Harriet Sloan says she found “Mark Twain: A Life,” by Ron Powers, to be just “an over-the-top read.”

Sloan, who lives in Aberdeen, was one of several readers who took up the offer in my June 19 column, in which I listed some of my favorite recent books and asked others to share theirs.

“I was a math major, so I’m not comfortable and confident putting words together to make a clever, intelligent, and interesting observation,” Sloan cautioned. “Still, I found the book hilarious, because Mark Twain was hilarious. I often laughed out loud. His wit and humor captured me completely. I especially enjoyed reading about his relationships and interactions with other famous people and his family members.”

Sounds good to me. I’ve read and enjoyed another book or two about Twain, but not that one. I’ll have to give it a try.

Next to sign in was Pat Bryan, of Southern Pines, who heartily recommended two books by the late Charles Krauthammer: “Things That Matter” and “The Point of It All.” (The latter one was begun by Krauthammer and finished after his 2018 death by his son.)

“Outside of a few sections that are personal, they have many of his columns from The Washington Post,” Bryan wrote. “Easy to read — you can skip ones that don’t interest you. Such an intelligent human being, who dealt with his paralysis as if it didn’t make a whole lot of difference in what he wanted to do in life.

“In our house, we miss him terribly. He could make such sense of things, his commentary brilliant in person and in writing, yet he spoke to the ‘common man.’ We sit and look and read about what is going on and long to hear his view on it.”

In a P.S., Bryan mentioned she enjoyed reading W. Bruce Cameron’s fiction work “A Dog’s Purpose,” and that author’s other books that have canine heroes.

“He has a wonderful sense of humor as well,” Bryan said, adding: “His books pick up my spirit when I get depressed dealing with the Lost and Found Pets for The Pilot!”

Gordon Galtere, of Southern Pines, graciously declared that he “could not agree more” with the books I had mentioned. And he added some other selections: Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” Tara Westover’s “Educated: A Memoir,” Melinda Gates’ “Moment of Lift,” and Sarah Churchwell’s “Behold America.”

All those, Galtere said, were purchased at The Country Bookshop in downtown Southern Pines — “an unbelievable local store where you can browse, ask stupid questions and receive wonderful, caring answers. And to boot, it is also dog-friendly.”

Amen to that plug. A wonderful bookshop, indeed.

Then there was Susan Strine, of Pinehurst, who wrote that she enjoyed the earlier column, though “I don’t know if I can tackle a 1,000-page book.” (That was a reference to my praise for Andrew Roberts’ lengthy but highly absorbing “Churchill: Walking With Destiny.”)

Strine offered a list of “books that I have recently read that really stand out in my mind as very noteworthy.” They include “The Soul of America,” by Jon Meacham; “Last Hope Island,” by Lynne Olson; “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War,” by Lynne Olson; “Revelation Through Science,” by James G. Martin; “Fascism: A Warning,” by Madeleine Albright; “Nothing to Envy,” by Barbara Demick; “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” by Thomas L. Friedman; and “The Second Mountain,” by David Brooks.

Wow. That’s a lot of books.

“Now that I am in my late 70s,” Strine added, “I have finally realized the importance of learning more world history, about the wars and the people. I am finding it very fascinating. The last book I mentioned is about living a good and rewarding life not just for oneself but also for others.

“So, on to the next books.”

Thanks to all. Onward indeed. Maybe I can even finally get around to tackling my copy of “The Mueller Report.”


Steve Bouser is the retired editor and Opinion editor of The Pilot. Contact him at bouser@email.unc.edu.

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