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Summer Book Bag

Gini in a Bottle

Al Gini

Summer Book Bag


Ah, summer is soon upon us! Summer says the song is when “the living is easy!” Well, I’m not sure it ever gets “easy,” but summer does seem to offer us a few delicious options: longer days, nice weather, “road trips,” the beach, baseball, hammocks hung in the back yard, the front porch, and, if you really lucky, a little extra time to get lost in a good book. So, in the spirit of a little more leisure and the joys of literature, let me offer a few “good reads” I’ve recently had the pleasure of eagerly devouring! I think you’ll like them. Play! Read! Relax! Enjoy the Summer, see you all in the Fall!!


Stefan Hertmans, War and Turpentine

          This is the story of a World War I veteran who, before he died at the age of 90, wrote his memoirs and detailed the honor, the horror, the majesty and maliciousness of war. After his death his grandson finds these memories and tries to make sense of them. The grandfather he knew was a gentle, kind man, who loved art. The man he read about was a warrior, a killer, a hero, survivor, who almost lost his soul and sanity in the heat of combat.



Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

          This is a lifelong story of two families, six kids, a forbidden kiss, two divorces, two new families, six kids who are now step-kids – and a lifelong odyssey of trying to figure out what happened, how to get along and how to make sense of life, love and family. This book is painfully accurate and insightful glance into the illusive nature of love and the structure of modern families.



Robert Harris, Conclave

          This is a fictional story of the modern papacy in the modern world. But it is a story so close to the truth and times that it reads like history. In a world of political uncertainties, terrorism, and the loss of the faithful – the Catholic Church struggles to regain its roots and its followers. When the Pope dies and before the new Pope is chosen, we are given an insight into the backstage in-fighting of the curia. The tension is: Is the Church the worldly agent of God with a duty to help his/her people. Or, Is the Church just another political player in the international world of politics and power?


Sebastian Barry, Days Without End

          Set in the period before, during and after the Civil War, this is the story of two men (an Irish immigrant and a Massachusetts orphan) trying to make a life for each other. Along the way they fight Indians, fight for the North against the South, and then go back to fighting the Indians and outlaws who want to take their land and their loves. But this is much more than a cowboy yarn. It is a book told in language that will amaze you. The author is an Irishman who loves the language and draws you in with is imagery and eloquence. This is a good story and a beautiful read!



Robert Strauss, Worst President Ever

          We all sort of all agree that our number one President was either Lincoln or Washington. Both have been at the top of the Presidential poles for years. But there has been some debate about who was the worst. Some claim it was either W.G. Harding, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, or my personal choice Richard Nixon. But according to Robert Strauss, it was James Buchanan. He was more than qualified for the job. He has been a Congressman, a Senator, Ambassador to Russia, Envoy to Great Britain, Secretary of State and finally President in 1857. But he was awful at it. He was President “do nothing.” Having said this, it’s a fun, fascinating read!



Bret Baier, Three Days in January

          Dwight D. Eisenhower was Commander in Chief of the allied forces in Europe; he was head of NATO; and, he served two terms as President of the United States. He was trained to be a leader, and whatever your opinion is of him, he performed the role of leadership for over forty years. And then it was time to change the guard and turn over the keys to the kingdom to the young and yet untested and under prepared J.F. Kennedy. Eisenhower’s lesson and warning to JFK was simple and direct: “No one knows how tough this job is until you’ve been in it for a while.” This is the story of how, when things get tough, one old President came to the aid of the new President. This is a fascinating study in democracy and leadership.

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