In Other Reading . . .

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to share a bit about some of the other books that I've been reading.

Gridiron genius by michael lombardi

It is the most wonderful time of the year for football fans. Football season is starting and football books are being released. Gridiron Genius by Michael Lombardi (no relation to Vince) is a behind-the-scenes look at what makes some NFL teams so great. I had the opportunity to read an advance review copy via Netgalley so I can't quote from the book but there are a few lines that are just genius/borderline snarky in the humor. I hope they made it to the final edition. The book would be great for all football fans and students of the game. Gridiron Genius is available for preorder now and will be released September 11, 2018.

Shattered mirror by sarah price

Shattered Mirror by Sarah Price tells the story of a mother fighting to save her son from drug addiction. Kelly Martin is a single mother who is the only one in her son's life willing to face the reality that he is in trouble. Her ex-husband, her family, and her community offer no support, preferring to avoid the issue or blame her parenting for his addiction. Shattered Mirror offers a hopeful story to those facing similar struggles with addiction. It is free to read via Kindle Unlimited.

Belle by sarah price

The same Sarah Price who wrote Shattered Mirror might be best known for her Amish fiction. I grew up near an Old-Order Mennonite community so once in awhile I get a craving for books about that simple, tech-free life. Sarah Price is my favorite author for these stories. Her books are true to the Amish faith and lifestyle. It is a wonderful change of pace from business books and psychological thrillers. (In full disclosure, I much prefer her books that are not based on retellings, but all of her writing is solid.) Belle is the first in the Amish Fairytale series.

The hiltons by j randy taraborrelli

If you follow me on Instagram or have read some of my other linkup posts, you know that I love J. Randy Taraborrelli. His biographies are very well-written and well-researched. The Hiltons is about the rise of Conrad Hilton and his hotel empire. I could've gone without the mentions of Paris but I suppose there is some relevance to the story and it really is a tiny portion of the 500+ page book. I can't decide which of Taraborrelli's books to read next.

What have you been reading recently? Let me know in the comments. I'm always looking to add to my TBR list.

Reading Wrap-up July 2018

I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to share some of the other books I've been reading lately.

Sinatra by J. Randy Taraborelli

Sinatra by J. Randy Taraborelli

I love biographies and J. Randy Taraborelli has become my favorite biographer. I haven't read all his work yet but I've read two (Sinatra and Jackie, Janet and Lee) and am working on the third (The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe) and all of them are very well done. Taraborelli is a story-telling artist.

The Duchess by Penny Junor

The Duchess by Penny Junor

I have been fascinated by the royal family since Charles and Diana married. I remember watching the wedding with my mom and realizing for the first time that princesses really did exist outside of fairy tales. I enjoyed reading about Camilla and Penny Junor is a talented writer. I loved this description of Camilla's childhood home in The Duchess:

“the ivy-clad house sits on a slight incline at the end of a gravel driveway, in complete seclusion, surrounded by five acres of garden, with fields belonging to the neighbouring farm beyond. It’s big but not grand, essentially a comfortable family home, with light, airy rooms, high ceilings and open fireplaces where log fires crackled in winter.”

Doesn't that paint a lovely picture?

The Insulin Express by Oren Liebermann

The Insulin Express by Oren Liebermann

The Insulin Express was not what I expected. I was thinking it was exclusively about sugar and diabetes and what is does to the body, etc, etc. It's more a travel memoir mixed with medical information about Type 1 diabetes. Liebermann became diabetic while he and his wife were traveling around the world. And seeking medical care in foreign, remote locations is dicey. It took me a couple chapters to get into the story but once I did, I was hooked. (If you Kindle Unlimited, you can read The Insulin Express for free.)

Do you have any favorite biographies or memoirs? Please, share with me in the comments. I would love to add them to my tbr list.

Reading Wrap-Up

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to share some of the other books I've been reading.

