The Sum of Our Days, a memoir, Isabel Allende -
In his heartfelt memoir, Isabel Allende reconstructs the painful reality of her own life in the wake of tragic loss, the death of her daughter, Paula. Recalling the past 13 years from the daily letters the author and her mother, who lives in Chili, wrote to each other, Allende bares her soul in a book that is exuberant and full of life as its creator. She recounts the stories of the wildly eccentric, strong minded, and eclectric tribe she gathers around her that becomes a new kind of family.
Throughout, Allende shares her thoughts on love, marriage, motherhood, spirituality and religion, infidelity, addiction, and memory. Here, too, are the amazing stories behind Allende's books, the superstitions that guide her writing progress, and her adventurous travels. Ultimately, The Sum of Our Days offers a unique tour of this gifted writer's inner world and of the relationships that have become essential to her life and her work.
A portrait of a contemporary family, bound together by the love, fierce loyalty and stubborn determination of a beloved, indomitable matriarch.
And, Texas Towns and The Art of Architecture, Richard Payne, A Photographer's Journey, Foreword by Stephen Fox -
Architectural photographer Richard Payne began this photographic survey of small Texas towns as a part-time enterprise, something enjoyable to do in his spare time out of nostalgia, curiosity, and a love of making photographs that reminded him of his hometown. The effort grew into a book that reflects today's Texas small towns and the practice of architecture of a profession and an art.
The brief period between 1880 and 1930 was the golden age of architecture in Texas. The downtowns of small towns was built then, and since 1950 there has been a general decline, not only in the architecture and infrastructure, but also in the cultural and economic fabric of life in much of rural Texas.
Looking closely at the architecture of some 200 towns throughout every region of the state, Payne closely documents in beautifully detailed images the current state of our architectural heritage. "Could we learn and apply the lessons small towns offer us?" he asks. Payne's answer, represented by the beauty of his photography, and the passion of his writing "is always yes."
And, Sundays in America, A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith, Suzanne Strempek Shea -
When Pope John Paul II died, Suzanne Strempek Shea, who had not been an active member of a church community for some years, recognized in his mourners a faith filled passion that she longed to recapture in her own life. Shea, never one to do things in a conventional manner or by halves, set out on a pilgrimage to visit a different church every Sunday for a year, a journey that would take her through the broad spectrum of contemporary Protestant Christianity practiced in this country.
She began with a rousing Baptist Easter service in Harlem, traveled to Colorado's Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for a sing-song service at the Cowboy Church, and flew to Houston for a multimedia experience at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, the largest church in the country. She sat with the Shakers, and, in silence, with the Quakers, she sang often, danced, and even drew on one memorable occasion. Shea approached each congregation with the curiosity of a newcomer and with respect for each unique expression of faith, whether the sanctuary was a multimillion dollar extravaganza, a centuries old edifice, an abandoned building, or even an airport chapel.
In her tour of more than 30 states, Shea knocked knees with President Jimmy Carter at his Plains, Georgia Baptist Church on Independence Day; got a wake-up call from Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham's daughter, at a sprawling conservative church in South Carolina; followed the signs in the wake of hurricane Katrina and found a new Presbyterian church in Mississippi; Collected tips on The Purpose Driven Life from Rick Warren at his famed Saddleback Church complex; and many more.