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Denise

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni (2018)

samhellOne of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I became so attached to the characters that I didn’t want the book to end. The main character and narrator, Sam Hill, was born in 1957 with a condition called ocular albinism, which made his eyes red. In school, he was ostracized and given the nickname “Devil Boy.” Sam takes us back and forth between his childhood and 1989, and then into the present. A significant aspect of his journey depicts the lifelong friendships he develops with two other outcast students, Ernie and Mickie. His Catholic school experiences were all too familiar and cringe-worthy, and at times, I felt like I was reading someone’s memoir. That’s how realistic and compelling I found the characters and storyline in The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.

I experienced a whole range of emotions: sympathy for Sam’s childhood struggles, anger and heartbreak at the bullying, admiration for his mother’s undying faith and encouragement, revulsion at the acts of a particularly vile character, and hopefulness due to his relationships with Ernie and Mickie. Highly recommend this Robert Dugoni novel for anyone who loves books with a great cast of interesting characters that are part of an emotional journey.
IPPL Staff

The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today by Joel Osteen (2015)

powerofiamI listened to Joel Osteen’s The Power of I Am on audio. It is a motivational CD that builds up your character and how God is in the center of your being.

Want to learn more? Watch Pastor Osteen on Oprah’s Lifeclass.
Mary

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer (2014)

artofstillnessAmidst the hustle and excitement of his world travels, Pico Iyer discovered that “In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still." You can read this slim book in an afternoon—provided you can sit down and stay put. Find a copy of The Art of Stillness today.
Joe

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)

Unbroken, read by Edward Hermann, is the bestselling story of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who became a bombardier in World War II, was stranded on a life boat adrift in the Pacific Ocean, and eventually captured by the Japanese. Hillenbrand, author of the bestseller Seabiscuit, is a gifted story teller who meticulously details this almost unbelievable ordeal of pain and suffering. Yes, this is truly a book about resilience, and you will find yourself riveted to your seat as you listen to this well narrated, well told, true tale.

 
IPPL Staff

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
Laura Hillenbrand, the author of this book and the earlier book Seabiscuit, has written another winner. This book hooks you in from page one. It’s a great story of an American POW held by the Japanese during World War II. I learned a lot from this book, too.

By the way, did you know the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was yesterday?
IPPL Staff

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (2011)
This book is a quick read and is a very gripping, sweet story and true. A 4-year old minister’s son has a near death experience in surgery. In the weeks and months to come, Colson reveals things that make you realize he’s seen God and glimpses of Heaven.

Read an excerpt of the book here.
Denise

I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher

I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher (2011)
Michael Oher, the football player made famous in the movie The Blind Side, writes about his life before, during, and after he met the Tuohy family (featured in the film). He wrote this book for two reasons: first, to separate fact from fiction (since movies often take liberties with the facts to make it more interesting); second, and more importantly, to shine a light on the plight and difficulties faced by over half a million children in foster care, as well as the countless others raised in poverty.

He repeatedly mentions his own determination and self-discipline which ultimately led to his success, in order to give hope and encouragement to other children in similar situations. He includes resources at the end of the book for people who want to help children in need. I found this book inspiring and eye-opening.

You might want to also look at the NPR article about the book "Beyond 'The Blind Side,' Michael Oher Rewrites His Own Story"
IPPL Staff

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
Let me just say up front that I loved Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit. It is probably my favorite nonfiction book. Well, I think, she’s done it again with Unbroken, the biography of an extraordinary U.S. Army Air Force officer, Louie Zamperini, who was shot down over the Pacific. Laura Hillenbrand has presented a remarkable story of human endurance. Zamperini’s story, like Seabiscuit’s, is eternal and inspirational.

On a mission over the South Pacific, Zamperini was the bombardier on a B-24. When the plane crashes, he finds himself floating on a raft with little provision for survival. After more than a month on the raft, starving, thirsty and chased by sharks, the ordeal ends with the survivors being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned in a hellish Japanese POW camp.

