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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
One of my customers recently called to tell me that she really enjoyed Hinds’ Feet on High Places. This is an inspirational novel that has been described as Christian fiction at its best. It got its name because the girl in the novel wants to be like the deer in her mountains that have special feet that allow them to leap and play high up. She, too, wants to be free of fear and strives to be a courageous person who can overcome her limitations with the help of her God. She wants to rework herself into a better and more spiritual person.
My son and I were discussing books the other day, and he asked me, “Would you recommend a book in a blog that you didn’t completely love?” I thought for a minute and said, “No”. He asked why not, and I replied, “What if someone noticed the blog who didn’t love books? What if they just wanted to try reading a book for the first time in a long while? I couldn’t recommend a book that I thought maybe they would like or maybe not. I have to feel strongly about the book. I want people to love books as much as I do.”
Nocturnal, by Scott Sigler, is a detective novel that involves the supernatural. So if you love both genres as I do, this is a glorious combination. The characters are so well-developed that several reviewers described this novel as Sigler’s attempt to write like Stephen King. I don't know if that is true, but I just think that Sigler has always been known as a fast-paced horror writer. In Nocturnal he adds more character and depth to the plot.
A customer recently called me to tell me that he loved The President’s House, by Margaret Truman, so when I gave a talk in Northern Virginia a few days later, I passed on the recommendation to the group. The next customer who read it just called to tell me that he is really enjoying this book, too. Several of the book reviews said that it is a fun and interesting look at the White House written by a woman who has a deep love for this national icon because she was lucky enough to grow up there.
A patron called me this week to say that he loved Crashers, by Dana Haynes, so much that he didn’t even want to stop the audio book to go to sleep at night! That is an excellent endorsement! He wanted more books by this author, and we found out that this was the debut novel of Dana Haynes.
It is about an airliner that crashes outside of Portland, Oregon, and a team of experts assembled to investigate the cause of the crash. Some of the members of the team are: Kiki Duvall, a “sonar witch”--a recorder specialist who can hear things that other people cannot; John Roby, a former cop and bomb expert; Walter Mulroney who can build any plane given the right number of bolts; engineer Peter Kim, pilot and former F.B.I. agent Isaiah Grey; pathologist Tommy Tomzak; and the leader, Susan Tanaka who is an intergovernmental liason. They soon discover that this plane crash was no accident--it was a trial run.