2014-2015 KSDAR SUGGESTED READING LIST
Certificates for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place are awarded during State Conference for the largest number of books read from this list.
Arnow, Harriette. The Dollmaker.
Born in Wayne County and raised in Pulaski County, Kentucky, Harriette Louisa Simpson Arnow used the pen name H.L. Simpson for her early writings. The Dollmaker is a fictionalized account of a poor Kentucky family from deep in Appalachia. Vividly descriptive, this story reads like poetry as it recounts the tale of wood carver Gertie Nevels, a strong Appalachian woman who leaves the hardships of farm life with her children to follow her husband to Detroit, where he has a factory job during World War II. Away from her familiar life in the mountains, Gertie struggles to survive in her new world. This powerfully haunting story touches the heart like no other.
Hamner, Earl, Jr. The Homecoming: A Novel about Spencer's Mountain.
Used as the foundation for "The Waltons" television show, The Homecoming takes place on Christmas Eve in 1933. When Clay Spencer, the father, does not return home at the appointed time, Clay-boy is sent in search of him. Along the way, Clay-boy has a number of dangerous, touching, and funny experiences and learns a lesson or two. Just as hope is almost lost, Clay Spencer returns and faith in the human spirit is restored. This warm and touching story of an Appalachian family during The Great Depression may be read and enjoyed any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.
Fieldman, Ellen. Next to Love.
In this detailed fictionalized story, the author interweaves the lives of three friends - Babe, Grace, and Millie - who marry before their husbands leave for combat in Europe during World War II. It follows the friends during the war and beyond until their children are grown and shows how their lives are affected by the war. The author also includes Naomi, an African-American friend of theirs. Not only is this a grippingly touching account of the changes in these women, it is also about the tremendous changes that take place in America between 1941 and 1964.
Kidd, Sue Monk. Invention of Wings.
Based on the real life of Sarah Grimke, a strong abolitionist and equally fervent supporter of women's rights in the early 19th century, author Sue Monk Kidd writes a fictionalized account of this daughter of a wealthy family in Charleston, S.C. When Sarah was 11-years-old, her parents gave her Handful as her slave and hand-maiden. At first repelled by the thought of having her own slave, Sarah developed a friendship with Handful and taught her to read and write. When they were caught, both girls were punished. Later each girl went her own way. Sarah fled to Philadelphia and became a Quaker, while Handful's life as a slave became more difficult. Their very different stories, told in alternating chapters, reveal their complex and common struggles for "freedom, equality, and a voice."
Mason, Bobbie Ann. The Girl in the Blue Beret.
Kentucky author Bobbie Ann Mason writes a fictionalized account of Marshall Stone, a retired airline pilot, who as a 23-year-old fighter pilot crash-landed in a Belgium field during World War II. Terrified of being captured by the Germans, he fled into the woods leaving his injured crew behind. Although he felt guilty for leaving his crew, he was saved by members of the Resistance. They secretly led him over difficult routes across the mountains to Spain and eventually returned him to his base in England. Along the way, many kind and brave people helped him escape. Now, retired and a widower, Marshall returns to Belgium and France hoping to locate the courageous people who saved his life. He searches in particular for a lady who as a teenager had escorted him through Paris. He remembers her as the girl in the blue beret who risked her life for him. This gripping story will take you back to another time and place, offering the possibility of second chances.
Alborn, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie.
Beautifully written, author Mitch Alborn reconnects with his former college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is in the final stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease. Alborn travels from Michigan to Massachusetts every Tuesday for 14 weeks to visit his former mentor. Tuesdays with Morrie is based on their discussions about a variety of topics, such as "acceptance, communication, love, values, openness, and happiness" and much more. These touching life lessons from Morrie are interesting reading.
Berry, Mary Clay. Voices from the Century Before: The Odyssey of a Nineteenth Century Kentucky Family.
