Hear from CEO Bobby Herrera Why You Should Go Off the Beaten Path in The Gift of Struggle: Life-Changing Lessons About Leading

Book Cover of The Gift of Struggle by Bobby Herrera

My Review:

CEO of Populus Group, Bobby Herrera has had his struggles.  Growing up in a Mexican migrant worker family, he was not unfamiliar with long hours and difficult times. In school for six months of the year and then traveling to work in the fields to provide food for the people in this country for the next six months, without getting the recognition, Bobby felt socially invisible.  Unable to spend money like the other kids, Bobby and his brother did their best to fit in but knew they were different.  Once he was in the army at 18, fulfilling his father’s lifelong dream, he realized how his difficult lifestyle had prepared him for military training.  Looking back at his upbringing he felt great appreciation for his parents and all they did for him, and he understood that struggle gave him a gift.

Through charming personal anecdotes, Bobby talks about his ongoing leadership journey and the lessons he has learned.  From exploring his own identity, to being aware of how much to give and take with colleagues, bosses and underlings, to choosing where and how he wanted to make an impact, Bobby tells his stories and encourages us to think about our own leadership styles.  Each chapter ends with Questions to Guide Your Journey, allowing you to think about how you respond to different situations and how you might be able to change your thinking and behavior, and venture off the beaten path to improve outcomes.

This is an easy to read, engaging, and thought provoking little book, great for anyone in a leadership position. Whether you are the CEO, middle management, a parent, or recently entering the workforce, there are lessons to be learned and Bobby Herrera can help guide you on your journey.  For me, as a reader, one of the best things he says is “the best leaders are always learning” and “books are the greatest resource I can recommend to you”.  Bobby has a special shelf he calls “Bible Row” where he keeps his books that guide him, revisiting them often.  They make him ask better and bigger questions and make him think.  I believe The Gift of Struggle:  Life Changing Lessons About Leading deserves a place on everyone’s shelf.  How we look at who we are and where we came from, no matter where that might be, can impact how we are treated, how we choose to treat others, and our level of success.  I enjoyed this one.

The Gift of Struggle is for everyone, and it makes a great father’s day gift!

Goodreads Summary

Author of The Gift of Struggle, Bobby Herrera and Jennifer Blankfein

I had the pleasure of meeting the inspirational Bobby Herrera at Book Expo.

Learn more about Bobby Herrera here.


4 Benefits of Reading… This Is What I Know.


Reading helps us to examine our world in new ways.  It provides us with opportunities to become more educated on an infinite number of topics and allows us to look at issues ways we may never have before.  Reading gives us insight into relationships and helps us understand people, teaches us empathy, and presents opportunities to ask questions.

quote about reading

Here are 4 benefits of reading, and 30 book suggestions for you to enjoy!


Exploring places around the world and going back in time through reading gives us access to infinite knowledge.

Different Aspects of World War II

At The Wolf's Table

Women were chosen to be food tasters for Hitler in At The Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino.

Challenges of Assimilation

A Place for Us

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza explores a Muslim Indian American family and their religion and traditions.

Performance Art at MOMA

The Museum of Modern Love

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose is a fiction story centered around Marina Abramović and her performance art exhibit in 2010.

South Africa and Apartheid

Hum if You Don't Know the Words If You Want to Make God Laugh

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais tells stories of women and family brought together through tragedies.

Rwandan Massacre

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya is a memoir about a girl who survived the genocide in Rwanda and the aftermath.

Death Row and Prison Life

The Last SuppersThe Sun Does Shine

The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak and The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton give a dismal picture of what goes on behind bars and the strength needed to overcome.

The Korean War

PachinkoIf You Leave Me

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim teach us about the lives of Korean refugees.

AIDS in the 1980s and 90s

The Great BelieversNow Everyone Will Know

The AIDS crisis devastated so many and deeply impacted families in the  The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and Now Everyone Will Know by Maggie Kneip.

Famous People

LittleWhite HousesSong of a Captive Bird

Little by Edward Carey is a story based on the imagined life of Madame Tussaud, Eleanor Roosevelt and her unconventional relationship is depicted in White Houses by Amy Bloom, and the life of the strong female poet, Forugh Farrokhzad is revealed in Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik.

Strong Women That Were Wronged

Lilac GirlsRadium Girls

These are devastating stories of women in the past who were not protected by the government, like the rabbits in The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly,  and the factory workers in The Radium Girls by Kate Moore.

