In 11th grade I was assigned my first real research paper. I chose the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was hooked from the first sentence. I devoured “The Best and The Brightest” by David Halberstam and “Reasonable Doubt” by Henry Hurt, in addition to several other books, articles, and documentaries. I was convinced I had solved the mystery of who killed JFK. As I turned in my paper, I was like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, my head full with dreams of the accolades I would be given by the teacher – in fact I was pretty sure she would recommend my paper for publication. Alas, my paper was returned with an A – but no mention of my brilliance or a recommendation of publication. But my obsession with reading and the topic of JFK and the Vietnam era remains.
I am always searching for new books to read and love to know what others are reading. Some of my favorite sources for new books are indiebound.com which features current indie best sellers, new writers, and recommendations for book clubs, and flashlightworthy.com with hundreds of recommendations by topic. Our Bridgeworth Summer Reading list is fast becoming another of my favorites. This year we included favorite podcasts as many enjoy listening to stories as much as reading books. We hope this list provides some good recommendations for your summer reading and listening and please, let us know what you are enjoying.
Now excuse me as I dash to my favorite bookstore and restock the batteries in my flashlight. Happy Reading!
Jenny Sneed, Partner
Atomic Girls by Janet Beard
Most of us are familiar with the Manhattan Project – the research and development that produced the first nuclear weapons used to end WWII – and the myth and lore that surrounds it. But I bet few have given much thought to the people who worked on the project – not the physicists, engineers, and scientists – but the hundreds of locals, especially the local young women, who worked at the plant with no idea of what the plant actually produces. “Atomic City Girls” does just that with the story of 18-year-old June Walker signs up and boards a bus to work. The longer she is there, the more curious she becomes about the mysterious purpose of the project. When the reason is revealed with the bombing of Hiroshima – how will June and the others who worked on the project view their work? Their patriotism? Their role in the war? “Atomic City Girls” is fascinating historical fiction piece and I highly recommend.
Brandi McCormack, Client Service Coordinator
Peace is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives by Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is a term that seems to be especially “buzzworthy” these days, but in this age of never-ending information, images, sounds, opinions, and noise – being mindful has never been more important. Thich Nhat Hanh is a peace activist, teacher, and community leader who teaches how to find peace in everyday moments, to be aware of relationships with others and of the world around us. With Hanh, the emphasis in “Mindfulness” is being mindFUL. I am a huge fan and have read most of his work – this is one of my favorites and would be a great introduction to anyone seeking more peace and calm in their lives.
Carmen Snyder, Client Service Coordinator
Life is Good: The Book – How to Live with Purpose & Enjoy the Ride by Bert & John Jacobs, Founders of Life is Good
Brothers and founders of the iconic “Life is Good” brand, Bert and John Jacobs, explore ten key “Superpowers” accessible to all: openness, courage, simplicity, humor, gratitude, fun, compassion, creativity, authenticity and love. Bert and John share their unique ride of life from their humble and scrappy upbringing just outside of Boston to the unlikely runaway success of their now $100 million business. Bert and John celebrate optimism, the ultimate driving force behind their success and beloved brand, “Life is Good”. This book will empower your thoughts to seek the good in every moment by turning your thoughts from “how was your day?” to “what was one good thing about your day?”. A profound, yet light-hearted and entertaining read that will leave you feeling more joyful, optimistic, imaginative and desire to ultimately simplify your life to focus on what truly matters the most.
Zach Ivey, Chief Investment Strategist, Partner
The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson
Every day we process huge amounts of information and make choice after choice based on how we process that information. The Slight Edge offers a new way of thinking – a way to make simple daily choices and take small actions, creating a compound effect to help us lead the lives we want.
Julie Ellis, Director of Marketing and Business Development
Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago
Saramago is one of my favorite writers and while his books are challenging to read (little to no punctuation or pauses in texts) – they never fail to make you think and often chuckle as Saramago targets political, business, and religious institutions with his sharp wit. In “Death with Interruptions,” in an un-named town in an un-named country, on the first day of the new year, no one dies. Everyone is jubilant – eternal life for all. There is celebration, singing, and dancing in the street and the country is quick to shut their borders convinced that everyone in the rest of the world will surely come to their magical place. And then the reality begins to sink in – families left to care for the near dead, hospitals and nursing homes quickly overwhelmed, life insurance companies have no purpose, funeral parlors with no business other than to bury pets, political leaders left grappling with how to handle rapidly increasing population, and the church – what is the role of the church and its leaders if there is no afterlife. As society begins to unravel, death (with a small d) sits alone in her chilly apartment contemplating her experiment. Would she like to be human? Maybe even fall in love? Can there be a future for anyone if no one ever dies? If you are up for the challenge, Saramago delivers.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
David Sedaris should be required reading for anyone who has ever struggled to fit in during their teen years, been baffled and embarrassed by their family, or looked at current events and thought “You have got to be kidding me!” His self-deprecating sense of humor and stories of his awkward childhood and less than conventional family will make you laugh out loud and shake your head as you fondly recall your own childhood and quirky relatives. I have read all of Sedaris’ work, seen him live, and listen on NPR any chance I get – but nothing tops the title essay, “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Living in France for three years, Sedaris decides it is time he at least try and learn the language. He takes a conversational French class with “an Italian nanny, two chatty Poles, and a pouty Moroccan woman.” During a discussion of holidays, someone asks about Easter. The Moroccan has never heard of Easter and the class attempts to explain in various levels of broken French. “Jesus has long hair and then he die on two morsels of lumber…..and he go to live above my head…but then he come back here to say hello to the peoples.” “Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb…and one may eat of the chocolate.” None of this raises any eyebrows but when Sedaris contributes to the conversation adding, “The Rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate,” the discussion spirals into a clash of cultures and traditions that leave the Morrocan even more confused…and left me with tears rolling as I laughed out loud.
