A reader’s guide to enjoyable books

Dinner with the SmileysDinner with the Smileys: One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for a Lifetime By Sarah Smiley

Fifty-two guests take turns filling a military father’s chair at his family’s dinner table while he serves his yearlong deployment. The week before Thanksgiving 2011, Dustin Smiley left for a yearlong military deployment. Soon after, his son Ford, eleven, invited Senator Susan Collins to fill his dad’s chair at dinner. On January 3, 2012, Senator Collins came to dinner … and brought brownies.

So began Dinner with the Smileys, nationally syndicated columnist Sarah Smiley’s fifty-two-week commitment to fill her husband’s place at the family dinner table with interesting people— from schoolteachers to Olympians, professional athletes to famous authors, comedians to politicians—and unique role models for her three sons, even as she knows Dustin’s seat cannot truly be “filled” until he is home again for the fifty-third dinner.

Why dinner? Because dinnertime is often the loneliest time for people living alone. If houses and apartments were like dollhouses with one side totally exposed, Sarah says, we’d see plenty of people eating alone to the glow of a television.

That was the fate Sarah feared for herself and her children during Dustin’s absence. So she opened her home, and she and the kids sent invitations. And they found that a surprising number of people really are available for dinner. You just have to ask. In a time when popular culture leads us to believe that the family dinner table is dead, Dinner with the Smileys shows people that time spent with family, friends, and neighbors is still very much part of the American lifestyle.

 

Tip and the Gipper When Politics WorkedTip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked By Chris Matthews

TIP AND THE GIPPER is a magnificent personal history of a time when two great political opponents served together for the benefit of the country. Chris Matthews was an eyewitness to this story as a top aide to Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who waged a principled war of political ideals with President Reagan from 1980 to 1986. Together, the two men forged compromises that shaped America’s future and became one of history’s most celebrated political pairings—the epitome of how ideological opposites can get things done.

When Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency in a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter (for whom Matthews had worked as a speechwriter), Speaker O’Neill realized Americans had voted for a change. For the first time in his career, O’Neill also found himself thrust into the national spotlight as the highest-ranking leader of the Democratic Party—the most visible and respected challenger to President Reagan’s agenda of shrinking the government and lowering taxes.

At first, O’Neill doubted his ability to compete on the public stage with the charming Hollywood actor, whose polished speeches played well on TV, a medium O’Neill had never mastered. Over time, the burly Irishman learned how to fight the popular president on his key issues, relying on legislative craftiness, strong rhetoric, and even guerrilla theater. “An old dog can learn new tricks,” Tip told his staff. Of O’Neill, one of his colleagues said, “If Martians came into the House chamber, they’d know instantly who the leader was.”

Meanwhile, President Reagan proved to be a much more effective and savvy leader than his rivals had ever expected, achieving major legislative victories on taxes and the federal budget. Reagan and his allies knew how to work the levers of power in Washington. After showing remarkable personal fortitude in the wake of the assassination attempt against him, Reagan never let his political differences with Democrats become personal. He was fond of the veteran Speaker’s motto that political battles ended at 6 p.m. So when he would phone O’Neill, he would say, “Hello, Tip, is it after six o’clock?”

Together, the two leaders fought over the major issues of the day—welfare, taxes, covert military operations, and Social Security—but found their way to agreements that reformed taxes, saved Social Security, and achieved their common cause of bringing peace to Northern Ireland. O’Neill’s quiet behindthescenes support helped Reagan forge his historic Cold War– ending bond with Mikhail Gorbachev. They each won some and lost some, and through it all they maintained respect for each other’s positions and worked to advance the country rather than obstruct progress. As Matthews notes, “There is more than one sort of heroic behavior, and they don’t all look the same.” Tip and the Gipper is the story of the kind of heroism we need today.

 

This Town Two Parties And A FuneralThis Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America’s Gilded Capital By Mark Leibovich

One of the nation’s most acclaimed journalists, The New York Times’s Mark Leibovich, presents a blistering, penetrating, jawdropping— and often hysterical—look at Washington’s incestuous “media industrial complex.”

The great thing about Washington is no matter how many elections you lose, how many times you’re indicted, how many scandals you’ve been tainted by, well, the great thing is you can always eat lunch in that town again. What keeps the permanent government spinning on its carousel is the freedom of shamelessness, and that mother’s milk of politics, cash.

