A naturalist who spent months at a time living on her own among wild creatures in remote jungles, Sy Montgomery had always felt more comfortable with animals than with people. So she gladly opened her heart to a sick piglet who had been crowded away from nourishing meals by his stronger siblings. Yet Sy had no inkling that this piglet, later named Christopher Hogwood, would not only survive but flourish–and she soon found herself engaged with her small-town community in ways she had never dreamed possible. Unexpectedly, Christopher provided this peripatetic traveler with something she had sought all her life: an anchor (eventually weighing 750 pounds) to family and home.
But as this enchanting book describes, Christopher Hogwood’s influence extended far beyond celebrity; for he was, as a friend said, a great big Buddha master. Sy reveals what she and others learned from this generous soul who just so happened to be a pig–lessons about self-acceptance, the meaning of family, the value of community, and the pleasures of the sweet green Earth. The Good Good Pig provides proof that with love, almost anything is possible. Buy this book today for $1.99.
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When Bob Greene went home to central Ohio to be with his dying father, it set off a chain of events that led him to knowing his dad in a way he never had before—thanks to a quiet man who lived just a few miles away, a man who had changed the history of the world.
He was Paul Tibbets. At the age of twenty-nine, in 1945 Tibbets piloted a plane—which he called Enola Gay, after his mother—to the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where he dropped the atomic bomb.
On the morning after the last meal he ever ate with his father, Greene went to meet Tibbets. What developed was an unlikely friendship that allowed Greene to discover things about his father, and his father’s generation of soldiers, that he never fully understood before.
It is an exploration of and response to the concept of duty as it once was and always should be: quiet and from the heart. On every page you can hear the whisper of a generation and its children bidding each other farewell. Buy it today for only 99 cents.
NOTE: I just finished reading this book. The portions about the men who were aboard the Enola Gay are very interesting reading. The parts about Greene’s father and their relationship are more difficult to read.
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Charming, debonair, and impeccably attired in a black tuxedo, Dean Martin was coolness incarnate. His music provided the soundtrack of romance, and his image captivated movie and television audiences for more than fifty years. His daughter Deana was among his most devoted fans, but she also knew a side of him that few others ever glimpsed.
In this heartfelt memoir, Deana recalls the constantly changing blended family that marked her youth, along with the unexpected moments of silliness and tenderness that this unusual Hollywood family shared. She candidly reveals the impact of Dean’s fame and characteristic aloofness, but delights in sharing wonderful, never-before-told stories about her father and his pallies known as the Rat Pack. This enchanting account of life as the daughter of one of Hollywood’s sexiest icons will leave you entertained, delighted, and nostalgic for a time gone by.
Buy this memoir today for only $1.99.
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In light of cultural crises such as the Danish cartoon controversy and the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris, Christopher Caldwell’s incisive perspective has never been more timely or indispensible. Reflections on the Revolution in Europe is destined to become the classic work on how Muslim immigration permanently reshaped the West. Buy this book today for only $1.99.
This provocative and unflinching analysis of Europe’s unexpected influx of immigrants investigates the increasingly prominent Muslim populations actively shaping the future of the continent. Muslims dominate or nearly dominate many important European cities, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Strasbourg and Marseille, the Paris suburbs and East London, and in those cities Islam has challenged the European way of life at every turn, becoming, in effect, an “adversary culture.”
Caldwell examines the anger of natives and newcomers alike. He exposes the strange ways in which welfare states interact with Third World customs, the anti-Americanism that brings European natives and Muslim newcomers together, and the arguments over women and sex that drive them apart. He considers the appeal of sharia, “resistance,” and jihad to a second generation that is more alienated from Europe than the first, and addresses a crisis of faith among native Europeans that leaves them with a weak hand as they confront the claims of newcomers.
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Growing up in Bexley, Ohio, population 13,000, Bob Greene and his four best friends — Allen, Chuck, Dan, and Jack — were inseparable. Of the four, Jack was Bob’s very best friend, a bond forged from the moment they met on the first day of kindergarten. They grew up together, got into trouble together, learned about life together — and were ultimately separated by time and distance, as all adults are. But through the years Bob and Jack stayed close, holding on to the friendship that had formed years before.
Then the fateful call came: Jack was dying. And in this hour of need, as the closest of friends will do, Bob, Allen, Chuck, and Dan put aside the demands of their own lives, came together, and saw Jack through to the end of his journey.
Tremendously moving, funny, heart-stirring, and honest, And You Know You Should Be Glad is an uplifting exploration of the power of friendship to uphold us, sustain us, and ultimately set us free. Buy the book today for only 99 cents.
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Paula’s Top Four Reads in 2014
I enjoyed many more books than the four featured here and will post additional top four lists in the weeks ahead. The books in this post were purchased when prices were below $5 each.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand ($4.99). Every American should read this thoroughly researched, very well-written biography of Louis Zamperini – a young soldier who survived more than 40 days at sea only to be captured by the Japanese as a prisoner of war and forced to endure extraordinarily harsh treatment.
Unbroken is an absolutely stunning story of a true American hero, complete with his imperfections and weaknesses. The narrative is smooth and engaging.
