Paperbacks: A Tale of Two Wars, Christopher Buckley’s Memoir, How to Suvive Our Hectic Age, Chief Standing Bear’s Courageous Fight, and Leiber & StollerTuesday, June 1st, 2010
The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids by Tom Hodgkinson (Tarcher/Penguin, $15.95)
Parenthood has changed dramatically in recent years. To get kids in a good preschool, stay on top of their “play dates” and other activities, and just functioning can be more than just a little work. Journalist and parenting columnist Tom Hodgkinson thinks that instead of revolving around our children like planets, parents might be better advised to take a more laid-back approach to the whole enterprise. Some of his suggestions include getting children involved in housework and make it fun, just say “no” when appropriate, gather with other parents and kids for mutual entertainment and interaction, resist the demand to go to expensive venues, and do the things that make your happy since the best quality a parent can offer his or her children is their own personal happiness, contentment, and independence. The author, a parent of three, offers up a wise, witty, wholly practical approach to childcare.
Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves by Crystal Renn (Simon & Schuster, $15)
When Crystal Renn was fourteen, she was seen by a talent scout in her hometown of Clinton, Mississippi. She was told that she had all of the qualities that it took to be a super model but she needed to lose a little weight. Her 43-inch hips would need to shrink to 34-inches, and her 165 pound frame should be closer to 110. Using an exercise program and a strict diet, she fought to reach her goals but in the process developed an eating disorder. Even though she made it to New York, she continued to starve herself and still was told that she needed to lose even more weight. In a culture where thinness is often perceived as goodness, this remarkable book documents the enormous pressure on women in America to attain and maintain an “ideal” weight. The lesson that Crystal learned, however, is that true happiness comes about in being comfortable in the skin that you’re in, not your weight or thinness.
The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed by Judy Shepard (Plume, $15)
In 1998, Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old student in the college town of Laramie, Wyoming. His murder at the hands of two homophobic thugs shocked not just Wyoming but the entire nation. In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard Act, a bill to expand federal-hate crimes laws to protect people attacked because of their sexual orientation or gender. For the first time in book form, Matthew’s mother, Judy, writes about the murder, its aftermath, and her loss. At the heart of “The Meaning of Matthew” is the story of a mother coping with the unthinkable, capturing not only the historical significance and complicated issues surrounding one young man’s life and death, but revealing one woman’s battle to understand personal tragedy and loss. Beautifully written and heartbreaking in its simplicity, Matthew’s death was a pivotal event that continues to reverberate.
Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with David Ritz (Simon & Schuster, $15)
When Leiber and Stoller were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Stoller revealed that he and his partner had never planned to write rock and roll songs but rather good rhythm and blues. Their relationship with Elvis Presley and his recording of “Hound Dog” was a game changer, however, and they began composing some of the King’s biggest hits, including “Jailhouse Rock,” which they dashed off with three additional songs for the film in one four-hour session. Compelled, often out of necessity, to supervise recording sessions, they added record producers to their resume and continued to make Rock & Roll history. Leiber and Stoller share intimate details of their personal lives including childhood difficulties, rocky marriages, and encounters with the rich and famous in a book that is filled with anecdotes and memories from the golden age of pop music. This is must reading for anyone who ever danced to a 45-rpm record, first heard pop music on a transistor radio, or went to a sock hop.
Buying a Piece of Paris: A Memoir by Ellie Nielsen (St. Martin’s Press, $14.99)
Australian actress and publicist Ellie Nielsen was so taken by the charm of the City of Lights, she decided to become an apartment owner in Paris. Her goal was to find a simple apartment and one that was within the family budget, all within two weeks. As she began her quest, she quickly discovered that her limited knowledge of French, and the goofy real estate market in Paris led her down many dead end streets. Even though her husband was supportive and friends living in France offered her suggestions, she becomes even more determined and as her deadline approaches she realizes how much she w ants to beat the odds and success in her search. Witty, charming, and endearing, this memoir is perfect summer reading.
“I Am a Man” Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice by Joe Starita (St. Martin’s Press, $14.99)
Joe Starita, former Miami Herald reporter and current professor at the University of Nebraska’s College of Journalism, documents the heroic efforts of Ponca Indian leader Chief Standing Bear in getting both justice and civil rights for his people. During the nineteenth century, the small, peaceful Ponca tribe was relocated by the federal government from the eastern U.S. to the Missouri River Valley of Nebraska and South Dakota. After living in the region for a generation, the United States government once again uprooted the Ponca people and ordered that they be relocated to the newly created “Indian Territory,” in present day Oklahoma. Standing Bear defied the order by going to Washington, D.C. where he pled his case but even after meeting with the president, the orders remained and his efforts failed. In January of 1879, Standing Bear and members of his tribe set out again for their home in Nebraska but word of the movement soon reached General George Crook, then Secretary of the Interior, and the Indian leader was arrested. His hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska, that spring so impressed Judge Elmer Dundy, a ruling was made in favor of the Ponca Indians, that stated that “an Indian is a person within the meaning of the law and has the rights to a writ of habeas corpus.” So began Indian civil rights activism which was triggered by the determination and courage of this incredible leader.
