What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Published by: Simon & Schuster on September 12, 2017
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
In what can only be described as a candid and open narrative, Hillary Rodham Clinton shares with readers her thoughts, experiences, and feelings during the course of the 2016 Presidential Election. Covering everything from what influenced her decision to run in the first place and the momentum of her campaign to what was going through her head during the debates and how she handled election night and the time since her unexpected and unprecedented loss
Before picking this up, I had heard the commentary that this was just Hillary listing out excuses for her loss, but it is not that at all. There’s a sense of honesty in the narrative, while the author is clear to recognize that what readers are getting her perspective and opinion. But when one considers how much the media was focused on her opponent during the election cycle (and he always told everyone exactly what he was thinking), it provides a balance to the existing public narrative. I personally also found it to be an inspiring read–I’m quite glad I picked it up.
Title: Prairie Silence
Author: Melanie Hoffert
Published: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
While Melanie Hoffert was quick to leave her North Dakota home when she got the chance, she has always felt a longing for everything that said home represents. There’s a dissonance between the comforting aspects of home and family and the silence that it imposes on those who may not fit the expectations of their community. But Melanie is determined to explore this disconnect and try to reconcile these aspects of her life and self, planning to spend a harvest at home helping on the farm. Her journey is one of self-discovery, learning things about her friends and family she hadn’t noticed before, and understanding what it means to call the prairie home, even if it’s not where you will live out your days.
This book resonated for me on so very many levels. For starters, Melanie’s family farm is about 30 miles from where I grew up. The places (and even some of the people) she mentions in this book are extremely familiar to me. The sense of community, the descriptions of life growing up where she did–are all things from which I can draw some very direct parallels. I’m also someone who left North Dakota when I finished college, taking the first chance I could get to be somewhere else. I did end up going back for a few years, but have since moved on again. And many of the same reasons and beliefs and worries that Melanie shares in her book are things I’ve felt.
But beyond all that, what the author has done here is construct an incredible narrative that I think will resonate with anyone who has ever left home and spent time trying to reconcile what it means to leave home behind. I also think even those who stayed where they grew up can find moments in this book that speak to them, as the author examines how we all find our place in our community and the reasons people choose to stay. And, of course, anyone who has ever felt like they’re a bit of an outsider in their family or who has ever felt like they couldn’t be completely open with those who are closest to them will identify with Melanie’s journey and join her in the revelations that she makes as she finishes her harvest retreat and decides to return to the city.
This book was the winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Memoir & Creative Nonfiction in 2014, and it’s clear why. Not only is the story raw and moving, but the writing is compelling, engaging, and descriptive. This is definitely an author I plan to watch for in the future…
Title: Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin
Author: Kathy Griffin
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review: If you’re a fan of Kathy Griffin’s brand of humor, you’ll definitely enjoy her book. But don’t expect to be reading a transcript of one of her stand-up specials. This is a memoir, and, in being true to exploring the experiences that have brought her to where she is, it’s not all celebrity trash-talking (although she does get that in there, too). Kathy is willing to talk about and tackle some of the less positive experiences she’s had in her life and how those have helped to make her stronger and inspired her to become the woman, actress, and comedian that she is today. But don’t be scared away by that – it’s hilarious and it definitely left me with a new respect for someone I’ve been a fan of for years.
Title: The Last Lecture
Author: Randy Pausch
Publication Date: April 8, 2008
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Review: Beyond inspiring and a very quick read, I picked this up based on the recommendation of a friend. Mr. Pausch’s amazing journey is one that makes you think about the important things in life and how to make the most of the time you have. As it is derived from an actual lecture, the book has a conversational tone that allows you to truly connect to the story. You’ll walk away with a bit of a smile but finding yourself moved in some incredibly emotional ways.