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LiterariLeigh, Leigh Looks at Books

An Excellent Adventure

Happy post Fourth of July! How did you celebrate Independence Day? Fireworks? Barbecue? Maybe a road trip? Driving along the road with the windows down can be quite a liberating experience. That’s how former President Harry Truman felt when he and his wife Bess packed their bags and headed out of Missouri. Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Alegro traces their journey to Washington, D.C., up to New York City, and back home again. Though often recognized and detoured by autograph seekers, the Trumans traveled without secret service or guards of any kind, stopping in “mom and pop” restaurants and staying at motels or with friends, often taking the scenic route. And the author adds his own personality by driving that same journey and seeing the same spots as much as possible, noting both similarities and changes. Much of the charm of this book is not only the recounting of the Truman’s trip, but also stories of classic Americana, the development of the U.S. highway system and chain motels, insight into Truman’s political career and post-presidential finances (or lack thereof), and the creation of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Most excellent!  

By |July 7th, 2014|Categories: LiterariLeigh, Leigh Looks at Books|Comments Off on An Excellent Adventure

The Freedom of A Girl, and A Nation

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the date 1776? The Revolutionary War? The signing of the Declaration of Independence? George Washington and his troops fighting for freedom? Acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson writes about all of these things - from the perspective of a 13 year old slave. Chains is the first book in The Seeds of America trilogy. Living in Rhode Island, Isabel and her young sister Ruth were freed from slavery upon the death of their owner, but no one is interested in finding the lawyer who drew up the papers. Sold to a wealthy couple, they are taken to New York City where Isabel is put to work as a house servant and the cruel mistress treats Ruth as a doll to dress up and display. Hoping to gain freedom Isabel secretly passes information to the rebels, but when an officer has the opportunity to help her escape, he instead turns her over for punishment. Although subdued by the brutality at first, she decides to use her anger, focusing on a plan to get her and her sister to a safe place where they can be free. Slavery is so often associated with the Civil War and the South that I found it very interesting to read about what was going on almost a hundred years earlier in the North. Isabel's story tells about what was happening to those without rights, and the Revolutionary War is a perfect setting, with the even larger drama of fighting to attain the freedom of an entire nation from the British. Chains is cataloged in our young adult section, but I would have no hesitation recommending it to adults looking for excellent [...]

By |March 7th, 2014|Categories: LiterariLeigh, Leigh Looks at Books|Comments Off on The Freedom of A Girl, and A Nation

Lean In

          Sheryl Sandberg is one year older than I am. She graduated from Harvard Business School; I graduated from Kent State. She is the chief operating officer of Facebook; I am a librarian. We are both women who want to have successful, productive careers. Since I work at the library, I rarely ask for books as gifts. But this year I have requested a copy of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. As I was reading the book I was using post-its to mark passages I related to or found inspiring and wanted to go back and read again. When I finished, I noticed there were an awful lot of colorful little flags sticking out of the pages. That's when I realized I should probably have my own copy for reference. Sandberg's writing is both personable and encouraging. She has a fantastic education and a wealth of accomplishments behind her, has worked hard and learned that "having it all" is not all it's cracked up to be. How often have we heard the phrase "It's not personal. It's business."? For many people, the workplace is not only a place to collect a paycheck, but coworkers become friends. Our problems don't leave themselves at home (have you cried at work? She has. And so have I.) Decisions have to be made and they can be tough decisions. And since many women are not comfortable with disagreement and confrontation, learning how to trust your own judgement, delegate responsibility, and let go of worrying about decisions once they are made can be the toughest part of the job. Sheryl challenges us to step up and gives some great pointers about how [...]

By |December 20th, 2013|Categories: LiterariLeigh, Leigh Looks at Books|Comments Off on Lean In

Into the Wild

On the left side of this blog, I have a link to Goodreads which is a "social cataloging" website. I use it to keep track of the books I've read, as well as to create a list of books I want to read in the future (it's a LONG list that just keeps getting longer!). And I like to read the reviews left by fellow book lovers. It's interesting to me that there can be so many varying opinions about the same book- one person just loves it, one person hates it, and someone else says "it was ok". I mention this because I was just reading some of the reviews people gave the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. The book tries to detail the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who left his family and well to do circumstances to live on his own in the wilds of Alaska. Several months later, he was found dead in the wilderness. Some people say he was naive, unprepared, and reckless- hurting his family as well as himself. Others feel he was moved by idealism, undaunted, a modern day Thoreau wanting to become one with nature. Personally, I think understand what Chris was looking for, he just pursued it with the recklessness of youth, which is not always the smartest way. If you enjoy the book, definitely watch the film with Emile Hirsch and directed by Sean Penn.

By |January 13th, 2010|Categories: LiterariLeigh, Leigh Looks at Books|Comments Off on Into the Wild

Holidays on Ice

The woman at Macy's asked, "Would you be interested in full-time elf or evening and weekend elf?" I said, "Full-time elf." I have an appointment next Wednesday at noon. I am a thirty-three-year-old man applying for a job as an elf. ~From Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris It's 9 days until Christmas. My tree is up and decorated, the majority of my shopping is done, and I've managed to avoid the mall entirely! While I enjoy the holiday season - wrapping presents, opening presents, watching It's a Wonderful Life, spending time with family - one of my all time favorite Christmas stories is a dark little tale called "SantaLand Diaries", in the Holidays on Ice collection. Authored by the wickedly funny David Sedaris, "SantaLand Diaries" tells the story of the season he worked as an elf in Macy's department store. Having been turned down for a UPS job, Sedaris figures he was hired as an elf mostly because he is short. He experiences first hand the children who cry when placed on Santa's lap; parents who spend all their time posing their kids for photos and never let the child talk to Santa; the corner where over excited kids tend to get sick; elves who flirt with other elves; and the Macy's Santa who claims to live at the North Pole - for real! The stories he tells are just plain strange, a bit risque, and terribly sarcastic, but I think this is a pretty realistic description of what goes on behind the scenes at the huge department store capitalizing on Christmas. There are 11 other short stories in this collection you may enjoy, but I think "SantaLand Diaries" is the best.

By |December 16th, 2009|Categories: LiterariLeigh, Leigh Looks at Books|Comments Off on Holidays on Ice