I have been on the waitlist at the library for Reading People since November 2017. I love the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog so I was eager to read her book yet I'm not interested in personality stuff so I really didn't want to buy it. I enjoyed reading it and Anne does a good job explaining why it's useful to understand your own personality and that of your loved ones. Pictures do not do the book itself justice; it's beautiful!

Instead of settling in for a "typical" retirement, Lynne and Tim Martin sell their house, store their possessions, and set up temporary residence in different countries for weeks at a time. Lynne does a wonderful job of describing the unique aspects of each location—the food, the scenery, the people. I love the idea of traveling but am quite the homebody so I savor other traveler's stories.

I have been a Harlan Coben fan for a long time now but haven't read his YA books. I actually picked up the first in the Mickey Bolitar series for my son because I thought he might enjoy it and I ended up reading the entire series myself. If you've read Harlan's series with Myron Bolitar, Mickey is just like his uncle. 

Found is the third book in the Mickey Bolitar series and it seems that it will be the last. I liked how the series closed out. The loose ends are tied up but it's open enough that it could be picked up and continued if Coben ever wanted to write more.

What have you been reading lately? Please tell me about it in the comments. I am always looking to add to my TBR list.

Write Your Life Story in 45 Hours

If you’ve ever considered writing your memoir, you’ve likely felt apprehensive and doubtful. But the truth is, everyone has a story. You just have to learn how to tell it. Fast Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life Story in 45 Hours is the tool you need. 

Fast Draft Your Memoir by Rachael Herron. Tell Your Life Story in 45 Hours. It's a great book for all nonfiction writers.

Fast Draft Your Memoir is written by Rachael Herron and is based on the memoir-writing class she teaches at Stanford.

One of the first objections Rachael gets to memoir writing is how to write about the other people in your story without hurting their feelings. There’s a whole chapter on how to deal with this. Spoiler: There is no magic answer and only you can make the decisions. 

The second most frequent objection/fear in writing your memoir has to do with memory. You may worry that your memory is not good enough for storytelling. The good news is that you’re not alone. Everyone’s memory is fallible. So what do you do? You follow 2 simple rules: room tone and the 80% rule.

Room tone has to do with the mood of the room where your memory is occurring. Were you celebrating? Mourning? Thoughtful? Pessimistic? Angry? The tone of the room will dictate the “dialogue and action” you write in the scene.

The 80% rule is making sure you are at least 80% certain the person whose dialogue you are writing, would say or did say the things you write.

You’ll also learn how to plan, outline, and structure your memoir so it reads like a story that will satisfy your readers. 

Three Reasons To Read This Book Even If You Don’t Write Memoir

While this book is about memoir, I highly encourage you to read it even if memoir isn’t your thing. Why? First of all, it’s entertaining. Rachael writes humor so well and that’s difficult to do. She could write about cleaning toilets and create a story that you’d enjoy. 

Secondly, the tips and exercises translate well to any narrative nonfiction writing. So I guarantee you’ll learn something that will be useful. I have had so much fun with the 6-Word Memoir exercise.

Third, when I picked up the book, I promise you, I was thinking, “Well, I’ll never write a memoir but I really enjoy Rachael’s podcasts and newsletter, so I’m sure I’ll really like this book.” Then I started reading Fast Draft Your Memoir and realized that there are experiences that only I can tell. Maybe I do have a memoir in me. If I have one, you have one. You just have to uncover it, and you’ll learn how in this book.

Practical Application

My biggest takeaway from the book was learning how to judge accuracy. This is something I’ve often wondered about. How do writers write dialogue when they can’t remember word-for-word what was said? The way you do it, is to ask yourself: “Am I making this up with the intention to deceive my reader about anything at all? Or am I showing details that I’m more than 80% sure happened? Am I preserving the room tone of this memory?” 

I also really enjoyed the 6 Word Memoir exercise. I thought it would be hard because Rachael specifically says, “…try to be alone in at least one of your six-word memoirs. If every single six-word memoir you’ve come up with so far shows you as a mother of two small children or a wife or an employee, write another one in which you’re featured alone, the only actor in this tiny play of your life.” Well, like a lot of women, I have trouble identifying myself outside of my roles as wife and mother. But I managed to do it and it was easier than I thought.  

