November is a special month, and has all kinds of meanings. Many people spend the month being deliberately thankful, such as by posting a daily expression of gratitude on Facebook. I've decided this year to spend my free time in November being deliberately thankful for the military, and specifically thinking about what it means to be military or military family, in honor of one holiday this month that doesn't get a lot of attention: Veteran's Day. I have a number of books that I will try to read and blog about as I read them, so that maybe you will find one of interest to read. I have always loved military/war books so I have been looking forward to having the incentive to read them, as these books admittedly stay in the "to read" pile far too long. I have already plowed through two excellent books about the military, although one is not what you would traditionally think of as a military book: The Song of Achilles (a retelling of The Illiad) and Matterhorn.
While reading these books (more on them another time) I was inspired to finally follow through on another thing I've had on my to do list for quite some time. I'm ashamed it took me this long, but glad to have finally gotten it done: I sent a care package to a U.S. Soldier, plus some. (Actually, I can't take all the credit, the office staff gladly helped).
I wanted to send books along with the traditional goodie supply, but almost chickened out until my husband urged me to follow through. I was afraid it would seem frivilous in light of what they are doing, but perhaps one of these books will provide something that a soldier needs, even if it is just escape. So, I share with you the list of books that I sent and I can't help but wonder, if you were to send something in thanks, what special item would you send? If you sent some books for escape in the moments of downtime, what would you send?
Perhaps you are making November a month of daily thanks. Would you act on that thanks, and reach out to a U.S. Soldier? I am not worth the sacrifice of their lives; I can never thank them enough for what they do. We cannot be free without them. We can't hold these bitterly contested elections. We can't own property or speak out with the lack of restraint that we now have. We can't pursue our lives the way we want. I don't ever want to live without freedom; I can never thank them enough.
So here is the list of books that I sent, which I bought at our local bookstore (Hastings). I was glad that they had almost everything I wanted right there on the shelf.
Alexie, Sherman- Flight -- Love me some Sherman Alexie! This book is his best from a literary standpoint, as it uses a devise somewhat like Charles Dickens' The Christmas Carol, on American soil, ultimately regarding a top ten worst American moment, but with a surprising theme. May not be as irreverent and funny as Alexie typically is, but the overall theme of the book is lovely. My only question is when will we see an Alexie on the big screen? I vote for this one.
Chbosky, Stephen- The Perks of Being a Wallflower -- This is not just another "teen in angst" book from the 1990s. It will make you laugh and cry, it will make you nod your head in agreement and it will make you shake your head at what teens go through now days. Another short book that is worth the read, which is why it has such a cult following by many teens and adults alike. It also deserved a spot since it is currently a movie.
Dumas, Alexandre- The Count of Monte Cristo --The ultimate revenge story and an easily accessible classic. Great escape and a little classic culture, too. What would you do if you were set up for a crime you didn't commit?
Flynn, Gillian- Gone Girl -- If you read my blog, you know this is the best book that I hated this year (excellent suspense writing, just not a genre that I love). Considering that this appears to be one of the top reads of 2012, I thought it definitely deserved a spot in the shipment. A married couple who-done-it full of twists. For more info see: (Review of "Gone Girl")
French, Tana- In the Woods -- Great rogue Irish detective series. If you like bad boy (or girl) detective mysteries, you need to pick up a French novel. They are actually stand alone stories about one squad member a book, so you don't have to approach them as a series.
Gabaldon, Diana- Outlander, Dragonfly, Voyager, The Scottish Prisoner -- These books were favorites of American soldiers during the Gulf War, and the series is currently being optioned for television, so I thought, why not? The problem is that you can't just read one, because, like Martin's A Game of Thrones, you must find out what happens when a WWII nurse meets a Scottish clansman prior to Bonnie Prince Charlie's last stand.
King, Stephen- 11/22/63 -- Another must read in the last year. Can a man go back in time and save President Kennedy? And if he does, what happens? An untraditional King offering that has a little bit of slasher thriller, but is mainly just a great exploration of this historic American event, along with a pretty good analysis of the butterfly theory. Plus, I really liked the love story and the ending.
Lee, Harper- To Kill A Mockingbird -- Many American readers list this book as their very favorite. Anytime is a good time to be initiated or to revisit the ultimate book on childhood, prejudice and the law. Pulitzer Prize Winner 1961.
McMurtry, Larry- Lonesome Dove -- The ultimate cowboy book about friendship, horses, cattle and honor. Pulitzer Prize Winner -- 1986.
Mitchell, Margaret- Gone With the Wind -- Another American classic portraying a lost society and another part of America's history that even the author wouldn't want to resurrect. Pulitzer Prize Winner, 1937.
Morgenstern, Erin- The Night Circus -- Popular fantasy book this year about star-crossed lovers who happen to be magicians pitted against each other in the ultimate battle. Chose this for its escape value and because it was so popular this year and it won a number of awards.
Rothfuss, Patrick- The Name of the Wind -- One of the best written fantasy books that I have read in a long time, and -- even better -- my teen son couldn't put it down: he loved it so much that he even convinced his Dad to read it. This is almost an adult Harry Potter, although I hate to make that comparison because the writing is on a completely different level. If you love fantasy and haven't read this, go out and buy it right now so that you won't have to be playing catch up when the third book of the series comes out and it becomes a landslide sensation.
And that completes the list of books that were recently shipped to a few U.S. Soldiers. See you guys stateside in a few.