Category Archives: Humor

Books from the New York Times Best Seller’s List January 2014

  How Lucky You Can Be by Buster Olney

Where can you find a good book when you are looking for one?  The library has hundreds of books, but which one should you choose?  One option is to read reviews (like this one) or to wander through book lists, like the New York Times.  This will give you a good idea of what books are being read and enjoyed by others.  Our club decided to pick books from some of these lists.

​The book How Lucky You Can Be was written by Buster Olney, an ESPN announcer.  It is subtitled “The Story of Coach Don Meyer.”  Coach Meyer is the most famous coach that you never heard of… but other basketball coaches around the country know about him.  He devoted himself not only to his teams but also to teaching the art of coaching to anyone interested in the game he loved.  This is much more than a sports story.  It is the story of a dedicated man who at times neglected his family to achieve greatness in his field, passing the legendary Bobby Knight in career wins with over 903 victories, the most by any coach in history at that time.  It took a tragedy for him to express the love he had for his family — wife, children, and his players.

​ Don Meyer had been a college player at Northern Colorado and a head coach for years at David Lipscomb College and Northern State University.  His success was tremendous, but this story really begins on a lonely stretch of two-land road in South Dakota.  While leading a caravan of cars, taking his players on a team-building retreat, Meyer fell asleep at the wheel.  His car veered into an oncoming tractor-trailer truck.  The Coach was crushed, and it was feared that he would die from his injuries.  At the hospital, doctors prepared his wife because they were certain he would not make it through the surgery.  After five hours, Meyer survived but lost part of a leg, his spleen, and had numerous other injuries.  Meyer said that the accident was the best thing that could have happened to him.  He equated it with an angel providing him with a message.  The doctors found that Meyer had terminal cancer.

​ The story describes how this driven coach, who did not want to give up coaching basketball, rose to face the greatest challenge of his life.  He reassessed his life and his relationships.  His three adult children describe the changes that he under went.  Meyer now expressed himself, particularly his emotional self.  He did not hold back telling his children, his wife, or his players how much he loved them.  This tragedy actually has made their family even closer.  This is the story of a man who’s belief in God, his religion, his family, and his team— both coaches and players– gave him the strength to come back to coaching and to fight the lose of a leg and the cancer.  This would be the toughest battle of his life.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly, not only for basketball fans, as an inspirational story of a man fighting to overcome tremendous odds.  (5 of 5)

Other books from book lists rated by different club members:

Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos

Part love story, part meditation on finding spiritual peace in the midst of crisis.  It is a beautifully written, tender and passionate story of a man trying to put his life in perspective.  (4 of 5)

  Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss

A funny, informative nonfiction book with excellent examples of misused punctuation. (5 of 5)

  The Hundred Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

The story spans the 20th century with a character similar to Forest Gump.  (4 of 5)

 The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Multiple story lines and strong women tell the story of World War II.  (5 of 5)

    Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Thought provoking historic novel about women being held back by authoritive men.  (4 of 5)

     Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Published in 1932, a thought  provoking novel anticipates developments that have profoundly changed society.  (4.5 of 5)

 The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

This tale shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during the season of miracles.  (5 of 5)

 God is not Mad at You by Joyce Meyer

A book that explains the relationship between God and man.  (5 of 5)

     Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews

‘Tis the season to be jolly – a funny novel with a heroine who rounds up stray animals of all sorts as well as a killer.  Duck the Halls! (5 of 5)

    Nighttime is My Time by Mary Higgins Clark

A riveting novel of psychological suspense that depicts the mind of a killer. (4 of 5)

The Club Members rating these books:

Pat Gombita, Mona Herrell, Pat Kuna, Lee Ann Schrock, Julie Shultz, Bill Simmons, Deb Stewart, Barb Swanson, Linda Troll, Patti Tullis and Rae Ann Weaver

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Biography, Crime, Fourth Tuesday Book Club Books, Historical, History, Humor, Inspirational, Inspirational, Murder, Mystery, Personal Insights, Religion, Sports, Sports/Entertainment

Guiding Elliot

By Robert Lee

Published by the Lyons Press

Copyright © 1997

Donnie Phillips is a Montana Fly Fishing guide. When he is working he is fishing, but unlike some when he isn’t working he is probably still fishing. With the urging of some of his fellow guides and a New York transplant named Elliot, Donnie decides to chronicle his fishing season for a New York City Fly Fishing Club’s Newsletter. What they will learn is that old Donnie is having a rough year. He gets a nickname that he doesn’t particularly care for, he starts to lose some of his usual customers to another guide, Hank, who is originally from California, he loses his job, and his wife and a Vermont lawyer named Beth want to turn his land into a bed & breakfast for female fly-fishers.

Guiding Elliot is told from the viewpoint of Donnie as he writes his letters to the Fly Fishing Newsletter. Donnie is an endearing character who loves to fish and fight, though he isn’t as good at these things as he thinks is. As you progress through this story you realize that Donnie has a unique grasp of the English language and he can be quite chauvinistic, but you will also learn that Donnie has a heart of gold. Under his rough exterior you find a man who is simple, talented, and cares about others. My only complaint with Donnie is his bad taste in Beer – Pabst Blue Ribbon, Really!!?? Guiding Elliot is an entertaining novel with a protagonist that you can really get behind in his failures and successes. It should appeal to lovers of the outdoors whether they are men or women.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Humor, Nature/Outdoors, Strong Sense of Place

Pontoon

PONTOON

By Garrison Keillor

Published by the Penguin Group

Copyright © 2007

Evelyn, an old Lutheran Lady, has died at the age of eighty-two. She went in her sleep so they say. It was just the way she wanted to go. She left a letter describing her wishes for burial, and it has some Lutherans who thought they knew her well rather shocked. Evelyn doesn’t want a church Service, a viewing, a memorial, or a burial service. She wants to be dressed up in a green rhinestone dress, cremated and put into a hollowed out green bowling ball, and dropped into Lake Wobegon while Andy Williams “Moon River” is played. Evelyn wrote a letter to this affect for her daughter Barbara to find. That letter along with a few others that she finds that were never sent to her have a profound and freeing affect on her and her son Kyle.

This same week thirty-five year old Debbie Detmer comes home to get married. She is a local wild child who moved to California when she was young and ended up making millions as a pet aromatherapist. She is set to marry a high-strung private jet salesman; the only problem is it isn’t really a marriage, it is a ceremony of commitment (which is not legally binding) replete with expensive champagne, shrimp, cheese, a pontoon boat, two gigantic decoy pedal ducks, a parachuting Elvis impersonator, and a hot air balloon. Oh, and this is also going to be on Lake Wobegon…the same day as the funeral.

Throw in a parasail bowling ball deployment, a group of 24 liberal rebel Danish Lutheran pastors on a tour of the Midwest, and an old dog that smells moldy carrying a dead fish in his mouth and you have a recipe for a scene that is truly hilarious.

Garrison Keillor, creator of the Prairie Home Companion on National Public Radio and author of many novels of his beloved Lake Wobegon, is a master of dry, Midwestern, Lutheran wit.  He has managed to write another book about Lake Wobegon that will make you laugh and think at the same time. Some of his novels can be too crowded with characters and back stories which make his novels hard to follow, but this one is perfect. It wasn’t hard to figure out where the off track character and stories fit in. “Pontoon” is a wonderfully funny life affirming novel, and I loved every minute of it. If you like stories about small town communities that are just a little off kilter and slightly irreverent, you’ll love this one.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Humor, Strong Sense of Place