Grand Central Terminal History

The Masterpiece

Fictitious stories about the actual art school located above Grand Central Terminal are depicted in The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis.


Reading can provide different prospectives, helping us see a story from all sides.

AsymmetryThe Only Story

Loosely based on the author and Philip Roth, we read about a young girl in a relationship with an older male in Asymmetry  by Lisa Halliday. 

A look back on the memories of the narrator’s first love, there is a young male in a relationship with an older female in The Only Story by Julian Barnes.

The Sunshine SistersThe Husband Hour

Complex mother, daughter and sister relationships play out in Jane Green’s The Sunshine Sisters and Jamie Brenner’s The Husband Hour .


People are always saying reading encourages empathy and it is really true…When you are reading you are made more aware of other people’s feelings and given the opportunity to understand people that are different.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineThe Extraordinary Life of Sam HellA Boy Made of BlocksWe Loe Anderson Cooper

Eleanor Oliphant by Gail HoneymanThe Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Bob Dugoni and A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart are about those that just don’t fit in; similar to the characters in the short story collection We Love Anderson Cooper by R.L. Maizes.


Some books provide opportunities to ask ourselves WHAT IF? 

The CircleReady Player OneThe FarmVox

The Circle by Dave Eggers examines the power of social media.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline shows the future of video games.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos explores surrogate farms.  

Vox by Christina Dalcher takes a dystopian look at government control.

globe and people

Learn about interesting topics.  Examine complex relationships.  Learn to empathize.  Explore the unknown.

 What are you reading today?

An Engaging Memoir of Powerful Reflections on Family, Life and Personal Growth from the South Side of Chicago to the White House in Becoming by Michelle Obama


My Review:

Becoming is an engaging memoir from a tall, bright, black girl from Chicago who grew up in a traditional home with loving family and the opportunity for education. Where her life led is remarkable and Michelle Obama tells us about her youth, her relationship, marriage and daughters along with her thoughts and opinions about being a black woman, wife and mother in the White House. As the First Lady, she had worthwhile major initiatives surrounding children’s health, military families and education and she provides readers with an insider’s look and insight into her time in Washington DC.

Becoming is not just about becoming FLOTUS, it is about Michelle Obama’s personal growth based on choices she made and ones that were made for her due to circumstances – choices about her career, whether or not she got married and had children and how she created and honored her family values, made an impact on people and participated in causes she cared about, utilizing her new found power and visibility to help the people in our country become healthier, more ambitious and hopeful.  She wasn’t just the president’s wife; Michelle Obama was a refreshing force with strong morals and an effective agenda for positive change in the White House, while providing stability for her children and husband as he took on the biggest job in our country.

One of Michelle Obama’s major initiatives while in the White House was the Let’s Move campaign with the goal to reduce childhood obesity and encourage a healthier lifestyle.  She worked with her Executive Director, Sam Kass, who at the time was President Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition, and together they created the first major vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden.


In 2018 Sam Kass came to my local library (Westport Library) to talk about his time in the White House, eating healthy and to promote his cookbook, Eat A Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World.

A role model for women and girls, Michelle Obama took on the job of First Lady and conducted herself in the public eye with grace and effectiveness and deserves admiration and accolades.  I highly recommend this book, regardless of your politics, as it gives you a unique understanding of the Obama family, the challenges members of the black community and all women face, and the endless possibilities for making positive change in your immediate world and the world at large.  I loved it and hear the audio version is fantastic!

Goodreads Summary


About the Author:

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the forty-fourth President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States.

She was born and grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. After completing her formal education, she returned to Chicago and accepted a position with the law firm Sidley Austin, and subsequently worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Michelle Obama is the sister of Craig Robinson, men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University. She met Barack Obama when he joined Sidley Austin. After his election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago’s South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C.

Combat Bullying – Learn How To Teach Your Children Empathy and Acceptance…The Kindness Advantage by Dr. Dale Atkins and Amanda Salzhauer


My Review:

The world can often be harsh, and lucky for us, authors Dale Atkins PhD and Amanda Salzhauer, MSW are giving all families a leg up with tips and ideas for how to be kind in their new book, The Kindness Advantage, Cultivating Compassionate and Connected Children.  Based on research, this guide provides ways for adults to nurture kindness in our children, teaching them from a young age to be empathetic, compassionate fulfilled people.

