The true story of 63-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins who in 1954 lost her farm, was broke and according to her doctor, dying.
No, she didn’t get her affairs in order, she bought a rundown horse and set out for California to see the ocean.
She wasn’t going to live off of charity or stuck in a home. She put on men’s jeans and in the middle of November she headed south with her dog Depeche Toi and Tarzan the horse. It would be two years before she made it to California and in between we get to see our country as it was then. She went through big cities, small towns, and met a lot of famous people. And while she had offers of a permanent home, she kept going.
She relied on the kindness of strangers and she became famous. In this time of so many bad neighbors, this was a hard story to read at times, but it was very inspiring.
Living in the United States we think we know what is going on in the world. We have 24 hours of news coverage and constant updates on social media sites.
But a few years back when I began to try and figure out who was telling the truth about Syria, it was obvious we know nothing. The reports I was given told two entirely different stories depending on who was writing them.
This book lets the children and adults who are living on both sides of the conflict tell their own stories.
There are innocent people on both sides, and the children’s sense of hope was inspiring. The differences in their lives while living only a few hundred miles apart were stark. One set of parents determined to shield their family from the ugliness beyond their own door while the other encourages rebellion.
Rania Abouzeid is a journalist I admire and can trust. Her writing in this book is exceptional and honest.
Margaret MacMillan, a renowned historian looks at war. Why choose war? What does it say about us?
From the beginning, there has been war and peace. Sometimes at the same time. Everything we know and have comes from war. It brings out the worst in us and challenges our beliefs and what we hold dear.
This is a look at war from all sides. Is it in our very nature to be at war? How do we decide to go to war?
We all know that war shapes politics, values and can be destructive so why do we humans keep planning, strategizing, and declaring war? And why is it mainly men?
Some very good history here along with a lot to think about.
The gripping true story of a sensational religious forgery and the scandal that engulfed Harvard.
Dr. Karen King, a well-respected professor at Harvard Divinity, announced to the attendees of a scholars conference, steps from the Vatican.
Someone had given her a scrap of an ancient papyrus where Jesus calls Mary Magdalene his wife. As you can imagine, this was huge. I know I followed this in the news because I had an interest in the Gnostic Gospels and what was and wasn’t true. I never saw Mary of Magdala as a prostitute and I never found any corroboration of that.
Imagine if all these years later we find out Jesus had a wife. What? What a shakeup that would be for the Catholic Church especially. If he was married, why celibacy in the priesthood? Why no women in positions of power? There was a powerful uproar and King’s reputation suffered. Was this piece a forgery and if so was King in on it?
Amid all of these questions, journalist Ariel Sabar started digging into the story. Where did the fragment come from? With impeccable research and detective skills, he brings us the story of King and the man who may or may not be a forger.
This was a brilliant look at the rivalries in academia. The hopes of King that there was an alternative to the bible out there that was more inclusive to women. I’ll leave you to enjoy the mystery.
I am still mulling over questions this book brought up. And I’m sure I will be for a long time.
Leslie Gray Streeter offers us a portrait of widowhood we haven’t seen before, one that “will make you laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page” (James Patterson).
Palm Beach Post columnist Leslie Gray Streeter entered her late thirties with her husband Scott, moving in together and starting the process of adopting a baby. Yes, she is Christian and a black woman and he is neither. He is a white Jewish man. But together they are perfect for each other.
And just like that, they were making out and he died. Right there. And this is the story of her path and how she traveled it. I loved this book. I am this book. My husband died the same way at 36. There should be a period of a week at least before you have to start making decisions that are probably all bad. I laughed, I cried, I understood. Someone said you never understand death until it knocks at your door. So true. Thank goodness for friends who will not let you wallow in quicksand, but show up and care and drag you back from the edge and tell you that you aren’t crazy and it’s okay to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.
I am honored to have read this!
NetGalley/ March 10th, 2020 by Little, Brown, and Company
A well-researched look at Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina.
I am not sure that people really understand the different slave classes. This work gives us as much information as can be found about this city of refuge for runaway slaves. People today would call it living off the grid. HIding in a swamp, creating their own forms of currency and working closely with slaves and white people.
The amount of information is really quite extraordinary, as these men/women tended to leave no tracks. I can’t imagine how long this work took, but I am better for having read it.
As a descendant of the man who wrote the runaway slave act, I was deeply moved by this book.
