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November & December Book Marks - Lee Woodruff
November is a month of extremes. We enter it stuffing our faces with leftover Halloween candy and we exit it stuffed like a turkey. In the middle is Veteran’s Day, a time to pause from work, school or life and think about patriotism and those who serve our country, no matter what your politics. To that end, I’ve included two books with a military theme. We transition to December with the warp speed of Black Friday. Online, in-person, malls and Holiday Markets, home made and home-baked, re-gifted and handed down… tis the season to give. And nothing makes a better gift than a good read. Whether it’s a hard cover, gift certificate, audible, audio book or e-reader, give the gift of books this holiday season and forever after. In keeping with the spirit of Small Business Saturday on Nov 25th, I’m linking each book to Indiebound.org, a community of Independent Local Bookstores you can purchase from online. Put your feet up on Black Friday and avoid the crowds. It gives you more time to read! Military Theme: Craig & Fred – A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other, Craig Grossi Another dog/buddy story, you ask? We’ve had “Marley and Me” and ”A Dog’s Purpose” and oh so many more, but the fact is we can’t get enough of our four-legged friends. As I prepared to open what could have been a formulaic book, I was immediately sucked in. Toggling back and forth between a present day cross-country road trip and the war in Afghanistan, the story focuses on the author, who has returned home dealing with PTS and struggling to fit back into civilian life. Craig joined the military after 9/11 and while deployed, he breaks the rules and adopts a stray dog he names “Fred.” The tale of that friendship, and the against-all-odds story of how Fred gets back to the states will warm the cockles of your heart and every other body part in between. Craig & Fred enjoy a huge fan following on instagram and for anyone who understands the power of animals to fill the empty places with unconditional love, you’ll enjoy this book on every level. 8 Seconds of Courage-A Soldier’s Story from Immigrant to the Medal of Honor, Flo Groberg with Tom Sileo I’d be farting through silk if I had a dollar for every time someone threw around the word “hero.” But this book is truly about an ordinary person who did something extraordinary, without thinking twice. Flo’s story moves from his immigration to the United States to his honor at serving in the military to sacrifice and heroism. His dramatic injury and painstaking recovery culminate in receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award for acts of valor. It’s the stories about individuals that connect us as a people. And for those of us completely unconnected to the less than 1% of the population who volunteer to serve our country. Flo’s story reminds us of what really does make America great. Fiction: The Paris Secret, Karen Swan The title might suggest a destination romance novel complete with wine, cobblestoned streets and some croissants thrown in for good measure, but don’t be fooled by the cover. This is a lively story based on the real life discovery of more than 100 paintings, found in a Paris apartment that were looted and hidden by Nazi sympathizers. The protagonist isn’t some lovesick gal with time-bomb ovaries but a serious art agent who gets swept up in the history and secrets of a powerful French family and in the process, uncovers the past. Maybe there’s a little love along the way, but I’m not telling. It’s worth the read and the twists and turns to lead to a very surprising payoff at the end. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng Does giving birth make a mother, or is it love? This question lies at the heart of this wonderfully complex book, layered with parenthood’s complexities and the connections between parent and child across generations and couples. Add to that the elements of race, love, rules, friendship, secrets and betrayals and you have a rich and enjoyable read. Set in suburban Ohio, a bohemian mother and her daughter move into the manicured and law abiding town of Shaker Heights. The ascetic lifestyle of the artist mother chafes against the conventions of the landlady, who digs into the past and unearths some uncomfortable truths for everyone in the novel, giving rise to the title “little fires everywhere.” Through a secondary character of an immigrant Chinese mother, Ng cleverly inserts race juxtaposed against privilege and prejudice. The story both unwinds as it simultaneously builds to a crescendo and my thoughts returned to it many days after I finished it. Fiction-Fantasy: Hiddensee-A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, Gregory Maguire Just in time for the holidays, the famed author of “Wicked” and other fairytales takes his pen to the ancient roots of the beloved nutcracker story. The tale begins deep in a forest with an older couple and their adopted son. The writing is rhythmic and magical, in an “olde tyme” tongue that both lulled and transported me back to reading fairy tales as a child. Planted in the soil of the 10th century German romanticism, the themes of death, afterlife and the fantastical are woven through the story. But more than anything, this tale is about the power of transporting someone to a magical realm. Non Fiction: Fifty Years of 60 Minutes, Jeff Fager Full disclosure, Fager (everyone calls him by his last name) is a friend and a fellow alumnus of Colgate University. As Executive Producer of “60 Minutes” for more than 14 years, he stepped into the legendary Don Hewitt’s shoes and made them his own. Fager’s book feels as if you’re strolling down the halls and editing rooms of this iconic news program, revealing the back stories, the inside scoop, the personalities and the simple …