Whether you are quarantined or staying home to avoid catching the Coronavirus, picking up a good book can help you escape reality for a time and alleviate the social isolation you might feel.
Or you could consider it a good opportunity to expand your horizons.
Reading can expand your perspective and give you insights into other worlds. There is nothing like seeing the world through another's eyes!
Where did this list come from?
The five books on this list came from suggestions from readers and friends. It's not meant to be comprehensive, it's more of a starter list, so if you have a book to suggest, I'd like to hear about it. Just leave the title and author in the comments.
1) The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills . I was introduced to this book quite a few years ago in a book club; it has all types of helpful philosophy while remaining interesting to read. The four agreements include: Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best. It's the how and why one should do these things that make The Four Agreements worth reading and remembering.
2) The Art of Happiness by the Dali Lama.
The Art of Happiness is credited with starting the "happiness books" genre, and it remains the cornerstone of the field of positive psychology. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. He explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life's obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace. Based on 2,500 years of Buddhist meditations mixed with a healthy dose of common sense, This book has touched countless lives and uplifted spirits around the world -- you could join them!
3) Plain, Honest Men - by Richard Beeman
We often hear people talking about the Constitution of the United States. This book illuminates the historical background, conflicts and personalities of the men who wrote it and the compromises that were needed to make the United States possible.
4) Becoming - by Michelle Obama.
This is a well written and entertaining book about growing up, striving and being a working mother and political spouse. I wish I had read it earlier in my life, as the way Michelle looks at the world is refreshing. Especially recommend it to smart young women -- of any color or political leaning.
5) A Gentleman from Moscow - by Amor Towles
This is the only fiction book on the list, but belongs here as the writing is so eloquent and the story uplifting. Amid the likeable personalities and historical details,
the main character, Count Alexander Rostov, is sentenced to live in the Metro hotel for his crime of being a aristocrat. How he is able to master his circumstances makes delightful reading.
I just finished reading My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. It's a well written, fictionalized account of the life of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton's strong, capable and intelligent wife. The book is a veritable who's who of the revolution and early years of the nation. It was delightful to read about the lives that touched hers -- like the Marquis de Lafayette, George and Martha Washington, James and Dolley Madison, Aaron Burr and more.
Reading the book makes that time period come alive, revealing insights into the challenges faced and the character of this extraordinary woman and her family.
I highly recommend reading it!
Have you read it? If so, what did you think about it? Feel free to leave comments.
Happy New Year !
First, a big thank you for reading! I really appreciate it when you read my books, join my Facebook page or subscribe to the newsletter.
To sum up my first full year of blogging, here are my top blog posts of 2016 as ranked by Facebook "likes".
See if you agree with the rankings:
1 ) What Makes a Memorable Hero?
2 ) Have you been bitten by the Jane Austen bug?
If I missed one you liked, or if you have suggestions for topics you'd like to read about, please comment!
If you are interested in new books, I am targeting to have one out in the first half of 2017. Watch for updates in the newsletter or join the conversation on Facebook!
Wishing you a great 2017!
Stock up on E-books this July and Save!
My books are on sale, and there are thousands more.
Try a new author or genre!
I was reading a post (on LinkedIn) about Switerland's referendum on a guaranteed minimum income. The article mentioned it was a development needed for future societies -- when robots and Ai have taken all the jobs.
A scary thought.
What are people going to do when all this technology takes over the functions people previously performed?
Sounds like science fiction? Maybe a story starter?
Maybe not -- if you look at history, there have been many changes caused by advances in technology, some with good effects and some not so good.
Like the printing press -- might have put scribes out of business, but accelerated education, so more could read and it increased the demand for writing
Industial revolution -- craftsman and women replaced by machines, created jobs that were less skilled, but lowered the costs of goods
An extension of that was Henry Ford's assembly line. It increased production and Henry Ford saw they he needed to expand the market, so he increased wages and the demand fueled the rise of the auto industry.
Later labor unions further increased wages and benefits as well as working conditions. The 50's and 60's saw prosperity in the middle class -- roads, great schools and other things were built.
Then computers -and later, PCs - began doing many repetitious tasks that had previously been done by clerks.
