A few books for your late-pandemic consideration

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How are you doing? Things are still roiling all over the globe. What’s been a long year for everyone  doesn’t look like it’s ready to quit yet. So, thanks to some help from my dear daughter Creed, I’ve gotten part-way through the pile of books I’ve collected for review. These contain books on Travel, Health, Memoir, Historical Fiction, Philosophy and Science. Have fun browsing!

Travel

Amsterdam Exposed: An American’s Journey into the Red Light District, by David Wienir. Cannabis and prostitution districts form the map for this memoir set in 1999. Wienir toured this twilight world and came away with paradigm-shifting transformation in regard to the world’s oldest profession and the world itself. Uplifting, emotional, the author takes his story to corporate America. Readable and thought-provoking, the book reveals the way a 26-year-old American’s friendship with and promise to a Dutch prostitute and changed both of them forever. PICTURE
Secret Chicago: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure, by Jessica Mlinaric. Secrets about one of the world’s greatest cities, including oddities and inspiration in Chicago’s uncommon sites such as hidden attractions, haunted locales and unique landmarks.
The Full English, by Bull Garlington. Hilarious story of a father’s failed attempt to take his family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the UK. His expectations, his wife’s meddling in his perfect plan, his children’s massive indifference, and others along with “England’s classic breakfast which consists almost entirely of canned beans.” Sample chapter titles: “How to Pee on a Bus in Dublin,” “Bagpipes and How I Hate Them.” Warning: lots of swear words.

Health

Hospice: The Last Responder, by Ellen Jane Windham. A comprehensive guide to understanding how your loved one can complete his/her journey in the best way – at home and surrounded by family. The book tells how to take the fear out of finding your way through this transition.
Write for Recovery – Exercises for Heart, Mind and Spirit, by Diane Sherry Case. How to use writing to relieve stress and improve mental health. Life  coach Case reveals how journaling can help us process our emotions, increase self-awareness, and clarify our dreams.
Grandmothering: The Secret to Making a Difference While Having the Time of Your Life, by Linda Eyre. With 26 grandkids, the author has become an expert on getting and staying connected to your grandkids. She gives tips on using money wisely with them, and on how to model values (e.g., honesty, integrity and courage) – presumably without interfering with their parents’ authority. For good measure, she throws in some recipes to help you make good food for a crowd.
My Dad Is an Alcoholic, What about me?: A Pre-teen Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes, by Marc Treitler with Lianna Treitler. Based on this family’s personal experiences, the authors tell their history and describe how they learned that genes can give us a predisposition to be allergic to alcohol and other substances. They teach you how to stop the gene with your allergic reaction from ever turning on. Written in a user-friendly, teenager appropriate way, the book encourages readers to consider remaining abstinent from all types of mind-altering substances. The emphasis is on empowerment and free will.
The Interactive Guide to Good Health, from the Mayo Clinic

Memoir

My Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir of Africa, by Susie Rheanholt. This daughter of a Green Beret had to move around a lot as a child. Her adventurous spirit eventually led her to a life of working to help underprivileged children in multiple African countries. She fights to help end the AIDS epidemic and eliminate poverty and illiteracy, starting with 9 orphans in a small rural village in Tanzania. If you’re looking for a story about living a life of purpose, this story might be a good one.
Just Five More Minutes, by Michael Ross. A true story of children, love and murder. A man chronicles the story of his wife’s murder, the 11-month trial of the perpetrator, and where he and his sons have come to 13 years later. Hints and tips he used to keep him and his family positive while rebuilding our lives and looking to the future.
My Love Affair with Italy, by Debbie Mancuso. Unlike a typical memoir, this book tells of a single woman’s twelve visits to Italy over 45 years and how she made lifelong friends. It’s known for her stories of dating Italian men, its beautiful descriptions of the country, and its many twists and turns that the reader doesn’t see coming.

Historical fiction

Friends of the Wigwam: A Civil War Story, by John William Huelskamp. This novel highlights the significance and importance of the role that the Midwest and its soldiers and citizens played in the Civil War. The book’s heroine is a woman who masqueraded as a man to fight in battle. She and other characters discover a hidden wigwam that welcomed runaway slaves and became a shelter for friendships and love among the war torn atmosphere of the Civil War in the Midwest.
Before We Die, by Joan Schweighardt. If you like to be swept up in historical stories, try this first of three in what’s called the Rivers series. Greed and desire in 1908 were no different than they are today. Two brothers seek their fortune among the rubber trees in the South American rain forest – along with floods, snakes, malaria, and hunger. They experience profound conflicts and suffer through the agony of being in love with the same woman.

Philosophy

God: An Autobiography, As told to a Philosopher, by Jerry L. Martin. A philosophy professor falls in love, and suddenly finds meaning in his life. He had previously had no religion at all. But upon his transformation by love, he is moved to thank God in prayer and is surprised to find God answers. Gradually he transforms from a lifelong agnostic to a man who believes in God. The book describes how God is present in all religions and cultures, and how anyone can learn to grow closer to God.

Science

Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity, by Denis Noble. The author says genes are not active causes of anything, and we need to stop attributing so much power to them. Living organisms operate at a high level of complexity, and their interactions are influenced by its social environment. In other words, not everyone who has a gene for a particular trait or disease, will actually have it or develop it. Word of warning: this book is dense.

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