I hope you are all doing well. Besides the wonderful short books I have been tearing through, I’d like to recommend a few other great books I enjoyed recently. I cannot rave enough about Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson, a gripping thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat as Swanson superbly details the nation’s greatest manhunt (his writing is stellar, and the book is filled with alluring details about Lincoln’s assassin). As I am one of the world’s most eclectic readers, another one of my favorite books this past month was I Do But I Don’t: Walking Down the Aisle Without Losing Your Mind by Kamy Wicoff, a must-read for women AND men who are planning to get married. Wicoff’s book is funny and informative, and I agree with its primary point: people should spend more time planning their marriage and less time planning the ceremony. Sebastian Junger’s A Death in Belmont is a pretty good examination of the author’s childhood experiences with the Boston Strangler (he details how an innocent man died in prison for the death of one of his neighbors). I prefer Junger’s incredible debut, The Perfect Storm.
I just returned from speaking in Gulfport, Mississippi, and I was greatly moved by what those poor people have gone through these past ten months since Hurricane Katrina. Strangers and new friends told me horrifying stories of how they survived the ordeal, but what amazed me was how the area looks like a bomb just detonated yesterday. Debris still litters the coastline, and most folks (well, the lucky ones, who FEMA has not ignored) live in trailers on the lots that their homes used to occupy. I could go on about the inexcusable conditions, but I’d rather focus on all of the wonderful volunteers I witnessed in tents around the region. While I may not have seen any government officials lending a hand, my spirits were lifted to see so many church Samaritans eager to help. I saw people who had driven from as far away as Michigan to do what they could, and I was reminded that it always seems like Americans shine during times of crisis. If I lived in Mississippi, though, I would refuse to pay my taxes, as I saw a lot of good people getting the run around from a bureaucracy that failed them (I try to focus on the positive, but I was appalled by what I witnessed firsthand). I am one of those folks that has seen the images on television of Katrina’s effect on New Orleans, but I had no idea how hard a blow Mississippi took. Its citizens stuck around, and they are living a nightmare that can be relieved with your assistance. Please contact your church, temple or synagogue and find out how you can assist the Katrina survivors of Mississippi.
Anyhow, enjoy this month’s book selections below. I hope you are all reading some wonderful books. Make sure to tell me all about them. If you're an author or a publisher and would like to send me review copies of your book(s), please send them to the address listed for authors and publishers.
Have a wonderful July, and enjoy your books!