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HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH: Lessons for Success from a Red-Dirt Road in Alabama: A MEMOIR ~Ruthi Postow Birch

July 24th, 2017

HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH is a delightful memoir written by a woman who is a self made success.  She always wanted to do something special and she wanted to be wealthy – and Ruthi Postow Birch did just that.

This book is just full to the brim with wonderful anecdotes and pieces of advise about how to build success. Start with being born right at the poverty line and using every piece of wisdom you are surrounded by to achieve your goals in life.  I will say for the author who enjoys poetry very much the words and tales found here are straight up for real, the extra adjective is not available nor is the metaphor a tool of play.  There is lots of humor and compassion and discovery in the telling of a life and it was a pleasure to read.

“Get an education, get off Petain Street, and amount to something.” (Daddy Postow)

The author takes all the small things she learned as a little girl and points to how they helped her achieve a full and successful life.  She loved to listen to the stories the people told on her street and she ascribes much of her future to those listening skills and compassion that developed her skill set for starting her own business.  She never abandoned her parent’s lessons and used them as her strength and courage to keep moving forward.  As a matter of fact she left the dorms in college to move back into her parent’s home in Georgia and this provided a foundation for her to discover her own learning style and succeed in college with honors.   She did not come back to her parent’s wisdom; she never gave it up and learned the lessons forward.   Her father was a tugboat captain and her mother was a grocery store clerk and a union representative (fierce southern woman)

One of her father’s first and most lasting lessons was that there is always a right first step and if you can find that first step you are on your way to succeed.   It was the right lesson the building  of a piano bench for a young daughter, who was not going to be a successful pianist or musician, but was going to be a successful builder.  Her parents were open to people and experiences and worked to give their youngest child a broad view of the place where she was located.

Ruthi Postow Birch was not a mistake free person, and it took her several tries to find the right first step to a family and a career.  She stumbled into her first job and shouted out that she loved “cold calling” and then became the queen of cold calling! It was from all those years of listening and hearing the stories of the folks on her street in Alabama that made her unafraid when the other’s hated this task.  She was successful because she truly heard what the person on the phone was saying to her and she was able to make a connection.

After she graduated from college a Psychologist friend helped her discover that Ruthi had A.D.D. and with that knowledge and study Ruthi was able to design her new business finding a partner who did the tasks that were difficult for her and polishing and shining up the parts where she excelled.  She found a way to take risks and use them to her advantage when she looked for the first right step.

One very good book sent to me for review by Larissa Ackerman

More about the author:

“ Ruthi Postow Birch is a successful business woman, author, and speaker who has made people her life’s work.  In 2001, she founded Ruthi Postow Staffing, recruiting temporary and permanent employees for businesses in the DC area.  She is the mother of three boys and currently lives in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Ron, their Wheaten terrier, Mr. Magoo, and a family of chimney swifts that return every spring to nest in their 18th –century chimney.”

www.RUTHIPOSTOWBIRCH.com

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A PARIS ALL YOUR OWN: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light ~Edited by Eleanor Brown

July 17th, 2017

Sometimes magic just happens with perfect timing!!!!

Karen Fink at Penguin Random House emailed me and asked if I would like to review A PARIS ALL YOUR OWN.  Her promo email just made me say yes.  At first I could not do the review until September and the book was being released on July 4, 2017,Karen reluctantly said that would be fine.  Then I had a cancellation,  Karen overnight-ed the book – it was destiny.

A PARIS ALL YOU OWN arrived just days before the ‘post’ date of the review and I cancelled everything to read it from top to bottom.  I wish I had time to read it again right now – it was just a lovely read; each page perfectly done and the stories just right.   I was in a state of bliss and I felt as though I had traveled to Paris myself a wish that has just not been meant to be granted for me.

From cover to cover 17 bestselling authors share their experiences of Paris and the City of Light with the reader.  Some essays are romantic, some are profound, one or two are about how awful the trip was and the writer needed recovery and return.  One historic writer told about the research that she completed to write her one story about Paris and that was fascinating.  I learned about how writers can bypass the lines and get into museums with no waiting and how important mother-daughter adventures and explorations can be at different ages.

