I love books. Casa Avrech is stuffed with bookshelves that are, of course, stuffed with books. As much as Seraphic Secret admires and makes use of eBooks via Kindle and the iPad, there is still something about paper, binding, and the fragrance of a freshly opened page that is intoxicating.
Books are the perfect holiday gift. Don’t forget to compose a meaningful inscription. Karen writes the most beautiful and witty notes in the front pages of gift books that, to this day, I cherish.
Here are a few notable volumes we recommend for this year’s gift-giving.
In the Shadow of Greatness is a revealing and often poignant compilation of essays written by members of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2002. These are men and women who were walking to class when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were hit by Muslim terrorists. The men and women of the class of 2002 graduated into America’s longest running war and this volume gives voice to lost innocence as untested officers become leaders in distant lands.
In the Shadow of Greatness gives us multiple first-person narratives of junior officers in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving on the front lines, and at home. We glimpse valor, tragedy and humor. As a screenwriter, my feverish imagination was set ablaze on almost every page as I envisioned a mini-series based on this book, a portrait of another greatest generation.
Simply put, this book is humbling, for every entry is a journey through the soul of a warrior, the best our nation has to offer. A stunning book that should be read by every American.
Was Edith Head the greatest costume designer in Hollywood history? Probably not. Travis Banton, Walter Plunkett and Orry-Kelly were design geniuses, but too temperamental to survive the grinding Hollywood system. In contrast, Edith Head was a talented if grim survivor who knew studio politics and made it her business to cultivate and get along with every star with whom she crossed paths. Edith Head: The Fifty Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer is a door-stop of a book weighing in at a hefty six lbs. Author Jay Jorgenson makes the case for Head’s greatness on every page with lavish, full-size photographs of Head, her designs, and the stars she costumed. A wonderful volume that reminds us that Hollywood once was a true dream factory.
The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty, tells the the fictional story of Cora Carlisle, a thirty-six year old Wichita housewife. In 1922, Cora accompanies the future silent film star, fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks, on her journey to New York to audition for the Denishawn Dance Company. Already haughty and beautiful, Brooks has no respect for convention or Cora, a traditional if complicated woman, with her own reasons for making this journey. Beautifully written, Moriarty concentrates on Cora, a seemingly drab and boring woman, especially when set against the glamorous and free-thinking Brooks. With great empathy and insight, Moriarty digs deep into Cora’s soul and delivers a vivid portrait of an ordinary woman who is, ultimately, far more extraordinary than the nasty, narcissistic Brooks.