According to authors Atkins and Salzhauer, The 10 Fundamentals of Kindness are:

Acceptance – Commitment – Connection – Empathy – Giving – Interest – Nurturing – Observing – Questioning – (be) Yourself

Each one is described and explained in the book, and applied to real life situations.  Asking our children how they want to be treated leads to a discussion of how to treat others and in the book there are lots of examples and ideas on how to cultivate kinder children.

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I was lucky enough to hear Dr. Dale Atkins speak, and she said, based on research, whether we do an act of kindness, are on the receiving end of an act of kindness, or we merely witness an act of kindness, there are real mental, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits as a result of the increased flow of endorphins.  That is great news because collectively we have the opportunity to make the world a kinder place if we all incorporate more kindness into our family life.

Also included in the book are incredibly helpful tools for breathing, visualization, and meditation for children. Recommended books and apps are listed at the back, as well as journal questions and space for answers and personal notes.   Charity is good and conversation makes the difference so pick up a copy of The Kindness Advantage to help guide you and your family.  It is a perfect gift for everyone in contact with young children… grandparents and teachers too!

Goodreads Summary


About the Authors:

Dale Atkins, Ph.D.

Dale Atkins is a licensed psychologist with more than forty years of experience as a relationship expert focusing on families, wellness, managing stress, and living a balanced, meaningful life.

Author of seven books and many chapters, articles, and journals for popular and professional audiences, Dale is a featured speaker who lectures and leads seminars worldwide, often about raising financially responsible, charitable children.  Dale is a frequent guest expert in the media and appears regularly on NBC’s TODAYand CNN. Dale has a private psychology practice in New York City and has been a member of and advisor to several nonprofit boards, including Jumpstart for Young Children, from which she recently retired after serving twenty-two years, since its founding. She has two children and six grandchildren, and lives in Connecticut. She can be found on Twitter (@DrDaleAtkins), Facebook, and at drdaleatkins.com.

Amanda Salzhauer, MSW

Amanda Salzhauer has a Master’s degree in social work and has worked as a social worker in clinics and private practice.

She currently serves as secretary of the Horace Mann School board, president of the board of Riverdale Neighborhood House, and sits on the Advisory Council of Child Help Partnership at St John’s University. At Dartmouth College Hillel she helped raise funds for the construction and endowment of the Roth Center for Jewish Life, which is now in its twentieth year. Amanda is an active member of her synagogue, where she developed and instituted the Sharing the Spirit of Shabbat program to give families the opportunity to participate in a community service project. She has three children and lives in Bronx, New York.

Is scrubbing toilets the ticket to easy street? Read about Stephanie Land’s struggle to pay the bills in Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive


My Review:

Everyone has a story and it is possible that Stephanie Land’s is not all that unique.  That is the importance of her telling us about her job as a Maid, her strength and persistence to support herself and her daughter while bringing to light the challenges so many people living in poverty are faced with when it comes to getting government assistance.  Perceived laziness and free ride mentality are hurtful stigmas that hardworking men and women fight against when unfortunate circumstances find them living below the poverty line.

In a similar vein of Educated by Tara Westover, Stephanie Land beautifully expresses her insights on humanity and gives a voice to the hardworking people who like her, struggle to stay afloat doing domestic labor jobs working for the wealthier to earn a living, apply for housing assistance and vouchers for food, barter for room and board and strive to the best single parent possible…all while on the quest for higher education to create a better life.

According to the US Census Bureau, close to 40 million people in this country live in poverty, with women and minorities leading the charge.

If you want to read more stories about poverty, try Heartland by Sarah Smarsh and Evicted by Matthew Desmond.

Enjoy this Video interview of author Stephanie Land.

Goodreads Summary



About the Author:

Stephanie Land is the author of MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Guardian; Vox, Salon, and many other outlets. She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her two daughters. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @stepville.


DNA testing is a hot topic today…find out how it went for author Dani Shapiro in her new memoir: Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love…with new video interview!


New Video Interview from CBS This Morning

My Review:

Do you really know the story of your life?  Author Dani Shapiro thought she did; the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Orthodox Jewish father, Dani grew up surrounded by, and enmeshed in Judaism, Hebrew, traditions and rituals.  She had a deep love and admiration for her ancestors who came before her and she drew strength from just knowing about them.  In Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love, Dani shares with us her shocking personal discovery and the emotional rollercoaster that ensued as she searches for answers to family secrets and struggles to come to terms with who she really is.