“…with a glass of wine”

Each essay ends with a group of questions answered by the essay author and a reference to her book about Paris and a way to connect with her, along with a brief bio.  I just could not get enough and I felt like I was there – truly in the City of Light.

That one of the writer’s mentioned Kouign Amanns  (pronounced Queen Amen) was totally able to bring me to unglued! and delighted to the max because next to raspberries this is my most favorite food on the planet.  I have never been to Paris, though had a near miss one time, and I never find anyone who has eaten these buttery delights.  Oo La La!!!

“Perfect for armchair travelers and veterans of Parisian pilgrimages alike, readers will delight in these brand new tales from their most beloved authors.”

“ELEANOR BROWN is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of The Weird Sisters, hailed by People magazine as “a delightful debut” and “creative and original” by Library Journal.  She teaches writing workshops at The Writer’s Table in Highlands Ranch, CO, and at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, CO, as well as writing conferences and centers nationwide.  An avid Cross Fit participant, Eleanor is the author of WOD Motivation and a contributor to CrossFit Journal. Born and raised in the Washington, D. C. area, Eleanor lives in Colorado with her partner, writer J.C. Hutchins.”

Eleanor Brown
Eleanor Brown
Eleanor Brown Twitter:  @eleanorwrites

Just a Note:
I read a book review in Slate magazine right before I read this book.  It was for a new book destined to be a bestseller and it was 1500 to 3000 words long and took me 35 minutes to read and then check back about several references and paragraphs of the emotions shared by the writer and the book author.  I now do not feel like I ever need to purchase that book or read all 356 pages of it.  Here at Patricia’s Wisdom I want my reviews to entice you to pick up and read this book, I want you to become interested in the topic and the writing and the tale being told.  I work to limit my words to 500 about the book and connections to the author for you to explore.  I don’t want to have you not need to read the book – I just wish to be positive about someone’s “baby” and have the reader think – Yes, that is something I want to read.

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PURITY: A Political Novel ~Jonathan Franzen

July 10th, 2017

PURITY is a marvelous story by Jonathan Franzen and it was on my holiday wish list in 2015.  It had already been out for a while, but with my reading schedule it was the first time I could clear a space to savor this read.   I like Franzen’s entire writing list and have read them even before one became an Oprah selection.  They are dense reads with great detail and the development of the characters is outstanding; one is certain that they know the individuals.  When you mix in the personal look at history that the characters share with the reader, the books become a truth to build perspective upon and enjoy.

PURITY was not an exception to the writer’s rule and it took me a full 18 hours to get from cover to cover and I had to put it aside several times to find enough time to truly understand the story and the lessons about life and political reality.  The story line is such amazing separate pieces that resolve into an integration of the character’s lives and a remarkable conclusion.   There was an incredible amount of sexual tension to the story as if sexuality was the subtext of the wholeness of the story.

Pip is the first focus and she wanders through the maze of other’s lives until she connects all the folks into a reunion that shines the love through the timeline and allows for it to manifest in a healthy manner.  She is a computer expert in a demeaning job saddled with $130,000 of education loans.  Her mother is “weird” and lives in a cabin in rural California and works as a grocery store checker.  Pip is learning about people, work, and how to get along with others – maybe?    She is also the focus of political intrigue and lessons, which match up with her self-protection, sarcasm, and ability to discern what is real. Pip does not know who she is or her roots.

Andreas is the political operative and the founder of an organization that is similar to WikiLeaks – ‘The Sunlight Project’.  He grew up with his parents a part of the Communist regime in East Berlin and yet for most of his youth he led a life of privilege and wealth.  He is well detailed and he starts his own revolution by speaking out at University and working against the grain.  He is there for the falling of the ‘Wall’ and he continually tries to ‘help’ people, particularly teenage girls, as a counselor at the mission church where he lives and hides.  He ends up developing a secret community of hackers and ‘truth tellers’ in a remote location in Bolivia.

