I’m a librarian in a small public library in Kentucky. Books are so much my passion and livelihood that my ‘go green’ grocery bag is stamped on the side with "Books," "Milk," "Bread," and "Eggs"... in that order. I like to live my life with passion and intensity; I love hard and I love deep. Mulling over what kind of list I wanted to do for Flashlight Worthy got me thinking about the books I’ve read where that same passion and intensity applied to love made for fascinating reading. Here are a few of them:
by Rick Bragg
I heard someone once describe this book as the southern version of Angela's Ashes (and I guess that's a pretty apt description). Born dirt-poor in Alabama, Rick Bragg seemed headed towards a dead-end job or maybe jail. Instead, he became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times.
This story is about Bragg's hard-drinking father and other family members, but in particular it's a tribute to his mother who went 18 years without a new dress so her sons could have school clothes and worked herself to the bone so her children wouldn't have to live on welfare. This moving memoir is a loving tribute to his mother and a salute to the dignity of poor people as she struggled to provide for her family.
by Fannie Flagg
A stand-up comedienne and comic actress who honed her writing skills by creating her own original sketches, Flagg won the Miss Alabama contest on her sixth attempt and later performed in comedy clubs. She's a great storyteller and the characters in her books exude warmth and charm.
The setting is Elmwood Springs, Missouri, and the main character is a radio homemaker named Neighbor Dorothy and her extended family and friends. Fannie's treatment of historical events and changing social mores are a delight. Her description of small town life the way it used to be is right on target. This book is funny, sweet, and warm hearted. You'll hate to leave it behind when it's over.
by Laura Pedersen
Hayden MacBride is a middle aged Scotsman living in Brooklyn with his divorced daughter and her son. When he's diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decides to take control of things by plotting his final days. He's determined to wring as much joy out of the short time he has left as possible. Hayden meets Rosamond, a nun, whose terminal diagnosis has caused her to doubt her faith, and an unlikely romance ensues.
Hayden has a funny and offbeat personality so even though this is a book about dying, there are many life lessons sprinkled throughout and a generous dollop of humor as well. This book is full of funny, tender, and bittersweet moments.
by Abigail Thomas
While on a walk with their dog one night, Abigail Thomas's husband was hit by a car. He survived the accident, but it left him with memory loss, hallucinations, and wild rages so severe that he had to be institutionalized. This tragedy would destroy most relationships. But Thomas did not abandon her husband. Instead, she sold her apartment and moved to be closer to him. Then she got two more dogs to keep her company. The title of this inspirational book of essays about the couple's experiences comes from an aboriginal phrase that describes the practice of cuddling with dogs on a frigid night. If it was a particularly cold night, it would take three dogs to keep you warm. Reading this book will warm your heart.
by Pat Conroy
Pat Conroy is the consummate storyteller. His prose is lyrical and often sentimental and nobody writes dialog between family members the way Conroy does. He manages to delve deeply into each character and show not only what is obvious on the surface, but deeper hidden motivations as well.
Jack McCall moved to Italy after his wife committed suicide. The approaching death of his mother makes him return to the states and deal with his past, which is a painful process. If you can read the last 20-30 pages of this book without crying, you are made of sterner stuff than I am. This is a book that once read you will always remember.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Glenda York
I'm a librarian in a small public library in south central Kentucky. I've been married for 40 years, have one son and enjoy learning something new every day. I'm basically in love with the english language and in awe of those authors who know how to use it to evoke great feelings in the reader. What a powerful thing!
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