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September Book Marks - Lee Woodruff
Back to work, school and the routine, which hopefully includes reading. The lazy days of summer are gone, but there’s a virtual American Idol season’s-worth of talent in the books out this September. Many of you expressed the desire to click and buy right away, so you’ll now be able to do so when you click on this link. Each month I’ll feature an independent bookstore where you can purchase the books. Please send me your suggestions! And you can find the Indie Next booklist at this link Indiebound.org each month, which is a well-curated compendium of books reviewed by book-loving staffers. This month, I’ve picked Northshire Bookstore on the main drag in Saratoga, New York (sister store to the amazing one in Manchester, Vermont.) I held a book reading there a few summers ago, and being from upstate New York, the area is near and dear to my heart. What makes Northshire my first indie bookstore spotlight is that they are relatively new to the game. When I heard an indie bookstore was coming back to Saratoga in the age of big box stores and Amazon, it was like watching the movie “Rudy.” There was a lot of atta boy-ing. And they’ve continued to thrive. So if you find yourself in the quaint, racing town of Saratoga, go say hi at Northshire. In keeping with the spirit of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. I’m adding a category for books that touch on military/veteran or caregiver stories. So many well-written and interesting books are published in this genre and they offer a window onto a world that many of us know little about with today’s all volunteer army. Speaking about our troops – you can earn the Bob Woodruff Foundation $1.00 from now until September 30th simply by posting #give2veterans. You don’t even have to open your wallet to help our injured veterans and families, so please pass it on! So here goes — my humble thoughts and opinions! New Novelist: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, Cherise Wolas I’d read the reviews and was intrigued by the overarching themes of how a woman’s career dreams are muted by marriage and motherhood. Then I opened the book and started reading. WHAM– I was totally unprepared for the sweeping scope, breadth, intimacy and depth of this book, reminiscent of a Jonathan Franzen novel. There are so many themes here, from love, betrayal, the parent-child bond, jealousy, favorite children, marital fatigue, what it means to nurse your creative flame while facing extreme head winds. The book is also a story within a story, as some of Joan’s writing is featured. The pace of the tale takes a dramatic downshift about two-thirds in, but every time I set it down, I was eager to get back to Joan Ashby. Military, War, Veteran Theme: Shooting Ghosts – A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer and Their Journey Back from War, Thomas Brennan and Finbarr O’Reilly What happens when a war-tested marine and embedded photojournalist write a book together? It’s a well written, compelling back and forth about what it means to go to war and come home. The story of how the men were injured by a bomb blast in Afghanistan and their unlikely friendship will keep you turning pages (and me underlining passages). As the wife of a war correspondent who was injured, there was so much I could relate to, but this doesn’t exclude the uninitiated reader. “Shooting Ghosts” should be mandatory reading for all of us who are “grateful for their service,” yet can’t quite grasp the tiny, nuanced damage war does to families, loved ones and relationships. The domestic scenes will twist your gut. This book perfectly captures the lonely, aching dissonance many veterans feel when they return to a home front they have dreamed of, that cannot see or understand their wounds. Some of the best, articulate descriptions of post traumatic stress I’ve ever read. Fiction: My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent ( I’m listening to the Audio Version) Worried that it would be too gritty, and I’d be screaming back at the story, I was right. But the writing is so tight, the transgressions so astonishing, its like Technicolor road kill… you cannot turn away. This is the number one “Indie Next” pick and the story of a Survivalist/Prepper father who drinks beer for breakfast and his weapon-weilding14-year-old daughter who live in the woods of Mendocino, CA, will have you calling Child Social Services as you read through fingers covering your eyes. Spoiler alert- if you don’t have the stomach for incest, bowie knives and foul language, think twice, but being inside the young woman’s head with her competing emotions and nascent sense of how the outside world works is a trip. Warning on the audio version, the narrator has that annoying vocal fry in her voice (like my own daughter!), which is driving me nuts as a speech and presentation coach. For more on vocal fry and what it is, watch this hilarious video from CBS Sunday Morning – I couldn’t resist. dailymotion.com/video/x15scu1 Get Smarter/Do it Better/Self-Help: 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, Amy Morin Ok, the parenting train has pretty much left the station at my house. I’ve already inflicted terrible damage and bad habits on my children (see reference to vocal fry above) but it may not be too late for your own kids or grandkids. I was intrigued about the promise of the book’s ability to help us raise “self-assured children and train their brains for a life of happiness, meaning and success.” What’s not to love about that? Being told what NOT to do is also a little more naughty-fun than someone telling you HOW to do it. Social worker Amy Morin lays out her treatise in an easy, sound-bitey way that results in a neat little road map for beginners that should be handed out in maternity wards. It’s a form of parenting for dummies that would make a great baby shower gift for tackling the hardest …