The Internet was developed, giving people (like me) access to an audience.
Blogging, (ruined journalism, some may say). Self publishing flourished, and the rise of "free" created new business models and ways of marketing.
Now artifical intelligence is here. There is software that already writes press releases and other types of regular reports. Software that writes code.
Where is this all going? What are people going to do?
Ray Bradbury had an uncanny forcast for the future with his walls of television and people walking around with shells in their ears. ( And sports obsessions.)
What would he say now? Any new Bradburys out there?
Let me know if you've read any forward looking sci-fi recently.
And thanks for reading.
The following is a character study that gives you some insight into one of the characters in my new book. Hope you enjoy it!
Silver could spot a loser from a mile away -- and one was coming his way. This definitely was they guy. The portly man meandering over to his Blackjack table, drink in hand, seemed familiar. Or perhaps he was just a composite of the many losers he’d seen in his years as a dealer.
The Gucci suit strained at the seams; dark hair slicked back; eyes like a zombie. Whether guy was here to gamble or pick up a chick, this was not his lucky day, for him or his suit. Word was that not only had he blown his stack of chips; he’d been rebuffed at least once by every unattached female in the casino – as well as by several female impersonators.
Silver thought that was humorous. You had to admire a guy with persistence. Sleaze oozed as gray suit swaggered up to his table and casually lowered himself into a chair next to a red head falling out of her dress. A lewd smile and a wink. The red head promptly picked up her chips and fled.
Gray suit shrugged, plump fingers setting down his two remaining chips. He wore a heavy gold cigar ring. “No fun.”
Silver pressed the button under the table as he shuffled the cards. The fun stops here, he thought as two men in dark suits and dark shades appeared. Or maybe the fun begins, Silver mused, depending on who you were. He always wondered why the enforcers wore dark glasses inside the casino.
“Come with us.” The taller one commanded, lightly touching a gray sleeve.
Panic flashed across the guy’s face, but only for a moment. He straightened and brushed off the bouncer’s touch. “Why? I’m a guest here.” He flashed his chips as if they were his number at an auction.
“Just a small matter the finance manager wants to clear up.”
Tiny beads of sweat formed on his thick face. For a moment, Silver thought gray suit was going to make a break for it, but he slowly stood up and pocketed his chips.
“Hold my spot for me.” He called back gallantly to the table, almost running into a slot machine. The bouncer steadied him and they proceeded towards the back office.
Silver smiled at the remaining customers at the table and began dealing the round.
Several hours later, a sliver Cessna Citation Mustang coasted down the runway of McCarran Airport, lights blinking. The plane had barely stopped when the door opened and a tall, silver haired gentleman appeared in the doorway.
“Thank you,” he waved to the pilot, impatiently waiting for the portable stairs. “Wait here for me. This shouldn’t take more than an hour, or I’ll call you.” His brow was furrowed, the look of a urbanite assigned to cleaning out pig stalls; he walked with angry precision down the stairs into the open the door of the waiting limo.
Arriving at the casino, the man was escorted inside to the back room; three men stood as he entered.
“So good of you to come. I’m Don, the manager here.” The first said, extending his hand. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Just tell me what the situation is.” The silver haired man commanded.
Don’s eyes widened. “Yes, please sit down.”
Once he was seated, Don began. “It seems that our friend here has exceeded his credit limit, then borrowed money on collateral that he doesn’t own. This is a problem.”
“I was just a little over my credit. I was on a roll, going to make it all up before they...”
The silver haired man shot a look at the man in the gray suit that made him stop mid-sentence. “It’s a good thing I was in LA. Otherwise I might not have come.” He turned toward Don. “I’ll bail him out -- On one condition.”
“Certainly. What can we do for you? We have many…”
“Don’t let him in any of your casinos again.”
“Done, sir.” Don nodded, “It would be a pleasure to comply with that request.”
They turned toward the man in the gray suit, who had sunk down in his chair.
“There are few people other than my family that I’d get up in middle of the night for. But we go way back. I’m bailing you out this time because you’re an old friend, but this is the last time. No more chances.” He paused. “Give me your word you won’t come back here … that you’ll quit gambling.”
