Discover more from Lee Woodruff
October/November 2023 Bookmarks
As we approach Veteran’s Day in this chaotic and scary time in the world, we honor those who serve and put their lives on the line when their country asks.
I’m proud of my husband Bob and our son, Mack, for their work on an upcoming documentary called After the Blast, The Will to Recover that debuts on ABC this Friday, Nov 10th.
It’s not just the story of our own family, 18 years after Bob was injured covering the war in Iraq, it’s the story of our military families after injury. It’s a first-hand look at injury, recovery and the resilience of the human spirit. I hope you will watch and reflect on those who serve.
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The Little Liar by Mitch Album
One of our most thoughtful and engaging writers, Mitch Album is known for inserting hope and humanity into the universal stories that connect us. His most recent book delves into the Holocaust as a vehicle to examine truth and lies. The book follows the lives of three children who have been torn from their home in Greece by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. Nico and Sebastian are brothers who both have a crush on Frannie. All three will make twisted journeys and ultimately lose everything. Eleven year-old Nico is promised by the Nazis that if he tells the Jews on the train that they will be safe, his family will be spared. Known for being honest to a fault, Nico’s world is shattered when he realizes he has been used. He then begins a life as a pathological liar, but in the background, the Nazi who tricked him into lying is shadowing all three of them, looking for revenge years after the war. One clever conceit is that “Truth” itself is the narrator of the story. Despite the dark topic, this is the story of redemption, truth, revenge, love and devotion as the three make their way in the world and ultimately end up back together.
The Joy of Funerals by Alex Strauss
What began in the “Lives” section of the New York Times, grew into this beautiful collection of stories that takes an intimate look at nine women, who are each determined to fill the black hole created by longing and loneliness. The stories range from a woman mourning her dead husband by having sex with grieving men, to a woman’s obsession with her dead wife’s killer, and the woman who wonders if the date who recently passed away was perhaps the perfect man, and so much more. All of these stories are connected into a novella, sewn together by a young woman who attends the funerals of all of them. Especially in the wake of the pandemic and the
collective experience of loss, this book, a re-issue on its 20th anniversary, will resonate with anyone who has loved and lost. Strauss is a witty and humorous writer who deals with a serious subject in a beautiful way.
Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber
This story begins when Ethan, a lawyer in NY, discovers that his father has a second family, a Thai wife and two boys in Queens. His mother leaves the country, escaping for a year abroad and the story begins to show us the fall-out of this discovery from the different perspectives of the children. The half-brothers, who had less of everything of their father, have more complicated journeys and one becomes a true trouble-maker who is sent back to Thailand. Ranging across three continents, the books begins to focus on the tangents of these lives, a woman with an ill brother and a film-maker who is unfaithful. Each of these spokes connect to one another like a spiderweb, filled with the grind of humanity looking for relationships to joy, love and happiness.
Do Tell by Lindsay Lynch
Character actress Edie O’Dare has been used up and spit out by Hollywood as a character actress. Her contract is up and she’s done nothing to distinguish herself from the pack of other wanna-be starlets. Unbeknownst to her friends, she has been moonlighting for Hollywood’s Queen gossip columnist, providing her with details on openings and parties. But when a rising starlet hands her proof in a letter about an assault by an A-list actor, Edie gets the story into print and sets off a chain reaction that will touch everyone involved. This second career as a columnist gives her a sudden control in Hollywood in a way the movies never could, but she soon learns the power for good and bad that she wields with her pen, and the permanent damage those secrets can do to friendships. When she must testify in the ensuing trial, she has to make a decision that could ruin the lives of some of the people she knows best. This is a book that details old Hollywood and the glamour days of Westerns and back-lot gossip and the power and magic of making movies in the golden age of the screen.
Musk by Walter Isaacson
With a passion for tackling disruptors and innovators, from Steve Jobs to Leonardo DaVinci, Isaacson tackles a biography of a man who is very much alive and kicking. It’s a deep dive on Musk, written from the perspectives of time spent with him, his family and other prominent individuals, many millionaires and billionaires themselves. It’s hard to argue with Musk’s vision and brilliance. He’s currently running more companies than I have fingers on one hand. But the price for brilliance and vision is paid on the EQ side of the ledger. The “work through the night” mentality, lack of empathy and regard for people’s personal lives make it hard to like him. And that’s not something he cares about anyway. The books takes the events of his life up to his purchase of Twitter and his increasingly erratic behavior on social media, including some conspiracy theories. I had to wade through lots of information on rockets and manufacturing, but learned much in the process. I was always eager to return to the book on audible and found myself trying to draw my own conclusion about one man who has so much power in a terrifying and anxious world.
Hell If We Don’t Change Our Ways by Brittany Means
As her mother struggles to escape the cycle of abusive relationships, Means has a front row seat to trauma and the constant cycle of transiency and poverty as a young girl. Like so many families struggling to make it, she must grow up quickly, taking care of her younger brother, trying to stabilize their lives and navigating the crazy world she is thrust into each day. As she grows up to find herself in the same abusive cycle, she begins to gain clarity about the “hell” that is her family’s existence. This powerful “coming of age” memoir from a fresh new Chicana voice educates, illustrates and sears the heart.
Lee Woodruff Speaker-Author-Executive Media Trainer