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Posts from the ‘Books and Essays’ Category

24
Oct

The Return

The country that separates fathers and sons has disoriented many travelers.

Many Americans associate Libya with the September 11, 2012 uprising in Benghazi where Islamic militants attacked the American consulate killing the US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens and three others.  To better understand Libya and the historical events that define its tumultuous past, it is helpful to know the following: Read more »

16
Oct

Evicted

In 2016, Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond published Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Evicted) – the story of eight families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction in 2017, the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2017 Pen/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal, and more, Evicted is the emotional and heartbreaking story of what happens when people are evicted from their homes. As the author points out, it’s not just the roof over their heads that’s lost, but also a neighborhood, friends, schools, and a sense of safety and personal dignity. Read more »

24
Sep

The Most Magnificent Thing

Reading a children’s book can be magical even if you’re reading the book to yourself because the story can take you back to a time when you thought extraordinary things were still possible.

Reading James and The Giant Peach when I was 9 years old filled me with morbid fear of Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge who were terribly cruel to little James. But, the story also filled me with great joy when James prevailed despite the odds.  And, who could forget Charlotte’s Web where the love of a little girl and the devotion of a spider saved Wilbur from a terrible fate? Read more »

14
Sep

The Splendid Things We Planned

Blake Bailey is best known for his biographies of very talented but troubled writers (Yates, Cheever, and Jackson) so when The Splendid Things We Planned – a personal family memoir – was published in 2014, readers took note because it’s one thing to write about other people’s lives but quite another to open the flood gates on your own family. Read more »

28
Jul

Anything Is Possible

Before you pick up the book, Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, do yourself a favor and read My Name is Lucy Barton first. Both books stand alone as good reads but collectively these fictional stories are even better because the first book sets the stage and introduces a cast of colorful characters whose lives intertwine in the most bizarre ways in the second book. Read more »

28
Jun

The Bright Hour

In 1838, 35-year old Ralph Waldo Emerson sat down and wrote in his journal:

I am cheered with the moist, warm, glittering, budding and melodious hour that takes down the narrow walls of my soul and extends its pulsation and life to the very horizon. That is morning; to cease for a bright hour to be a prisoner of this sickly body, and to become as large as the World.

Nearly 200 years later, Emerson’s great-great-great granddaughter, Nina Riggs found profound meaning in that entry and named the book she finished a month before her death at age 39, in February, 2017, “The Bright Hour.” When the reader fully absorbs that journal entry, it’s as if the generations between Emerson and Riggs disappear and that these two people born 174 years apart shared a connection, a knowledge of how hard it is to live when the body is failing, and the beauty of experiencing something so simple – daybreak – to alleviate the suffering.  Although Emerson recovered and went on to live another 44 years, dying at the age of 78, Riggs was not so lucky. Read more »

12
Jun

Waiting

Books are often the first exposure to art that children have. Keeping that in mind urges me to make the very best books possible. I know how important the books from my childhood were (and are) to me. Without them, I might not be a writer and artist today.                                    ~Kevin Henkes

There are books that stay with us for a lifetime even if we only had the pleasure of discovering their magic as adults reading to children.  If you’re a parent, there is a high probability at least one book written by Kevin Henkes is on your child’s bookshelf. A contemporary writer of children’s books, Henkes is the author of more than a dozen titles including Wemberly WorriedJulius The Baby of the World, Sheila Rae, the Brave, Chester’s Way, A Weekend with Wendell, Owen,  Chrysanthemum, Lilly’s Big Day, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, and Waiting, a Caldecott Honor Book published in 2015. Read more »

29
May

Winter Journal

Your eyes water up when you watch certain movies, you have dropped tears onto the pages of numerous books, you have cried at moments of immense personal sorrow, but death freezes you and shuts you down, robbing you of all emotion, all affect, all connection to your own heart.

On the eve of Paul Auster’s 64th birthday, the author sat down and penned a memoir called Winter Journal. Published in 2012, Winter Journal is not an “I did this; I did that” account of his life (although there is a bit of time-centered personal detail in the book) but more of a “I felt this; I felt that” type of story as he recalls how he reached a milestone where the world no longer considered him young or even middle-aged. Read more »

14
May

Little Kids And Their Big Dogs

Little Kids And Their Big Dogs is one of the most beautiful heartwarming books you will ever have the pleasure of looking through and reading. Written and illustrated by Andy Seliverstoff, a professional dog photographer, Little Kids And Their Big Dogs is not another coffee table book filled with beautiful photographs (although the images are undeniably stunning) but a book filled with images and words that capture the innocence, purity, and special bond between children and dogs. Read more »

22
Mar

Journey

A picture is worth a thousand words.

People often talk about the power of words but consider for a moment the power of pictures. The well-known saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is easily understood when we think of the Mona Lisa or American Gothic but the meaning takes on a whole new dimension when applied to a children’s picture book called Journey by Aaron Becker, a man who has been known to say his favorite destination remains in his imagination. Read more »