February 2021 Book Marks
I’ve always liked February. It feels like winter is moving into the rear view mirror and there’s a real chance for crocus-spotting before month’s end. Nothing feels more hopeful in the Northeast than a flower pushing up through the snow. And there’s a lot of it out there right now. February is heart-shaped chocolates and hand-made Valentines, longer days and nights that still require a warm blanket with a good book. While mud season surely stands before me and the first real blossoms of spring, I’ll take it. Oh, and I’ll take a vaccine too, if anyone’s offering.
Just keep reading. It’s the healthiest form of escape out there.
The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck
A master at uncovering the often overlooked or underappreciated women in history, Robuck’s latest book goes inside the story of one of the OSS’s most effective female spies. Virginia Hall was an American woman who gave up everything in her personal life and put herself in daily danger to thwart the Nazi’s. Some of the scenes in which she barely eludes capture are so tension-filled that I found myself setting the book down so that my heart rate could drop. Robuck’s deep research and ability to recreate history as if it were a novel provides an important insight into the role of women who helped to combat evil while working in the shadows.
The Removed by Brandon Hobson
Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, this book combines real life with the spiritual world to examine the grooves trauma leaves on individuals and families. The Echota family has been struggling since their son Ray Ray was killed in a police shooting. Since that time, his father has sunk deep into Alzheimers and his mother Maria is caregiving a son and daughter who are growing increasingly remote and addicted to drugs. As the annual traditional family bonfire approaches, mysterious things begin to happen that blur the boundaries of the real and spiritual worlds.
We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida
Eulabee is an average 1980’s teenager coming of age in pre-tech boom San Francisco. Prowling the streets and beaches of Sea Cliff, a wealthy neighborhood beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, she displays the angst and curiosity of all teenagers. Her fabulous best friend, Maria Fabiola, is the curvy one who gets the boy’s attention. Walking to their upscale all-girls school one morning, they witness a horrible act. Or did they? After the ensuing disagreement over what happened, Maria disappears, and her potential kidnapping shakes the entire school and neighborhood. For everyone who remembers the changing tides of adolescence, you’ll relate to the slights, confusion, freedom and heartache of what it means to try to find yourself during this pivotal period in life.
Eddie’s Boy by Robert Schwab
On April 30, 2007, Dr. Landon Ratliff, exhausted from his 40th birthday celebration and long hours at the hospital, runs a red light at an intersection in Charleston, South Carolina and collides with a truck. That one fateful moment will change his life in numerous ways; robbing him of his professional identity, work ethic and emotionally guarded personal life. His hospitalization and forced “slow down,” due to his head injury, contribute to a kind of midlife crisis. Landon’s injuries thrust his new girlfriend, Luna Quinn, into the role of reluctant caregiver, accelerating their relationship in unnatural ways. As he faces his relationship with his father, a veteran who has turned to alcohol to deal with his PTSD, he slowly begins to heal not just his body, but the relationships with his family he never thought possible.
False Light by Eric Dezenhall
Seasoned reporter Sanford ”Fuse” Petty is old-school in every way… anti-technology, anti-Millennial (don’t even mention Gen-Z), and anti-”gotcha” journalism. When Fuse is asked to leave his job at the newspaper pending a disciplinary investigation, he has plenty of time on his hands. Enter his oldest friend, whose daughter has been sexually assaulted by her boss, a prominent media star. Fuse gives his buddy advice: report the incident and risk a huge ”he said/she said” smear campaign, or plan something even better: revenge. Fuse’s background investigating criminals, politicians, drug lords, and all-around shysters makes him the perfect person to help bring the popular media mogul down in the court of public opinion . . . and make him pay.
The Daughters of Kobani – A Story of Rebellion, Courage and Justice by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Syria is one of the least likely places to find a revolution centered on women’s rights. Journalist and author, Lemmon, spent hundreds of hours reporting on the incredible group of all-female militia who took on ISIS armed with AK-47’s on the frontlines alongside the US. In the telling, the courage, grit and dreams of these women come to life in an intricate and heart-warming story of a band of sisters who were told they couldn’t go to school, play soccer or marry whom they wanted. In response, they became an elite fighting squad, battling (and winning) against the forces of evil in their region who were blocking their rights and trafficking in women and girls. No surprise, as in her previous book “Ashley’s War,” the movie rights for this story have already been snapped up.
Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert
As the Pulitzer-prize winning author of “the Sixth Extinction,” Kolbert has the chops to dig into what’s happening to our planet as humans fulfill the prophecy to have “dominion over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” The question is, after doing so much damage, is there enough time to save it? Rather than feeling like a doom and gloom climate change book, Kolbert uses her scientist’s eye to reveal case studies that provide both hope and insight. From the development of a “super-coral” on the Great Barrier Reef that can survive warmer water to the race to preserve the world’s rarest fish who live near Death Valley, Kolbert weaves in the work of biologists, engineers and researchers reshaping and saving today’s natural world.
Good Business – The Talk, Fight, Win Way to Change the World by Bill Novelli
A million years ago when I started my career in marketing, I was lucky enough to have Bill Novelli as my mentor. As one of the originators of “social marketing,” his life has spanned some incredible moments and experiences. Novelli envisioned a world where you could use the principles of advertising and marketing to help causes and support responsible behavior and actions in the world. This book, part memoir, part blueprint for corporate social responsibility, is a road map for how we can do well (economically and financially) by doing good (helping to solve global challenges.) Novelli shows us we can all make a positive social difference, no matter who we are or where we are in our careers.
*These are books I genuinely love and am thrilled to recommend to my friends. These are Bookshop.org affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I get a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Alternately, if you prefer to rent books at your local library or buy from your local bookstore, I very much support that!