I also loved the chapter on publishing. I listen to a lot of writing and publishing podcasts and still learned new things about the publishing industry. 

Most helpful though for me, was the following section. Sometimes you just need a kick in the pants to do the hard work. Rachael says about the fear of not finishing the memoir:
    “The only thing that will help is for you to do the work. 
    The only way to get the work done is to keep showing up and putting terrible words on the pages that you’ll fix later.
    The only way to keep showing up is to put a daily or weekly word count or page goal on your calendar and then do the work. It’s hard. It doesn’t feel good.”

Writing is hard. But the only way you’ll get it done is to do it. And finishing feels so good.

Go get your copy of Fast Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life Story In 45 Hours and then come back and tell me about your story. What part of your life do you want to write about? What story will you tell?

Book Review: L'appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home

Book Review: l'appart || Words With Jennifer

Oh my goodness, David Lebovitz is such a talented writer. This is the second of his books that I've read and I laughed as much with this one as I did with the first. If we in America think remodeling a home is a challenge, I imagine most of us would not last long doing a renovation in Paris. The stories are laugh-out-loud funny and the recipes sprinkled throughout the book sound amazing. I think the Mojito Sorbet will be the first one I try. 

I highly recommend L'appart if you are looking for a light-hearted narrative non-fiction book. And check out David's other books as well. He is gifted storyteller. 

Purchase your copy of L'appart.

Two Haunting Biographies

 I’ve recently read two biographies that were so engaging, I couldn’t put them down. I think I finished The Nazi Officer’s Wife in less than 24 hours. If you enjoy biographies, these two should go on your TBR list.

The Nazi Officer's Wife || One Book Blog

The first one is called The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin. It follows Edith’s journey through WWII and tells her story about living through the Holocaust. 

The ever-present fear of being found out if more that I can imagine. Always having to hide your ideas, your thoughts, your memories, your heritage.

Most haunting lines: In reference to the people in charge of the labor camp where she was interred—“No one forced them to behave in an unkind manner. The opportunity to act decently toward us was always available to them. Only the tiniest number of them ever used it.” Think about that. Heartbreaking.

Also: “I understand now that everything was done so that the Germans would never see us; or, if they saw us, would not have to admit it; or, if they had to admit it, would be able to say that we looked fine and [they] would never be irritated by a sense of guilt or pricked by a moment of compassion. I remember reading what Hermann Göring said to Hitler: These moments of compassion could be a big problem. Every German probably has one favored Jew to pull out of the bunch, some old doctor, some pretty girl, some friend from school. How would Germany ever become Judenrein if all these exceptions were made? So the policy was not to tempt anybody to behave decently, and all the while to keep us in the deepening dark.”

The Nazi Officer's Wife is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and IndieBound.

The Radium Girls || One Book Blog

The second biography is called The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. This is the story of the women in Newark, NJ and Ottawa, IL who worked in the watch-dial factories, painting the “watch-dial numerals and hands with a luminous substance that made them visible in the dark,” using a lip, dip, paint method. The story begins in 1917 and covers WWI and continues through the legal trials of the 1930s when they sued the radium companies, wanting them to accept responsibility and pay compensation for the women and their families. Yes, just like big tobacco, the powers-that-be knew radium was poisonous, knew why the women were getting sick, but chose to never reveal it.

The story goes back and forth between NJ and IL and tells the stories of the different girls affected by radium poisoning. The suffering they endured. The money they spent trying to find the cause and then a cure for their illnesses. 

Moore does a solid job with her descriptions. We get a definite feel for the agony of the victims’ suffering without the descriptions being overly graphic.

Most haunting scene of the book: When the girls would paint their eyes, their lips, their skin in leftover radium paint because they thought it was pretty and festive. They glowed in the dark and felt pretty and special and had no idea that the radium was poisoning them.

