Books From My Closet

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Archive for the category “Non-Fiction”

Newtown

newtownML1-198x300Hello Dear Followers,

It has been several months since I last wrote, ( I have to be honest, I lost my password to this site).  But several months ago I read the book, “Newtown: An American Tragedy”  by Matthew Lysiak.  A journalist like myself,  he spent several months following the attacks learning all he could about the tragedy.

I read this book in less than 24 hours, it was a great book, with the exception of a few mistakes the author made since he wasn’t from Connecticut or checked his facts regarding the area in which the tragedy took place.

I read it because I wanted to know more than what I already knew about this horrific event in our nation’s history.  I was one of many journalists living in Connecticut during the time of the shooting that reported on it.  I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

I was actually at home the day it happened,  just had my morning coffee, I was on Facebook when the news broke.  Of course, I immediately called my editor ready to do what was needed to cover this story. My editor had me stay back (I think to protect me from what I was going to see and hear about this tragedy)  my two co-workers were the first in our company to cover the story, while I stayed back and covered anything that was needed for social media.

At the time we didn’t realize how big of an event this actually was, news was coming out in pieces, the numbers of victims were growing and news crews from all over the country wanted a piece of this story.  This small town had now become the focus of everyone’s conversations and fears, laws were being created to prevent a horrific situation like this from happening again in another school.

Sometime during that morning when I had heard the principal had been shot and killed and news reports had released the name of the principal, I realized I knew her.  I had interviewed her numerous times when she had been in another school district before Sandy Hook Elementary.  I had heard her give several presentations during board of education meetings,  I wrote the story about her leaving the school district for Sandy Hook.

It was a shock to the system to know that this woman I had seen so many times had been brutally murdered by senseless sick individual.

Like I said earlier in the post,  I thought the author did a great job with the book, he paid close attention to detail. What I didn’t care for was hearing about the shooter’s life and his family’s life and who he was. I didn’t believe that much attention should have been given to someone who deserves no glorification whatsoever.

I almost felt like the reporter wanted us to hear the shooter’s side, like there was some justification for what he did or that we should as the public feel remorse for him and his family.  The shooter and his family deserved none of this.

I understand that when writing a story, any story for that matter, you must tell all sides in order to be accurate, but I felt too much time was spent doing this.  I found myself skipping chapters here and there. I didn’t want to hear about the mother or  her son.

I read the book because I wanted to see how accurate the story would be told, would the author/reporter leave anything out, would he be gracious to this small town that had everyone’s eyes on them for several months.  I do believe he tried his best to tell the story the way he knew how.

After the shooting that cold December morning,  we immediately (my fellow co-workers and I)  went to work. I wanted to do a story about the principal since I knew so many of her friends and former co-workers in the district I covered.

My co-workers covered other aspects of the story,  clarifying rumors that had circulated, trying to get in touch with family members of victims and so on.

While many believed that the media had intruded on this small town, some of us did our best to be respectful despite what the public wants to believe. While so many of us thought it was crazy to see people like Anderson Cooper standing in a town no one would ever know about if it wasn’t for this tragedy,  as Connecticut reporters we felt we needed to tell the story because Connecticut was our home.

Until next time… (sooner than this time I hope!)

 

 

 

I’m a Quiet one

Hello Dear Followers,

I am going to share a little secret with you – I am quiet.  I have been quiet my entire life, never really facing conflict head on, never speaking up, very introverted in how I lived my life. Only taking chances with situations when I felt I absolutely needed to or I would run the risk of losing sleep.

So you can probably see why I am a writer.  Why my greatest form of communication is through the art of writing.  It has always been the best way I communicated with the world.  I was always a thinker, sometimes  I have thought too much about things, never acting on anything always fearful what people might say to what I had to say.

I found a book  titled “Quiet” by Susan Cain a few months ago. It grabbed my attention because it spoke to my personality, who I have been my entire life and I wanted to learn more about my personality and why I do the things I do.

Why spending time in a bookstore and why I collect books in general, why driving through the countryside in my car by myself is bliss. I wanted to learn more about all of this.   Why I would prefer a night in a coffee shop or a dinner with friends much more than a loud and crowded club/bar.

I wanted to learn more about me.

When I told people on Facebook through my Facebook status that I was reading this book, a friend of mine called me a “Facebook extrovert” which is totally true, because as secluded as I’d prefer to be, I want to be heard and what better place can you be heard without physically being seen than Facebook?

I’ve often told people that I have always been awkward when it comes to speaking to people in social situations or with members of the opposite sex, my introverted self needs to feel you out,  I need to see if it’s safe to get to know you  before I allow myself to.

A friend of mine asked,  “Then how are you a journalist?” I told her I had absolutely no idea.  The idea of talking to someone one-on-one and trying to pull answers out of someone was definitely not something I enjoyed doing especially in a social setting.  But I did it for my job. It was somehow different.  I did it because I had to.

Image by citypaper.com

Image by citypaper.com

Another friend of mine said to me recently “when something is bothering you, you should speak up, who cares?” He was very right, but I was never good at verbalizing my thoughts, because my thoughts are so many that sometimes what makes sense to me may not always to another person.

