In the meantime, in deference to those of you who don't give a good diddle about my reading habits, I'll save my review for the end of the post. But sorry, no silly billboards this month, because today is Memorial Day, and I take that pretty seriously. Yes, I know it was officially celebrated last Monday, but today... the 30th... was our traditional day of remembrance long before the date got changed to turn it into part of a convenient three-day weekend. So some part of me will always think of the 30th as Memorial Day. Just like it will always be my brother's birthday. Happy birthday, Ron! Semper fi.
What a bonehead! the captain thought.
Horns were honking, and the captain, as well as everyone else behind him, were fuming. Still, the private kept going, with his BDUs soaked and plastered to his skin. He ran up to one of the memorial plaques, picked up the small American flag that had fallen to the ground, and set it back up again. Then he came to attention and saluted, before running back to his car and driving off.
The captain later said, "That soldier, whose name I'll never know, taught me more about duty, honor, and respect than a hundred books or a thousand lectures. That simple salute - that simple act of honoring his fallen brother and his flag - encapsulated all the Army values in one gesture for me. It said I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will keep the mission. I am an American soldier."
We may not be soldiers, but the least we can do is remember them, a very small effort for those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace. [Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial]
I've read a mess of them over the past couple months. At least twenty-five since I last participated in this bookish gathering, but I'll only review one... (You're welcome!) my top pick. However, here are some other top-notch books I highly recommend, as well:
* Green Eggs and Weezie, by Cathy Oliffe-Webster. Funny, heartwarming, lovable, and quirky. Guaranteed to please.
* Leverage, by Nancy Thompson. WOW! What a heart-stopping thriller, and a fabulous follow-up to her debut novel The Mistaken.
* The Eighth Day, by Dianne Salerni. Very cool tale about a secret eighth day of the week, only accessible to certain descendants from the days of King Arthur. Technically a YA book, but enjoyable for all ages.
* West of Paradise, by Marcy Hatch. An interesting mixture of history, adventure, romance, and fun. Oh, yeah, and time travel... to the Old West.
* Fiance by Fate, by Jennifer Shirk. Another winning sweet romance from this lovely lady, sprinkled with just the right amount of humor. Her stories never, ever disappoint.
* The Promise of Rain, by Rula Sinara. While reading this one, I could practically hear Baby Elephant Walk (from the movie Hatari) playing in my head, because the heroine runs an elephant research and rescue camp in Kenya. Magnificent setting... and a satisfying tale of friendship and love to go along with it.
Okay, I'd better stop now, or I'll be listing all twenty-five books, so let's move on to the top pick:
Of all the books I've read in recent months, this relatively short non-fiction book made the most indelible impression on me.
What did I think? Turn to the word "wonderful" in your thesaurus. See all those words there? THAT'S what I think of this book. And then some.
Do you consider yourself a seeker? I mean, have you consciously sought a better understanding of yourself, of life, spirituality, and ... death? Yes, death. I know; it isn't a topic many people feel comfortable discussing around the dinner table... or anywhere else, for that matter... but don't you sometimes wonder about it? After all, death is life's ultimate mystery and final challenge, and each of us is eventually gonna have to face it, so why not talk about it? Gee, wouldn't it be fantastic if someone older and wiser were willing to discuss old age and death with us? Maybe he could let us in on some of the spiritual wisdom and insights he's gained through a long life of both traditional, and non-traditional, seeking... and finding.
Guess what? Someone IS willing, and an amazing somebody he is. When in his mid-eighties, Reb Zalman, a beloved rabbi, reformer, innovator, and life-long seeker, teamed up with writer Sara Davidson with the intention of creating a book that could gently guide readers through the labyrinth of old age, and away from the usual "freak out" factor regarding death. Once a week for two years, they met and talked. This book... this wonderful book... is the product of those intimate interviews.
It doesn't matter what your religious background is. You will love this rabbi, and savor his honesty and down-to-earth humanity. I found his sense of humor, his joyful approach to life, and his genuine love of God and his fellow man irresistible. Thanks to Davidson's skillful writing, Reb Zalman now feels like a beloved friend, and one I will never forget. My bet is you'd feel exactly the same way.
It's been a long time since a book affected me so deeply. The rabbi is an extraordinary man who has lived an extraordinary life, and as he now approaches his ninetieth birthday, I'm deeply grateful that he cared so much about the rest of us to join forces with Davidson to create this book. For us. For you. For me. Extraordinary.
One last word about books... actually about my book. A very wonderful lady and fellow blogger recently read Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade, and much to my humbled amazement, she's going out of her way now to promote it through a review and giveaway on her blog. (If you don't already follow Rosey's blog, check it out... among other things, she offers a LOT of valuable product reviews and frequent giveaways.) She... and a bunch of her other terrific followers... have been tweeting about the giveaway every day. Honest, it's enough to make an old gal like me blush. I'm blown away by her kindness. If you're interested in taking part in her giveaway for a copy... either paperback or e-version... you can go here. Even if you don't want to participate in this giveaway, check out her blog, anyway. You won't be sorry. As for you, Rosey? Thank you. Thank you so very much.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.