The Boys: A Memoir by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Ronny Beckenholdt? Famous child actor in the 1960s?
Does Ronny Howard ring a bell?

This is just one tidbit about the acting family that the brothers share – their father changed his name from Harold Beckenholdt to Rance Howard, and forever after the family surname became Howard.

Ron and Clint tell the story of their parents growing up in Kansas and Oklahoma and yearning to become successful actors. Ron’s mom suffered a tragic injury, gave up acting and then devoted herself to raising her children. Rance struggled to get his “breakout” role that would propel him to stardom, while his two sons became successful child actors under his guidance.

Ron and Clint take turns giving their recollections of their times on the Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben, Happy Days and various parts in movies. Their father was their acting coach and guardian on the sets and picked up parts for himself along the way, but never achieved his leading man goal.

Ron gave insight on how his acting experiences drove his desire to pursue directing films for a living. Clint aged out of child roles and dealt with drug addiction, but still managed to pursue a career as a character actor.

This memoir is a story of love and appreciation for Rance and Jean Howard, and how they kept the family grounded with Hollywood glamour all around them. It was a heartwarming read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you grew up with Opie and Richie Cunningham you’ll love it too!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (792.092 HOW)

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

With the very first lines (“In the valley of the Red River, / where the soil was as rich / as most folks were poor”) I knew I could trust Stephen Costanza to lead the way through the uplifting story of ragtime legend Scott Joplin.

Throughout the book, he paints Joplin’s rise to the ragtime throne using a patchwork of perfect words and heaps of hues in each image. The sophisticated folk art style expertly reflects how Joplin pieced scraps of music into original compositions – “He’d patch in a riff from a work song, / a thread of gospel here, a string of ring shout there– / sewing together new tunes”.

The large spreads of undulating images and dynamic text make you feel the ragtime rhythm, even though you cannot hear it. A toe-tapping treat.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Crying in the H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Reviewed by Holly (Library Patron)

This book is the personal journey of its author through an extremely difficult time in her life, her mother’s fight and eventual death due to cancer. As such it was often depressing and reveals a lot of details that are not pleasant to read. Throughout the book the author details many memories that were linked to Korean food. I found this to be overbearing as I was not familiar with most of the dishes and their names occupied a large portion of the text. Even so the story describes a very personal reflection of her mother/daughter evolution through her perspective as the daughter. Overall, it was ok.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Yearbook by Seth Rogan

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

What an unexpected delight this was. Actor Seth Rogan tackles the memoir but rather than a chronological retelling, tells tales of his two lives–one growing up in Canada and the other, when he reaches the pinnacle of Hollywood. Rogan’s writing is refreshing and conversational, fun and light. Though he doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, it is not presented in an in-your-face manner. A funny read!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (792.092 ROG)

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’m a big Wisconsin sports fan (except for the Badgers, but that’s another story!) So this year, when the Bucks had their championship run, I was all in and excited to cheer them on. And then they won and it was fantastic! Then I saw there was a book coming out about Giannis and I knew I had to read it.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP follows the life of Giannis, as a young boy in Greece selling trinkets on the streets to an NBA superstar, and everything in between. The book shows how much he loves his family, the racism he has had to deal with, and his journey to America.

I loved this book so much and I enjoyed learning even more about Giannis. He truly is one of my favorite athletes, and this book just affirmed that fact. My only complaint with the book (which was just due to timing) is that the book was finished/sent to print before the Bucks championship win this summer, so there was no information about the championship and what it meant to Giannis and the city of Milwaukee. But I urge anyone who is a fan of the Bucks, Giannis, or just good athletes in general should read this book right away!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (796.323 ANT)

For Self and Country: for the wounded in Vietnam the journey home took more courage than going to battle by Rick Eilert

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This is the memoir of the author’s journey back from Vietnam in 1967. It was a powerful story when I first read it in 1983. Reading it again in 2021 it still pulled me in, and also helped me understand why there are homeless, troubled Vietnam veterans to this day.

It was reprinted in 2010, with a note on the cover that said President Reagan was so moved by this book that he invited the author to the White House.

The book starts with Rick’s horrific combat injury and his long flight to Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. He is the oldest soldier on the hospital floor; he is 20 years old.

He endures dozens of surgeries and horrific dressing changes trying to save his legs. He worries that his girlfriend will dump him, the anti-war protests dishearten him, and if he will be a “gimp” forever.

There are light moments too: his blind bunkmate is the floor lookout, he plays chicken with another wheelchair bound patient and re-breaks his leg, and the young soldiers, of course, ogling the Navy nurses and female visitors.

This book was not in the Bridges Library System, Emily the DPL circulation manager found it using the State of Wisconsin (WISCAT) InterLibrary Loan system.

If you watched the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS, this book will add another dimension to the time period. I strongly recommend it.

Tisha: the story of a young teacher in the Alaska wilderness by Ann Hobbes as told to Robert Specht

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I read this book, published in 1976, for the first time over 25 years ago. I enjoyed it so much I lent it to my parents. They loved it and then shared it with my aunt, who had taught in a one-room schoolhouse like the author.

This book was well worth a re-read in 2021. The issue of racism that is weaved throughout her adventure still resonates today.

It is the memoir of 19 year-old Ann, who travels by mule train to the Village of Chicken to teach in 1927. She encounters hardship, poverty and racism between the settlers and the native population. When she takes in two orphaned Indian children and puts them in school, she receives strong backlash and threats of expulsion from her post. She stands up to the School Board for what she knows is the right thing to do.

There are light moments too – when her student does not return from the outhouse, she finds him frozen to the seat; she sleeps with her bag of potatoes so they don’t freeze solid; the beauty of the land; AND she meets the love of her life.

This easy-to-read book is just wonderful, please check it out.

Available through the Bridges Library System

A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life by James Bowen

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This is a heartwarming memoir that was an international bestseller a few years ago.

The author was a street musician barely surviving on the streets of London when he takes in a stray yellow tomcat. James is on methadone, trying to kick his heroin addiction. When he starts bringing Bob along, the money increases. Everyone loves Bob!

But Bob does more than that – he gives James someone to love and care for, talk to and forces him to pursue a clean, sober life.

I loved this, its another book that illustrates the bond of humans and the animals we love. This book is great reading from young teens to seniors.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (636.8 BOW)

Don’t Kiss Them Goodbye by Allison DuBois

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I was a fan of the early 2000s NBC TV series Medium. I have been binge watching the reruns on cable and realized that the show was based on a real life psychic and she had written a book! I HAD to read it!

It was interesting reading bits of her life that were incorporated into the series. The TV family and hers have the same names, and the girls have the same gifts.
She shares stories of her readings and encounters in the book.

If you question if there is an afterlife, this book will help you answer your questions. It was comforting to know when I ask my mom for help to soldier on, she may be listening and guiding me from beyond.

This book was published in 2004, but it is still worth the read.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I logged onto the Libby app and this title popped up. My grandson was diagnosed as possibly autistic, the experts are not sure yet. When my sons were little, kids were put on Ritalin for hyperactivity – needed or not. ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is the new catch all diagnosis in my opinion.

The author is only 22 years old and already wrote his memoir! He illustrated his struggles and accomplishments growing up. His younger brother also is autistic but nonverbal as well. Michael refers to his parents briefly – I would like to hear their side, perhaps another book is forthcoming.

This book is categorized for young adults, but I also found it dispelled some of my misconceptions too. It was an informative read, I recommend it.

Available through the Bridges Library System

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