In Mark Leibovich’s remarkable look at the way things really work in D.C., a funeral for a beloved television star becomes the perfect networking platform, a disgraced political aide can emerge with more power than his boss, campaign losers befriend their vanquishers (and make more money than ever!), “conflict of interest” is a term lost in translation, political reporters are fetishized and worshipped for their ability to get one’s name in print, and, well—we’re all really friends, aren’t we?

What Julia Phillips did for Hollywood, Timothy Crouse did for journalists, and Michael Lewis did for Wall Street, Mark Leibovich does for our nation’s capital.

 

A Small Story for Page 3A Small Story for Page 3 By Jack W. Germond

Harry Fletcher can’t for the life of him figure out what exactly the ‘nugget’ of information his colleague, Eddie Concannon, uncovered prior to his death is. Picking his way along the threads of information, Harry soon finds himself at odds with government officials and his own newspaper seems to be involved in the collusion. Join Harry as he deciphers the clues and enjoy a journey into the world of investigative reporting set against a colorful back drop of characters and locations.

 

 

 

Get off Your Attitude change Your Attitude Change Your LifeGet off Your Attitude: change Your Attitude. Change Your Life. By Ryan Lowe

What’s your attitude got to do with anything?

Everything!

Get Off Your Attitude means to think positive and take action, talk, believe, act, and think in a positive manner and change your life!

Learn how to:

  • Engage in positive relationships
  • Passionately pursue your dreams
  • Live in the now and forgive your past
  • Smile at adversity
  • Be courageous and have faith
  • Be grateful and give back

“Your ability to be positive and constructive toward yourself, your experiences, and your future can change your life—and this book shows you how to do it.” – Brian Tracy Author, Million Dollar Habits

“Packed with dynamic, life-changing ideas, Get Off Your Attitude is a must read! Through powerfully motivating and inspiring stories, insightful strategies, and straightforward advice guaranteed to produce results, Ryan Lowe will take you to new heights of fulfillment and success in life by empowering you to improve your attitude.” – Dr. Ivan Misner NY Times Bestselling Author – Founder of BNI and Referral Institute

“I am a big believer that a positive attitude and belief in oneself is the key to reaching your dreams. This book, Get Off Your Attitude, will not only explain the important keys of reaching your dreams, but it will also give you the steps to achieving them.” – Ruben Gonzalez Olympian, Business Author, Speaker

 

The 10 Laws of Enduring successThe 10 Laws of Enduring success By Maria Bartiromo

What do Condoleezza Rice, Joe Torre, Bill Gates, Goldie Hawn, Mary Hart, Garry Kasparov, and Jack Welch have in common?

All have talked at length with Maria Bartiromo about business, the world and their surprising, inspiring and uncommon ideas about the meaning of success. Their stories, those of an extraordinary range of other people from all walks of life, and Maria Bartiromo’s personal insights are the foundation of The 10 Laws of Enduring Success. It is the guide for the extraordinary times we are living through.

During bullish, optimistic periods, people seem to ride an upward wave with ease and confidence. The tangible evidence is right there for all to see–in their jobs, bank accounts, homes, families, and the admiration of their peers. But it is a fact of life that success, once earned, is not necessarily there to stay. If ever there was a cautionary tale about the fleeting nature of success, it is the events of recent years.

But a funny thing happened. Faced with gut-wrenching realities, many people have started to re-evaluate the meaning of success in less superficial and impermanent ways. They’re asking themselves hard questions that have long been ignored: about what’s really important to them, and where the bedrock of their personal achievement lies. As Maria Bartiromo watched the financial drama from her front-row seat at the New York Stock Exchange, she began to reassess the meaning of success–not just as one-off achievements, but as a durable, lifelong pursuit. Is there, she wondered, a definition of success that you can have permanently–in spite of the turmoil in your life, your job, or your bank account? This question is more important than ever, given the unpredictability of the current economy.

  • What are the intangibles that can’t be measured or counted?
  • What are the qualities that aren’t reflected in your title or on your business card?
  • And more practically, how can you remain successful even when the worst things happen to you?
  • Is it possible to build success from failure? It’s lonely at the bottom of the heap, when your BlackBerry stops buzzing, and the world moves on without you.

Everyone wants to be close to success, and to have success. But what is success? How do you get it, and how do you keep it? As Maria interviewed some of the most successful people in the world, she felt the need to answer these questions: what makes these success stories tick? How did they achieve such leadership and power and how can one hold onto it, once you get it. What are the barriers to success and what is the bedrock to enduring success?