November-December Book Marks
WHAT TO GIFT?
It’s that time when we angst over the perfect gift
For teachers or dog walkers, parents and kids. It’s overwhelming in stores and online.
What if i just grab a bottle of wine?
that’s too darned easy, just red, white and pink
The holidays already have plenty to drink
Candles say “half-price” or gift drawer malaise
So what does one give for the big holidays?
Candy pulls fillings, we don’t need something sweet
Yes, those Omaha Steaks are some big slabs of meat
But the best gifts are books, to be sure and be true
A book choice says something about the recipient and you
Books mean you thought about what they will like
Take off your shoes, cozy up, open me and delight!
They take you new places, introduce you to friends
A book is a story from beginning to end
No need to think further, get rid of those lists
Head out to your bookstore and grab all your gifts!
The Overstory by Richard Powers
I loved this book! Botanical facts are woven through the tales of disparate characters with a story-telling craft that made me re-read whole passages for the sheer delight of the language. The trees are actually the protagonists in this story and it is the people, a paralyzed tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, a Chinese immigrant daughter, an outcast botanist and many more, who form a kind of amplifying back story. Think sweeping epic with a worshipfulness of nature (not preachy) and an urgent message that mankind must focus on understanding the healing and medicinal secrets of the plant world before we destroy the planet.
For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
Combine a thriller, murder and a marriage and you have the basis for a simmering plot. Will and Natalie have been together since law school and the book open son one of their first dates with a theoretical discussion about how to get away with murder. Fast forward to a stagnated marriage, dual careers and a child. The author’s depictions and tight dialogue are a perfect study in long-term relationship ennui and suspicion. But when shocking news bleeds into their family life, the Clarkes must set aside ambivalence and operate as a team as they take the law into their own hands. What will be the first thing to crack, their secret or their marriage? You’ll be turning pages to find out.
The Gown – A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
During times of turmoil, weddings, as we know from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have a way of providing the world with a wonderful distraction. This was certainly the case in post WW2 England when then Princess Elizabeth announced her engagement to dashing Prince Philip. In this meticulously researched book, the author creates a flash back and forward in time between London 1947 and present day Toronto, where three women embroiderers in a bespoke atelier are connected to one of the most famous wedding gowns in modern history. Their own lives are intertwined over time by the threads of love, loss, redemption, survival and regret.
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
I picked this paperback up in an airport, and was quickly drawn into the world of the octopus as seen through the eyes of this award winning and accomplished naturalist. The stars of the book are the emotional and physical stories of Athena,Karma, Octavia and Kali, octopi with strikingly different personalities and abilities. Weaving in the stories of the humans at the aquarium who love and care for these sea creatures results in a gem of a book that demonstrates the cleverness, creativity and connection humans can enjoy with the animal kingdom.
Seduction: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood by Karina Longworth
Long before Harvey Weinstein made headlines for his own kind of heinous, there was Howard Hughes, Texas millionaire, pilot, filmmaker and a man who took sexist behavior and abuse of power to dizzying heights. Told through the stories of some of Hollywood’s most famous leading (and not so leading) ladies, we go behind the curtain to view the intimate workings of Tinseltown during the golden age of movie-making and the studio system. Longworth’s meticulous research (she hosts the popular podcast “You Must Remember This”) spans the lives of dozens of women, including Hughes’s marriages and relationships with Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Katherine Hepburn. While many of his hopefuls never made it to the screen, some functioned more like prisoners of the increasingly paranoid mogul,who retained security and informers to make sure they didn’t stray. An engrossing read, this book is also a historical document that traces the roots of male power in Hollywood that still endures almost a century later.
Art Matters- Because Your Imagination Can Change The World by Neil Gaiman
This sweet little illustrated book by celebrated author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell is a reminder to all of us to step away from our screens and smart phones. “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before,” is how the book starts. It’s an argument for art, for imagination,for tolerance and so many other things in a page by page cartoon format. My favorite chapter is “Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.” What’s not to love about this?
To Obama, With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope by Jeanne Marie Laskas
Ten thousand people a day wrote to President Barak Obama, offering thin-slices of American life, from pain, pleas, advice,and gratitude. And every evening, for the eight years of his administration, the president chose to interact with his constituency by reading ten hand-picked letters. They were the voices of soldiers, refugees, mothers, prisoners and many others who affected the president’s outlook on the world and his policies. Together these letters presented an unfiltered voice of a nation that was archived in entirety for the first time in the history of the office. In this book, the author interviews the president and the letter writers to create a patchwork quilt of opinions on gay marriage and immigration to healthcare, racism and so much more, told through the lens of personal stories.