15 Minutes

It has been a good long while since I have done any sort of meme around here, who can resist one that promises to take only 15 minutes?  I have seen it floating around a few places, so I am not tagging anyone, but feel free to to leave a comment about your 15!  Start time: 9:53 p.m.

Instructions: Don’t take too long to think about it. List 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you — the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Copy the instructions into your own note, and be sure to tag the person who tagged you.

1. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin.  Assigned reading in high school that I carry around the world with me still.  I remember being astounded by the softness of the narration, and by the strength of its ideals, which convinced me to call myself a feminist.

2. Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond.  Although dry in some parts (i.e., the chapters on plant germination), I was fascinated by this book.  When I see the inequalities between nations, I think of this book and remind myself that we should be trying to right some of the wrongs that have evolved.

3. And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts.  It is impossible to read this book and not get really, really mad.  And wonder what could have been if only the right people had been paying attention and cared enough to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.  It also completely and thoroughly colored my impression of Reagan’s presidency for the worse, to the point where I had a hard time feeling sympathy at his death.  Harsh, I know, but don’t withhold vital funding from health research and prevention and we’ll get along just fine.

4. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie.  A totally magical and fantastical ride through an important time in Indian history, which lead me to voraciously read every other book that Rushdie has written.

5. And Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.  One of the most beautifully written books I have ever read.  Look over here for some of my favorite lines.

6. Slaughter-House Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.  You can not get any more anti-war than this book.

7. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.  Read this as part of a book club while I was living in Uganda.   Even though it took place 60 years earlier and in a totally different part of Africa than what I knew, I was really moved by Kingsolver’s descriptions of life in the Congo.  Plus, having recently graduated from a Christian university, I was was keenly astute to her message and took it to heart.

8. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers.  A simply amazing peek into the American South during the 1940’s.  Seriously, if you haven’t read it, you should.

9. The Coming Plague, by Laurie Garrett.  Let’s face it, I am a public health geek.  The tag line of this blog says it right there.  So you shouldn’t be too surprised that I loved this book.  Although we try our best to control and prevent disease (e.g. immunization, antibiotics), we can only stave off the tide for so long before it begins to outsmart us.  Also, totally convinced me of the harms of over-prescription of antibiotics.

10. Infections and Inequalities, by Paul Farmer.  Social inequalities contribute to the spread of disease.  It is not rocket science, so why are we not doing more to reduce health disparities and access to health care?

11. Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama.  I wrote quite a bit over here, check it out.

12. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I cried the whole way through 9-year-old Oskar’s narration.

13. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman.  When they describe this book as a “collision of two cultures,” they really aren’t kidding.  Everyone does exactly what they believe is the best for this little Hmong girl with epilepsy, but it is not enough.

14. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby.  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

15. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.  Thinking about this book every single time I debate organic vs. local.  My more descriptive review is over here.

End Time: 10:09 p.m.  Okay, so it took me 16 minutes to come up with those books, and a lot longer to write the descriptions, but you get the picture.   Are any of these on your list of 15?  Or does your list look entirely different?    Please share!  Oh, and here is a link to another book meme I wrote a couple years ago, which, not surprisingly, contains some of the same books!


  1. Hi – visiting from Kristen/Frank’s blog. Cool idea – I really like this! Although “The Awakening” gives me the heeby-jeebies from being forced to read it at gunpoint in like…8th grade.

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