“Chestnut Street” is a collection of thirty six short stories by Maeve Binchy, a much loved writer who passed away in 2012. Her husband, Gordon Snell, recently decided that the time was right to share these stories that his wife had written over many years. I am glad he made that decision.
These are wonderful stories, set on Chestnut Street, a fictional place in Dublin, Ireland. Each story is told from the point of view of a different resident. They include stories told by adults, teenagers, and children.
“Mom & Me & Mom” is the story of Maya Angelou’s personal relationship with her mother. Many women have special relationships with their mothers. But, with someone as famous as Maya Angelou, it is interesting to see how that relationship shaped her life and her writing.
The story is also relevant to the Sixty and Me community. Many women have lost their moms and are working through complex emotions, just like Angelou’s did.
“Water for Elephants” is a book about memories, aging, and nostalgia. It is also a story of loyalty and love. Jacob Jankowski is in his 90’s and the movie starts with him looking back on his days with the circus. The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth was his life.
His story spans a lifetime. He starts with memories of losing his parents the Depression and learning how to survive on his own. He has to give up his studies as a veterinarian and hope to find an opportunity that will keep him sane and safe. By chance he finds himself drawn into the world of the circus.
“I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” is a collection of essays about the experience of growing older by Nora Ephron. She is best known for her movie scripts for romantic comedies like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.”
As Ephron reflected on her aging body, she decided to use humor and lighthearted cynicism to reveal her observations. She applied her dry sense of humor to soften the edges of the emotional and physical aches and pains emerging as she got older. It is a light read about a serious topic and a welcome addition to Ephron’s collection of books in light of her death in 2012.
“The Goldfinch” is described by author Stephen King as, “a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind.” The author, Donna Tartt took 12 years to write this book. She took her time to create authentic and complex characters that bring the book’s primary theme of loss to life.
“Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder,” is the latest book by Arianna Huffington. Arianna was born in Greece. She moved to England as a teenager and graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Economics. The mother of two teenage daughters, she also happens to be the well-known co-founder and editor in chief of Huffington Post and the author of 13 books.
“Orphan Train” is a fascinating story of friendship between women from two generations. According to a New York Times review, the book is “A revelation of the universal yearning for belonging, for family, for acceptance and, ultimately, the journeys we must all make to find them.”
Just a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable to imagine a world without paper books. Not only were paper books superior to their electronic counterparts in terms of resolution and brightness, but there was also an intangible quality to paper that many people preferred on a subconscious level.
“The Luminaries” is a Booker-Prize winning book by Eleanor Catton. This intriguing book is described as a “fiendishly clever ghost story and gripping page turner and a thrilling novelistic achievement.” The New York Times praised it saying the author had created a “parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new.” This week, I wanted to select a book that would offer an engaging modern story with escapism, adventure and an entertaining look at human complexity. The Luminaries fits this description perfectly.