I’ve taken a lot of risks as an introvert, I’ve  fought to fix things I have cared deeply about no matter how uncomfortable I am doing so.  This is where my strength comes through. I’d rather run and hide than deal with anything head on, but I have.

I have spent my entire life always thinking, thinking, thinking and wondering and coming up with conclusions (eventually) that I may not have, if I hadn’t.

My mother and others who should be now know how introverted I am, still tell me I need to “come out of my shell”  or “you need to speak up” etc. etc.

I feel more than I say, I see more than many people realize, as introverts often do.

So I right now I am reading “Quiet” and so far I would say I recommend it.

Until next time…

American Wife

Image courtesy of http://www.ew.com.

Hello Dear Followers,

For September, I’ve decided I will be reading “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld. The book, some say is loosely based on former First Lady Laura Bush.  

According to Amazon.com, on what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

I have to say, I had a difficult time choosing a book for September.  I had no idea what I wanted to read this month or what I was even in the mood for.  I had toyed with the idea of taking two months to read “A. Lincoln: A Biography” by Ronald C. White Jr.

I found in searching for a new book that I have a lot of books based on real people’s lives.  I am so fascinated by people and what their lives were about, who they are or were.

I hope that you will enjoy reading this along with me, if you are.  I think its a good read.

Until next time…

Randy Pausch

Photo of Randy Pausch, courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Hello Dear Followers,

It took me way longer than I thought it would to finish “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, however I have finished it and can now give you my closing thoughts on the book.

I thought overall the book was very good, a lot of life lessons that we often take for granted. It seemed like the ongoing theme in the book was to have fun in life and dream.  We so often forget to do both, or give up on our dreams because too often reality sets in.

In my last post I asked followers if they were to vanish tomorrow, what would be their last words of wisdom to those they were leaving behind? Maybe vanish isn’t the correct word, I’d have to go with die. If you were to die tomorrow, what would be the last words of wisdom you would leave as your legacy?

( I hate thinking about dying) but I’d say just let go to things that are holding you back, don’t hold on to things that happened in your past and just live. I know its easier said than done, because we are so defined by our experiences and so impacted by the people in our lives.

I also recommend to not sweat the small stuff, because seriously life is too short.  Mr. Pausch was dying of cancer, do you think towards the end of his life he was worried about the small stuff? I doubt it. I think about those dying of cancer and how those of us that are healthy are so quick to worry about the little things in life we make them big things. What I have learned too is that it is not the end of the world, you just keep going forward. What you might think is the end of the world yesterday, may not even phase you tomorrow.

Also let go of the toxic people in your life that bring you down, you don’t need them, they do nothing to your personal growth.

All these “words of wisdom” may sound cliche or redundant, but its true.

Have fun even if you aren’t having fun, have fun. Be happy.  Okay. I think I have given you all enough of my words of wisdom for one day.

But I thank Mr. Pausch for his inspiration book and I now think of his family as they continue to go on with their lives.  I dedicate this blog to Mr. Pausch.

Until next time…

“The Last Lecture”

Book image courtesy of http://www.bestsellers.about.com

Hello Dear Followers,

My July book choice is “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.  I chose this book a few years ago or so because it reminded me in a lot of ways of books written by Mitch Albom and I thought that this would be an interesting read.

The book tells the story of late author Randy Pausch, who gave his “last lecture” at Carnegie Mellon.  According to the book, a lot of professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them.  And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy. Mr. Pausch, a computer science professor was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it was his last since he had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

So while I read this book, I am asking my followers that are reading this post, if you were to vanish tomorrow, what would be your last piece of wisdom you would want as your legacy?  I ask that each of you think of that, and I love to hear from all of you about it. I will think it over myself and in my concluding post on the book which I am hoping will be next week, I will tell you all.

I hope you all follow along with me or at least consider this book as a good suggestion for a summer read.

Until next time…

What I’m Reading This Summer

Hello Dear Followers,

I usually don’t announce books in advance like this and I am not done with “The Help” just yet, but I have to admit seeing the constant mention of “summer reading lists” in bookstores and on various social media sites, made me nostalgic for the days before Borders and Barnes & Noble were my escapes, when I’d be one of the first kids signing up at the library for the summer reading program.  I couldn’t wait!

So here are three books I will be reading this summer -

Book image courtesy of http://www.bestsellers.about.com

1. “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them.  And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want to as our legacy. Mr. Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it was his last, since he was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Why I picked this:  Because it has been my experience that books like these, however  as short as they are (this one is 206 pages), they are filled with excellent advice about life and this reminds me of my favorite book “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom. Mr. Albom’s book left such a deep impact on my life, it saved me from myself during some of the darkest moments of my life.  I imagine this book will do the same.

Book image courtesy of http://www.bookmomma.wordpress.com

2. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  It is January 1946, London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject.  Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British Island once occupied by the Nazis. He’d come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb.  Perhaps she could tell him where he might more books by this author. As Juliet and her new coorespondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans.