In her early 50s, after her parents had passed away, on a whim, Dani did something so many people are doing these days – she sent in her DNA to be analyzed.  She was blindsided by the shocking results and then began a search for unknown relatives to ultimately discover herself.  Shaken to the core with endless questions, Dani was immersed in uncertainty of her identity, where she came from, and who she really is.  Was everything she thought about all her so called blood relatives who came before her a lie?  Who is her family…her son’s family…who does she belong to?

Finding long lost relatives can be a source of great happiness and fulfillment, and equally brings up so many questions and so much pain.  It is a complex concurrence of emotions and if you are going to take the chance and send in your DNA for testing, emotional preparedness for the onslaught is a good idea.

While reading this incredible memoir I was swept away on the emotional journey with Dani Shapiro as she masterfully tells her unique story.  Don’t miss it!

A quick search on the internet brings up many news articles and videos on the topic – here is one… VIDEO.

Goodreads Summary


About the Author:

Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. She lives with her family in LItchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest memoir, Inheritance, was published by Knopf in January, 2019.

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart …literally. Stories, medical research and discoveries over the years shed a light on matters of the ❤️.


My Review:

I devoured this book, thoroughly enjoyed the anecdotes and learned so much. According to author Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, “This book is about what the heart is, how it has been handled by medicine, and how we can most wisely live with – as well as by – our hearts in the future.”

Dr. Jauhar, a medical doctor, found himself out of breath, went to go get checked out and learned, along with other minor issues, his main artery feeding into his heart had a “30 to 50 percent obstruction near the opening and a 50 percent blockage in the mid portion.”  His paternal grandfather died of a heart attack at 57 years old and his maternal grandfather at 83.  His personal and familial experiences have guided his career and currently he is a cardiologist and the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.  “Understanding how and why my grandfather had died, and what implications his premature death had for my father, my siblings, and me, was fundamentally intertwined with my decision to train in cardiology.”

Filled with medical history and peppered with incredible stories of brave doctors who risked their own lives to study the heart, Heart: A History is incredibly informative and includes comprehensible descriptions of experiments and procedures that assisted in the understanding of how the heart works and how medicine has improved drastically so today we can fix certain problems.

Since 1910, cardiovascular disease has been the number one killer, claiming 18 million lives a year.  “The scale of heart disease in the 1950s was like that of AIDS in the 1980s: a disease that dominated American medicine both clinically and politically. More than 600,000 Americans were dying of heart disease every year. In 1945, the budget for medical research at the National Institutes of Health was $180,000. Five years later, it was $46 million. ”  Based on research, heart health in this country is declining and we are challenged with finding new solutions.  Heart transplants are successful but we will never have enough hearts available for those in need, so other solutions to heart disease must be pursued.

Dr. Jauhar talks about how we associate the heart with our feelings and use the name of the organ to represent emotions, like wear your heart on your sleeve, your heart’s not in it, change of heart, bleeding heart.   Even though these are just expressions, feelings and emotions often have a big effect on the heart and how it reacts to stresses and general overall function.  “Over the years, I have learned that the proper care of my patients depends on trying to understand (or at least recognize) their emotional states, stresses, worries, and fears. There is no other way to practice heart medicine. For even if the heart is not the seat of the emotions, it is highly responsive to them. (The) “biological heart is extraordinarily sensitive to our emotional system—to the metaphorical heart”. “The autonomic nervous system has two divisions: the “sympathetic” system, which mediates the fight-or-flight reaction, using adrenaline to speed up the heart and increase blood pressure; and the “parasympathetic” system, which has the opposite effect, slowing respirations and heartbeat, lowering blood pressure, and promoting digestion. Both sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves travel along blood vessels and terminate in nerve cells within the heart to help regulate the heart’s emotional reactions.”

Procedures and practices have advanced greatly over the past 75 years. In the late 1940s chest compressions were discovered to help raise blood pressure and now are common practice in resuscitations. In 1954 advanced open heart surgery was extremely rare (being done by only one doctor) using cross circulation (another healthy person as a donor).  In 1977 the first balloon coronary angioplasty was performed in Switzerland. The doctor came to the United States in 1980 to continue his research.  This led to clot busting drugs (which although still experimental and not approved by the FDA at the time, saved my father’s life as he suffered a heart attacking in the late 1980s). The automatic defibrillator was approved by the FDA in 1985. Even though there has been a drop in cardiovascular mortality, we still must continue on the path of research and discovery.

