The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson (2009)
Amy Dickinson, the successor to Ann Landers and writer of the syndicated “Dear Amy” advice column in the Chicago Tribune, has written this warm and funny memoir of her life after her husband leaves her and her young baby for a young Russian woman he’s met. Amy’s story is about picking herself up after this devastating blow and returning to her small hometown in upper New York. Nurtured by the “Queens,” the Freeville women in her family, she does survive and becomes the insightful, wise woman we read in the advice column. This book is a quick, humorous read and Amy’s story makes us proud that we, too, can make it and flourish in the face of most anything.
Check out the book’s website and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com.
Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman (2008)
Thomas L. Friedman, winner of three Pulitzer prizes, has written another great book. Much like his last book, The World is Flat, this book looks at the big world picture and the changes and dynamics taking place. Using exhaustive research data, he paints his picture of a world where globalization, a growing population, and global warming are converging and bringing us to an alarming situation. His call is for the United States to lead the world in making far reaching changes to make our world sustainable and environmentally safe. If you enjoyed The World Is Flat, you’ll find this book another winner from Friedman.
Visit the author’s website, read a review at Salon.com, and listen to an interview at NPR.
The Condition by Jennifer Haigh (2008)
This story of pain, beauty, sickness and health, love and betrayal revolves around the McKotch family, a flawed but very real New England family dealing with the realities of life. The characters are so well developed in this book you can feel their pain and hope they make it even when you can barely stand the choices they make. The family dynamics are palpable and “the condition” of being human draws you in. This would be a good book discussion choice. The author, Jennifer Haigh, is an exceptional writer and I have enjoyed her previous two books (Mrs. Kimble and Baker Towers) and would recommend them too.
Browse the book before you visit the library and read the New York Times review.
Small Miracles by Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum (1997)
With its moving, heartwarming, and inspirational stories of serendipity and coincidence, this book leaves you with the feeling that just maybe someone is looking over our lives and “making things happen.” There is a second edition, which I also enjoyed: Small Miracles II.
Read an excerpt from another title in the “Small Miracles” series (Small Miracles of Love and Friendship). Discover more about the author in a New York Times article.
Audition by Barbara Walters (2008)
Barbara Walters “tells all” in this biography/memoir and doesn’t come across as being exemplary in her personal life with her parents, sibling, daughter and husbands. But oh, what a life she has lead! Her retelling of her travels and the multitude of interviews she has done is mesmerizing. This woman has lived a full life and has taken us on her journey through the pages of this book. It was a great read.
On ABC’s website, read an article about the book and view her photo album, which details various stages of her life. Read the New York Times review or listen to the NPR interview.
Lost in America: A Journey with My Father by Sherwin Nuland (2003)
National Book Award winner (for How We Die) and renowned surgeon, Nuland recounts his anguished relationship with his debilitated, angry, Jewish father. At one time, Nuland was so embarrassed by his father, he even changed his name. But as Nuland ages, the depth of his love and his empathy for his immigrant father surface. Nuland is a good writer, and this book helps him come to terms with his relationship with his now deceased father.
Read a BookPage interview or a New York Times review.
The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death (2006)
This book of poignant stories show doctors (really, doctors-to-be) to be so human… conflicted, drawn in by the drama of life and death, and constantly learning from the situations they face daily. This is a must read, especially for doctors, others in the medical profession, and for all of us who at some time are their patients. The stories draw you in and make you hope that these medical students remember the “heart” lessons they learned as a medical students at Harvard and that the medical profession works to connect with the human side of their patients. This book is fascinating. Dr. Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think, another of my favorite medical books, does the forward for this book.
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (2005)
A “must read” for every teacher and for anyone wanting a rich, well written story of classroom life in the trenches in the New York school system. My favorite Frank McCourt book.
Check out the author’s appearance on CBS’ The Early Show, or listen to an interview or read an excerpt on NPR.
John Adams by David McCullough (2001)
One of America’s best loved biographers, David McCullough, gives us an intimate picture of one of America’s overshadowed presidents. Adams’ life of integrity, heroism, and warmth shine through is this personal story.
Starting on Sunday, March 16, HBO will air a seven part miniseries based on the book. The drama stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, with Tom Hanks serving as executive producer. Go to the movie’s website to watch video previews, listen to conversations with the actors or with Tom Hanks and David McCullough, and read descriptions of each of the seven parts of the series.
For more on this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, visit the publisher’s website to read a Q&A about the book, listen to a podcast, check out a reading guide, read an excerpt, and much more. The News Hour on PBS has video, audio, and text of McCullough’s July 4, 2001, appearance. The New York Times website includes a book review and a list of articles and books about John Adams.
Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg (2007)
This novel tells the story of how a loving Chicago Irish family copes with WWII back home in the big city. The book centers around the three daughters who wait for their beaus and fiancées to return home safely from the war. A warm and well-researched depiction of life at home during the war.
Dream When You’re Feeling Blue is the 2008 Big Read selection for Indian Prairie and nine other libraries. Check out all of the programs at area libraries in March and April — you can listen to radio broadcasts, watch movies, learn to swing dance, and see WWII-era personalities come to life. The Big Read culminates with “An Evening with Elizabeth Berg” at Ashton Place on May 8.
For more information on The Big Read, contact the library at 630-887-8760, visit our website, or read the February 20 Doings article.