The reader is pulled into the extraordinary wealth of a family in the Midwest of the USA.  The daughter is rebelling and trying to escape the life of the rich and yet her mental health is not so stable.  She is rebellious and a ‘hippie’ protestor/artist in her youth and she also becomes an exile as she hides from her family and takes on the role of being poverty.

Each section of the book, I had to read without putting the book down it was so compelling and detailed and fascinating.  One needs to wonder what the rebellion of youth will bring us and how we will live out our values within the confines of the life we are living.  How do we escape the political ramifications of our circumstances and be in touch with our values?  What do we reveal about ourselves and how is it that we learn to achieve our destiny to arrive at our own home; find the love we need?     Whew!  PURITY is the perfect length and yet still can take our breath away.

As always Franzen does not disappoint making the mind work with good story telling skill and focus.    A noteworthy read- PURITY

Author:

Jonathan Franzen is the author of four other novels, most recently FREEDOM and THE CORRECTIONS, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including FARTHER AWAY and THE KRAUS PROJECT, all published by FSG.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie de Kunste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

“Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of The Corrections and Freedom has imagined a world of vividly original characters–Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers–and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Purity is the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time.”(Cover)

Jonathan Franzen Facebook

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MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY: A Novel ~Fredrick Backman

July 3rd, 2017

MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY is one of the most delightful reads I have enjoyed in 2017.  I can highly recommend this book and I want to tell you it was just what a needed to read and I will read it again I am sure of it.  I had a sense of contentment when I finished reading and I found several good chuckles along the way.  The book was a present from one of my daughters who knew I had read Backman’s book A MAN CALLED OVE and enjoyed that one too.  MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY was even better and perfectly timed.

Elsa is seven and about to turn eight.  She has been cared for by her super powered, “different” Granny all of her life and her mother has been working to support them.  They live in a large house, which is a series of “flats” that Granny calls ‘the castle’.  Granny and Elsa have lovely adventures and sometimes a bit crazy adventures along the way.  The book starts with one adventure that did go a bit wrong and Granny was in trouble for her actions.  Elsa needed to wait patiently while the adults figured it all out.  Elsa thinks about people’s actions and interprets them, as only a seven year old about to turn eight is able.  She is often “spot on” in her analysis even if she is “different”; she can figure out people.  Granny has guided her world though the telling of fairy tales about a new land with seven segments and dragons, warriors, and cloud animals.  Granny teaches Elsa that everyone has a super power and she just has to find it. The duo develops their own special language – maybe.

“You can’t kill a nightmare, but you can scare it.  And there’s nothing so feared by nightmares as milk and cookies.” (page 209)

Granny gives Elsa a big task to undertake and Elsa is determined to comply with Granny’s wishes.  She takes on the role of warrior to complete the mission that involves discovering and delivering envelopes to a number of different people.  Elsa must not be afraid and helpers begin to be discovered to assist her on the mission.

“I’m going down to pick up the spare chairs in the cellar storage,” he says and tries to smile at her like stepdads do on days when they have an extra-strong sense of being sidelined.” (page 209)

Everyone is different and nobody needs to be normal in The Land-Of-Almost-Awake and I loved that idea.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if everywhere was like that?

One is reading about life and death, the importance of serving others and loving the self.  It is a story about the heart beating with a comic accuracy that is just a joy.

I wrote down nearly 40 phrases that I just loved and thought contained a wisdom that would make a difference in my life.

I did have one small item of contention – very minor.  On the cover of my book is a little girl with a black lab and I believe the dog in the story was a Great Pyrenees, Lionberger, or Newfoundland each much hairier than a lab – just saying!

FREDRICK BACKMAN is also the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE, both of which were #1 bestsellers in his native Sweden and are being published around the world.  He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.

Fredrick Backman Twitter
Fredrick Backman WEB
Fredrick Backman Wikipedia

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