NetGalley/ University of Georgia Press; February 8th, 2020
Gareth Russell has done his research. Uncovering previously unpublished sources and including photographs. Russell tells the story not just of the sinking of the Titanic, but of six well-known and well-heeled passengers and the role they played in history.
He is a gifted writer and puts the event in context with what was going on in the world. Especially the Americans and the British. With the Edwardian Era ending, war on the horizon and changes in the social norms, technology, politics, Irish Home Rule, the class system, this was a major time of change for the world.
We follow the stories of six of those passengers on the Titanic and how their lives changed. The description of the sinking, minute by minute, the different ways Americans and the British handled the tragedy. Not everyone was chivalrous or brave. And for some that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
For me personally, this was the best book I have read on the subject. And that was because it was so well researched and written. Myths were shown for what they were. Facts and journals told stories never heard before. The pictures were priceless in creating an image in your head of who these people were and how they behaved.
I would have no problem recommending this book as a definitive look at this point in our history.
The author has taken a hard look at the state of affairs in Detroit. Through the voices of seven people whose lives have been changed forever by the mismanagement of the city and its eventual bankruptcy.
I visited Detroit regularly during the late ’80s and through the ’90s. It was a huge, sprawling place and going downtown was heartbreaking. To see block after block of neglected and abandoned homes and businesses.
There is enough blame to go around in this look at how cities are not getting the support they need to provide the services people need to survive and thrive. Everything is broken. The real estate market, the banks, the inept leadership, the lack of state and federal support.
About 40 percent of the city lives below the poverty level. Where is the investment in creating new jobs? How do these opportunists get by with paying $1000 for a foreclosed home and turning around and charging 3 times that in rent? The entire thing is falling apart and who is going to bail them out?
Detroit isn’t the only city in trouble. We just rarely hear anything about the others. The research in this book is very well done!
I appreciate the author bringing this into the light. And I hope people read this and stand up and do the right thing by their fellow human beings.
Highly Recommended Reading!
NetGalley/ November 19th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris comes a revelatory new biography of Thomas Alva Edison, the most prolific genius in American history.
Edmund Morris is the author of the three Theodore Roosevelt biographies as well as the really good Ronald Reagan one. I am very sad to say he passed away just this past May.
Thomas Edison was a driven man. He was constantly inventing and patenting new ideas or as he would say, he brought them out in the open, they were always there. He had a new invention about every 11 days, with over 1,000 in his lifetime.
Best known for bringing us into the light, he was a man with a singular need to invent, to experiment, to push the boundaries of what was known. He was a man who needed little sleep or food and expected those around him to work the same punishing hours as he did. He did not suffer fools lightly and like a lot of geniuses who are laser-focused on what they see as their calling, his family life suffered.
We see the husband, the father, the friend. A man who was headstrong. He started 250 businesses, so you can imagine he might have been a distant father. He made no secret that he thought his children were lacking in every way.
I have read many biographies of Edison, most of which centered on his works and patents. I don’t think he was a deliberately cold man, he was a man possessed with a need to create, to push boundaries and with that type of mind, relationships and family take a back seat.
The research that went into this work is astounding. This is a book I will have and re-read for a long time.
With a moving forward by President Jimmy Carter, this is the story of how Habitat for Humanity began. Telling inspiring stories of the many people impacted by the program who then go on to live the seven virtues which Reckford puts forward, one at a time.
Beginning with the easiest virtue, kindness. Sometimes we don’t see the ‘reward’ of a kind act. Because the reward is a kind act. Kindness can be a chain reaction that leads to Community, Empowerment, Joy, Respect, Generosity, and Service. It’s rather inspiring to read the stories of people whose lives were touched by a kind act, which empowered them to act and pass it forward and succeed.
President Carter has set the bar for humanitarian works. In his 90’s he is still building, spreading kindness and being of service to people here and abroad. Giving people hope and setting an example.
He has always been a special man. My father campaigned for him and he was the first President I voted for. Fellow Georgian. His family has always been dedicated to service. I really loved Reckford’s own story and the people he interacted with. What an inspiration they all were. My husband and I have worked on a few homes for Habitat and it was the most rewarding thing we have ever done.
I hope with this book everyone will find common ground and agree on what path we need to be following. Now I’m grabbing a hammer and helping my neighbor repair her fence. What are you going to do?
NetGalley/ October 8th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Essentials
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