Heart: A History was easy to read, filled with great stories and research and provided an exciting overview of monumental strides made in twentieth century medicine.  It also fed my curiosity and obsession with surgery that often gets fulfilled while watching medical shows on tv including Chicago Med, Untold Stories of the ER and the graphic Dr. Pimple Popper!  I highly recommend this book to those who have a curiosity about science and the heart.


Goodreads Summary


About the Author:

Sandeep Jauhar has written three books, all published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. His first book, “Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation,” was a national bestseller and was optioned by NBC for a dramatic television series.

His second book, “Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician,” released in August 2014, was a New York Times bestseller and was named a New York Post Best Book of 2014. It was praised as “highly engaging and disarmingly candid” by The Wall Street Journal, “beautifully written and unsparing” by The Boston Globe, and “extraordinary, brave and even shocking” by The New York Times.

“Heart: A History,” his latest book, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal our most vital organ. It has been praised as “gripping…(and) strange and captivating” by The New York Times, “fascinating” by The Washington Post, “poignant and chattily erudite” by The Wall Street Journal, and “elegiac” by The American Scholar. It was named a best book of 2018 by the Mail on Sunday, Science Friday, Zocalo Public Square, and the Los Angeles Public Library, and was the PBS NewsHour/New York Times book club pick for January 2019.

A practicing cardiologist, Jauhar is currently a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. He has appeared frequently on National Public Radio, CNN, and MSNBC to discuss issues related to medicine, and his essays have also been published in The Wall Street Journal, Time, and Slate. To learn more about him and his work, visit his website at http://sandeepjauhar.com or follow him on Twitter: @sjauhar.

An Eye-Opening Story of Poverty in America…Heartland by Sarah Smarsh


My Review:

It is possible that I have overdosed on stories about indigence and the cultural divide, so for me, Sarah Smarsh’s message was strong yet her story felt repetitive.  Smarsh tells us about her family and how their extreme poverty lead to generations of teenaged pregnancies,  drinking, abuse, lack of education, bad or absent parenting, and all the while her family worked hard to live.  We learn everything through the author talking to her unborn child – in my opinion, an unnecessary addition to this memoir which forces us to reevaluate how we look at our country’s class structure, often based on earnings.

According to the author, the government doesn’t even recognize the people who are below the poverty line. She says, “In college, I began to understand the depth of the rift that is economic inequality.” With self awareness and recognition of her past, Sarah broke the chain that was passed down through the generations of her family as she chose to avoid teenage pregnancy, and as of now, parenthood altogether.

Reminiscent of Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, and inclusive of some elements of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond and Educated by Tara Westover, Sarah Smarsh’s story felt like more of the same but is worthy if you can’t get enough!

Goodreads Summary


About the author:

Journalist Sarah Smarsh has covered socioeconomic class, politics, and public policy for The Guardian, The New York Times, NewYorker.com, Harpers.org, Longreads, Pacific Standard and many others. A native of rural Kansas, Smarsh is a frequent speaker and commentator on economic inequality and the news media. She lives in Kansas.

Susan Orlean’s account of the Los Angeles Public Library’s tragic fire, the history and the rebuilding, and innovation and the future at my own local library.


My Review:

In April 1986 a suspicious fire started at the Los Angeles Public Library and destroyed over 400,000 books and countless irreplaceable historical materials, among them a cherished collection of maps, sheet music, plays and first editions of rare books. Hundreds of thousands of books were damaged by smoke and water and the people of the city were distraught over the tragedy. A suspect, Harry Peak was charged with arson, but the legal team had little definitive evidence and over time the case fizzled.

In The Library Book, Award winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author, Susan Orlean takes us through this horrific event that shocks the city and changes many of the employees and volunteers forever.  Based on extensive research, she also provides information leading up to the development of the LA library and its collection and departments as well as its rebuilding after the fire in a compelling, storytelling fashion.  From how a portion of the collection was salvaged after water damage by freezing the books for 2 years in frozen lockers owned by local merchants to prevent the growth of mold spores, to the ongoing and arduous investigation of Harry Peak, to the help desk that answered every question imaginable before google existed, to the importance of the education and support programs developed for immigrants, the homeless and all the people of the city, Susan Orlean enlightens us with facts, anecdotes and eye opening information that makes up the unique history of the Los Angeles Public Library and all libraries worldwide.  I learned quite a bit and thoroughly enjoyed!


