Beth Solka

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator's Wife

I admit that I have not read this book, but one of my customers just called to say that he enjoyed The Aviator’s Wife, by Melanie Benjamin, so much that he couldn’t put it down. It is the story of Ann Morrow Lindbergh.  I was given Gift From the Sea, by Ann Morrow Lindbergh, as a Christmas present and was struck by the beauty of this wonderful, little book. I was immediately impressed by the tremendous intelligence and fierce independence of this famous woman. How could anyone not admire such an incredible woman who struggled to maintain her own identity with such a famous husband?

I Heard the Owl Call my Name by Margaret Craven

I heard the Owl Call my Name cover

My favorite book when I was in high school was I Heard the Owl Call my Name, by Margaret Craven, so I decided to reread it to see how I related to the book now.  Even though it is almost 50 years old, the book is still just as timely and beautifully-written as it was in the 60’s. Perhaps its message is even more important in today’s world.  It is about a young Vicar, Mark Brian, who has been diagnosed with only a few years to live.  His Bishop has been told his diagnosis, but the Vicar has not. 

When the Bishop learns of the young Vicar’s diagnosis he says, “So short a time to learn so much? It leaves me with no choice. I shall send him to my hardest parish. I shall send him to Kingcome on patrol of the Indian Villages.”

Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice, and Aguas Frescas by Fany Gerson

Sometimes you check out a book that starts a new family hobby. The book Paletas started a wonderful new hobby for our family. The day before my son found this book he was watching a Food network show on Paletas, the delicious Latin-American treats that we call popsicles. The next day my son found this book at the library: Paletas : Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice, and Aguas Frescas by Fany  Gerson. It was summertime and we made the key lime popsicles rolled in pie crust crumbs and each popsicle tasted just like a piece of key lime pie. We also made the avocado paletas and even though they sounded dreadful, they were really delicious! Of course we also made the more traditional lemon-lime popsicles.

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

A relative of one of my customers called me from Hawaii to tell me that I had to read this book. I can always tell it is he when I pick up the phone and hear, "Aloha!!!"  He didn't want to tell me too much about Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist, because he didn't want to spoil anything for me. However, he did want me to call him to discuss the book as soon as I finished it.

After reading it, I have to say that if you like Stephen King, you would enjoy Little Star, which focuses on two girls—one of whom is a sociopath and another who idolizes and wants to be just like her.

The Light Between Oceans by L.M. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans

Every once in a while you read a book that has phrasing which is so beautiful and uniquely written that you stop and just reread that section again.  I found myself doing that often with The Light Between Oceans which is a wonderful debut novel by an Australian author, L.M. Stedman.  The book takes place right after World War I and is a psychological study of one couple's decision and the ripples that it creates in the world.

Tom Sherbourne, a decorated war hero, returns from World War I forever changed by the horrors of war, but his honor is still intact.  He is so respected and trusted by authorities that he is given the job of lighthouse keeper on a small island about a half day’s journey off of Australia’s western shore named Janus Rock. On one of his visits to the mainland he meets a brave and strong-willed young girl named Isabel and falls in love.  They marry and start their life together on the Island. 

Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us about Health and the Science of Healing by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz

Zoobiquity

Zoobiquity is a nonfiction book written by a heart specialist for humans.  Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz is often called in as a consultant at the Los Angeles Zoo for animals with heart problems.  One day when she was at the zoo, the head veterinarian mentioned a heart condition that vets have known about for decades and yet human doctors only discovered ten years ago. The name was different, but the condition was the same. Zoobiquity is the result of Natterson-Horowitz's efforts to discover what other medical and psychological conditions humans and animal share.

Dr. Natterson-Horowitz begins by explaining that for decades now veterinarians have searched human medical journals for help with their animal patients, but human doctors very seldom consult with veterinarians or read the veterinary medical journals. She began to wonder what else medical doctors have missed by not encouraging an exchange of information. As a heart doctor who is also a psychiatrist, she also began to wonder how many other conditions and psychoses we share with our animal counterparts. 

Audio Books and Bake Sale

Bake Sale

This Thursday and Friday, September 27 and 28, Volunteers For the Blind (VFB) is having a book and bake sale at its 1101 Caroline Street offices from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.  Everyone is cordially invited to browse our entire audio cassette book collection, enjoy home-baked items, meet VFB’s staff and learn more about our organization.

VFB is a local, non-profit, tax-exempt, 501 (c) 3 organization.  It provides volunteer shopping assistants and readers primarily for Fredericksburg residents who are blind.  VFB also offers training, especially for high school and college students, to work appropriately with volunteers.  In addition, VFB has an unpaid internship program either for people who are blind and want to gain work experience before entering the competitive employment market or for those who wish to return to it after losing their sight.

Unsaid by Neil Abramson

Unsaid by Neil Abramson

Writing a blog posting for a book that you love is as hard as describing a person whom you love. Sometimes everything that you write about a wonderful book doesn’t sound good enough. Writing about Unsaid by Neil Abramson has been one of the hardest blog postings I have ever written. That is how much I loved this book.

Neil Abramson’s debut novel is about love's power to heal grief. Dr. Helena Colden, a 37-year-old country veterinarian, dies of cancer and leaves her husband David with a menagerie of rescued animals. She can see him struggling from the other side. Helena is helplessly watching him trying to cope with his grief, as well as take care of the emotionally and physically damaged animals that he cannot relate to. David is a lawyer in New York City, so his commute and his work day are exhausting. However, he still has to deal with the demands of the dogs, cats, horses, and pig that need his care, too. These animals are also missing Helena's gentle love, and now they are left with David who doesn't understand them.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sandovitch

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Nina Sankovitch is an avid reader as is her whole family.  They have turned to books for generations for joy and comfort.  When her sister Ann-Marie dies from cancer, Nina goes into a depression until she decides to take steps to get her life back in order by giving up her job as a lawyer and reading a book a day for a year.  This memoir is the progression that she makes from grief to joy over the course of the year.  Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is so eloquent, so beautifully written that it has become one of my favorite books. Nina shares so much wisdom that it is the kind of book that you would like to keep to read over and over again.  There were many times that I wanted to stop reading long enough to yell out, “Yes, Nina!!  You are so wonderful!” 

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag cover

I picked up I Never Promised you a Goodie Bag, by Jennifer Gilbert, thinking that it would be full of hilarious mishaps that occurred at weddings and events that the Save the Date’s CEO had experienced. However, I soon found that it was something more. It is the memoir of a young woman who started out life being fiercely independent, the daughter of wealthy parents who had an import business and were frequently overseas. Jennifer traveled all over without a care in the world until at 22 years old she was attacked in the hallway of her best friends’ apartment. Her friends were too frightened or too selfish to come out, even though Jennifer was screaming for help. The girls in the apartment did call some boyfriends and they came over with baseball bats and drove the attacker away.