Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlan 160 pages

In this short but thoroughly enjoyable work of fiction, Anna Quindlan describes the joys of being a first time grandparent.  In each chapter Quindlan shares her happy moments, sobering experiences and lessons she has learned along the way.  She tackles issues such as,  in-laws, day care and when grandparents should bite their lips and keep their mouths shut.  All is said with humor, love and candor.

As a first time grandmother, I adored this book!  I would allot myself one chapter a week because I didn’t want Nanaville  to end.  If there is a flaw in this memoir, it is that Quindlan’s situation is almost too good to be true.  She gets to see little Arthur often, she has a wonderful relationship with her daughter-in-law, and she’s an extremely helpful Nana.

I usually don’t pitch a book, but Nanaville is the ideal Mother’s Day gift for a grandmother with young grandchildren.

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Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by Anna Quindlan 160 pages

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger 318 pages

Helen Clapp is a well-known and somewhat famous physicist.  She is the single parent of a seven year old son and teaches and does research at MIT.  Her best friend in college, Charlotte(Charlie), has recently died leaving a husband and an eight year old daughter.  Just days after Charlie’s death, Helen receives a text from her.  She continues to receive short texts sporadically and they bring back memories of the life she and Charlie shared when they were students at Harvard.

Lost and Wanted is a very good read.  At first it appears to be a book about friendship, motherhood and death, but it is much more.  There are many paragraphs about the principles of physics, but don’t skim over them; they are fairly easy to understand and add to what this novel is all about.   I think Lost and Wanted would be a great choice for a book group that likes books with no easy answers.

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger 318 pages

Henry, Himself by Stewart O’Nan 370 pages

This novel describes a year in the life of Henry Maxwell.  Henry is a veteran of World War II, a retired engineer at Westinghouse and a devoted husband, father and grandfather.  He is a native of Pittsburgh, a golfer, a sport’s fan, a tinkerer and a man who doesn’t like to “throw his money around.”  It is 1998, the year Henry turns 75, and as we follow his life during that year, we get to view him in the past, the present and a bit into the future.  We see him with his cynical wife Emily, his two children, his four grandchildren and his dog Rufus.  Henry is at his summer home in Chautauqua, with his golfing buddies and celebrating his 49th wedding anniversary.  During all of this experiences, Henry is delightfully true to himself.

If you are about 65 or older, I think you will thoroughly enjoy Henry, Himself.  Through the eyes of Henry Maxwell, you will recognize the joys and sorrows of growing another year older.

Henry, Himself by Stewart O’Nan 370 pages

Parkland by Dave Cullen 311 pages

Cullen, the author of Columbine, has again written a work of nonfiction about a school shooting in an upper-middle class community.  However, Parkland does not focus on the shooting but on the movement that arose as a result of the tragedy.  There is no description of what happened on February 14, 2018 at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School,  and the gunman is rarely mentioned and never named.  What Cullen describes in detail is how four days later, two dozen remarkable students began a movement that probably changed the course of an election.  He puts the reader into the minds and hearts of a group of students, parents and teachers and tells how they acted and reacted after 2/14/18.

This book certainly is not for everyone,  but if you want to feel hopeful about the “next generation,” read Parkland.

 

Parkland by Dave Cullen 311 pages

Swing by Philip Beard 317 pages

Swing moves back and forth from the time its main character, Henry Graham, is 10 to when he is in his 40’s.  Grown up Henry has traded the life of a lawyer for that of a college professor in a small town in upstate New York.  His wife is a cancer survivor, his chances of getting tenure are slim and he has just learned that a man who was an important figure during his tenth year has died.  Henry Graham grew up in Pittsburgh.  In 9171 the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.  Henry’s father had walked out on his family,  and the boy found a father figure in an avid Pirate’s fan with no legs named John Kostka.

Beard tells a good story with relatable characters and an easy to follow plot.  If you’re a baseball fan, Swing should prove an enjoyable read.

Swing by Philip Beard 317 pages

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See 384 pages

Lisa See’s tenth novel is the story of Young-sook and her friendship with Mi-ja.  Both women are part of an all female deep sea diving group on the Korean island of Jeju.  These women are their family’s breadwinners who are trying to survive in a somewhat matriarchal society.  Young-sook and Mi-jan’s lives are recounted from when they first met in 1938 up to the present day.  Their stories are told in conjunction with the history of Korea during that time.

I learned a lot about Korea in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  Unfortunately, the story of  Young-sook and Mi-ja was not as interesting as what took place around them.  The Island of  Sea Women is not one of Lisa See’s best.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See 384 pages

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard 308 pages

Little known president James Garfield is the main character in this work of nonfiction.  Although he was reluctant to be elected president, Garfield was the ideal leader for The United States in 1881.  He was smart, empathetic and unselfish.  Four months after taking office he was shot twice by a delusional man.  While he clung to life,  with one bullet still embedded in him, Garfield was under the care of a less than stellar doctor.  Also involved in this drama was Alexander Graham Bell, who was hastily inventing a machine that could locate the bullet that was making the president sicker and sicker.

Destiny of the Republic is one of the books I’ve been meaning to read since it was published eight years ago.  It is interesting, informative, and at times exciting.  A lot of the politics occurring in 1881 can be compared to what is going on in our country today.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard 308 pages