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Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Good Neighbor – The Life & Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I wanted to love this book. I was excited and was sure I would.  But it fell a bit flat for me.

    However, if you grew up loving Mr. Rogers or if you have learned since becoming an adult about this remarkable man, you should read The Good Neighbor, despite its length and sometimes dry detail. You will certainly come away with a renewed sense of awe about the brilliance of America’s favorite neighbor.

    The book chronicles Rogers entire life from his wealthy and protected upbringing to his death from stomach cancer at age 75.  King’s remarkable and in-depth research provides the book hundreds of details and stories about Fred’s lonely childhood, philanthropic family, love of music and puppetry, college days and marriage.

    Not until the middle third of the book do we begin to really see Fred become Mr. Rogers.  It’s here that we learn how his childlike demeanor combined with his; passion for early childhood education, unfailing Christian faith, exemplary moral compass, spectacular musical talent, groundbreaking methodical writing and editing standards and deep love and concern for children – create children’s programming that has never and will never be surpassed in quality and impact.  And all from this quiet and brilliant man.

    Satirist love to poke fun even today at Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  But for me, Rogers is someone we should all admire, remember and emulate.  His signature value was human kindness.  He lived, breathed and preached it to anyone who would listen.

    Rogers was a man of acceptance.  He asks those around him to make good choices and be accepting to all kinds of humans but especially children. Because “It’s You I Like”.

    It’s you I like,
    It’s not the things you wear,
    It’s not the way you do your hair–
    But it’s you I like
    The way you are right now,
    The way down deep inside you–
    Not the things that hide you,
    Not your toys–
    They’re just beside you.

    But it’s you I like–
    Every part of you,
    Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
    Whether old or new.
    I hope that you’ll remember
    Even when you’re feeling blue
    That it’s you I like,
    It’s you yourself,
    It’s you, it’s you I like.

    – Fred Rogers

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars for the Good Neighbor by Maxwell King

    Read last week’s review of Still Life

     

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Still Life by Louise Penny

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Still Life by Louise Penny

    I am not normally drawn to murder mystery books, but somehow Still Life ended up in my reading queue.  When I downloaded it from the library I was surprised to find a book that is actually part of a series that follows Chief Inspector Gamache based in Montreal Canada.

    The book reminded me a great deal of a Vivica Stein murder mystery I read last year.  Similarly the story is a whodunnit in a small normally placid country town outside of Quebec.

    A variety of characters emerge revolving around small towns, artists, lost lives and friendships as the entire grieving community work with Inspector Gamache to solve the case.

    Simple writing and easy to read, if you like murder mystery genre you will enjoy Still Life.

    Three Stars for Still Life by Louise Penny ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Read last week’s review of Radium Girls.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This is the incredible true story of the dawn of the age of radiation, a time where radium was considered a wonder drug.  And the untold hundreds of women who suffered.

    When the Curries discover the new radium element headlines around the world touted it as a beauty product, a health tonic and the bright new shiny life elixir of the 20th century.

    It was also the perfect element to illuminate clocks and dials and during WWI it was a boom industry in which thousands of women worked hand painting with the glowing dust paint in the radium dial factories.

    The painting process included putting the paint brush into your mouth, to tip it, before putting the paint on the dials.  The process continued for years, decades in fact, slowly poisoning those in the industry and the people around them.

    This fascinating book is the story of the brave women who fought to the bitter end for worker’s  rights and compensation, for US recognition of the radium poisoning and for new laws and protections against the former “wonder element”.

    The tenacity of these women and their story had never fully been told until author Moore became their champion.  The book is extremely detailed, and a bit slow in places, but worth the read to learn this unknown story of female courage in the early 20th century.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars for The Radium Girls

    Read last week’s review of Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Quindlen, now in her sixty’s, has been writing about motherhood, womanhood and feminism for decades, and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake goes a step further, exploring ageism and the maturing woman.

    Well of course I’m interested in that.

    But – there was some of the book that fell flat.  And some parts I just didn’t agree with, such as statements on religion’s role in fulfillment or needing to have a girlfriend you talk on the phone to every single day.

