Rosemary : The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

Rosemary
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

I just finished this book and I guess I was somewhat disappointed : I think I was looking for something a little more revelatory about Rosemary Kennedy.  Ironically, the reason the book wasn’t able to reveal more was outlined in the Author’s Note — a bill sponsored and passed by Senator Edward Kennedy in 1996, called HIPAA, made the medical records relating to Rosemary’s lobotomy surgery in 1941 permanently inaccessible.

That being said, the author does a very good job of recounting Rosemary’s life growing up in America and England.  She also outlines all the great work Eunice Kennedy did in the intervening years with the Special Olympics, spurred on by her sister Rosemary’s disabilities .

On a personal note, Rosemary’s story gave me more background on some issues I know about firsthand in trying to assimilate individuals with disabilities in educational and vocational situations.  It also pointed out to me the stigma and fear people experienced if they had a family member with a disability, often causing families to keep members at home with them or institutionalize them if they could not meet their needs.  Finally, it reinforced what I already knew — families can benefit in so many ways from accepting and welcoming members with disabilities into their lives.

The Light of the World, A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

 

The Light of the World
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

The book jacket states that Alexander writes “a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived.”  This is so true.  She beautifully illustrates the love she and her husband shared and the life they made together.  She also tells stories about her husband Ficre’s life (he was from Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa) as a chef and a painter.  Sadly, her husband died unexpectedly.  The story continues as she and her two sons slowly but surely make their way from grief to light.  The book is beautifully written and a fitting tribute to a wonderful and talented man.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Siddhartha
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Every summer I try to pick a classic that I’ve never read before.  This year I chose this little gem of a book.  It’s an extremely quick read and a truly beautiful book.  It follows Siddhartha as he tries to find spiritual fulfillment and wisdom after he says goodbye to his life of privilege and comfort.  Timely messages of how to achieve harmony and see the goodness in whoever you encounter in life.  So glad I finally read this and I would recommend it to anyone.

The Andy Cohen Diaries – A Deep Look at a Shallow Year by Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen Diaries
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Since I am a huge fan of the Bravo Channel and Watch What Happens Live, I have been following Andy Cohen for a long time. This fulfills all my needs for name dropping and fancy movie star parties and club hopping (all being done by Andy of course, not me, darn it!.  ) He is hysterically funny and the situations he ends up in are so comical.  Get the book to see all the pictures.  But an added plus is that I’m listening to this in the car and Andy reads it so it makes it that much more fun!

I am not myself these Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

I Am Not Myself These Days
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

Some of you may recognize the author’s name — he one half of the Fabulous Beekman Boys!  But before that…well let’s just say Josh had a very different life.  In the mid ’90s he was working in the advertising business by day and by night he was known as Aqua, a 7-foot-tall drag queen who wore a live goldfish in a bowl as part of his costume.  As his night life of clubs and drinking begins to spill over into his day life, he ultimately saw that he had to make a change.  His writing is funny and witty and tells an amazing story that also is quite sad. Worth a read, especially if you’d like to contrast the before and after Josh.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

The Hypnotist's Love Story
↑ Reserve a copy ↑

I really enjoy this author, and this book did not disappoint.  It had just enough funny and crazy to keep me turning the page, and the situations she wrote about in this book rang very true.  I  loved, loved that the main character was a hypnotherapist.  It was so interesting to see her work with her clients in the story.  The other fun thing about this author is that she writes about Australia — it’s so interesting to  learn about the locations where her characters live.

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez

An American woman, a hairdresser by trade, goes to Afghanistan as part of an humanitarian mission and finds that her skills are in big demand. The thing I was struck by is that the women are willing to pursue an education at great cost to themselves – one woman is beaten daily by her husband for going to school, another young girl has to stop her schooling because her family sold her to be married.  It’s truly amazing the lengths that these very proud women will go to for an education.  I was less impressed with the author who chose to leave her own two children behind with family in the United States AND then chose to sign up for an arranged marriage with a man from Afghanistan! Needless to say, her brash and bold ways were not always accepted by her new husband!

This was a very enlightening book to me and made me very aware of how lucky we are in the United States to be able to pursue an education without fear of being persecuted.

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

Destiny of the Republic

This was a book recommended to me by my brother.  I should talk to him more often about what he’s reading!  This book is so well written.  It is about James Garfield, our 20th President, and you’ll feel as if you are right in the middle of this fascinating, and ultimately sad, story.  It will also make you ask the question — what would our nation have become with Garfield at the helm?  I can honestly say I didn’t really know much about him other than the fact that he had been assassinated.  This book is chock full of information about this extremely smart, talented, accomplished Civil War hero.  The description of how he suffered at the hands of his physicians is truly criminal — if only they had been aware that using sterile technique along with simple hand washing could have helped him live! He didn’t have to die.  A book absolutely worth reading!

Lost Girls : An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

Lost Girls

This book was written by an investigative reporter.  It tells the true story of the search for a serial killer who is still out there somewhere.  At last count there are at least five women who were found in an area of Long Island called Oak Beach.  The families of the women have a theory as to why these cases are still unsolved : the women were all involved in Internet prostitution.  The book really explores the shady world of escorts and the way that technology, by way of Craigslist and Backpage, has made prostitution dangerous in a whole new way.

Captive Queen : A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitane by Alison Weir

Captive Queen

I listened to this in my car this summer on my trip to and from Cape Cod.  It was really fascinating!  And I was surprised by how “randy” a life Eleanor lived, first as the wife of King Louis VII of France and then as the wife of King Henry II of England.  She had two daughters with King Louis and then had five sons and three more daughters with King Henry.  She was an important advisor to both her husbands.  The political intrigue of the time was really interesting to learn.  Being so enamored of all things English, and wanting to learn even more about the key players leading up to King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, I found this story truly captivating!

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

After having read The Fault in Our Stars, I decided to pick up John Green’s first book, and I was not disappointed.  I really enjoyed this and am again pleasantly pleased with how Green can write so convincingly of teenage thoughts, feelings, etc.  I tried another of his books, Paper Towns, and I didn’t like it at all and stopped reading it.  (Wondering if anyone else felt the same?).  I will now try one of his other books soon.  This was really good and I would recommend it.

Wendy and the Lost Boys : The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein by Julie Salamon

Wendy and the Lost Boys

A truly fascinating book — –  I enjoy books about theater folks, playwrights, actors, etc. because I love to read about the process they go through in their respected mediums.  There is also a lot about her place in her family and how she was influenced by her family throughout her life.  Well worth it for sure and I would highly recommend it!  By the way, has anyone ever seen any of Wasserstein’s plays?  Would love to know what you thought of them….

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers

I loved every single page of this book!   I love the fact that the author told the story through the women, who by the way were all strong, awesome women.  I also really like learning more about the Jewish faith as well as what it may have been like during the siege at Masada.  Absolutely fascinating and totally worth the time to sit and read.  A big affirmative recommendation for this book!

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Blue Nights

So…having previously read The Year of Magical Thinking, I picked up this book.  First of all, it takes only about an hour to read this very small book.  Secondly, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I’m a reader, so I read almost all the time.  But why I would choose to read a book about a mother writing about the loss of her only daughter, well…let’s just say it was ill advised.  In any event, I also have to say I guess I don’t like Didion’s style; she repeats phrases over and over, and it’s really annoying.  And I feel really sorry for her as well — she is definitely not at peace with much of anything — aging, being alone, etc.  I almost think she’s clinically depressed and would  like to call her doctors in NYC to make sure they add an anti-depressant to her daily medications.