Jana Shortal on Some of Her Favorite Books


TV journalists don’t get much cooler than Kare11 journalist Jana Shortal.  Book lover and, pleasantly, frequent book buyer, Jana  has been voted Best TV Newscaster Minneapolis and recently Crush 2014 Female Winner.  She took a pause in her busy schedule covering stories to share stories about her favorite books, and what she loves about them.

The Hours
If I asked why do I love fiction, I can always close my eyes and think of how so many bits in this book made me feel. Not a specific feel, just that. Made. Me. Feel. I gift it often in the hope it does the same for another.

“I remember one morning getting up at dawn. There was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling. And I… I remember thinking to myself: So this is the beginning of happiness, this is where it starts. And of course there will always be more…never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment, right then.”
― Michael Cunningham, The Hours

The Fall of Freddie The Leaf
It’s odd why children choose as they do by this book, I am told and I do recall, was my childhood favorite. A dark reveal as in simplest terms it is a book about death they say. But to me it’s a book about life.. The tapestry of it. Simple yes, but paring down life it is just that. Simply a beginning and an end, filled in between with beauty.

The History Of Love
If you have an ounce of romanticism in your body READ THIS BOOK. I have far too many ounces of said trait so it is the reason why I favor it so. I have three copies of it. The original one I wept the pages brittle to. The second is for all the notes I took in the margins. The third is to look pretty on the bookshelf. That’s how much I love this book.

“Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone’s hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted–wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don’t look at me. If you don’t, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me.”
― Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

We Need To Talk About Kevin
This book absolutely stopped me in my tracks. One, Lionel Shriver can write like no other. Two, it should be required in this day and age to read as it puts in the shoes of the “other” family. See it from that side. As pain lives on both ends of tragedy.

“In a country that doesn’t discriminate between fame and infamy, the latter presents itself as plainly more achievable.”
― Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Two Kisses For Maddy
It’s way to cliche to say this book is the “good” coming from the tragic circumstances that made it come to be. Because what it is to me is all of the in between of that. It’s an honest unfolding of what happens when life stops, kicks you in the face, blindfolds you and says START OVER. This is love. Love in its purest form.

A Room of One’s Own
My college roommate gave me this book.
I thought of it, at the time, as the kind of book one woman gives another as they both are about to set foot into the “real world.”
And then I read it, years later.
It’s impact often I still draw upon for strength in writing.

“Women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Bel Canto
I’m well aware that “everyone” loves this book so you don’t need me to tell you it’s good.
But I’m not suggesting this book for everyone, I’m suggesting it to the handful of you that don’t know this truth: It’s good.

Written On The Body
To say I enjoyed reading this isn’t the whole truth. It was difficult because I think this writer has a way of really crashing into her reader. Making her take a better look at relationships past or present in a very real and raw way. Having said that, I wanted to write her a thank you letter after reading it.

“There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value.”
― Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

The Liars’ Club
I love the honesty of Mary Karr. It is the baseline for all of her work but in this book in particular is shows up in a big way. Real life isn’t a pretty story. This is a beautifully written book about her real life.

The Anthropology of An American Girl
If you are a woman. If you know a woman. Read this. (pretty good sell eh?)
It’s powerful in it’s tale but woven with real truths to be taken to heart.

Ghost Light
Something about a man who can tell the story of his first love, a stage lit by the ghost light, in such an earnest way is special. Frank Rich does just that.

Five Days At Memorial
As a journalist there are times when I wonder, mid-story, how I can manage the emotions.
In this work that is done to a degree I cannot fathom.
We know “Katrina” as an event with a name.
That storm, took lives. This book, tells just a part of that story and it is incredible.