Celebrating National Book Month with HM

Did you know October is National Book Month? Our team is made up of some voracious readers, and we thought it’d be fun to talk about our favorite books, especially ones that aren’t related to what we do. (Which was hard for some of us!) Here’s a collection of responses and musings about our favorite books.

Adele Lawhead, Controller

The Alice Network – Kate Quinn: This is a fictionalized account based on the true story of women spies during WWI and WWII. It’s my favorite genre of book – historical fiction. I had no idea about women spies during these wars. It changed my views on how these wars were won. It’s not just one single thing that changed the fates but many people working in different ways to defeat the other side. It also shows how the women were not treated so well after the war and after risking their lives for their countries. It’s similar to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. I had no idea that the Germans occupied the channel islands between England and France during WWII. 

Nickel and Dimed – Barbara Ehrenreich: This is a true story of a writer giving up access to her money, new car and home (temporarily) to live on minimum wage jobs. She documents the struggle of how difficult it is to survive on lower paying jobs and the need to work multiple jobs to survive. Reading this book opened my eyes to people making minimum wage and the inability to live a life that you feel financially safe in. This book was written before the term “livable wage” came into use. 

50 Acres and a Poodle – Jean Marie Laskas: I initially picked this because it was written by a woman from Pittsburgh and the story was eerily similar to a personal experience. It’s a true story. A couple moves to a farm after living in the city. It’s a more modern Green Acres and my first husband and I did exactly the same thing. It ends up working out for Jean but I really did not like living in a rural area. It was a funny book, but when I was living on a 10-acre farm I was never happier to sell it and move back to a suburb that is close to Pittsburgh. I should have written this book!! I have multiple stories of mishaps when someone buys a farm and has no idea what they are doing.

Kendra Scales, Media Planning Supervisor

A Long Road Home by Ellen Emerson White – I read this in high school, and it’s a book that still holds up.  The story is about nurse in the Army coming home from Vietnam.  It starts of with the end of her tour, coming home and adjusting to civilian life while dealing with the stress of PTSD, and deciding to go on a cross-country journey to reconnect with a former officer she knew in Vietnam

Beartown by Fredrik Backman – Hockey is the center of this community.  It take a look at what happens when something threatens its core and how each member reacts differently to a crime.  The characters are well-developed and the story is riveting.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – This book opened my eyes to how desperate immigrants are to leave the crime-riddled Mexico.  It showed how a mother would do anything to protect her son, and that the greater risk was to stay in her home country than travel illegally across the border. They will do anything to live a better life.

Jeff Louis, Senior Search Engine Marketing Manager

The Bible: I read this pretty much every day. There is so much in this book that every time I read it, I discover something new or something that I didn’t know. This is the only book that can teach someone everything they need to know about what is important. 

The Looming Tower – Lawrence Wright: The Looming Tower follows the rise of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the failures in our security that led to 9/11. It is now on Hulu if you don’t want to read the book. 

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – Stephen R. Donaldson: I think that there were 9 books in this series. It is a fantasy series about a leper who becomes whole in an alternate world. He’s not sure if anything is real, and makes some devastating decisions because in this alternate world, he can feel again whereas in reality his nerve endings are dead.

Alison Cundy, Senior Media Planner

Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury

Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling (can’t choose just one!)

Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare 

Jill McNair, Associate Media Director

Untamed – Glennon Doyle: I appreciate her candor and honest view of life.

Stephanie Plum Series – Janet Evanovich: Sometimes I need to laugh and read something that doesn’t require heavy thought. These books are quick reads and give you an outlet to unwind and laugh a lot.

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin: Great book on the author’s journey to find happiness and also gives some helpful tips!

Sierra McConnell, Content Marketing Strategist

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood: This has been my answer to the question, “What’s your favorite book?” since I first read it in 8th grade as part of Banned Books Week. Set in the near future, Atwood’s Gilead (formerly known as the USA) is run by a radical religious group which bases its laws on distorted rules from the Old Testament. Because most women cannot have children, getting pregnant becomes the highest calling for a woman. These still-fertile women are called Handmaids, and, well, you’ll have to read it (or watch the excellent series Hulu put together.)

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman – Lindy West: As a woman who has been all different sizes of fat and has been vocal about body positivity online, I’ve been aware of Lindy for a long time, and I was super excited when her memoir came out. Hulu also made this one into a series, starring Aidy Bryant from SNL, and while it has its issues, it ultimately does the book justice.

Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott: I’ve been a writer since Kindergarten, when I would absolutely fight you that the word “of” was spelled “ove.”  This book was introduced to me by my AP English teacher (and was also part of my undergrad English AND professional writing master’s programs!) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it. 

Melissa Kelly, Strategic Media & Communications Planner

The only books I’ve read lately are Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Goodnight, Moon!

Amanda Wetick, Senior Integrated Buyer 

Circe by Madeline Miller is a great read for anyone who enjoys hearing origin stories (this one being from Circe the witch in the Odyssey). I also loved reading Eligible by Cutis Sittenfeld. It is so funny I would re-read it over and over again. And for my third I’ll throw in Harry Potter because… is it possible to even have a list without mentioning them?

Aimee Brown, Media Director

The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and a number of kids books.

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