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July 2019 Book Marks - Lee Woodruff
Fifty years ago this month, a man captivated an entire planet when he bounced down a set of steps and walked on the moon. For that brief moment in 1969, the world paused to watch one giant leap for mankind. It’s been so interesting to see the videos and photos, like a sepia-toned time capsule. The astronauts’ aged suits look vulnerable, the “space age” technology now so dated it seems impossible that they accomplished what they did. In the list of life’s indelible moments, the moon landing is one of mine. I recall the heat of a July night, thin cotton pajamas and my Dad, shaking me awake in the twin bed in our small lake cottage and carrying me out to the living room. As the oldest, perhaps he felt I had the best shot of remembering. I can no longer recall if he woke up my sisters but there it was, I groggily lifted my head from my Dad’s shoulder to watch the tiny black and white Zenith TV screen with the rabbit ear antennae. “Remember this moment,” he said to me. “You’re watching history be made.” And I was. In that vein, writing and memories and storytelling are more vital than ever as life moves at warp speed. How do we tell our stories and find an authentic voice in our writing? There are just a few slots left for New York Times bestselling author Laura Munson’s acclaimed Haven Writing Retreat this September in Montana (heaven.) And if you tell her you came through me, you’ll get a special rate. I promise you this is a treat on so many fronts. You can read her latest blog here. Fiction- Short Stories: Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay I don’t often run across modern horror short story collections, but I couldn’t resist the chance to scare myself with Tremblay’s taut, fanciful stories reminiscent of “Bird Box” and “A Quiet Place.” His award-winning writing and clever tales combine fantasy/mystical with a Stephen King horror that keeps you reading. From the story of a student forced to watch a disturbing video to torment the lives of her classmates to the men who rob a pawnshop and then begin to vanish one by one, I was intrigued. You might want to read this one in broad daylight! Tell Me Who We Were by Kate McQuade I’m a short story collection sucker (as noted above) and McQuade’s tales are reminiscent of Karen Russell’s tangled combination of supernatural realism. She explores six girls from first semester at boarding school through to old age, with love, success, betrayal, marriage, infertility, divorce and loyalty. It’s a collection that keeps fanning out like a deck of cards as it touches on coming of age, female transformation and trauma inspired by women in Greek mythology. Fiction: Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage Set in 1970’s war-torn Lebanon, Pavlov is approached by a member of a secret society after the death of his undertaker father. This anti-religious sect arranges secret burials for those who have been outcast, denied last rites due to their religion or sexuality. As war continues to tear at the community and way of life in this once-elegant city, Pavlov becomes the survivor-chronicler of his fading neighborhood. He bears witness to both the enduring rituals and the heart-breaking decline. The book (which has received multiple award nominations and rave reviews) is a moving, literary, enraging, meditation on what it means to live through war. Goodnight Stranger by Miciah Bay Gault Twins Lydia and Lucas have lived their entire lives on a small island off Cape Cod. Their lives have been over-shadowed by the knowledge that their triplet brother died shortly after birth. Part emotional journey, part ghost story, this debut novel has garnered critical acclaim from the likes of George Saunders. Lydia dreams of resuming her college education, that ended when her mother died, but she worries that her extremely shy brother, Cole, would flounder. When a charming stranger arrives on the island, the twins both feel an eerie connection and Cole believes he may be a reincarnation of their dead triplet. Lydia is worried that darker things may be at play. Non-Fiction: The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia–Get a Good Night’s Sleep Without Relying on Medication by Shelby Harris I have yet to meet a woman who hasn’t had some kind of sleep issue. So when this book arrived at my door, I had to take a look. Sleep deprivation is responsible for so many health and relationships issues, and statistically women have a higher chance than men of developing sleep issues (thank you pregnancy and menopause.) Shelby Harris is a nationally recognized leader in the field of sleep medicine and her book gives readers hope, whether you are struggling with occasional restless sleep, chronic insomnia or anything in between. From medical sleep aids to non-medical approaches, and an in-depth dive into CBT ( cognitive behavioral therapy) the author has some helpful tips to teach us to retrain our bodies and minds to get the best night’s sleep as often as possible. Thriller: Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin Using the current mania for true crime podcasts as the premise for this book, Gaylin crafts a thriller that moves back and forth between the past and future while asking the question—“how well do we really know the people we love?” When a true-crime podcast reporter contacts website columnist Robin Diamond to come on her show “Closure,” she has reason to believe Robin’s mother might be connected to a teen couple in the 1970’s who embarked on a Bonnie & Clyde type killing spree. The more Robin investigates, the less sure she is of the truth and then a brutal home invasion destroys everything she thought she could count on. Told through Robin’s point of view, the podcaster and a series of old letters written by the 15-year female killer, Never Look Back keeps a …