The Radium Girls can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo,  iTunes (only as an audiobook), and IndieBound.






Book Review—The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

Subtitle: a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book

By: Wendy Welch

The book is set in the town of Big Stone Gap in Virginia and focuses on the stories of running a second-hand book store. I grew up in a similar small town about two hours north of Big Stone Gap so reading this book was like visiting my childhood home.

Book Review—The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap || The Non-Fiction Book Blog

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap has been around for a long time (published in 2012) and I've seen it recommended on a number of reading lists but I never got around to reading it. I'm so happy I finally did. It's a book only a book lover could write for other book lovers. It's funny and sweet, and sometimes sarcastic (in the best possible way). And the stories of small town life will resonate with those who've lived it. 

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

     "A lot of money wasn't important—just enough to eat, sleep, and stay warm through the winter." This sentence caught me eye because it sums up why I would never make it in sales.

     "Bookshelf anthropology can be fascinating; how many times have you scanned a friend's or associate's bookcases to discover similar—or disquietingly dissimilar—tastes?" And am I the only one who may have a few books on her shelf just because I think they make me look smarter or more philosophical?

     "In a mixed marriage..."—a reader married to a nonreader.

     "You really have to like people to run a used book shop, or you'll wind up smacking somebody."

     The author's thoughts on selling books—"On the one hand they are all things to all people, on the other a different thing to every person who buys one: entertainment, information source, inspiration and motivation, a talisman of wisdom, even a mile marker on one's journey."

     The story about Wee Willie brought tears to my eyes. Even now I feel great affection and inspiration for a man whom I have never met.

Book Review-The Littlest Bookstore in Big Stone Gap || The Non-Fiction Book Blog

     Best line & great advice—What did they learn from The Book Down the Road Tour? "The people who follow their own dreams and do what's in front of them—build, paint, renovate, stock, defy, buy, sell, and smile—are still standing, while those who wait for permission, or guarantees, or help from someone else, disappear fairly quietly into that good night."

Do you have a favorite memoir about a bookstore? I would love to hear what it is. Leave me a note in the comments so I can check it out.

Book Review-Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

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I love Bill Gates’ review of Shoe Dog.

A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.”—Bill Gates, one of his favorite books of 2016

Knight is a great writer and his stories about the development of Nike kept me engaged through the whole book. It’s an authentic story about the struggles of building a business. And Nike did struggle. It was surprising (I don’t know why) to read how precarious his financial position often was. I guess when someone is a billionaire, 40 years after they build a business, it’s easy to think there was always money available to run the company.

Some of my take aways: 

When talking about his return home after his backpacking adventures…

“And yet I wasn’t [back]. There was something about me that would never return. My mother noticed it before anyone else. ‘You seem more...worldly.’ Worldly, I thought. Gosh.”

Travel is something my husband and I have tagged as a high priority for our children because we believe travel changes you, opens up your world, and we want that benefit for our children.

“One lesson I took from all my homeschooling [his self-study on various subjects] about heroes was that they didn’t say much. None was a blabbermouth. None micromanaged.

Ohhh boy! I do both those things. I would do well to learn from this.

There’s one point where he compares sports to books, which as a reader (and football fanatic), I loved.

“Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, in that transference, is the oneness that mystics talk about.”

I imagine that is what writers hope their readers experience when we read their books. I know when I read a well-written story, I’m pulled into that world and the idea of the reader and the author coming together in a narrative that the author created, that’s pretty cool. 

“If Blue Ribbon [the original name for the foot ware company] went bust, I’d have no money…But I’d also have some valuable wisdom, which I could apply to the next business. Wisdom seems an intangible asset but an asset all the same, one that justified the risk.”

We need to keep this in mind when we face the fear of failure. Yes, we might fail, but we can take what we’ve learned and turn that information into an asset.

I'd like to see Phil Knight write additional books. 

Order your copy of Shoe Dog here.