Published: July 01. 2012 2:00AM
Written by Barbara Robertson
New titles are appearing on bookshelves every day. Which one do we pick for our vacations? Do we keep things light and breezy? Or do we try to challenge ourselves?
Summer is often the perfect time to do both. Here are some ideas.
“Think before you speak, read before you think.” — Fran Lebowitz
“The Immortal Life of Harriet Lacks”
By Rebecca Skloot
This is a book that falls in the making-you-think category. Imagine discovering that your mother’s cells were still alive despite the fact she died decades ago. In 1951, Harriet Lacks gave cell samples that were used without her permission and ultimately became the first human cells to grow and reproduce in a petri dish. Twenty years after her death, her sample cells are still alive and were integral in many, many medical advancements, including a cure for polio.
The author interviewed numerous relatives, including Lacks’ daughter, Deborah, to lend depth and human definition to the story. The majority of the scientific community has long forgotten that HeLa cells came from a real life person, a mother of five children; the author adeptly reminds us. The book leaves the reader asking more questions than it answers. It truly makes one think.
“10½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said”
By Charles Wheelan
This book is hot off the press! I stumbled upon this gem of a book. It did not take long to read, but the message will stay with me for a long time. Perhaps the ideas put forth in “10½ Things” resonate because they are so simple. Catchy chapter titles include “Your Time in Fraternity Basements Was Well Spent” and “Some of Your Worst Days Lie Ahead.”
The point of the Fraternity chapter? Studies show that “…the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” There will always be other things we should be doing, but this is always important to remember. The chapter on worst days is to remind us that anything you do worthwhile will have moments of self-doubt and even failure, but you will get there. Be prepared for the tough times. The book combines humor, common sense and experience to offer advice to graduates that all of us can benefit from hearing.
“The best books are those that tell you what you know already.” — George Orwell
Five books that I could not put down
The perfect July day for me is sitting on the beach in my favorite blue chair, dragging my feet through the sand to the rhythm of the waves as I read and read. Here are five favorites:”
• “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series — By Stieg Larsson
• “The Shanghai Sisters” — By Lisa See
• “The Help” — By Kathryn Stockett
• “State of Wonder” — By Ann Patchet
• “The Forgotten Garden” — By Kate Morton
Pick of the month
“Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” — By Laura Hillenbrand.
While researching her book “Seabiscuit,” Hillenbrand kept coming across the name Louie Zamperini. Louie was a star miler in the 1936 Olympics and a hero/prisoner of war during World War II. His story is at times difficult to read, but one well worth the effort. Not only does it supply a face to the war, but also it reminds us of the astonishing power of the human spirit. Sometimes strength can best be measured by endurance. Do not miss this inspiring book!
“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” — Diane Duane