Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time to Read

In the book of life, the answers arent' in the back.
Charlie Brown
Looks like the Charlie Brown gang is really engrossed in their books. Perhaps they are getting a jump start on the Read Across America, reading  initiative program, that starts February 25. It is a week long series of reading based activities to foster a life-time of good reading habits. It also celebrates Dr. Seuss's birthday March 2.   
As I left our local public library recently with a stack of 6 books I thought to myself how some things never change.  One of my favorite memories growing up was taking the bus downtown with my sister or a friend every week to the public library. The excitement of exploring the children's section at the library afforded endless possibilities. (my favorites were Little Women series, Secret Garden, Boxcar Children series and Nancy Drew series) I eagerly loaded up with books often 10 at a time and I even read them all in a week. 
My recent library adventure was going in for one title and coming out with 5 other unexpected finds. I was excited to get started reading but like us all wished there was more time to read.   
This is Stacy Cordery's new book,  The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts Juliette Gordon Low. It is quite a well researched book that seems like a cross between a biography and a history book. Juliette Low, a social entrepreneur and community organizer, was able to use her talents, connections and wealth to impact millions of girls. She overcame deafness, a cheating husband and the stifling mores of her time. 
Low grew up in post-Civil War Georgia and had the nickname "Crazy Daisy". She fell in love with a British aristocratic and slightly dangerous Willy Low. A premature death left her widowed and wealthy in England. She was dissatisfied with the aristocratic way of life and began looking for a sense of purpose. She became acquainted with Robert Baden Powell's popular Boy Scouts. Low went on to organize her own organization called Girl Guides. She then moved the organization back to her hometown of Savannah, GA. It later was renamed Girl Scouts.  Low was a one woman grass-roots campaigner to get her organization flourishing up and down the East Coast. She wanted the Girl Scouts to be an organization that taught domestic and career related skills to girls but also allowed them to have fun. And we all know the rest of Juliette Gordon Low's success story.

This book Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow was one of my unexpected finds. I knew of the author from his collaboration on the following books: Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture.
Chesley Sullenberger: Highest Duty and Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly: Gabby, A Story of Courage and Hope and his own book The Girls From Ames

While looking up the author I was shocked to learn of his untimely death a year ago this month. He was 53 and on a book tour for this book Magic Room.   

This is a charming non-fiction book that looks at the bridal shop business, particularly that of Becker's Bridal Shop which still operates in the small town Fowler, Michigan. It is a 4th generational family business. While the book does overview the bridal business in today's world it also chronicles eight families on their quest for the perfect bridal gown and their stories. Zaslow's initial intent writing this book was to look at the topic of love as he raises his own three daughters. 
Magic Room at Becker's Bridal Shop is the place where the bride-to-be stands on a pedestal and models different wedding gown choices to family/friends. Side note from me...This is just like at the award shows when a  movie star steps on the 360 so audience can get a view of their dress from all angles :)  
     This book was another unexpected find. It was written by Monte Schultz, Charles Schultz's son. The book is a terrific testimony to the talented Charles Schultz. In the introduction it was interesting to learn that he felt his father had never thought of himself as a true writer. Charles Schultz did not consider the comic strip as high an art form as the novel or stage plays. But he did love to talk about writing and meet with other writers. His son wrote about his father being an avid reader of all literature genres, the bible and enjoying classical music. A variety of Snoopy cartoons were shown that reflected his father's love of the artistic expression: Schroeder played Beethoven, Snoopy read Tolstoy and Schroeder laying on ground with Charlie and Lucy thinking how the clouds looked like profile of Thomas Eakins, famous painter or the Apostle Paul. Schultz's cartoons had subtle references to the things he valued in life.
The book profiles many best selling authors who had some connection to Schultz.
A Snoopy cartoon is featured on each page to illustrate a writing technique and then each author incorporates the cartoon into writing advice for the reader.

Is your Oscar ballot filled out yet? The prize for who has the most correct guesses is the chocolate foil wrapped Oscar in the photo. It's up for grabs at the party I am going to on Sunday.

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