David Sedaris has become well known for his wit and humor. After keeping a diary for 40 years, Sedaris has written his first of two books taken from his notes. His notes are really just a few words about what he’s doing, thinking, or experiencing.
During this period of time he is involved quite heavily with drugs and unable to hold down a steady job. In between jobs he helps his parents with their rental properties to make spending money.
Each entry is brief but thought provoking making it a quick page turner to see what situation he’ll get into next. Request a copy.
After you take in this summer’s new Wonder Woman movie, read the crazier-than-fiction backstory on the creation of America’s favorite female superhero. Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman traces Wonder Woman’s creation by William Moulton Marston, who also invented the lie detector test (lasso of truth, anyone?). Marston’s unusual family arrangement is a story unto itself, and following the ups and downs of his personal life and career makes for a fascinating summer read.
In exploring the pre- and post-WWII American cultural landscape and examining Marston’s connection to major feminists of the period, including Margaret Sanger, Lepore nicely frames Wonder Woman’s rise and examines the various parties who competed over—sometimes for control, sometimes to censor—this rising icon. Request a copy.
I hadn’t before read a graphic novel (or in this case, a graphic memoir), so Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This was new territory for me. I was drawn to this book because of its topic, rather than its format. In it, Radtke explores her fascination with architectural ruins, relating them to her own sense of the impermanence of life and her grief over losing a close relative. Never feeling rooted or settled, she travels the world visiting abandoned towns and structures as they are slowly reclaimed by nature.
Radtke tells her story in direct, unfussy language and compelling black and white drawings. In some pages, she conforms to the traditional three to nine frame comic format, and in others her drawings overlap the frame or incorporate collage or drawn-over photographic elements, giving the book a lot of life, and the reader plenty of incentive to keep turning the pages. Radtke’s story is poignant, her illustrations lovely. This book quickly hooked me and I read it in one sitting. I now consider it a favorite. This is a great entry point into the graphic book format, and I recommend it to new graphic book readers (and experienced graphic readers won’t want to miss it). Request a copy.
I listened to the audiobook on a trip up and back to Massachusetts. I’ve read a bunch of Lisa Scottoline’s books (she’s a lawyer who writes really cool mystery books), so I thought I’d try this. She’s written a series of books with her daughter and I wanted to check it out. They take turns with the chapters and they talk about their lives alone and together and all kinds of stuff that happens in between. I enjoyed this, as a lot of it reminded me of my daughter and me. Now I may look for their other books, since I enjoyed this one. Request a copy.
It isn’t often that I have read a non-fiction book in the sciences that has been so enjoyable. This title is written in story form, as if trees are almost human. It’s not simply technical literature about how trees survive or do not survive in their various environments. I guarantee you will never look at another tree without thinking about what you learned from this book. Absolutely fascinating! Request a copy.
I listened to this as an audiobook, and it ultimately took me about 2 months to finish it, and I still can’t believe Lin-Manuel Miranda took this giant book on a tropical vacation to read! That being said – it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. The life that Alexander Hamilton lived and the accomplishments he was able to achieve in his relatively short life are absolutely mind boggling. His influence is still felt today in our financial world near and far. A life truly cut too short. What a loss to our country, but we are to this day indebted to him and his ideas. Listen or read this book – it will floor you! Request a copy.
Even though I am not a grandparent (and not about to become one), I saw Lesley Stahl’s book about grandparents and grandchildren and thought I would take a look – or a listen to the audiobook. Being familiar with Lesley from 60 Minutes, I found her stories from her own family life and experiences well written and researched. There is a science to the instant affection between grandparents and their newborn grandchildren. This is explained as an overwhelming feeling of attachment akin to love at first sight. There is also a wealth of difference in the parental experience and the “grands” experience. Differences in age and what grands will be called today are not what they were in the past. Finances also affect the family experience and more children are being raised by grandparents or foster grandparents today than ever.
The book describes the birth of grand-daughters Jordan and Chloe and stories from interviews with Diane Sawyer, Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Brokaw. The grandfather experience and step-grandparents are also covered.
