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BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS!

GIVE THE GIFT OF READING

Here's the latest Suddenly Senior Reading List, favorite books strongly recommended by Suddenly Senior readers, Frank and Carolyn Kaiser and by our new book editor and reviewer, MaryJo Thomas*.

We have read these books. We think you will like them!

At Suddenly Senior's Amazon partner, you get a good price —often with discounts of 30% or more — and Suddenly Senior gets a small percentage to help keep this site going. Everyone wins!



SHADOW OF THE SILK ROAD by Colin Thubron

The history of the Orient is written on silk. Silk worm cultivation probably began 4000 years before Christ; 3500 years before the Golden Age of Greece; 1000 years before the Old Kingdom of Egypt.

The author travels not just roads and paths through mountains and deserts, he also travels in time, venturing back along a route some believe to be 10,000 years old. Thubron, an extremely learned man and gifted writer, is perhaps the world’s best known traveler; this book is the ninth such book he has written. Although the tale is fascinating—pages flow over with discoveries and facts and amazement—Thubron is the real subject of this book for me. Well into his 60s when he begins his odyssey, he goes, he says, because he is “old and need[s] to understand something before it is too late.”

READ A COMPLETE REVIEW HERE!

BUY IT NOW, FROM $12.99 AT AMAZON.


OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson

Out Stealing Horses, written by the Norwegian Per Petterson and translated by Anne Born, is a sad, reflective, and nostalgic mystery. Trond, the narrator, who is nearing 70, has settled in an isolated region of Norway after his wife's death. Here Trond spent holidays during the German occupation. Now he must come to terms with the betrayals and heroics of that terrible era.

If it had nothing else to recommend it, Horses would be an excellent read for its style alone. The details are specific: the daily routines of chopping wood, walking the dog, and having a short drink with a friend. The memories are haunting and vivid: the milkmaid, rolling logs down the river, and the fateful adventure of two boys who joy ride one morning on "borrowed" horses.h

Petterson's book is a masterpiece about both growing up and growing old..

BUY IT NOW, FROM $14.93 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON ASPECTS OF AGING


HIPPO EATS DWARF: A FIELD GUIDE TO HOAXES AND OTHER B. S. by Alex Boese

This book is silly, about silly gullible people. About us!

Boese is the webmaster for the Museum of Hoaxes. He has probably heard it all: human-flavored tofu, bonsai cats, dehydrated water, fellatio as a protection against breast cancer (reported on a fake CNN.com news release), penis-melting Zionist robot comb (don't ask me; read the book).

Boese has an MA from the University of California, San Diego, and has worked as an urban-myth buster for the New York Times and CNN. His training and experience have earned him the right to be skeptical. In addition to the more outlandish rumors, he is seriously concerned about the American people's desensitization to deception of all kinds: lying celebrities who deny their obvious plastic surgeries, big business scams and swindles, lying food processors, scripted reality shows, lying politicians who lie about just about everything.

My personal favorite story is about the college professor who falls for the Nigerian bank scam. I mean, I'd like to feel sorry for the guy, but he is a professor. Harvard. To help us see our way through this Forest of Hoax, Boese offers some "Reality Rules": Rule #6.1. Just because you read it on the Internet doesn't make it true; Rule #5.2: Should a suitably dramatic picture of a major event not exist, one will be created.

Remember the tsunami picture?

BUY IT NOW, FROM $2.97 AT AMAZON

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON COMPUTERS AND HOBBIES


SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: HATE MAIL FROM CHEERLEADERS AND OTHER ADVENTURES FROM THE LIFE OF RILEY by Rick Riley

This collection of Riley's columns from the back-page of Sports Illustrated (100 over the last seven years) uses sports to present the human condition with both humor and pathos. Riley writes of a father who runs marathons pushing his disabled son in a wheelchair: "Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992—only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time."

With a more personal vignette, the author recounts a moment from his own experience as the coach for his daughter's basketball team: "During one game our best rebounder slammed the ball down and stomped off the court. 'Everybody's yelling my name and I'm sick of it!' she said, and ran to the bathroom—followed by the mandatory nine other girls. I looked at the little guard in the blue rectangular glasses, who popped her Dum-Dum out of her mouth and said, 'Don't worry, Coach. She's having her period.'"

