Blog Book Marks

November 2020 Book Marks

On November 18th at 9:00 EST, get ready for our 14th annual “Stand Up for Heroes” with an incredible talent line-up…

And EVERYONE gets a front row seat to this FREE virtual event.

It’s a night of laughter, music, healing and a night to raise money for our injured veterans and their families, who need our support more than ever with the challenges of Covid-19.

You can watch the free show live with this Link and you can also view it for a short time after it airs. If you are able to safely gather with a few friends—maybe you can host a “viewing night” and introduce others to the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the cause.

Please share this Link with friends and family and thank you for any donation you can make. No amount is too small.

Thanks for honoring the extraordinary veterans who have volunteered to serve, so that the rest of us are able to go about our lives.


Jack by Marilynne Robinson

Robinson’s enduring series of “Gilead novels” have secured her place as one of America’s most gifted and quintessential writers. At their essence, her stories are about both the dilemmas and promise of American history. The stories reverberate with the ongoing legacy of the Civil War and the enduring impact of both racial inequality and deep-rooted religious belief. In segregated St. Louis, in the wake of World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African American high school teacher who is discerning, generous, and independent. Miles and Jack are both the children of preachers and Jack is the prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, the family that forms the basis of Robinson’s beautiful Gilead novels. In this latest book in the series, the author slowly colors in the progression of a fraught but beautiful romance. During this past year, when racially charged events have remained in the headlines, this story echoes powerful chords in our national character and resonates with our deepest feelings.


The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

I was not a crazy fan of the Neapolitan series as so many were. But in this book, I found a more relatable and universal coming of age story that kept me reading. Giovanna is getting older and her face is changing. One night she overhears her father saying that she is looking more like her ugly Aunt Vittoria every day. She has always felt her father’s love and his physical presence but this casual comment, uttered after his displeasure with her grades, sends her down a rabbit hole of insecurity. Is she really changing? Why do her parents despise her Aunt, a woman she hardly knows? Her journey from childhood to adolescence to adulthood becomes the search to see herself as she truly is. Set amidst this is the backdrop are the two sides of the city of Naples that fear and detest one another: the refined Naples of the heights and the Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity. Will either city offer Giovanna answers or escape?


Once a Warrior by Jake Wood

Decorated sniper Jake Wood came home after two bloody tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, unable to leave the war behind. In the decade since he stepped back on American soil, his unit lost more men to suicide than to the enemy overseas. Jake watched in horror as his best friend and fellow Marine Clay Hunt plunged into depression upon returning, stripped of his purpose, community, and sense of identity. Despite Jake’s attempts to intervene, Clay died by suicide, alone.

One thing had given Clay a measure of hope after the war and that was a trip with Jake to Haiti on a lifesaving mission after the 2010 earthquake. That experience led Jake to ask, what if there was a way to help stricken communities while providing a new mission and purpose for veterans?

In this inspiring memoir, Jake brings you directly into the war with his gripping writing. He then recounts how, over the past 10 years, starting with no money or experience, he and his team have recruited over 100,000 volunteers to his disaster response organization Team Rubicon. Racing against the clock, these veterans battle hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, pandemics, and civil wars, while rediscovering their life’s purpose along the way.


A Time to Seek- Meaning, Purpose and Spirituality at Midlife by Susan Pohlman

Each of faces and responds to the headwinds of mid-life in different ways. When Pohlman sends her first child off to college, she begins to stare the empty nest in the eye, coming to terms with the fact that so much of her identity has been wrapped up in being a wife and mother. This juncture causes her to begin to examine her own life and re-evaluate her place in the world. Despite a recession and her family’s own uncertain financial future, Pohlman decides to set off alone for Italy, to use the transformative power of travel as the fuel for her spiritual journey. The result is an intimate and essential tale of how we can intentionally re-shape our own personal narratives. This memoir is an adventure of discovery and a spontaneous contemplation on how to keep the faith, while confronting the hard truths of passing through life’s many phases.


The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM by Toni Natalie

It’s hard to understand how smart, well-intentioned people could be sucked into a cult. Like so many others, I binged on the HBO docu-series “The Vow,” which detailed the rise of enigmatic cult leader, Keith Raniere, and his “self-help” group NXIVM. Raniere has since been sentenced to life in prison, which is where he belongs, especially after reading this book, which goes into much more lurid detail than the documentary. As one of Raniere’s former girlfriends, Natalie was an early test subject for his coercive control techniques. She watched the evolution of his methodology, including his use of sex, blackmail, and psychological tools to control and punish those who didn’t fall in line. The book details fortunes lost, lives left in disarray, including inner circle members of DOS, a group of women coerced into sexual acts and branded under the guise of a “women’s empowerment.” Natalie is a sympathetic narrator of this unbelievable tale and you have to admire her determination not just to save herself and her family but to help other women in the group try to do the same.

*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 


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