Biographies & Memoirs
I’ve got a severe case of wanderlust. Often I can get a healthy fix as an armchair traveler—exploring the world by reading books of others’ exotic expeditions. But NOTHING compares to globetrotting in person to locales both near and far.
It’s 1879, and Captain De Long and his 32 men receive quite the send-off on their way to explore the Arctic. Financed by an eccentric playboy newspaper publisher, they are as prepared as possible for the grueling years of making camp on ice floes, as well as winters of darkness and aching loneliness. Hampton Sides’ In the Kingdom of Ice sets down their story of trying to be the first to reach the North Pole—which they and much of the scientific community believe to be a warm sea.
American counterculture hit the mainstream in the 1960s, but it had already been stewing for over a decade with the Beat generation. This group of novelists, poets, and playwrights pushed against the norms of Eisenhower's post-war optimism to reveal a different side to the nation.
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in Guest Picks for the library. I am generally reading one or two books at a time, and, as a family, we emphasize reading with our girls by reading nightly. I also enjoy challenging our oldest daughter (6-years-old) to help me find at least one "positive" story in the daily newspaper. My reading usually focuses on professional development (typically finance and investment-related books) and personal growth, often autobiographies, and personal coaching types of books to help elevate my performance in all areas of life.
“The sharper your knife, the less you cry.”
Chefs dominate the cooking industry; the big ones have TV shows, cookbooks, their own magazines. Because of them, there are cooking shows for every taste and better produce in your local market. Here is a selection of notable memoirs; two of the authors uplifted home cooking in America.
In 1955, Anne Morrow Lindbergh penned what has become one of the most inspirational books in the 20th century, Gift from the Sea. Drawing from her years of marriage and motherhood, as well as her work as a writer, Mrs. Lindbergh writes of the various stages of a woman’s life, comparing them to the different seashells she finds on the beach of her vacation cottage. Each shell, each stage, has its assets and drawbacks, but the thread of continuity is what it means to be a woman and how to approach each stage without losing one’s self.
Most people today have heard of Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly non-stop over the Atlantic Ocean. Fewer people these days are familiar with Anne Morrow Lindbergh, his wife, but, in the mid-20th century, they were both well-known in America and abroad.
Some people today fear going under the surgeon’s knife. It’s mostly a dread of the unknown. What might happen while they are knocked out, unaware of what is going on around them. They may not realize how fortunate they are. In Dr. Mütter’s Marvels, readers are swept back in time to a period before anesthesia was generally used. A good surgeon was a swift, careful cutter who could make the operation as mercifully short as possible for his wide-awake patient. He might even do some good for the patient in the process.
In Isaac’s Storm, Erik Larson tells the story of the fateful year 1900 when Isaac Cline and a hurricane crossed paths in the city of Galveston, Texas. As a meteorologist at a time when that science was still not being taken seriously by most people, performing well at his job was a major goal for Isaac. Despite his commitment, a series of factors—most significantly disillusionment with the Cuban weather reporting and an incomplete understanding of certain weather patterns, would result in absolute catastrophe for Galveston and the people living there.
A life-threatening health condition led Dee Williams, author of The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir, to make some unorthodox life decisions. In seeking the traditional American dream of being a homeowner, she buys a house—one with great potential, but in need of extensive TLC. Dee, a farm girl, is not intimidated by hard work, and gradually she transforms her fixer-upper into charming digs, complete with a lavish garden. Between maintaining her abode and traveling for her job as a state hazardous waste inspector, she has no time to simply luxuriate in little day-to-day pleasures. It’s not until she is diagnosed with heart failure in her early forties that she realizes how vital it is to change her priorities. She is no longer content to be a slave to house and yard work.