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Reader name: Shawntaye
Hometown: Lexington, KY
Favorite genre: literary fiction and creative nonfiction
Favorite books: Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen); Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand); The History of Love (Nicole Krauss); Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Like so many BookPage readers, Shawntaye is passionate about the written word. “I love when a book is so beautifully written I have to stop often and re-read a passage over and over and over again,” she wrote. “I also enjoy reading books with various themes and lots of symbolism: a book I can analyze in my mind or with others for days after finishing it. And I enjoy work that is reflective. If a book manages to be all three, I’m in heaven.” That’s a tall order, but I believe there are many books that will appeal to this thoughtful reader.

In particular, I recommend Heft by Liz Moore, which is now available in paperback. (It would be perfect for book clubs!) Moore weaves the first-person narrative of a morbidly obese man in Brooklyn with the story of a poor baseball prodigy in Yonkers. The novel is both sad and lovely, and I found myself underlining many lyrical passages (when I wasn’t wiping away tears). Like the best fiction, it unfolds in surprising and satisfying ways.

As far as creative nonfiction, a fan of Eat, Pray, Love should enjoy two recent memoirs that detail transformative experiences abroad. Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli is about the author’s experience in Bhutan (a country that measures its success in “Gross National Happiness” instead of GDP). After traveling to the capital city of Thimphu, a place remarkably untouched by outside media, Napoli advises a youth radio station and meets many charming people—of course, changing her own life along the way.

In Sideways on a Scooter, author Miranda Kennedy quits her job in New York City and moves to Delhi. Though her own candid coming-of-age story is fascinating, readers will be especially interested in Kennedy’s depiction of the challenges women face in contemporary Indian society.

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