Raised in Bourbon County and the great-granddaughter of Brutus and Ann Clay, author Mary Clay Berry expertly interweaves comments with letters written between 1843 and 1867 by the Clay and Field families of Bourbon and Madison Counties. The letters reveal how the issue of slavery separated families and how they maintained their daily lives while struggling to survive the Civil War and Reconstruction. The well written book chronicles personal tragedies and other events, Abraham Lincoln's presidential election, and the political and moral atmosphere of the era. This fascinating account of two prominent 19th-century Kentucky families, who were joined in marriage, could easily become one of your favorite books.
Buchanan, Jessica, and Erik Landemalm with Anthony Fiacco. Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six.
This is a riveting account of humanitarian aid worker Jessica Buchanan's kidnapping at gunpoint by Somali pirates. Jessica and a male colleague were held captive for 93 days outdoors in the desert in unsanitary conditions with very little food and water. Unbeknownst to the captives, after days of negotiations, President Obama sent SEAL Team Six to rescue them. The authors chronicle the well-written tale from two perspectives, that of Jessica and also of Erik Landemalm, her husband, who coordinated rescue efforts. This incredibly compelling, true story of resilience, hope, and triumph is one you will long remember.
Claypool, James C. Our Fellow Kentuckians: Rascals, Heroes and Just Plain Uncommon Folk.
Historian and author James C. Claypool began by compiling a list of 200 Kentuckians "with unique characteristics: people who did something distinctive." From that list, he chose "the best of the best" for his book, Our Fellow Kentuckians: Rascals, Heroes and Just Plain Uncommon Folk. Included in the book are Nancy Green, original Aunt Jemima and emancipated slave from Montgomery County; Daniel Carter Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts of Ameriea from Covington; Eddie Arcaro, famous jockey from Newport; Duncan Hines, developer of cake mixes from Bowling Green; Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President from Hodgenville; Loretta Lynn, country music singer from Butcher Hollow; and Colonel Harland Sanders, creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken from Corbin. Well written, the brief stories are packed with interesting and little known facts about folks from our commonwealth. This entertaining book is delightful reading for those interested in unique people known as Kentuckians.
Crumpton, Henry A. The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's
Masterfully written by a 25-year professional spy, this is a fascinating account of the Central Intelligence Agency from the inside. Using stories from his own and others' experiences, the author brilliantly relates why and how operatives spy. This insightful book provides the reader with a better understanding of the CIA.
Elliott, Ron. American El Dorado - The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872.
Nelson County resident and 2012 DAR Literary Award recipient, author Ron Elliott tells the true story of Kentucky cousins, Phillip Arnold and John Slack, who manipulated famous investors out of their fortunes. After the gold rush in 1848, the two cousins lavishly convinced their victims to invest in a fake Western diamond mine gaining publicity throughout the country before their downfall. This is an entertaining tale showing "the lust for riches and the consequences of greed."
Flood, Charles Bracelen. Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year.
Kentucky author Charles Bracelen Flood reveals the last year of the dying Civil War general and former United States president, Ulysses S. Grant. Having lost his family's fortune and been diagnosed with throat and mouth cancer, Grant wrote his life story in an effort to provide financially for his family after his death. His book, Memoirs, was finished a few days before his death and was published by Mark Twain. As a tribute to Grant, this author masterfully writes about Grant, his family and friends, and other wartime leaders. All interested in Civil War history will enjoy Grant's Final Victory.
Gediman, Dan, and Mary Jo Gediman, ed. This I Believe: Kentucky.
Patterned after the 1950s radio program hosted by Edward R. Murrow, This I Believe: Kentucky is a compilation of 60 short essays presenting core values and principles of people from Kentucky or people who write about Kentucky. Kentuckians from all walks of life and every region have contributed essays, ranging from author Silas House, poet Frank X. Walker, Circuit Judge Stephen Mershon, the late surgeon Dr. Gant Gaither, pastor Rev. Erin Wathen, and teacher Andrea Coleman to former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. This inspirational and thought-provoking book should be on everyone's bedside table, so that two or three essays can be read every night.
Golway, Terry. Washington's General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution.