If you are a grandparent, a parent, or a grandchild, you will find this description of modern family relationships of interest. There is more to family dynamics than I would have thought possible, and Lesley Stahl narrates a wonderful audiobook on “the Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting.”
A lovingly written book by a father about his 5-year-old daughter and her unexpected diagnosis of cancer. The author of this book is himself an author and illustrator of children’s books (that I now have to look for in my own library). In this book he deftly straddles all of his hopes and fears for his family and really paints quite a picture of the realities of living (and not dying) from cancer. A book of survival and what it means to try and find a new normal.
My love affair with all things Hamilton continues as I finally got this audiobook from the library. If any of you out there love actors and performers and hearing about how they get their ideas, then you’ll love this audiobook. An added plus is that Mariska Hargitay is the narrator. The story of how Lin-Manuel Miranda brought the story of Alexander Hamilton to the Broadway stage is really riveting, and just reinforces the genius of Miranda. Staying true to himself and all his musical influences while being so aware of how it would translate on the stage is just awesome. A huge thumbs up for this.
This is a work of non-fiction that reads like a novel.
The “Nazi Olympics” of 1936 are remembered for the stunning victory of Jesse Owens. But a group of young men from the state of Washington also made a splash. After winning the national collegiate rowing championship — held in the Hudson at Poughkeepsie — a team of mostly rural rowers traveled to Berlin to take on the best in the world.
The book will introduce you to a host of characters you’ve probably never heard of. Together, they would overcome incredible odds and make history.
This book was so wonderful on so many levels. I thought Patrick Kennedy was very brave to write it – and I absolutely understand why it was written after his father’s passing. The way he grew up hearing from his dad and very extended famous family that we keep everything in the family and don’t air our dirty laundry helped to keep him from truly confronting and defeating his own demons. The authors do a great job in giving information about how our healthcare system and government succeed and fail at treating people with mental illness and addiction. Ultimately this is a book about successes and failures, but mostly about hope in dealing with these two very important issues.
Not sure how anyone else feels about Russell Brand, but I enjoy him immensely. Interesting to learn about his growing up years and to see how he became addicted then beat it, all treated with his characteristic humor. An easy read…
How did two bicycle mechanics teach the world to fly?
Prize-winning author David McCullough is just the person to answer that question. Along the way, we learn about the private lives of the brothers. Their skills were a perfect fit — Wilber was a genius and Orville was a mechanical wiz. Together, they made history.
McCullough’s stories are always set in a rich, historical context. The story takes us from their Ohio hometown, to the banks of North Carolina, to Paris and beyond.
One of McCullough’s early books, this is the amazing story of the planning and building of what would become, at the time, the world’s longest suspension bridge. It’s a tale of tremendous optimism and accomplishment as well as a story of greed, political rivalry and corruption.
McCullough devotes a good portion of the book to the engineer behind the project. But he sets his accomplish into a broader, historical context. It is the tale of two cities — New York (Manhattan) and Brooklyn — their growth, development and increasing inter-dependence. The engineering obstacles were enormous. The construction obstacles more so – bodies were crushed and broken; danger was the constant companion of the construction workers.
It’s a fantastic story. Give it a good read, then, take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
I just finished this book and I guess I was somewhat disappointed : I think I was looking for something a little more revelatory about Rosemary Kennedy. Ironically, the reason the book wasn’t able to reveal more was outlined in the Author’s Note — a bill sponsored and passed by Senator Edward Kennedy in 1996, called HIPAA, made the medical records relating to Rosemary’s lobotomy surgery in 1941 permanently inaccessible.
That being said, the author does a very good job of recounting Rosemary’s life growing up in America and England. She also outlines all the great work Eunice Kennedy did in the intervening years with the Special Olympics, spurred on by her sister Rosemary’s disabilities .
On a personal note, Rosemary’s story gave me more background on some issues I know about firsthand in trying to assimilate individuals with disabilities in educational and vocational situations. It also pointed out to me the stigma and fear people experienced if they had a family member with a disability, often causing families to keep members at home with them or institutionalize them if they could not meet their needs. Finally, it reinforced what I already knew — families can benefit in so many ways from accepting and welcoming members with disabilities into their lives.