Once again we turn to fiction. This time with a volume which gained quick acclaim and also became a movie.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The timing was perfect. The topics were timely. Prior to this book, you didn’t see many fiction (or popular non-fiction) books with Afghanistan at their center. The country was ignored. Or showed as a minor character in sagas centered in India and Pakistan.
This glimpse into another culture was interesting — and a bit of a cautionary tale. And while some turns in the plot took me by surprise, others fit with pre-conceived notions.
Am I glad I read it? Absolutely.
Will I be seeking out the movie? Doubtful. I’m going to let my imagination draw the characters.
Available where books are sold. Also check at your local library.
Now that we’ve wandered around in the fiction section — let’s make a change.
John Adams by David McCullough
This biography of a United States founding father is the second Pulitzer Prize winner for this respected author.
John Adams – lawyer, farmer, patriot, and president — is revealed in narration and portions of his words. He and his wife had a lively exchange of letters. Plus when he was either in the Continental Congress or on missions to Europe he had official correspondence.
So when you’re looking for some American history, well-written, and able to hold your attention — browse your bookstore or library for this volume.
It looks like an easy chore. Find a book in my home whose title begins with “I”.
Actually, it took a little doing, but I think I found a winner.
In Harm’s Way by Irene Hannon
This book was my introduction to this current, Midwest, inspiration author. In her suspense novels (of which I’ve now read several) the characters are believable Christians living in the current world. Their challenges are true to their occupation, with a dash of drama.
When looking for a romantic suspense suitable for ages 14 to 104, I’d recommend Ms. Hannon.
Available on-line, bookstores, and many libraries.
What should we get the girl for Christmas?
She likes to read. And she’s almost ten. I’ll see what they have in the bookstore.
My parents chose well that year.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
I read the story many times in the next few years. And dreamed of Alpine meadows, goat herds, and steep mountain paths. It was the sort of story where I put myself into the heroine’s place. Then colored it with my own imagination.
Yes, I saw the movie. Two different ones, I think. They would be broadcast on slow Sunday afternoons. But I preferred the book.
A few years ago, I re-visited this childhood favorite. And enjoyed it. I sincerely recommend it for any girl on your gift list. (Even those without some Swiss ancestry.)
Check your local bookstore or library for this classic tale.
The movie was good. The book was better.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Oh, the hero. Strong. Handsome. A little bit dangerous.
The heroine. Self-centered. Impulsive. More than a little determined.
With the American Civil War as a centerpiece, this story has come to define certain aspects of life in the South.
Are they accurate? This is fiction.
Are they interesting? Absolutely.
Probable? In varying degrees.
If you are one of the rare people who is not familiar with this story — I recommend reading the book first. Give your imagination free rein with the lush descriptions before you see the Hollywood interpretation.
Your local library should have this.
Today’s book has the honor of being the first autographed book I purchased.
The author was not present that day. He’d been to the store recently and I was fortunate enough to pick up the last copy in stock.
Flight of the Enola Gay by Paul W. Tibbets
If you have an interest in World War II and the beginning of the Atomic Age, this is a must-read.
As an autobiography, this book necessarily focuses on the background, training, and experiences of one man. The fact that this military pilot was selected to fly the first atomic bomb makes it unique.
You may need to go hunting for this one. I’d suggest you start at the library and then check the used bookstores or the gift shops of museums with flying or military themes.
My mother didn’t understand why my brother wanted to take me to this movie.
This was a few years before I read the book. And I didn’t know much about what we would see. But — it’s hard to turn down a chance to go to the movies when a young teen.
Exodus by Leon Uris
I read the book a year or so after the event above. Like many good books — I learned a lot. Some of it delved into topics never discussed around the dinner table. Like many people, my parents didn’t often talk about recent history except for their own personal participation. (And the occasion and company had to be right for some of that.)
While the movie is good — I own a copy and have watched it multiple times — I recommend the book to obtain depth and background. For it is the characters past (and our own) which shape personalities and guide decisions – both positive and negative.
A modern classic
Careful – you might learn something.
Before you think I only have serious history books in my home — here’s a fiction selection.
Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds
I was an adult before I discovered this novel of the Revolutionary War. As I turned the pages I kept thinking — This is good. The best I’ve read in ages.
Adventure, danger, and little slices of domestic life in 1770’s New York are within these pages. Men go to war. Women are left behind, easy prey for Indians. Or perhaps not such easy prey when they gather within a fort. This tale has stood the test of time.
Check your local library or bookstore.
Several years ago, on vacation, I ended up in a bookstore.
While this is not a rare occurrence, it does not always lead to the discover of a gem. Today’s choice, for the letter C:
The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam
I purchased it to increase my knowledge of the Korean War. It turned out to be an excellent choice. Well written. Pleasant to read. Sufficient maps.
It remains on my shelf as a reference. I have no doubt that I’ll continue to consult the index when a particular place or personality from that chapter of American history is mentioned.
This volume prompted me to look for others by this author. I found them at the library. Unfortunately, this was after his death. But I do urge others interested in 20th century American history to try at least one of his volumes.
Available wherever fine books are sold. Also at many libraries.
While drinking a hot cup of tea a few days ago, my gaze lingered on one of my bookcases. (Yes, I have more than one. Writers are readers.) A skim of titles got me to wondering. And then I started a list.
I ask you to join me on an alphabetical list of titles I have enjoyed through the years. It will be a mix of fact and fiction, old classics and newer titles. It would be great it you would find a title or two (or more) to your own liking.
So pour your own favorite beverage and sip as you read my Tuesday morning postings.
A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. Copyright in 1955, this is a detailed account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The author contacted many of the remaining survivors and they were a rich source of information — in addition to other documentation. My edition includes a plan of the boat deck and the passenger list.
Where to find? On-line retailers, special order at bookstores, or local libraries.