Monday, June 27, 2016

What I've Been Reading

Here are three books I've read this year that I recommend:
SYNOPSIS: Four days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly, a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber in the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called "the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II."

This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies that day—the American—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in World War II. 

"A Higher Call" follows both Charlie's and Franz’s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddies’ planes, flak bursts so close they would light his cockpit, and packs of enemy fighters that would circle his plane like sharks. Franz would face sandstorms in the desert, a crash alone at sea, and the spectacle of 1,000 bombers each with eleven guns, waiting for his attack. Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across the frozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American 8th Air Force would later classify as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention or else face a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

This was a great book! My mom read it aloud to me, so I found some of the "action sequences" in the book a little hard to follow since it was so detailed (especially since I couldn't see the words since I wasn't reading it to myself), but it was an exciting read. It's a true story, too, which is my favorite kind of book to read. I bought this book for my grandpaa World War II veteran, himselffor his 94th birthday this past March, and he and my grandma both enjoyed it, too.
SYNOPSIS: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

I haven't read a fiction novel in a long time, so it was a nice change from the usual books I read. I liked it and wouldn't mind listening to the audio book again.
SYNOPSIS: Though Anderson Cooper has always considered himself close to his mother, his intensely busy career as a journalist for CNN and CBS affords him little time to spend with her. After she suffers a brief but serious illness at the age of ninety-one, they resolve to change their relationship by beginning a year-long conversation unlike any they had ever had before. The result is a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discuss their lives, the things that matter to them, and what they still want to learn about each other.

Both a son’s love letter to his mother and an unconventional mom’s life lessons for her grown son, "The Rainbow Comes and Goes" offers a rare window into their close relationship and fascinating life stories, including their tragedies and triumphs. In these often humorous and moving exchanges, they share their most private thoughts and the hard-earned truths they’ve learned along the way. In their words their distinctive personalities shine through—Anderson’s journalistic outlook on the world is a sharp contrast to his mother’s idealism and unwavering optimism.

I love Anderson Cooper, so when I found out that he and his mom had written a book together, I knew I had to read it. A little over a year ago, Anderson and his mother started corresponding over email just to make sure there was nothing left unsaid between them, since his mom is is now in her 90's, and realistically nearing the end of her life. I listened to the audio book, which was read by Anderson and his mother. It was great to be able to hear the inflections in their voices and the emphasis that they put on words, because I think that gave an even better look into their relationship. Anderson's mother has had such an interesting life, that's for sure, but it was also filled with a lot of tragedy and loss. She seems to have overcome most of it, though, and seems like a very strong woman.


Amy said...

I always love a good book! Thanks for the great reviews. I'm going to see if my local library carries any of them. :)

Amy said...

I read the first two books you listed and LOVED them!! I was slightly disappointed in the ending of "All the Light We Cannot See" but the first 97% of the book I LOVED! Also, my grandpa fought in WWII and was a fighter pilot, so "A Higher Call" was amazing to me. Thank you so much for highlighting these books. I don't get to read very often, but when I do, I love a great book! :)

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