Gray suit stared at the table, slowly nodding.
“Don, if you’d be so good as to call a cab for this sad specimen, I’ll be off. My driver is waiting.” Then the distinguished gentleman swept out of the room.
Don let out a sigh of relief, then disbelief as the man pulled his chips out of his gray suit pocket and waved them.
“I’ll just play these – might change my luck.”
This is a special preview for readers and not a part of the book. Does it make you curious...?
all the best,
Have you ever wanted to just throw your hands in the air and say the following when:
1. Someone asks you what your favorite book is and expects you to pick just one. Really? One? How could I just pick one...
2. Someone interrupts your reading. Didn't you see the "Do Not Disturb" sign? I'm holding a book...
3. An author stops writing mid-series. How could they? Didn't they know I was wanting that next book?
4. When the movie version of a book gets everything wrong. Did anyone really read the book or did they use Cliff notes? Why didn't they consult some loyal readers?
Do you have a pet reading peeve? Add it in the comments.
The new novel is coming soon. But here's a taste...
Ray’s assistant let Sophia into his office and closed the door. He was faced toward the window rubbing his chin as he listened to the conference call blaring from the speaker. Hearing the door close, he turned gave her a quick wave and held up two fingers.
Sophia nodded and plunked down at the round table. She opened her notebook and pretended not to listen, tuning into the conversation while she relished the view. Because the corner office was on the 16th floor, she could see towering cumulonimbus clouds approaching across Lake Michigan, gigantic white puffs casting ominous gray shadows on the water.
Ray walked over to the phone on his desk. “Thank you, guys. I appreciate the update. Watch those quality numbers, I’d like to see them above the required range. I’m hopping off the call now, keep up the good work.” He clicked the phone off, made a note on his laptop then looked up and smiled.
“Think it will blow over?” Ray’s aquamarine eyes sparkled like the lake behind him. Sophia relaxed, noting his mood -- it was always more fun to talk with him after a call with good news.
Ray walked over to the leather couch. “Since I had my office re-arranged, I’ve gotten addicted to the view. It’s constantly changing — waves and boats when it's sunny, and if not, great cloud patterns. I can’t believe I worked with my back to the window before.”
“Perhaps you wanted to get more work done before?” She teased as she followed him to the couch, sitting next to him and crossing her legs carefully in her tight black skirt. The heel of new her beige pump slipped off and dangled, something her old shoes would never have done. Designer shoes were cheeky.
“No doubt.” He said casually.
It was actually the opposite. After a PR trip to Asia that turned perilous, Sophia had become a friend as well as his Account Exec. She knew Ray had instituted sweeping changes to his organization and life; the layout of the CEO office was just a visible indicator.
“How’s the family?” She prompted, knowing Ray loved talking about the two girls whose pictures filled every spot on his credenza. She’d also spied a new picture of Karen, his ex-wife.
“The girls are doing very well.” He paused. “I didn’t think you’d miss the new picture! And yes, you can consider me a success in your advice giving statistics. In fact, I’m now an official Soccer Dad.”
“Oh, don’t give me that astonished look.” He shook his head with a smile. “When you have kids, you’ll get to enjoy all sorts of activities you never imagined you’d be a fan of! Anyway, I see all of them every Saturday, and not just for soccer. Karen and I are officially dating again.”
Sophia eyebrows arched. “Like high school or college?” she asked playfully. “There's a difference.”
Sophia couldn’t resist her reporter’s need to dig, despite the fact that Ray often baited her by dangling information to make her curious before changing the subject.
I'm in the middle of reading a very good novel, "A Conspiracy of Paper" by David Liss. This engaging story is set in England in the 1700's and I'm enjoying the language and word choice that add to the authenticity of the historical setting.
For instance, he referred to a minor character as a sycophant. That's not a word I've heard often, but it describes a person who uses flattery to win favor from individuals wielding influence. This type of character is not unique to the 1700's -- they are still around. In fact, Sophia is tries to work with a sycophant in Book 3, but more about that later.
For more definitions of sycophant, click this link to the Free Dictionary
Insights on writing, characters, humor and other tidbits from the author of the "Scoops and Schemes" series of novels.
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