Good Books That Will Stay with You and Do Some Good in the World

Here are the books I brought to Good Day Alabama on WBRC Fox 6 this month. They include my new favorite novel, a way to help our planet, a way to help Ukraine and a novel about a forgotten part of our country’s history.

Cloud Cuckoo Land

by Anthony Duerr

This novel, by the author of All the Light We Cannot See (one of my all-time favorite books) is now my current favorite book. It took me forever to read—because I didn’t want it to end. That said, it also took reading about 30 pages before I really got into it. Stay with it, readers! Cloud Cuckoo Land follows five characters over six centuries and across continents and even into interstellar space. They all are connected by one special book. There’s 12-year-old Anna who lives within the walls of Constantinople—walls that are about to be breached by an invading army. She finds a codex containing the fantastic story of Aethon, a man who turns into a donkey, then a fish, then a crow, and she finds someone to teach her how to read it. Omeir, a village boy who was conscripted, along with his beloved oxen, is part of the invading army. Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, Zeno, who learned Greek as a Vietnam prisoner of war, is helping five children rehearse a play adaption of Aethon’s story. There’s a troubled young man downstairs, and he has a bomb. Then there’s Konstance, who is sealed in a vault alone on a spaceship called the Argos. She’s copying on scraps of paper the story of Aethon that her father used to tell her. These lives, with all their personal hopes and dreams, are amazingly intertwined in this book. Enjoy!

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard

by Douglas W. Tallamy

Turns out, nature’s best hope, is simply us.  Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, told us all about a pretty urgent situation: Wildlife populations are in decline because the native plants they depend on are disappearing. His solution was simple:  Plant more natives! In this new book, Tallamy takes that idea a step or two further with a grassroots approach to conservation. Nature’s Best Hope shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. It’s practical, effective and easy. No regulations … just you and your own private yard. 

This book is a blueprint for doing good! Tallamy offers specific steps you can take right now to make your space more wildlife friendly. It’s a great how-to that can get you started in one of the largest and most important conservation efforts of all time. I started a few years ago and now have a certified wildlife habitat around our house (just 10 minutes from downtown Birmingham). To date, we’ve seen foxes (red and gray), coyotes, raccoons, hawks, owls, some snakes, a pileated woodpecker, too many small birds to name, armadillos, possums and one mink. You can get your own space certified here.

Mamushka

by Olia Hercules

With Ukraine on my mind, I came across a Ukrainian cookbook by chef Olia Hercules. Hercules was born in Ukraine and lived in Cyprus for several years before moving to London and becoming a chef. This cookbook has been called a “gorgeous love letter to the food of her homeland.”

There are more than 100 recipes in her book. They can give you a solid introduction to Eastern European cuisine if that’s what you need. If you’re already familiar, these recipes will offer modern takes on traditional favorites. But there’s more to this book than chef’s favorite foods from home. It’s beautiful and informative, sure, but it’s also a deeply personal cookbook, full of Hercules’s loving stories about her culinary upbringing and family traditions.

As a show of support for Ukraine, Open Road Media is pledging a portion of the proceeds from Mamushka will go to Convoy of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to helping refugees. Just go here

I link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and BooksThe Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor Book Center, and I often visit my local library.

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