Even if the movie is the best you have ever seen, I do not believe it can be as moving as the book.
The Book Thief by Markas Zusak ($7.99). Billed as a young adult novel, this popular WWII story has many more layers than most teen readers will appreciate. The honest portrayal of war-torn Germany and the innocent families torn apart by the war is vivid and touching. The young protagonist amplifies the heartbreak.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson ($8.89). I laughed and laughed and laughed more. Aaron Karlsson’s life story is far-fetched, but a fun read none-the-less. Think of this novel as Monty Python’s History of the Twentieth Century starring an ordinary Swede.
Compromising Positions ($3.99) Yes, it’s a romance, but perhaps not what you are thinking. Mary Whitney’s novel in two voices stars freshmen members of the United States House of Representatives. The guy is a conservative elected to Congress on his Republican family history; the gal is a spitfire Democrat. This well-written novel has tension, humor and a hard-fought happily-ever-after.
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin
If you have read Unbroken or seen the movie, you will want to read this biography of Louis Zamperini, too.
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In ($3.99) Champion. Survivor. Hero. Legend.
Completed just two days before Louis Zamperini’s death at age 97, Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In shares a lifetime of wisdom, insight, and humor from one of America’s most inspiring lives. Zamperini’s story has touched millions through Laura Hillenbrand’s biography Unbroken, a major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie. Now, in his own words, Louis Zamperini reveals, with warmth and great charm, the essential values and lessons that sustained him throughout his remarkable journey.
Cowritten with longtime collaborator David Rensin, Louis Zamperini’s Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In is an extraordinary last testament that captures the wisdom of a life lived to the fullest.
By 1300 AD, the Sky Hand people had crushed and enslaved the Albaamaha people and built their high-walled capital, Split Sky City, to dominate towns up and down the Black Warrior River. But a violent wind is brewing that may topple the city’s mighty walls. Great armies are on the march, and a cunning new leader, Smoke Shield, has risen. He will lead the Sky Hand people either to stunning triumph or to bloody doom.
Old White, Trader, and the mystical Two Petals are journeying across the Choctaw lands straight into the chaos. Old White, the Seeker, must play a delicate game of espionage. For Trader the slightest indiscretion–let alone the temptation of forbidden love–could lead to disaster. Two Petals, the Contrary, faces the toughest choice of all : She must betray herself and her friends to Smoke Shield or live forever in the backward grip of madness. And Spirit Power has laid a far deadlier trap for them in the rainbow colors just beneath the rolling surface of the Black Warrior River.
A novel of desperate political intrigue and spiritual power, People of the Thunder once again demonstrates the New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear’s mastery of American prehistory. Explore the ancestral heritage of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Yuchi peoples as the majesty and genius of the vanished Mississippian mound builders’ civilization comes to life.
Buy this historical fiction novel for only $2.99 today as it is the Kobo price match.
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A bride at ﬁfteen, widowed at the tender age of twenty, Barbara, Countess Devane, embarks for colonial Virginia ﬁnancially ruined by the death of her husband in scandalous circumstances. Dressed in mourning as is proper for a woman, she is patronizingly described as a “fragile black butterfly,” but the fragility is deceiving. She makes a place for herself in the new world, takes lovers and friends across political divides, and questions the established traditions of slavery. Facing enemies she never suspected, she must return to England and deal face to face with the problems created by her husband, who haunts her even in death. Back in London, she quickly ﬁnds herself pulled into Jacobite plotting, and the treachery of powerful men suddenly threatens her family, her friends—and a new love.
Now Face to Face sweeps readers from eighteenth-century America to London and brings both worlds to vivid life. It is a magniﬁcent evocation of an era, from the plantations of Virginia to Hanoverian England. Buy this historical novel for only $1.99 today.
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One day, Richard LeMieux had a happy marriage, a palatial home, and took $40,000 Greek vacations. LeMieux’s quiet determination and his almost pious willingness to live with his situation are only a part of this politically and socially charged memoir. The real story of an all-too-common American condition, this is a heartfelt and stirring read.The next, he was living out of a van with only his dog, Willow, for company. This astonishingly frank memoir tells the story of one man’s resilience in the face of economic disaster. Penniless, a failed suicide, estranged from his family, and living “the vehicular lifestyle” in Washington state, LeMieux chronicles his journey from the Salvation Army kitchens to his days with “C” — a philosopher in a homeless man’s clothing — to his run–ins with Pastor Bob and other characters he meets on the streets.
Along the way, he finds time to haunt public libraries and discover his desire to write. LeMieux’s quiet determination and his almost pious willingness to live with his situation are only a part of this politically and socially charged memoir. The real story of an all-too-common American condition, this is a heartfelt and stirring read and can be purchased today for only $1.99.
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With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life in this poignant and honest autobiography. More than a rock star, he is an icon, a living embodiment of the history of rock music. Well known for his reserve in a profession marked by self-promotion, flamboyance, and spin, he now chronicles, for the first time, his remarkable personal and professional journeys.
Clapton is the powerfully written story of a survivor, a man who has achieved the pinnacle of success despite extraordinary demons. It is one of the most compelling memoirs of our time. Buy it today for only $1.99.
Click here to purchase Clapton: The Autobiography