Life With Pop: Lessons on Caring for an Aging Parent by Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD, with Michael Spring (Avery, $16)
Bestselling author and clinical psychologist Janis Abrahms Spring offers profound lessons on how to grow old gracefully by weaving together her personal story of shepherding her father through his final years and the experiences of her patients. In short, Dr. Spring explores the emotional and practical complexities of parenting a parent as witnessed from her unique perspective as a therapist. After the death of her mother, Dr. Spring “inherited” her dad and set off on a all-consuming, five-year mission to make his final days as rich and comfortable as possible, a story that overflows with humor, insight, and, yes, love. Dr. Spring has been in private practice for more than three decades and lives with her husband in Westport, CT.
Strength In What Remains by Tracy Kidder (Random House, $16)
In this finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and named one of the best books of gtghe year by Time Magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder documents the inspiring account of Deogratias, a young medical student from the mountains of Burundi who travels to the United States when he believes his family is dead. He arrives in New York with two hundred dollars in his pocket no English language skills, and no contacts, he begins work as a grocery delivery man while living in abandoned tenements in Harlem and sleeping in Central Park. He soon meets new friends who encourage him to enter Columbia University medical school and he begins to rebuild his life, an event that eventually leaders him back to Burundi. This is an exceptional piece of writing that is stirring, mesmerizing, and a literary triumph. A critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer called this book Tracy Kidder’s best, and, indeed, it very well could be.
Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got from the company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety by Dalton Conley (Vintage, $15)
If you aren’t anxious, you aren’t paying attention. Award-winning sociologist Dalton Conley has studied American life for more than two decades and in hius thircd groundbreaking book he reveals that technological, social, and economic changes have reshaped not only our world but our personal lives as well. He claims that the boundarie4s between leisure and work, public space and private space, and home and office have blurred with the new social reality being even more challenging. Conley connects our day-to-day experiences with the overlooked aspects of major sociological changes by providing us with an X-ray view of our new social order. The New York Times Book Review called this work “lively…intriguing…A compact guidebook to our nervous new world.” Conley’s observations are focused, accessible, and concise.
Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir by Christopher Buckley (Twelve, $13.99)
Christopher Buckley was born in 1952, graduated from Yale University in 1975 cum laude, and after serving a brief time as editor of Esquire magazine, became chief speechwriter for the then Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. In twelve months between 2007 and 2008, Buckley lost both his mother and father, Patricia Taylor Buckley and William F., Buckley. In this account, Buckley reveals how he coped with the loss in a narrative that is touching, perceptive, and unexpectedly witty.
War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars by Richard N. Haass (Simon & Schuster, $16)
Richard N. Haass, a member of the National Security Council staff in the George H.W. Bush administration and the State Department director of policy planning for George W. Bush, was the forefront of the decision=making process that led to both Iraqi conflicts. According to Haass, the first Iraqi war was both necessary and well-executed, the second not so much. In this insider’s account, Haass explains how and why the two very different Iraq wars were the result of two very different policymaking processes and two fundamentally different approaches to U.S. foreign policy, as well as two vastly different presidential personalities. This is, in essence, a tale of two wars. In his anecdote-filled narrative, Haass points out that the vital lessons, both learned and unlearned, from these two conflicts will influence America’s foreign policy debate for years to come. He states categorically that wars of choice are to be avoided, if for no other reason to make sure that there will be adequate will and ability to pursue wars of necessity when they materialize.
The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and gthe Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America’s Newfound Sovereignty by William Hogeland (Simon & Schuster, $16)
When Alexander Hamilton imposed the first federal tax on an American product, whiskey, all hell broke loose in the frontier of Western Pennsylvania. Mobs beat and tortured, burned and pillaged, tarred and feathered, in an attempt to reverse the decision. William Hogeland, the author of the recent bestseller, “Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When American Became Independent, May 1-July 4, 1776,” introduces readers to an unsparing look at both Hamilton and Washington and their involvement in this forgotten incident of revolution and suppression. Written with the keen eye of a reporter and the skill of an accomplished historian, Hogeland brings post-Revolutionary American into sharp focus in a narrative that captures all of the anger and drama of one of this country’s most critical rebellions.
Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat by Chris Stewart (Broadway Books, $12.99)
On the eve of Chris Stewart thirtieth birthday, he signed on to skipper a Cornish crabber sailing around the Greek Islands for the summer. Although he knew nothing about sailing, he aces the interview, and soon found himself at sea. After several ill-starred episodes including setting the craft on fiure not just oince but several times, Chris meets instructor Tom Cunliffe who helps him turn his indifference toward sailing into a passion. Five months on a small sailboat with seven other people helps Chris come to terms with not just the unchanging and limited cuisine board the craft and his intense seasickness but life as well. Charming, witty, and appealing, this is the work of a gifted writer who is at the top of his game. His previous three books have been about his life on a farm in Spain.