384 pages; Houghton Mifflin
In a lionhearted attempt to shed her past—years of numbing jobs at glossy magazines and two life-threatening bouts with cancer—Katherine Russell Rich voyaged to India to learn Hindi, a language with one word, kal, for "yesterday" and "tomorrow." Fortified with neuroscience and laced with humor ("A lover who speaks the language is a faster route to fluency than any tapes or courses, but perhaps more expensive"), Dreaming in Hindi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is a crash course in emotional agility, in an understanding too deep for words.
This is one of O's top 10 books of 2009. See the complete list of terrific reads here.
First chapter: Read an excerpt from Dreaming in Hindi