Hillenbrand is an historian and biographer who places herself at the service of her subjects; this makes her books a rare combination of writer and story. Though her prose is short and straightforward, her books are written with a rich and vivid narrative voice that keeps you involved through even the worst of Zamperini’s ordeal.

Read an excerpt of the book here.
Jennifer

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Based on the eight pages of acknowledgments by the author, it can take a village to tell a story. And what a powerful, amazing, awesome story it is…

Born in 1917, Louie Zamperini was a precocious child, a prankster, and later a runner. He smashed California track records as a student at USC and raced at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
During World War II, as a bombardier in the Army Air Corps, he flew combat missions in the Pacific Theater. On May 27, 1943, his B-24 crashed into the ocean. Louie and pilot Alan Phillips survived 47 days at sea, only to be captured by the Japanese.

Unbroken is the unbelievable story of Louie. The detail is amazing yet not overwhelming. Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) has a wonderful storytelling ability that makes 400 pages fly by. And her story is fascinating in its own right. For over half her life, she has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome. This Newsweek article provides more about Hillenbrand, her relationship with Louie, and the book.
Elizabeth

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans (2010)
This book is the first in a series by Evans. It explores what happens to a man when he literally loses everything that is precious to him. It gives you a lot to think about.

Preview the book before visiting the library and visit the author's website.
Elizabeth

Grace by Richard Paul Evans

Grace by Richard Paul Evans (2008)
As is his usual style, Richard Paul Evans makes you really feel like you know the characters. In this bittersweet tale, a young man tries his best to rescue a girl in her time of need. It hooks you in from the very first page.

Watch a video of the author discussing his books and read reviews at Amazon.com.
IPPL Staff

Small Miracles by Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum


Small Miracles by Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum (1997)
With its moving, heartwarming, and inspirational stories of serendipity and coincidence, this book leaves you with the feeling that just maybe someone is looking over our lives and “making things happen.” There is a second edition, which I also enjoyed: Small Miracles II.

Read an excerpt from another title in the "Small Miracles" series (Small Miracles of Love and Friendship).  Discover more about the author in a New York Times article.
IPPL Staff

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (2008)
Inspirational in a common sense, real life kind of a way. Though battling terminal cancer, Pausch doesn't write about dying - he writes about living in a way that stresses the small things we can do to make our lives joyful. Tigger vs. Eeyore. 61 little chapters in 206 little pages - no preaching, no grand "what is the meaning of life" ramblings. I was reluctant to pick this book up and have already recommended it to several people, including my niece who is about to embark on her career as a teacher. Great life lessons for teachers in this book, for parents, for anyone.

Visit The Last Lecture website to find out more about Randy Pausch (who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008) and more about the book. You can also watch the lecture that inspired the book, listen to Pausch read an excerpt, and discover online extras.

IPPL Staff

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom


The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (2003)


At first I thought this book would be a bit depressing. However, I found it to be a quick, easy read that also gave me a “feel good” feeling! I truly enjoyed this book.

Visit Mitch Albom's website for everything you need to know about him or his books. You can read a synopsis or an excerpt, find a reading group guide or a teacher's guide, and learn more about the background of the author and the book.

Jennifer

The Game of My Life by Jason “J-Mac” McElwain

The Game of My Life: a true story of challenge, triumph, and growing up autistic by Jason “J-Mac” McElwain with Daniel PaisnerHis friends call him J-Mac. His mom prefers Jason. Sounds like your typical teenager, right? Not quite.

Jason “J-Mac” McElwain is considered a high functioning autistic. And in February 2006, J-Mac accomplished something that any “normal” person would have difficulty accomplishing: he scored 20 points – including six 3s – in the last FOUR minutes of a high school basketball game.

Read this inspirational story of a boy who didn’t talk till he was five. Read about how he became practically obsessed with basketball and how he was the team manager for three years. Read about how the coach let him dress for Senior Night – and how his unimaginable feat made him an instant celebrity across the country.