Staff Recommended Reading List

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It's National Read A Book Day!

For National Read A Book Day, The Weight of Honor staff compiled a list of books we believe are worth the read, and are certain to help you pass the time while you wait for your copy of The Weight Of Honor to arrive.

As a disclaimer, our reading tastes are varied, so instead of sharing a mini list from each person, we combined and culled our list to the ones most relevant to war, veterans, caregiving and documentary filmmaking. We call our the list: "worth the weight of time." Just kidding, we don't actually call it that.

Enjoy and happy reading!

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1. The Solider and the Squirrel, Micaela Bensko

The Soldier And The Squirrel is the story of a loyal squirrel (Rocky), his hillside friends, and a wounded soldier he calls Mister. Rocky and his friends live behind the soldier's house and watch his family every day. But one day the soldier returns home with a Purple Heart. Rocky begins to question the meaning in all of this and in the end discovers the meaning of life. It’s a beautiful story written to help children understand the injuries of war and how that can impact on a family.

This children’s book is written by Micaela Bensko, who is a consultant on “The Weight of Honor” documentary and also wrote the closing song, “Hero”. It has beautiful illustrations by Stephanie Orehek. Ms Bensko often visits in classrooms, accompanied by a veteran, and reads The Soldier and the Squirrel to the students. A frequently lively question and answer period follows.

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2. A Stranger in My Bed, Debbie Sprague

A Stranger in My Bed takes you inside Debbie Sprague’s life for an intimate view of a love story disrupted by the invasion of PTSD—thirty years after the Vietnam War. The cycle moves from love to fear, anger, and despair. Stories unfold of her husband’s battle with PTSD, displaying typical behaviors, triggers, and moods. When she finally sought help, two different therapists advised her to get a divorce. Walk away from her husband? He was only nineteen when he fought for his country. What if we all walked away?

She chose to stay and stand by her values, next to the man that she vowed to love, honor, and care for in sickness and in health. 

At the end of her book, Debbie offers resources and support for caregivers by sharing what she’s learned: A Stranger in My Bed: 8 Steps to Taking Your Life Back From The Contagious Effects Of Your Veteran’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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3. Sleeping With the War, Melissa Comeau

Sleeping with the War is a poetic take on life after combat written by the wife of a United States Marine. Melissa Comeau's dark undertaking of the lasting effects of war on her husband are apparent in this stirring collection. War is an ever-present character in this piece, separate from the Marine who went to battle. Sleeping with the War is a difficult read; full of heart breaking accounts from war and the tragic aftermath of it that comes home. Melissa's writing is fierce and eloquent and conveys the fight with in her heart. Anyone who reads it will admire the strength of this caregiver and the inspiration she can provide to others.

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4. The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story, Diane Ackerman

This is a true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands during World War II.

After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over 300 people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story―sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," who bravely protected her “flock” while her husband Jan took daring risks as an officer in the Polish Resistance. 

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5. Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers, Rosalynn Carter

Rosalynn Carter has had to become the caregiver twice: once for her grandfather and, more recently, to take care of her father. In Helping Yourself Help Others, Carter offers practical advice on how to manage and avoid common pitfalls of caregiving, such as isolation, burnout, anger, and helplessness. She also exposes a larger social issue: our caregiver community cannot keep up with the growing number of American’s needing long-term home care. A disheartening read at times, yet very insightful and pragmatic of something that could one day affect us all.

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6. You Don't Look You're Age...and Other Fairy Tales, Sheila Nevins

Sheila Nevins has been the head of HBO Documentary Films since 1979 and has overseen the production of hundreds of documentaries, dozens which have won Oscars. She's responsible for groundbreaking storytelling such as, Baghdad ER and Taxi Cab Confessions. In her memoir / autobiography, Shelia shares her real life experience of being a woman in a man's industry, what it means to be a working mother, what it's like to be an older woman in a youth-obsessed culture. 

It's an easy read, has a great mix of first person perspective, and bounces between observational retellings and some stories retold with fictional names to protect the guilty. 

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Have you read any of these? Or do you have any favorites you'd recommend? Let us now on Facebook or Twitter.

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