The Westport Library

As someone who is involved in my own local library as a consultant, a volunteer and a patron, the shock and dismay of a terrible tragedy like what the LA people experienced is unthinkable.  We know that today, libraries do not just house books, but they provide so much more to their community.  My local library, The Westport Library is exceptional.  They opened to the community in 1908 – beginning with a donation from Morris K. Jesup, a wealthy banker, who was the president of the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and and one of the men who started that museum along with JP Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt Sr. and other prominent businessmen and philanthropists.  He founded organizations that helped provide care for wounded soldiers, taught immigrants skills and was one of the founders of the YMCA.  He supported Arctic expeditions, hospitals, museums and educational institutions, including contributions to Yale and Williams College.   He made his money in the railroad business and ultimately in banking and was the president of the New York Chamber of Commerce.  Morris Jesup was born in Westport and  donated the land and $5000 for the Westport Public Library to be built. It was completed and opened to the public four months after his death.

To keep up with changes and growing needs of the community, there have been several renovations… one in 1986 (the same year as the LA fire), and another in 1998.  In 2012 the Westport Library opened a makerspace and acquired 3D printers, and in 2014 they became the first library in the country to use robots to teach computer programming.  The Westport Library programs have included some amazing people, like Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Martin Scorsese, Jon Meacham, Nile Rodgers, Lois Lowry, Sheila Nevins and Lynsey Addario.  James Naughton, Alan Alda, Alisyn Camerota, Justin Paul, Clive Davis and hundreds of other local, aspiring and accomplished authors, actors, and public figures have participated in the innovative and extensive programming.  At the library, of course you can check out books, music, dvds and reference material, but you can also do unusual or unexpected things, like a crossword puzzle with Will Shortz once a year (creator of The New York Times puzzle), learn about electronics, how to master your iPhone and online dating, play chess, knit, write, discuss books, and so much more.  The library hosted the first annual literary festival, Saugatuck StoryFest for the community this year and welcomed 100 authors and storytellers to participate.  (authors include Sheila Nevins, Andrew Gross, Peter Blauner, Heather Frimmer, Alisyn Camerota, Cristina Alger, Wendy Walker, Lynne Constantine, Kate Moretti, Riley Sager, Meredith Schorr, Fiona Davis, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, Lynda Cohen Loigman and Abby Fabiaschi)

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Right now, The Westport Library is finishing up a significant $20 million dollar Transformation Project, and is due to be open to the public summer 2019.  They look forward to sharing with the community an expanded indoor/outdoor café, many conference rooms, comfortable seating areas overlooking the Saugatuck River, a larger makerspace, a hackerspace, a recording studio and room for events that accommodate over 600 people…there will be something for everyone in what is to be an incredible community gathering space with endless resources and opportunities.

If you are even in this neck of the woods, please come visit!  It will be worth the trip.

Goodreads Summary


About the Author:

What can I tell you? I am the product of a happy and relatively uneventful childhood in Cleveland, Ohio (back when the Indians were still a lousy team, and before they became a really good team and then again became a somewhat lousy team, although I have hope again…) This was followed by a happy and relatively squandered college career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (back when Ann Arbor hosted a Hash Bash every spring). I studied literature and history and always dreamed of being a writer, but had no idea of how you went about being a writer – or at least the kind of writer I wanted to be: someone who wrote long stories about interesting things, rather than news stories about short-lived events. There is no guidebook to becoming that kind of writer, so I assumed I’d end up doing something practical like going to law school, much as the thought of it made me cringe. After college, I moved to Portland, Oregon (back when Portland was cappucino-free) to kill some time before the inevitable trek to law school – and amazingly enough I lucked into a writing job at a tiny now-defunct monthly magazine. That led to a job at an alternative newsweekly in Portland where I wrote music reviews and feature pieces. While I was in Portland, Mt. St. Helens erupted; I started writing for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice; I learned to cross-country ski; I failed to learn how to cook.

I moved to Boston in 1982 (back before they built the Ted Williams Tunnel and long before the Red Sox reversed the curse). I wrote for the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Globe, and started work on my first book Saturday Night. Four years later I moved to New York. After moving to New York, I learned how to snowboard; wrote The Orchid Thief; became a staff writer at The New Yorker; got married; got a Welsh Springer Spaniel; learned how to order take-out food. These days I do some lecturing and some teaching, but most of the time I’m writing pieces for The New Yorker and occasionally for other magazines, and working on books. My latest project, a book about the Los Angeles Public Library and the arson fire there in 1986, will be published in October, 2018, by Simon and Schuster. Right now, I split my time between Los Angeles and the Hudson Valley of New York, with my husband, my son, and a small menagerie of animals.