Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Best Books Of The Year

Let’s skip the nominations and just roll out the red carpet for PPM’s best books of the year. All of these books have either a Paris or a Pittsburgh connection—and sometimes both. If there’s a theme running through the selections, it’s about overcoming difficulties as society changes.


PPM's Best Books of the Year!

1. “Hillbilly Elegy,” by J.D. Vance (2016). For insight into the working class “culture in crisis,” this memoir brings it home. It also hit home for me. Vance’s grandmother left Kentucky for better times in Ohio, but the times they were a changin'. Despite chaos at home that nearly ruined him, with his grandmother’s help, Vance became a Marine and went on to graduate from Yale Law School.

2. “Baker Towers,” by Jennifer Haigh (2005). The author, born in Barnesboro, a coal town 85 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, goes back in time to imagine what it must have been like to live in such a town in the 1940s through the 1960s. In Haigh’s book, men have more opportunities than women than the coal mine and the dress factory.

3. “The Paris of Appalachia,” by Brian O’Neill (2009). This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist writes lovingly about what’s great about Pittsburgh, and what’s terribly wrong. The people are friendly, housing is affordable and commutes fairly short, and there are sports galore. But the city has been strangled from growing into a functional and modern metro area.

4. In the category of best foreign-language book, the award goes to “Berthe Morisot,” by Dominique Bona, a portrait of the French Impressionist painter (1841-1895) who struggled with Manet, Degas, Monet, and Renoir in Paris to develop a new way of painting and seeing. Where’s the Pittsburgh connection? One of Morisot’s friends in Paris was the Pittsburgh-born painter Mary Cassatt.

What are your favorite books of the year?

Rose Marie Burke, an editor and journalist, writes a blog about her personal insights into life in Paris. After 20 years in the City of Light, she still calls her native Pittsburgh "home." Want to follow this blog? Enter your email address into the “Follow me” box. Or find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.