Why I picked this:  Letters, books and history. All of which I just love. I feel the art of letter writing is lost in the maze of social media and e-mail. There isn’t romance in correspondence anymore, letter writing was personal, romantic, and passionate.  I love books, if I could spend my time in a cafe  drinking fabulous coffee and reading all day escaping the world around me, I’d be happy.  History especially the time in which this book takes place has always fascinated me, I love learning about World War II and shortly after the war.

Book image courtesy of http://www.nicholassparks.com

3. “The Best of Me” by Nicholas Sparks.  In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for each other seems to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. A loner from a violent and infamous local family, Dawson believed his love for Amanda promised an escape from the darker destiny laid out for him. A golden girl from a well-to-do family with plans to attend Duke University, Amanda saw something in Dawson that spoke to her own rebellious and passionate heart. But as summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Why I picked this –  I just love Nicholas Sparks, he is a wonderful writer. He grabs you from the first page and never lets you go and when it is over.  Then you are left craving more. That is a good writer.

(Since I fell behind with “The Help” I will be making up my June book with one of these three books and “The Help” will be considered my May book.  )

Make sure you share with me what you are reading this summer on here or on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Okay! Until next time… Happy Summer Reading!

Laura World

Hello Dear Followers,

At this late hour (11:30 p.m. Monday) I am writing my concluding post about “The Wilder Life” by Wendy McClure. I’d like to start off by saying thank you to the author for her trip into Laura’s world. Through out the entire novel she made me want to take trips to the same places she did and remember a time long since forgotten.

The author reminded me of my love for Laura Ingalls Wilder and the story she told, whether it was fact or fiction.  For a brief moment she brought me back to my own childhood when life was simple.  I never thought there was anyone else who loved the story of Laura and the Ingalls family as I did. I was introduced to Laura through my Mother who was also an avid fan of the books and the TV sitcom in the 1970s.

From the point this author told us about her own mother, I knew she was searching for something, something that was gone but never forgotten, similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life.  What Ms. McClure did was give us something “unremembered” we got a chance to look at a memory she had from a different perspective.

I got to view Laura from an adult’s point of view and I realized the author and I had a lot of the same questions with regards to the books and Laura’s story. The same disconnections to “The First Four Years” and the dislike of “Farmer Boy” ( I don’t even know if I read that book entirely)

There is so much I can say on this, don’t know where to begin or end really. I would just say that I  highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be transported back in time into Laura’s World.

I also recommend taking a look at the author’s Web site at http://www.wendymcclure.net.

Until next time..

You Didn’t Need to Churn Butter

Hello Dear Followers,

After my post last week, I realized I had more to say about “The Wilder Life” because as I continue to read, I never heard of anyone so enthralled by an author as Ms. McClure is with Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She churned butter just to live a little bit in Laura’s life, in every chapter so far she has connected herself to the Ingalls family in some way. I found myself wanting to join her and back away from her at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong, I too have immersed myself for a day of author Louisa May Alcott’s  life (Little Women), wondered what it must have been like to have walked the same streets as she did, wondered how different it was during her time.  But I feel Ms.  McClure’s love is taken to a whole other level, and I am not sure what to call it.

I do commend her for her painstaking approach to detail and research. She has made me want to pull out my books and re-read, (I don’t re-read, but she has made me want to seriously consider it. Maybe a summer of Laura perhaps?

I am very much enjoying this book, I think Ms. McClure is funny and I think she speaks true to what most of us at some point or another thought about the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  I am not finished yet, but I am getting there and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the final post for this book.

Until next time…

 

 

Wilder Life

Hello Dear Followers,

I just wanted to check in with all of you and talk a little bit about “The Wilder Life” by Wendy McClure. The other day I was in the bookstore (obviously) and I couldn’t help but take myself to the children’s section to sit and look through the Little House books. I can still remember being a child and just engulfing myself in Laura’s life much like Ms. McClure did.

Like Ms. McClure, getting older takes us away from these fabulous reads, but what I wouldn’t give to spend a day (and only a day) in Laura’s life.

I had to agree with her statements about the book “The First Four Years” I couldn’t get into it, I too felt some disconnection to it, it was like the spark was gone from the series at that point.

I’m really liking her book right now, I never thought there was someone out there like her so devoted to Laura Ingalls Wilder like she is. I also give kudos to her husband, what a good guy.

I don’t have much else to say right now, so until next time..

Paying Homage to Laura

"The Wilder Life"

Hello Dear Followers,

Being that March is Women’s History Month, I will be reading “The Wilder Life” by Wendy McClure.  The author of this book pays homage to beloved author Laura Ingalls Wilder.

When I learned that this book was out, I was so excited and couldn’t wait to find a moment to read the book. Alongside authors like Louisa May Alcott, Ann M. Martin, Beverly Cleary and many other authors of my childhood, I found myself wrapped in the life of Laura.

I felt the love between her and Almanzo Wilder in “These Happy Golden Years” I imagined what it must have been like to be stuck in a house for days and days while reading “The Long Winter.”

Alongside the books, I watched the 1970s drama series “Little House on the Prairie” with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert who played Laura. I was overjoyed to see these books come to life on the television screen. ( I watched them however in syndication, I wasn’t born yet when the series was actually on.)

So I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I know I will for March!

Until next time..

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