Archive for the ‘ Good Books ’ Category

Shake, Rattle, and Roll…

Today is World Parkinson’s Day.

Why today?

Well, it’s the birth date of Dr. James Parkinson, an English surgeon, apothecary, geologist, paleontologist, and political activist.

The guy just couldn’t make UP his mind!

He wrote An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817 and was the first to describe paralysis agitans.

The condition would be named Parkinson’s Disease by Jean-Martin Charcot.

Parkinson was born in London to an apothecary father who was also a surgeon.  He became a surgeon in 1784 and was approved by the City of London.

There were no medical boards back then; you just had to prove you could do the job!

His interest in politics led him to become an advocate for the under=privileged and an outspoken critic of the government of William Pitt.   He was known for his social and revolutionary causes and published over 20 political pamphlets in the period after the French Revolution.  He called for social reform and universal suffrage.  Both were political hot buttons at the time.

He moved back to medicine from the political world around 1799 and began publishing medical works including one on ruptured appendix.  He along with his son was the first to prove a ruptured appendix was a cause of death.

He was a proponent of improving the general health of the population and was a crusader for legal protection of the mentally ill.

The guy was way ahead of his time!

He died in 1824 after suffering a stroke.

His life and work are commemorated with a stone tablet at the church of St. Leonard’s where he was a member.

His gravesite is unknown.

His discovery and work on the disease that would eventually be named for him is celebrated today with a day of awareness.

Parkinson’s affects over 1,000,000 people in the US alone with more than 60,000 new cases diagnosed last year!

One of my favorite bloggers and writers, Vikki Claflin’s book Shake, Rattle, and Roll With It: Living and Laughing with Parkinson’s is her way of dealing with the disease.

It is a great read, and a great way to celebrate the day!

You can check it out here along with her blog…

Happy Parkinson’s Day?

There’s Hope Yet…

Helen Hooven Stantmyer would be 121 years old today.


Her book …And Ladies Of the Club was published when she was 88,


…There’s hope for me yet!

Stantmyer was born in Cincinnati and lived in Xenia, Ohio when her book was published obscurely by the OSU Press.

Only a few hundred were printed and sold to Ohio libraries.

By pure chance, the book fell into the hands of agents who saw a wider audience.

It became a best seller when the Book of the Month Club made it its monthly selection.

Anything is possible!

Have a great weekend.

If you need a book it’s a good read, it’s “chick lit” to be sure.

But it ‘s a great story that spans several generations.

Hillbilly Elegy

This is a book review.

I love it when I find a book that hits home.

Something I can relate to because it’s based on places, people, and things I actually know.

NO, I don’t know the author of today’s tome, but I know plenty of people like him.

I might even be one.

On the surface, JD Vance seems like the American Success Story.  And, in a way, he is – but, not completely.

JD Vance

His book, Hillbilly Elegy*: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis from Harper Collins is a great read, and is available on your nook, assuming you have one.

Hillbilly Elegy

I saw him on CNN one morning while I was getting ready for work, and thought the subject matter, the demise of the white working class would be an interesting read.

Little did I know he grew UP in Middletown, Ohio, only nine miles down the road from where I lived in Germantown.

Once I found that out, I was completely hooked.

I recognized the places, businesses, streets, schools, and hospitals, most of which aren’t there any longer, he referenced in the book.

Much of what he wrote about hit home.

Granted, his hillbilly grandmother and mine were quite unalike in many ways, but there were similarities as well.

First of all, I never heard either of mine swear; his Mawmaw was quite the potty mouth.  If foul language offends, you may want to avoid the book; but I’ll have to say, you can get past it if you try.

The book sheds light on the centuries old value systems provided to Scots-Irish stock through the generations.

It’s eye-opening.

Vance’s book helps those of us who come from Appalachian Scots-Irish and German families understand what makes “hillbillies” tick, why they live the way they do, and the choices they make.

It’s a different breed.

His family came from Jackson County, Kentucky, moving to Middletown to work at Armco Steel, later Armco Kawasaki Steel, later not there any longer.

Vance got out.

It’s a miracle he did, and his success story gives hope to every young man and woman who feels trapped by the families they were born into.

He tells his story with humor, which must have been hard to do.  His comparison between the dreadful hand of cards he was dealt and his drive and gumption to not only survive but thrive and escape the life is gripping.

It’s an easy read; you’re cheering him on the entire way.

Sure, sure, there are a few people you want to smack along the way, but don’t worry.  Mawmaw does that for you.

Everyone in Middletown should read this book.

Everyone in Germantown should read this book.

You’ll find out more about yourself – maybe more than you want to.


*An Elegy is a form of poetry, generally a poem of serious reflection.  Most typically used as a lament for the dead.

He Really Should Be!

This is a book review.

My dad was a big fan of the talking head shows on CNN, Faux, NBC, CBS, and ABC.  He loved to listen to them argue, and aside from the hour a day mother commandeered the TV and watched “her stories”, he had some pundit yelling at him all the time.

Unless there was a baseball game on.

One of his favorites to watch, and vehemently disagree with, was Bob Beckel.

Bekel on the Five

I’ll have to admit, although I also do not agree often with Mr. Beckel, I did enjoy his style and his banter from shows like Crossfire and Faux News’ The Five.

Recently, Bob came out with a “redemptive memoir” about his many decades as a political operative, diplomat, pundit, addict, and alcoholic.

It is entitled I Should Be Dead.

Bekel Book

Really, he should be!

Over 75 % of the book is a story of drink, drugs, debauchery, and deceit.

I really liked the guy until I started reading the book.  For a while, I was on the off ramp of disgust and disdain for the boy.

The book helped to cement my perception of political operatives as well.


Just sayin’.

Growing UP a “survivor” in an abusive home dominated and driven by an alcoholic father, he learned to hide his feelings, survive, lie, and deceive which all came in very handy in his Washington career.

Seemingly at the pinnacle of success in the political and infortainment worlds, Bob was hiding – not so well – a big secret.

He was a drunk.

Waking UP in the psych ward on “W’s” inauguration day in 2001 was rock bottom for him, but allowed his story to change.

The story is a difficult one to read.  I had to put the book down repeatedly and move on to something else for a day or two.

Once I started it, it took me 6 months to read this book.

It has fewer than 300 pages.

It’s not me, it’s him.

Once started, it’s a must finish.  He weaves a story of his addictions and how they nearly killed him and a story of help, faith, friendship, sobriety, and redemption from unlikely sources.

It’s not a book I’ll re-read, but I’m glad I read it.

And he’s right, he should be dead!