The introduction is by Lance Armstrong.

BUY IT NOW, FROM $13.82 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ESPECIALLY FOR GRANDKIDS


THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS by Conn and Hal Iggulden

A politically correct book this is not. The two English blokes who rewrote their popular British book for an American audience (to include chapters on the Gettysburg Address, American flora and fauna, and state capitals) are determined to bring back the days of male-stuff and guy-time. In those days, fathers and sons delighted in each other's company, blissfully oblivious of the concept of bonding. Here is a book, too, of nostalgia for the boy imprisoned inside every man. Fully illustrated chapters carry titles such as: Dog Tricks, Dinosaurs, Famous Battles.

Other chapters teach about bows and arrows, marbles, knot-tying, and poker. However, according to Conn Iggulden, "It isn't just a collection of things"; the book also teaches poetry, how to be a gentleman, and about that greatest mystery of all: girls.

I hate to disappoint the Iggulden brothers, but a lot of us Tom-girls, too, will appreciate the warm nostalgia of those days when we climbed trees, collected baseball cards, and made paper airplanes. The Dangerous Book for Boys is for anyone, "10 to 87," who remembers what childhood was like in a more natural, less analyzed, time.

BUY IT NOW, FROM $14.47 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON ASPECTS OF AGING


 

THE TAO OF WILLIE by Willie Nelson and Turk Pipkin

Who in America today is better qualified than Mr. Nelson to offer advice (based, he says, on the Tao Te Ching)? Unfortunately, probably no one. Although he doesn't quite look like a Zen master, Nelson does have a certain crusty demeanor that suggests that he not only has done it all but also survived it all. Survival, after a certain age, is all that is required of a prophet. The Zen master likeness, however, stops there. Most of his homilies, admittedly, are somewhat predictable and superficial, and even silly. His wisdom is, well, a little obvious, the kind of wisdom gleaned from having spent too much time at Sunday school or at your favorite saloon. "Homespun" one critic called it.

Still, these gems are spoken with the nasal voice of Willie Nelson, one of America's most enduring icons and musical geniuses. Like his music, which defies categorization (red-neck, country western, blues, long-haired hippie), Nelson's Tao, too, speaks to a lot of listeners. Nelson's two previous books faired well with baby boomers and bible thumpers alike; this one should, too.

BUY IT NOW, FROM $4.50 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON ASPECTS OF AGING


 

DADDY COOL: HUMOROUS AND MEANINGFUL QUOTES ON FATHERHOOD by Tom Burns

If there is still time, this might be a nice book to buy a dad or granddad. It combines photographs of animals with quotations about the importance of fathers to their sons and daughters. Much of the text is humorous and life-affirming. More important, it is written by ordinary people about real-life experiences. Caution: The author compiled the book from entries solicited from his website. (See Hippo Eats Dwarf, above, Rule #6.1.)

BUY IT NOW, FROM 81 CENTS AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON ASPECTS OF AGING


 

BARBARO: THE HORSE WHO CAPTURED AMERICA'S HEART by Sean Clancy

It is perhaps a credit to the American sensibility that we as a people can value the courage, determination, and skill of athletes of the four-footed kind. Barbaro was such an athlete, and we followed his career and mourned his tragic fall with as much interest as we might have shown his human brother- and sister-athletes.

This great book—with over a hundred illustrations—of a great athlete chronicles the life of this heroic horse from before that fateful Preakness accident that would eventually cost him his life. As important, too, are the stories of his devoted jockey, his veterinarian whose determination was to use modern technology to provide his patient a life without pain, and his trainer Michael Matz, himself a real-life hero who survived a horrible plane accident and saved the lives of three children. Clancy's book is a good read, well written, a story about "a horse who made us think, who made us cry, and who made us believe."

BUY IT NOW, FROM $17.13 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON ASPECTS OF AGING


 

EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE by Walter Isaacson

Well, another book about Einstein. If you think this one will explain to you quantum physics and THE THEORY any better than the last five books you read on Einstein, don't buy it (I am more confused than I was before I read it).

