We’ve reached it — the end of the alphabet. And the book of the day…
the zookeeper’s wife
by Diane Ackerman
This was the second letter which sent me shopping for a book to fit. And I’m glad I selected this one.
We’re ending with non-fiction. The story centers around the director of the Warsaw and his family during WWII. It puts the emphasis on a different group of people than previous Poland during WWII books I’ve read.
The director’s home, still functioning after the initial bombing raids, becomes a refuge with a rotating population. All of whom must be protected, sheltered, and fed. Not an easy task during Nazi occupation.
Available from on-line retailers, bookstores, and libraries. Also watch for the movie.
Thank you for roaming around my home bookshelves on a jaunt through the alphabet. I hope that you’ve found at least one new read to enjoy among the history, biography, classic fiction, and romance fiction featured in recent months.
Today’s selection is an autobiography published a little more then three decades ago.
By General Chuck Yeager and Leo Janos
Flying. In combat. Testing new planes. Breaking the sound barrier.
This book is written in a matter-of-fact and easy to read style. General Yeager’s long career in airplanes began when he joined the Army-Air Corps in 1941. And the rest, as they say, is history.
WWII fighters. Then experimental jets. And he tells of more than the airplanes — his fellow test pilots, the support staff, their families, and the characters that live in the high desert testing grounds — all are given their due.
This modest American hero held my interest while filling in some of my knowledge gaps.
Check for this out-of-print volume at libraries and used book stores.
We’re getting near the end of the English alphabet, and some of the final letters were not popular on my bookshelf. Now is a good time to admit that I have reached the first of two which I had to purchase near the beginning of this project. While not plentiful — I did find one — and it was GOOD.
XO by Jeffery Deaver
This is a thriller. One of a series featuring California Bureau of Investigation agent Kathryn Dance.
Welcome to the world of a successful pop singer who has attracted an obsessed fan who will stop at NOTHING to get what he wants. Add a manager/father living dreams through his daughter and a friend who happens to be in law enforcement. I found myself absorbed in the story, turning pages, and telling myself “one more chapter”.
Don’t neglect the less popular letters at the beginning of a title.
Libraries with a wide selection of mystery and thrillers should have this available. It may also be purchased on-line or ordered from your favorite bookstore.
Today’s selection takes us back in time. We go all the way back to 900-1000 A.D.
The Ancient Norse in Greenland and North America
By: Farley Mowat
First the saga. Or rather, the portion which is explored in detail in the ensuing chapter. Then we have the expounding in 20th century language.
This book was interesting on many levels. The primary one is the way in which the Norse of that century were brought alive. They were presented as brave and adventurous. And at the same time in pursuit of universal needs — land, food, other resources.
Traces of these adventurous people remain – only traces. Enough to form a picture in my mind to go along with the author’s words. A group of men gathered around a smoky fire in a long, low shelter “chewing the fat” both literally and in the more modern sense of the phrase as they recount the hunt, or the journey, or the winter storm.
Check your local library. This volume is from 1965 and may be out of print.
VIETNAM : A History
The First Complete Account of Vietnam at War
By: Stanley Karnow
It’s an ambitious title. And a thick book. Well researched and written. This volume served as the basis for a multi-part PBS television series first broadcast in the late 1980’s.
As part of the generation exposed to the Vietnam War via the newspapers, evening news, and acquaintances in the military at the time of these events — I found it enlightening to find the background and history of the conflict to put the events I remembered as a young adult into perspective.
The focus of this history is on events in Vietnam and US policy responding to those events. You will need to seek another source for details on domestic affairs in the US at that time.
The Chronology and Cast of Principal Characters are two reference portions in the back of the book which I find useful to double check and dispel some of the “common knowledge” since circulated.
Check your local library or inquire about an order at your favorite bookstore.
We’ve arrived at one of the less popular letters of the alphabet. In my paperback dictionary the letter occupies only twenty pages. And yes, it did take a bit of searching on my shelves before I spotted a suitable entry.
by Lt. Col. Alex Lee, USMC (Ret.)
This is a non-fiction volume, set almost exactly once century after the events in our previous volume. (Team of Rivals — Lincoln’s cabinet)
In these pages we join the 7th Marines, 2nd Battalion during preparation and operations in Vietnam. It’s a personal story, giving the detail of one specific unit’s actions. Don’t expect the broad picture, but rather the record of squads and companies as they obey orders and encounter difficulties.
As a female civilian the same age as many of the Marines putting their lives at risk — I found this the sort of record able to sift out some of the chaff comments circulated during and after this particular war.
Check out the history section to find this volume.
Today we return to non-fiction and relatively familiar ground of history.
Team of Rivals
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
This detailed history of five tumultuous years in US history, explores the political aspects of Abraham Lincoln’s election and administration.
Lincoln’s path to the nomination, and his election, was not a clear thing at the time. Here we read of his skill in convincing the Republican party structure of his value. And his determination to put others in positions where they could use their talents for the good of the Union.
Don’t take my work for it. This volume won the Pulitzer Prize.
Available at libraries, bookstores, and on-line retailers.
Many fine book titles begin with the letter “S”.
My choice for this project is another historical romance, more epic in scope than the previous letter.
Seize the Fire
Author Laura Kinsale weaves a tale of a princess determined to travel to her kingdom after a childhood in England. The route is neither easy nor straight as she and her protector travel most of the world which has been mapped (and perhaps a little that has not) as of 1827.
Adventure. Torture (a chilling description of waterboarding). Trust. And all ending well in the end make this volume worth reading for people fond of romance, history, and adventure.
Available in libraries, bookstores, and on-line.
Tension. Intrigue. History. Words arranged to perfection.
Today’s title is:
Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
Part of a series set during and after the French Revolution, this is one of the exquisite building blocks. A finely crafted plot with interesting characters pulls the reader into the story. And makes one close the the final page with a sigh.
So when looking to escape from the mundane – and add a dash of danger – open any of these magic carpets to a different time and place.
Available in libraries and bookshops as well as through on-line retailers.
Today we turn to biography.
Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed
by Elizabeth Longford
This is a comprehensive biography – devoting time and effort to both the personal and public life of this monarch who presided over decades of rapid change in her realm. With frequent use of letters and other documents, we are plunged into the decision making chambers of England in the final half of the nineteenth century.
Are you a fan of the current Masterpiece Theater production? Don’t worry, this volume will not diminish the enjoyment. Instead I would encourage it as a supplement into the character of this monarch.
This is not a new work – copyright 1965. My first suggestion is the library, then on-line and browsing new & used bookstores.