By Susan O’Keefe
Check the list this year. For dear ole dad, what can you do? Does a pair of socks adequately express your sentiments? How about a new tie, or maybe a personally crafted artistic piece for the man who has trained, tutored, cheered, and chided? Here’s a novel idea. Consider giving him a story, a story to read, a story to enjoy, a story to digest and then discuss. A few Father’s Day selections are below.
The Burden of Being Champ
Jerry A. Miller, Jr.
The author is anybody’s dad, granddad, and as common as the man next door. Yet, his insightful and inspiring stories set him apart in a captivating way. Readers are touched by his candid, sincere recounts of milestones along his life’s path. Woven intricately are Jerry Miller’s own spiritual memorial markers as his Christianity is absorbed and emanates from his very being. It’s a sweet book chronicling the good doctor’s thirty years as a practicing pediatrician and the roads that led to his passion for life.
There are stories from overseas as Miller and his young family served those who had never seen a real doctor. There are tears and sadness as death strikes at an early age. Ecchymoses and petechiae are uncommon words in most vocabularies, but in Dr. Miller’s dry, witty humor, he relays stories from every mother who has become frantic in the middle of the night. There are funny vignettes such as the witty description of the time most moms want to talk during their child’s examination, which just happens to be as soon as the doc’s stethoscope rests in his ears!
As a father to four grown children, Miller casually and personally shares highlights and even a few regrets. His experience makes him a top candidate as advisor. Readers are sure to find varying degrees of love and laughter on every page. For the medical student, for the parent, for the elementary kid who didn’t perform well in school, for the athlete whose basketball career ended earlier than expected, and for all of us somewhere in between, this heartwarming book serves as a reminder of the important love stories we all have to tell.
The Boys in the Boat; Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
It was the boat that saved his life. A boat! Nothing more than a two foot wide thin shell that held nine boys afloat as they rowed into manhood. This was the recurring theme mentioned by readers who described “The Boys in the Boat” as a triumphant account, rewarding, and redemptive.
Author Daniel James Brown writes with as much precision as an Olympic coxswain. Telling the true story of a ragtag bunch of hard-working underdogs from the University of Washington, Brown puts readers in the moment. The Great Depression is looming. Opportunities are few and far between. Food, clothing, and basic necessities are scarce. But still there is hope ... in the boat, on the crew.
Attempting to earn a spot on the well-respected Washington team in the 1930s is farm boy Joe Rantz. His mother’s dead. His father’s deserted him twice. Joe has one raggedy sweater to his name. The odds are clearly stacked against him. But he has grit. He has determination. And he has a desire.
Miraculously finding himself on the brink of earning a college education, Joe scraps for every penny of tuition. He rents a room at a local community center in exchange for custodial services.
He meets the woman he will eventually marry. And he sets his sights on a spot in an eight man boat. The story’s effortless swell keeps readers engaged and interested. The sheer physicality of a sport that drew 80,000 fans to a college regatta is a testimony to its caliber.
The nine working-class men, who put the University of Washington on the international map in 1936, won more than gold. They won a new lease on life. They found comfort in their own skin. They overcame an enormous obstacle and not only beat the boys of the Ivy League schools, but also won on the global stage.
“The Boys in the Boat” provides a realistic snapshot of life in the 1930s. It’s a riveting story of competition and camaraderie. This triumphant tale left readers in our group begging to know more about the boys in the boat. Their story is one worth reading, telling, and celebrating.
Hellhound on His Trail — The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History
Drawing from a goldmine of investigative documents, eyewitness accounts, law enforcement reports and more, author/historian Hampton Sides dramatically delivers an accurate account of the last days of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior. Events leading up to the assassination of the civil rights leader are presented in narrative form that make the reader forget that unfortunately, this story is fact, not fiction.
“If more college textbooks read this way, I would have been a history major,” candidly offered one reader.
“Hellhound on His Trail” returns readers to the roots of the civil rights movement and deeply explores the personalities, politics, maneuvers and missions of dozens of key players. The opening chapters chronicle the daily routines of Eric Starvo Galtin, known to most as James Earl Ray.
Dr. King knew the danger of the work he felt called to do. He never shied from it. He didn’t want a bodyguard. Months before his death, he had talked about the reality that he could very well die a young man. Many believe King had premonitions about his death.
On the night he died, eyewitnesses say he was energized and invigorated. As he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel inhaling the fresh air and seemingly full of life, a bullet pierced the right side of his face at a velocity of 2,670 feet per second.
“Hellhound on His Trail” has been described as “gripping, engrossing, and chilling ... hitting readers with the shuddering intensity of a high-speed collision.” If there is a desire to learn from history and to continue to progress toward equality for all races, this book is not optional. It is a necessity.
Destiny of the Republic; A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
Amidst corruption, political backstabbing, and a nation reeling to establish itself only a century after its inception, there lies a tale of madness, medicine and murder. United States President James A. Garfield is a genuine rags-to-riches story. He embodies the rise to heroism status that Americans pay billions to watch at the box office.
And yet this Ohio native occupies only a few pages in our history books. His time served in the Oval Office was a mere four months. Perhaps the circumstances surrounding his death carry as much weight as his time in office.
In those days, elected officials allowed, even encouraged, the general public to visit their office. On more than one occasion, a mentally unstable man named Charles Guiteau appeared at the White House and sat politely in a waiting area in order to bend the President’s ear.
Sadly, Guiteau would find his place in history as the infamous assassin of our 20th President.
Perhaps the most shocking part of Garfield’s story is the lengthy lingering after he was shot in the Washington, D.C., train station. The medical professionals in our book club were glued to the pages as Millard methodically describes how our country’s top physicians refused to practice any sort of sterilization, waving it off as too time consuming and unnecessary. European scientist Joseph Lister attempted to persuade American doctors to scrub themselves and their instruments. Instead, physicians searched for the bullet in Garfield’s back by simply inserting their naked finger; no scrubbing, no gloves, no sterile instruments. Within a few weeks of the shooting, our President succumbed to a septic situation and died.
Although his minimal tenure in office robbed him of a seemingly lasting legacy, “Destiny of the Republic” brings James A. Garfield to the forefront like never before.