    Those aren’t things I need for happiness in my mature years.  But there was a great deal of the book that could have been me talking –  Quindlen literally taking my thoughts and putting them into her book.

    Looking back at how we thought we knew everything when we were young.  Watching our grown children also thinking they know it all.  And all the while knowing what we know we can’t impart that knowledge to them, they must learn it with time.

    Quindlen writes about letting go of “stuff” (me again), career moves that slow your heart rate even if they lessen your bank account (me again), women needing to work twice as hard to get noticed on the career ladder and then becoming essentially invisible once you reach your fifties (me again).  It’s okay to find happiness in being alone.  Some solitude often is the stuff of clear mind and healthy soul (me again).

    I did not learn anything from this book, but my beliefs were certainly reinforced and I enjoyed reading that.  In fact, this statement really narrows it down for me, and is what I liked best about the book.  She writes;

    “There comes that moment when we give our children custody of their own selves or blight their lives forever, when we understand that being a parent is not transactional that we do not get what we give.  It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: we are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

    Read last week’s review of Educated

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover is one of the best books I have read this year.

    And that is a powerful statement since I read more than one book a week on average.  You must read Educated.

    The true story of Tara Westover’s life, raised by a survivalist father and a meek mother in the mountains of Idaho, her story is real, fascinating and a triumph.

    Having never attended school until she applied to go to college, Tara’s childhood was a crazy mix of violence, danger, suspicion, work, work and more work as she and her many siblings tried to please a demanding, religious father in a tight family lacking love.

    Despite being raised in isolation and taught that the government was out to kill them, Tara suspected there was more to life than what she knew.  Eventually going out on a limb and taking the college entrance exams, Tara suddenly finds herself in a classroom for the first time as a seventeen year old.

    College mentors and professors quickly see Tara’s potential and hunger for knowledge and opportunities begin to come her way, including Harvard and Cambridge.

    The new Tara finds herself shunned by much of her family, and yet despite that separation she perseveres with her education and the eventual writing of this book, a triumphant tale of breaking-away and a testament to the life-changing power of education.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five Stars for Educated.

    Read last week’s review of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

     

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

    Pilgrimages come in many packages. Some planned. Some not. For Harold Fry his was unlikely and most unexpected. And most certainly a transformative life-changing event.

    Having been on my own life-changing pilgrimage these past few years, I really felt a kinship with Harold. Recently retired, looking for purpose, unable to make his wife happy, Harold’s life takes a major turn the day he receives a letter from a former colleague.

    And thus begins the unlikely adventure. Part Forest Gump, part Walter Mitty – Harold’s pilgrim path ebbs and flows and throughout he impacts people’s lives in a sincere and honest way during the more than six month journey- all while learning so much about himself.

    I really enjoyed this book and the story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary sense of commitment, humanity and perseverance. You will love Harold Fry and his unorthodox adventure too.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

    Read last week’s review of Becoming

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Becoming by Michelle Obama

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Fascinating.  Forget the politics and just for a moment think about the journey.  This woman’s journey is fascinating.

    Raised in a tiny apartment in the Southside of Chicago. Despite their economic and racial status, Michelle Robinson Obama’s parents made sure she had lofty goals…and reached them.  Good enough.  With occasional doubts she constantly reminded herself that yes, she was good enough.

    Good enough to be accepted into one of Chicago’s best high schools.  Good enough to be accepted into Princeton.  Good enough to be accepted to Harvard Law.  And good enough to make a difference in the lives of many people, including her own family.

    Michelle Obama’s unlikely rise from a working class Chicago family to First Lady of the United States was more than good enough.  In her climb she remained graceful, focused, family centric and kind.  Never a politician, she focused on what she loved most of all – people.  Particularly children and military families.  Through her work she gave inspiration to women and girls, minorities and the poor throughout the USA and the world.  And in her book Becoming, she describes it all, in a matter-of-fact writing style punctuated with  honesty and tears, laughter and pain.

    Worth the read to see the inside working’s of the unofficial position of First Lady, the inside workings of a brilliant American woman and the inside working’s of approaching an exceptional life with an exceptional focus and positive attitude.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for Becoming.

    Read last week’s review of The Pillars of the Earth.

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