Raised as a Quaker, Nathanael Greene eventually rejected his Quaker beliefs and fought for the cause of freedom. Early on, he was made a commanding general and later the quartermaster-general of the patriotic forces. In his role as quartermaster-general, he proved his leadership ability and gained the respect of General George Washington. In 1780, he was appointed commander of the southern campaign for the patriotic forces. Skillfully, he led the patriot militia to push the British away from their supplies. Without their supplies, the Tories had to retreat. Unable to overcome Greene's strategy, British General Cornwallis and his troops fled to Yorktown, where they were defeated by the patriots. Using recently discovered letters and other sources, the author creates an accurate portrayal of Nathanael Greene -- the man, patriot, and soldier.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
Superbly written, Team of Rivals is the story of Abraham Lincoln's life, combined with the stories of the three men who were his rivals for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination - William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. After Lincoln became president, he appointed his three rivals, who were distinguished statesmen in their own right, to cabinet positions . From the beginning, Lincoln was the consummate leader, and the others overcame their original resentment of him. Because of Lincoln's "political genius" and personal skills, the men were able to work effectively together during one of our country's most difficult periods. Team of Rivals is a fascinating read for all who want to understand the brilliant Lincoln and his talented cabinet.
Jones, Randell. Before They Were Heroes at King's Mountain.
Historian and master storyteller, Randell Jones tells the story of the battle and of the rugged, experienced patriots and events that prepared them for victory at the Battle of King's Mountain. He also relates how the fiercely independent patriotic backwoodsmen joined forces under the leadership of Colonels William Campbell, Isaac Shelby, Charles McDowell, and John Sevier and crossed the snow-covered Appalachian Mountains on their way to join other patriots at Quaker Meadows and Cowpens. When the patriots arrived at King's Mountain, they met Major Patrick Ferguson with his loyalist militia. During the ensuing battle, the loyalist forces were soundly defeated. With the death of Ferguson, their commander, the loyalists' surrender at the Battle of King's Mountain was secured. The patriot victory was so complete and decisive that it was a turning point for American freedom. This riveting account of the courageous patriots, their experiences leading to the battle, and the actual Battle at King's Mountain is a must read for all interested in the American Revolutionary War.
McCullough, David. Truman.
Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough writes a splendid biography of Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States. Spanning his remarkable life, the book chronicles his childhood, his financial struggles as a young man and later, his rise in the military during World War I, his entry into local politics and then politics on the national level as a senator, the growing preparation for World War II, his selection as a vice presidential candidate and subsequent election, his assent to the United States presidency upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his courageous decisions that affected the world while he was president, his dignified and gentlemanly leaving at the end of his final term as president, and his smooth transition back to his hometown of Independence, Missouri. Masterfully written and comprehensive in scope, this excellent biography of President Harry S. Truman is one you will long remember.
O'Connor, Sandra Day, and H. Alan Day. Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest.
Well written, Lazy B is the story of Sandra Day O'Connor's family and her childhood and youth living on an isolated ranch on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. It shows how their lives were shaped by the natural elements of sunshine, wind, and rain (or lack thereof) and how they learned to improvise, be self-sufficient, and always be prepared, among other things. The life lessons learned on the ranch molded her to become the adult she is today and prepared her to become the first female justice of the United States Supreme Court. This interesting memoir provides a glimpse into the life of a remarkable woman and is one all Daughters will enjoy.
O'Connor, Sandra Day. The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice.
In this powerful and thought-provoking book, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor reflects on "history, the law, and her life." She reveals what it is like to be a Supreme Court justice and how the Court and American traditions have changed. This candid book, written by one of the most inspirational and influential American women, is a must read for all Daughters.
Smith, Al. Wordsmith: My Life in Journalism.
Recipient of the KSDAR Media Award in 2009, Kentucky journalist Al Smith, whose grandmother was Tennessee State Regent, 1936-1938, relates his life story in an interesting and entertaining memoir. A natural storyteller, he reveals his struggles with alcohol as a young man and how he recovered while owning a newspaper in Russellville. From that point, he used the local press to chronicle leading social and political issues of the day to bring about change. As a result, he became the long-time host of KET's "Comment on Kentucky," a weekly government affairs program. During the 30 years that he hosted the television show, he championed rural America, which led him to establish the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky. This interesting memoir of a country newspaper editor turned TV host is well worth reading.