Saturday, May 10, 2014


Charles and Anne Lindbergh lived in public view, continually being splashed across the headlines. The couple was famous not only for Charles’ 1927 trans-Atlantic airplane flight and the 1932 kidnapping of their child, but because they chronicled their own lives in many autobiographical writings. Ms. Morrow was celebrated in her own right as an aviatrix and came from a well-known family. So famous are the Lindberghs that bestsellers continue to be written about the two of them. Many of these books can be found on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library.

Two biographies of note are Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Her Life by Susan Herlog, both of which focus mainly on the title characters.  A third, Loss of Eden: A Biography of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, by Joyce Milton, rounds out their lives as a couple. The autobiographical The Wartime Journals of Charles Lindbergh is a long but thought-provoking work.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin is historical fiction. Capturing not just the couple’s fame and lack of privacy, the story describes the difficult marriage they shared and how Anne wanted and needed space for herself and the opportunity to become her own person. Like The Paris Wife about Hadley Richardson, first wife of Ernest Hemingway, the book explores what it’s like to live in the shadow of a celebrity husband. Toward that end in real life, Ms. Morrow established herself as deep-thinking author particularly admired by women readers.  Gift From the Sea, a small and powerful inspirational book, remains a favorite of individuals and books groups.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Some books are just transformational and make us look at old ideas in a new way. One of those books is Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle. In his book, which is on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library, Father Boyle tells his story of becoming a parish priest in East Los Angeles and interacting with gang members, an experience that not only gave his career a new focus, but caused him to reach deeply into his spiritual mission.
The outstanding book is both shocking and funny. Boyle’s stories of gang members, often raised in poverty-stricken homes with neglectful parents, are heartbreaking, as are the senseless violence and deaths resulting from gang activities. The stories are also often laugh-out-loud as the author tries to humanize people that many see as monsters. And, this is the theme of the book—the author’s view that gang members are deserving of compassion. Father Boyle never excuses the horrible deeds they commit and he continually tries to find them jobs that he hopes will lead them away from the gang life. The book also talks about Home Boy Industries, the company Father Boyle created as a viable business and job center.

Another book is about Gregory Boyle, rather than written by him.  G Dog and the Homeboys by Celeste Fremon captures the gang intervention work of Father Boyle. Both books are inspirational and thought-provoking and each invites the reader to have a greater understanding of a very complex issue.  

Some of you may remember when Father Boyle came to  Monrovia in 2011 as part of our Eureka speakers grant. He spoke to a packed room of over 200 people who left motivated and inspired.