Little Princes by Conor Grennan. For readers who enjoyed Three Cups of Tea, this is the story of a young man who volunteers at an orphanage in Nepal, as a sort of self-justification before embarking on further world travels. Nepal is emerging from a civil war, and the 18 children at the orphanage are not actually orphans…they are victims of kidnappers and extortionists. Grennan finds purpose and his own future in the plight of the children, whose smiles and energy will stay with you long after you’ve finished this life-affirming book.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Ever wonder why some people thrive on social activity and others need “down time” to re-charge? It turns out that there are more introverts in the world than you might think – at least one out of every three people meets the criteria. In our culture of celebrity and social media, the value of a quiet, more thoughtful disposition is getting buried. Susan Cain reminds us that our world was built, to a large extent, on contributions from introverts like Rosa Parks and Dale Carnegie. Quiet tells us how we can all live and work more productively by understanding our own selves better, no matter where we fall on the extrovert-introvert scale.
NPR: The First Forty Years. All Things Considered. Fresh Air. Car Talk. Morning Edition. They’ve been mainstays for years, and this new collection gathers the best, by decade, of NPR broadcasts. We move from live commentary on Viet Nam protests in the 70s to the Challenger explosion of 1986, the Clarence Thomas hearings, September 11, and less weighty topics like whether the Wint-O-Green Life Savers candy really sparks when chewed in the dark (it does!). This four-disc CD set is a perfect travel companion through the past forty years of NPR. And no fundraising breaks!
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Wilder Life (2011) reminded us of the cherished series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, tracing her childhood in pioneer America. Although they’re technically children’s books and classified as fiction, this series taught many young readers about life in the 1800s: log cabins, one-room schoolhouses, primers, prairie bonnets, and so many more details that are remembered by readers years later. The books actually hold up quite well and can be appreciated by adult readers as well. Re-connect with a beloved childhood friend or discover Laura and her family for the first time!
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Anne (note the "e") Shirley is probably the first redheaded orphan in literature. She was a mistake--sent from the orphanage when the Cuthbert siblings really needed was a boy to help around the farm. Instead, Anne wins them over and still 100+ years later, is one of the most resourceful, positive, and is always-getting-herself-into-trouble-and-back-out-again heroines ever written! The entire series is a must-read.
Three Junes by Julia Glass. This is a book divided into three sections which correspond to three different Junes in 1989, 1995, and in the early 2000s. We begin with the Scottish patriarch, Paul, who heads to Greece after his wife dies. He meets and tries to cultiviate a relationship with a young female painter, Fern. Then the book jumps to Paul's gay son, Fenno. Paul's children are gathering at the homestead to prepare for their father's funeral. Most of the book focuses on Fenno. The final section unites Fern with Fenno at a dinner party in the Hamptons. This is a story of misunderstandings, how to survive after a loved one's death, things we never said, and how to keep on living.
The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. In a kingdom divided between the lowlands and the highlands (mountains), there is a mountain village that is famous for the rocks it quarries. In this village is a girl named Miri who desperately wants to help in the quarry but is forbidden. Then the messanger comes -- all eligible girls are to be trained in lowland manners in preparation for being the Prince's bride as ordained by the kingdom's priests. Who will become princess? Who will foil the kidnapping plot? Will Miri find her place in life?
Quick Fix Meals: 200 Simple, Delicious Recipes to Make Mealtime Easy by Robin Miller. When I moved away from home the first time, I needed to learn to eat more than sandwiches. I searched the cookbooks at the local library until I came away with this gem. I wowed my parent with my seemingly complicated but simple chicken parmesan!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 74 years ago, the thirteen districts rebelled against the Capitol. The districts lost but now they must pay by sending two tributes--teenagers--to fight to the death. There can only be one survivor. For Katniss Everdean, the choice was instinctive when her little sister's name was called, "I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!" The movie for this hit series comes out next month.