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A Few Good Books: July 2018

by Emily M | Jul 25, 2018

Looking for a book recommendation?  Look no further!  Here are a few good books I've enjoyed lately...

lifeafterlifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson

In February of 1910 a woman goes into labor.  The doctor is unable to get through the raging snowstorm and she is attended only by a 14-year-old kitchen maid with no experience assisting in childbirth.  The umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck and the baby dies. 

No, wait.  Let’s try again. 

In February of 1910 a woman goes into labor.  Despite a raging snowstorm the doctor arrives just in time to cut the umbilical cord from around the baby’s neck.  Little Ursula Todd will live.  So begins the story of what could have been and what could be. 

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is a fascinating and unusual story.  Have you ever wondered how different your life would have been if just one variable had been different?  Have you ever wondered how all of human history may have been different due to just one small change? Life After Life explores these questions through the life of Ursula Todd, born in 1910 to an upper-middle class family in Great Britain.  Over and over again, Atkinson starts Ursula’s story from the beginning.  First, she dies at birth.  Then, she survives her birth, only to drown in the sea.  Then, she survives a near drowning to fall off a roof.  Initially, it seems the author is exploring all the way Ursula could die, but the more one reads the more evident it becomes that the author is exploring all of the different lives Ursula could live. 

The unusual format of this book is not for everyone.  You won’t find clear-cut answers and a definitive ending, but Life After Life has much to offer.  In addition to exploring all the different directions a life can go, it delves into the bonds of familial love and exposes the realities of life in Great Britain during World War I and World War II.


sonsandsoldiersSons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the US Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson

When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, it quickly became apparent to Jewish Germans that it would be best if they left the country.  Sons and Soldiers is the story of six young Jewish men who were lucky enough to escape Germany and make it to the United States.  When the United States entered World War II, they were understandably eager to join up and fight Hitler and the Nazis.  Initially rejected by the US army for their “enemy alien” status, these young men would eventually be drafted for non-combat duty, before being selected for a top-secret army intelligence program.  With their fluent German and intimate knowledge of German culture, they were the perfect candidates to be trained in the interrogation of German prisoners of war.  Following the stories of these six young men from childhood to the end of the war, Henderson’s narrative nonfiction is a gripping tale of six Jewish men who, against all odds, not only survived Hitler’s mass genocide, but played a key role in defeating him.


callmeamericanCall Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin

Call Me American is the story of an immigrant.  It is the story of a boy whose child- and young adult-hood were spent in a war zone.  It is the story of a teenager who fell in love with American movies and music, who idolized Michael Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and who taught himself English.  It is a story of a young man who refused the only two options available to young men in his city: become a Muslim sheikh or join the army.  It is the story of a brave man who made contact with a Western journalist and risked his life to share his story with NPR.  It is the story of a desperate refugee trying to gain entrance to the United States.  It is the story of a man who is supported by Americans who care about him, but is still struggling to adjust to a new country and culture.  Abdi’s story is fascinating and heart-breaking, and if you want to understand the political situation in Somalia, how it developed and why the violence persists, read this book.

What about you?  What good books have you read lately?

EmilyLong before becoming a librarian, Emily was an avid library patron. She enjoys reading fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, biographies, and classic children’s literature. Her favorite book is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.


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