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Kekaran
Every day the headlines shout stories of children being separated from parents as countries around the world grapple with how to handle issues of immigration. “Lucky Boy” takes a deep dive into the life of one child caught in the immigration turmoil. Soli is an undocumented Mexican woman who perilously makes her way across the border to Berkeley, California with no identity, no money, and three months pregnant. At the same time, professional chef Kavya and her software developer husband have struggled for years with infertility and decide to try and adopt through fostering a child. Kavya and her husband are second generation Indian and their families do not understand or agree with their decision to care for a child not of their race. Through no fault of her on, Soli finds herself in detention and her young son is swiftly removed from her care and placed in foster care with Kavya. Through alternating chapters, we learn the story of both Soli and Kavya and their love for this little boy. “Lucky Boy” questions the meaning of motherhood, friendship, family, loyalty, and who should determine what is in a child’s best interest. There are no easy answers and “Lucky Boy” sends that message home with unflinching honesty.
Monica Willis, Client Service Coordinator
Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
Rachel Hollis is the founder of the website thechicsite.com, CEO of Chic Media, and has amassed a huge fan base by sharing her messy life and what she has learned. With “Girl, Wash Your Face” each chapter begins with a lie/myth that Hollis (and many women) once believed. Some of these include, “Something else will make me happy,” “No is the final answer,” “I’m not a good mom,” “Other people’s kids are cleaner,” and “There is only one right way to be.” With humor and truth, Hollis reminds us that life isn’t meant to be merely survived – it is meant to be lived.
William Hocutt, Advisor
Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T Vanderbilt
In “Fortune’s Children,” Arthur Vanderbilt chronicles the rise of Cornelius Vanderbilt to one of the richest men in the world and then follows that wealth over the next three generations to see how his family squandered all their money. This book is very well written with as much drama and storytelling to be had as there are insights into money. To some, it will feel they are reading an American version of Downtown Abbey, footmen and all.
Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson
Kurson tells the story of two-weekend scuba divers who, along with others, risk their lives to solve a great historical mystery. “Shadow Divers” takes you on a great adventure and brings the world of scuba diving to life for those of us unfamiliar with this world. This one reads like a thriller till the end.
I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revaluation by Rob Tannenbaum
For those that grew up during the 80s (or anyone who has interest in music history) this was a guilty pleasure. This one is as much a book on the history and development of the music video format as it is MTV itself. I especially enjoyed the anecdotal stories about the musicians and VJs who made MTV popular and rose to fame through MTV’s meteoric rise.
Patti Black, Partner
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“The Book Thief” came out in 2004, when my twins were 2 years old and I was reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” over and over. I recently read “Book Thief” and I’m still thinking about it, which is one of my marks of a good book. Death, the narrator, tells the story of a young foster girl named Liesel growing up in Nazi Germany. Liesel learns to read and her love for books leads her to steal books and share those stories with her neighbors and a Jew named Max who is hidden in her basement.
Laura Hinton, Advisor
Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust-Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour by James A. Grymes
Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of the violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and Amnon Weinstein who devoted the last twenty years of his life to restoring the violins of the Holocaust as a tribute to those who were lost, including four hundred of his own relatives.
Stephen Gunter. Associate Advisor
How I Built This with Guy Raz
“How I Built This” is a great podcast where entrepreneurs/founders share how they built their brands,
Stephen Dubner interviews people and discusses the often un-thought-of side of things….like why are Americans so obsessed w/ their yards? Or why is there so much ground beef in the world?
Men in Blazers
Two British guys talk about soccer in typically dry, quirky British humor.
Lynne Monk, Office Facilitator
“S-Town,” a podcast hosted by Brian Reed, is about a man who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks Brian to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, and the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.
Kellie Taylor, Operations
Dirty John is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Christopher Goffard and tells the story of Debra Newell, a successful interior designer in Southern California who meets John Meehan on a dating site. Meehan is a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they all become entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival.
Patti Black, Partner
Arc Stories podcast features real-life stories. Some stories are funny, some are sad, but most are entertaining and family friendly, so you can enjoy them in the car on your next road trip.
Jeris Burns, Advisor
You think you know the story, or maybe you don’t. But Watergate was stranger, wilder, and more exciting than you can imagine. What did it feel like to live through the scandal that brought down a president? Join Leon Neyfakh for an eight-episode podcast miniseries that tells the story of Watergate as it happened.
Malcolm Gladwell has explored how ideas spread in “Tipping Point,” and decision making in “Blink,” the roots of success in “Outliers,” and the advantages of disadvantages in his latest book, “David and Goliath.” In his latest project, “Revisionist History,” Gladwell examines the way the passage of time changes and enlightens our understanding of the world around us.
Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair? “99% Invisible” is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.
“Bold Future” is a Birmingham based podcast by local entrepreneur Jeremy Carter. He interviews successful Alabama business owners and leaders. Each week you’ll hear an interview on a particular leadership topic with a leader who is making a difference in the world. The episodes are less than 30 minutes long and are chalked full of great thoughts to help you grow. My challenge to you is to find one or two insights that you can apply to your life right this second.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine what is appropriate for you, consult a qualified professional.
Bridgeworth, LLC is a registered investment adviser.