Blog Book Marks

July 2020 Book Marks

If you’re dreaming of travel during this crazy time of quarantine and COVID ….hit the road with my husband and son (Bob and Mack) in their new show “Rogue Trip,” which debuts Friday of this week, July 24th on Disney Plus.

See the trailer here or click on the image below.

It’s a travel show, it’s a father-son bonding experience, it’s a series of adventures to countries we often think of as rogue nations. In short it’s a much-needed reminder that the world is a big and wonderful place, mostly full of good intention, curiosity, community and the search for connection.


Bob’s producer described the concept to me as “Anthony Bourdain without the food but with the diarreah ( and a grown son.)”

And if that doesn’t entice you, nothing will! Bonus round—my eldest daughter Cathryn joins them for the Ukraine episode! If you’ve never crushed a car with a Soviet tank, this might be the episode for you.



Mother Land by Leah Franqui

Thirty-something Rachel Meyer, a foodie from New York, meets and marries Indian-born Dhruv and agrees to move with him to Mumbai. Ready for adventure, the independent new bride is excited to meet other ex-pats and eager to explore the hot, exciting metropolis she now calls home. Unexpectedly, her mother-in-law, Swati, arrives from Kolkata to live with them, proclaiming she has left her husband of 30 years, up-ending Rachel’s plans. This uneasy stand-off is put to the test when Dhruv’s work takes him out of town for a month. What happens next between the two women and their culture clash forms the heart of the book. In the end, two headstrong women who see life so differently begin to question the very things that seemed permanent and perfect. Perhaps, they aren’t so different after all.


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The identical twin Vignes sisters ran away from their small Louisiana town at age 16 and headed to New Orleans. Life had become more difficult after their father was killed by a band of white men while they watched, terrified, from the bedroom closet. The twin’s paths diverge in the city and as they forge their own lives, they have vastly different families, communities and even racial identities. A decade later, one sister has married a wealthy white man in LA and “passes” as white. The other leaves a career and an abusive husband behind in DC and returns to her small hometown with her daughter, whose skin is much darker than her own. Moving from the 1950s through the 1990s, this engrossing story is a riveting look at color, class, race and the imprint of the past on our future. Bennett knows how to tell a story and if you haven’t read her debut “The Mothers,” put that on your list.


Eliza Starts a Rumor by Jane L. Rosen

Life in a small town is proving to be anything but quiet. When Eliza Hunt moved to the Hudson Valley years ago, she was raising twins and living a picture-perfect life. She’d created the Hudson Valley Ladies’ Bulletin as a hobby to connect Moms and create community. But fast forward fifteen years to her empty nest and she’s battling a crippling case of agoraphobia that has landed out of nowhere. Or so she thinks.

When Eliza learns that someone is creating a rival forum, with much saucier and spicy interactions and confessions, she decides to create a rumor to help create a little spark. And you know what sparks become….From friendships to new Moms to affairs and lies, this book is a funny, poignant and very topical romp though some real-life issues humans deal with every day. In every town. Throw this one in your summer beach bag, you’ll devour it in short order.


Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford

When elite St. Paul’s prep school was in the headlines for the investigation around long term sexual abuse on campus, Lacy’s story of being assaulted at age fifteen came bubbling up. When her criminal case was reopened, she saw for the first time all of the evidence and subversion that kept her story buried and allowed the two athletes who assaulted her to go free. The innuendo, slander and lack of concern displayed toward Lacy in the evidence showed a school more concerned with its image than the safety of its students. A beautifully written memoir, this book runs the gamut from a coming of age story to an insightful and searing recounting of the shame, guilt, resilience and on-going ambition in the face of a soul-crushing experience. It’s a story of how trauma leaves its mark and the ways in which the human spirit continually struggles to overcome it.


Hidden Valley Road – Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

The best non-fiction stories read like a novel and this book is no different. In the wake of WW11, the Galvins were living the American dream. Don worked for the US Air Force in Colorado and Mimi was raising her growing brood of 12 children, who filled out the perfect Christmas card. But behind the scenes, the reality was a story of violence, hidden abuse and spiraling psychological breakdown. By 1970, six of the 10 boys were diagnosed as schizophrenic, leading the family to become part of a study by the National Institute of Mental Health that would lead to greater understanding of the disease. It’s a heart-breaking and extraordinary story which finds you, in turns, rooting for and reviled by all the different characters. Unbeknownst to the family, samples of their DNA were involved in decades long genetic research to help eradicate the disease for future generations. At its heart, this is a fundamental story of family, suffering, hope and even duty.


Becoming Kim Jong Un by Jung H Pak

So many of us are fascinated by “Little Rocket Man” and what really goes on in secretive North Korea. As a former CIA analyst and one of the leading experts in America on the North Korean ruler, Pak has written an important and compelling account of the leader that begins with his rise after his father’s death in his 20’s and travels through his nuclear ambitions and summits with Donald Trump.

When he took power after his father’s death in 2011, it was assumed he would be usurped by his elders. Instead, he solidified power, conducted purges, ordered the death of family members and solidified his grasp on the country. And yet he still remains largely an enigma. Pak writes with an insider’s eye, as someone who has been in the forefront of helping to shape policy at the highest levels. This book demonstrates her mastery of the subject, while trying to avoid bias and identify risks and opportunities.

*These are books I genuinely love and am thrilled to recommend to my friends. These are 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!



Lee Woodruff     Speaker-Author-Executive Media Trainer