I am resigned to the fact that I will never be able to converse cleverly about relativity and will stick instead to my "How-many-Einsteins-does-it-take-to-screw-in-a-light bulb" joke to impress people at parties (answer : "It depends.") Nonetheless, Walter Isaacson has written a credible human portrait of a man whose life defies description. Isaacson has to his credit two previous, biographical accomplishments: Benjamin Franklin and Kissinger. He tackles the Einstein enigma, in part, because he likes "writing about creativity, and that's what Franklin and Einstein shared."

Isaacson uses the volume of correspondences that has never before been so thoroughly addressed. We learn about Einstein the scientist, yes, but also Einstein the husband, father, and friend. Isaacson also tackles the mythological Einstein: Contrary to popular belief, he was a very good math student. Not only could he solve equations, he could actually visualize concrete solutions to equations. Although Einstein could be a humble man, he did not lack confidence in his analytical abilities. So sure was he that his theories would eventually win for him the Nobel Prize that he promised his wife (he was married twice) the money from the Nobel if she would grant him a divorce. Now that's confidence.

BUY IT NOW, FROM $14.80 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON HUMOR & POLITICS


 

FDR by Jean Edward Smith

When I was growing up in southern West Virginia in the 1950s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was regarded in our blue-collar household with a reverence slightly above John L. Lewis and slightly below Jesus Christ. (We were German Catholics; my father was a coal miner.)

That others might not hold FDR in such high esteem did not even occur to me until I went to college in the sixties and encountered a few (only a few) professors who believed FDR was the vanguard of liberal decay and the death of democratic (i.e., laissez-faire) capitalism. I found myself occasionally having to defend FDR, not really knowing why, other than knowing my parents would have wanted it that way.

Although many biographies have been written about this man, Smith's excellent biography, which offers really little new information, is a great book. I could have used it back then. From it I could have quoted eloquent details about Roosevelt's triumphs over a crippling disease and a troubling personal life, his ability to hold this nation together during Depression and War. And, of course, there was Eleanor, who was—more than wife—his capable partner. (I wonder if she would be maligned today the way another president's wife has been in recent years.)

This is a great book for historians—both the scholarly kind and the kind who remember history

BUY IT NOW, FROM $21.32 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON


 

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

Suddenly Senior’s Book of the Month for August 2007

The following paragraph is from a longer review that will appear in Suddenly Senior at the end of June:

"The Road is an apocalyptic story, set during an indefinite time in the future, at an unnamed location, after a nonspecific cataclysm. Not far into Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, the reader discovers the nagging familiarity of that nightmare that we all force into forgetfulness on waking. The two characters, a father and his son, are given no names. They are making their way to the ocean (south) because they don't want to freeze to death."

See MaryJo’s full review of this book HERE.

BUY IT NOW, FROM $7.37 AT AMAZON.

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON COMPUTERS & HOBBIES


*WHO IS SUDDENLY SENIOR'S NEW
BOOK REVIEWER, MARY JO THOMAS?

Suddenly Senior reviewer MaryJo Thomas is a published writer and journalist.

A college professor of literature and writing for fifteen years, she writes, "I escaped from academe three years ago to work full-time with my sister in our freelance writing, editing, and research business.

"I am 57 years old, divorced, with no children. I have seven cats and a black Lab . My interests include senior rights, animal and environmental rights, lighthouses, Albert Camus, poetry, and reruns of "The Prisoner" and "The Nanny.

“I proudly belong to no groups, though I believe American seniors need to form a coalition (not AARP) to combat those who would rob us of the rights and privileges we have worked and paid for ( politicians, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and generations X, Y, etc.). I am looking for writing jobs."

MaryJo's e-mail address is cli9761@alltel.net. She lives in Berea, KY.

HAVE A BOOK YOU BELIEVE WOULD
INTEREST SUDDENLY SENIOR READERS?

Send it to: MARYJO THOMAS, 24 Cherry Road Court, Berea, KY 40403.

If we agree that our readers would be interested, we’ll put your book up at the Suddenly Senior site.

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