Friday, November 6, 2015

How Books Can Widen Your World and Enrich Your Life!

I went to England last week via two books. Had a wonderful time!

After traveling abroad, I then visited the Midwest, this time thanks to a memoir called “Maude.”  In those pages I learned about perseverance, severe hardship, the Depression, WWII, and a Mother’s love. From there I journeyed east to NY and then south to KY and TN while reading Lily Isaac’s autobiography.

Taking trips is not something I normally enjoy. I prefer home-based, quiet adventures via books with dark chocolate nearby. And these four titles provided just that: a sweet escape which definitely widened my world this past week. Could be they’ll do the same for you.

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“84 Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff made the bestseller list in 1970, and became a huge success “across the pond,” as they say. I had never heard of this book but am glad I spotted a recommendation for this “oldie but goodie.”

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It’s a charming true story about a quirky writer in New York who contacts a London bookshop, specializing in secondhand books, in search of out-of-print titles she cannot find in the U.S.  An endearing friendship develops between the shops personnel and the sometimes demanding, yet kind, Helene as they correspond for some twenty years. 112 pages or you can watch the movie!

“The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street” by Helene Hanff is the sequel to the above title. The author takes us on her journey to London for an extended stay where she meets many of her British fans who want to show her the sites. Those of you who have visited the UK will feel quite at home as Hanff explores and writes about well-known places and her own quaint discoveries. Those who have never been there will want to take notes and talk to a travel agent soon. 144 pages

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“Maude” by Donna Foley Mabry is a memoir, a genre I find myself attracted to these days. Maude’s life is marked by repeated losses, starting with the death of her parents when she was only 14 years of age. Her entire existence seems to be one heart break after another, and yet she presses on despite the obstacles and pain.

As her story unfolds you not only receive an entertaining history lesson about America from 1906 to 1970, but are given a vivid picture of a work ethic within Maude that stands in stark contrast to what is unfortunately seen in our world today. 

Those who live in Detroit or familiar with Missouri will likely enjoy this book as these are the primary locations where Maude’s life is lived out. 498 pages or 10 hours on Audible.

Product Details“You Don’t Cry Out Loud” -- The Lily Isaac's Story by Lily Isaacs. This author is better known for her music and her key role in the group called “The Isaacs.” The group consists of Lily and her three talented children, all known for their unbelievable harmonies and bluegrass sound. I first heard them on a Bill Gaither special and instantly became a fan. Reading this autobiography about Lily’s Jewish heritage (her parents are Holocaust survivors), growing up years in NY, health struggles, conflicts with family over her believing in Jesus, and more, made for an interesting read. 

The book could have used better editing and proofreading, but the story held my interest and by its end gave me a greater appreciation for this woman. 200 pages or 6+ hours on Audible.

Currently Reading:

Now that I've finished the titles above three new ones are vying for my time:

“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. Half way through this memoir. Very different. Surprised it reached bestseller status. Skilled writer. 227 pages, or 5 hours on Audible.

“One Perfect Spring” by Irene Hannon. I’ve read and liked other titles by this author, but this one has a very predictable plot. Hoping it will improve before I reach the end.

“A Women’s Guide to Overcoming Depression” by Archibald Hart, Ph. D.  This book came out in 2014 and full of useful information. I battle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of mild depression triggered by insufficient sunshine/Vitamin D, so interested in what Hart has to say.

Have I got you in the traveling mood? Do let me know what places you are visiting via books in the comment box below.

And, as always, thanks for carving out time to read this blog.



  1. These do look interesting. I currently am in a book by Dutch Sheets "The Pleasure of His Company", finished "Eve" by WM. Paul Young and next will be "Introverts in the Church". Thanks for the recommendation and these reviews.

  2. Not aware of the D. Sheets book, but the title makes me want to know more about it. Might have to add it, along with "Eve" to my reading list. Thanks for the suggestions.

  3. So enjoying your book choices. I read and shared 84 Charing Cross Road with my Dad a number of years ago and we carried on a lengthy correspondence - by snail mail - about it. He never wanted to get into internet life, but the letters we shared were wonderful. I was always so delighted to see an envelope with his return address. We miss getting mail, don't we. Yes, email is wonderful, but letters... ah, letters.

  4. Loved hearing about your sweet memory you have thanks to your Dad's letters. There is something "wonderful" about a hand-written note. It somehow connects us more deeply when we see their penmanship, triggering in us emotions and memories. Appreciate your words about this post. Will keep on reading and writing.


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