She Reads have shared their roundup of incredible titles for you to read this 4th of July weekend! Strangers unite, families unravel, the past comes to haunt our heroines; what could be more USA?
The 4th of July celebrates America’s win for independence. Here is a short list of American authors who fought to protect that which their forefathers created. These writers have impacted the world with not just their writing, but their service as well.
Walt Whitman, 1819-1892
Image via Poets
Walt Whitman was fervently attempting to build his career as a poet when the American Civil War began. Whitman’s focus went from writing to supporting the physically and mentally wounded soldiers, his brother included.
He worked as a freelance journalist and visited the wounded at New York City–area hospitals. He then traveled to Washington, D. C. in December 1862 to care for his brother, who had been wounded in the war.
Overcome by the suffering of the many wounded in Washington, Whitman decided to stay and work in the hospitals; he ended up staying in the city for eleven years.
-Poetry.org About Walt Whitman
Ward K, Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C. | Image via Warfare History Network
According to Britannica, Whitman continued this balance of supporting the war and his poetry by working as a clerk in the Department of the Interior, until he was dismissed because the secretary of the Interior thought that Leaves of Grass, one of his most famous books, was indecent. Regardless of how long, Whitman took time to make a difference in the best way that he could.
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Image via Wikipedia
Ernest Hemingway was working as a journalist at The Kansas City Star to build experience as a writer. Then, World War I began to take root. Although he grew up in the states, Hemingway served overseas as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, according to Biography.com. An article from the Washington Post adds that Hemingway nearly lost his life during the war, but thanks to a nearby Italian soldier rushing in to cover Hemingway, the young writer’s life was saved.
…18-year-old Ernest Hemingway, who was distributing candy and cigarettes as a Red Cross volunteer. When an Austrian mortar landed near the [Italian] soldier, he was killed instantly. Hemingway sustained extensive wounds but survived because the soldier’s body took the brunt of the explosion.
Ernest Hemingway after the mortar attack. | Image via Washington Post
Sustaining the injuries he had received, Hemingway earned the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. The injuries landed him in a hospital in Milan, but that was where he met his wife Agnes von Kurowsky. Their marriage may not have lasted, but the heartbreak gave him the inspiration for “A Very Short Story” and, more famously, A Farewell to Arms.
If it weren’t for the sacrifice of that Italian soldier, whose name has finally been recovered by the Washington Post — Fedele Temperini — we would not have the work of the most influential writers in literature today.
Joseph Heller (1923-1999)
Image via Penguin Books Australia
According to Notable Biographies, it was World War II that took Heller overseas to fight in the Army Air Corps. It was not too long after graduating from high school that Heller worked briefly in an insurance office, then enlisted. Heller flew sixty combat missions as a fighter pilot, earning an Air Medal and a Presidential Unit Citation.
Young Joseph Heller working in an Air Craft of the 57th Bomb Wing. | Image via History Net
Across sources, it is debated how much impact Heller’s experience had on his writing in Catch-22. For sure, his time in the Army was certainly an inspiration to write a soldier’s story. Heller only began writing two years after becoming an English professor.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
Image via Brain Pickings
Kurt Vonnegut Jr served during World War II and came especially close to losing his life. According to the Vonnegut Library, Vonnegut was enrolled in Cornell University working toward a degree as war was coming to a boiling point. His fighting did not last long at all, as he was captured by German soldiers almost immediately after being shipped overseas in Europe.
As a POW (prisoner of war), Vonnegut was held captive in Dresden, a Eastern city in Germany that was soon bombed by English and American air raids.
The resulting firestorm turned the non-militarized city into an inferno that killed up to 60,000 civilians. Vonnegut and his fellow POWs survived by accident only because they were housed some 60 feet underground in a former meat locker and slaughterhouse.
Vonnegut’s job for weeks after the bombing was to gather up and burn the remains of the dead. His experience at Dresden marked him for life and eventually resulted in his literary masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five.
Kurt Vonnegut (center) as a German POW in WWII | Image via Patrick Murfin Blogspot
Kurt Vonnegut survived the war and returned home, where he married and started a family. As his story continues he did not have the happiest of endings. However, his success in becoming a famous and beloved writer gave him a place to express his sorrows and inner turmoils, as well as share his voice and opinions on how we may be able to make the world a better place.
In his last novel, Timequake, and his last collection of essays, A Man without a Country, Vonnegut powerfully expressed his sense that corporate greed, overpopulation and war would win out in the end over simple humanity. As he ruefully apologized to those who would come after him, ‘We could have saved the world, but we were just too damned lazy.’
Coming from a man that has seen it all, these are strong words. Hopefully his pessimistic view of the future is wrong and we can learn from the past to make a better future.
From support roles to fighting the front lines, many have made such efforts to protect their country. As we watch the 4th of July fireworks light up the night sky, let’s think of them, and hope for an even brighter future. Not just for America, but for the entire crazy world that we are a part of too.
Happy Independence Day.
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Each week, Bookstr scans bestseller lists across the Internet to learn what people are reading, buying, gifting, and talking about most — just to make sure you’re out there living your absolute best life! This week, we’re taking a break from the usual routine to bring you some summer reading for the 4th of July! Here are some reading recommendations as you relax on a beach, prepare to lounge by the pool, or take in the fireworks!
Image via Amazon
5. Shapes of Native nonfiction edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton
Shapes of Native Nonfiction by Elissa Warburton is a collection of essays that helps us remember America’s first people, the Indigenous Americans, even as we celebrate our own independence from British rule. This collection features a full range of dynamic Indigenous talent designed around the theme of lyric essays. Featuring imaginative and well regarded talent putting on a full range of work, this collection is one to read about America’s heritage and certainly a relaxing read beneath the warm skies.
Image via Amazon
4. Because Internet by Getchen McCulloch
Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch is a good book to get yourself back into the internet swing of things in a relaxing fashion. This book defines the language and slang of the internet for not so savvy internet users, as the internet is making language change faster than perhaps our brains can keep up with. The author helps unpack the evolution of digital language, providing a survey of everything from the appeal of memes to the true meaning of ‘LOL.’
Image via Amazon
3. Revenge of the Punks by Vivien Goldman
Revenge of the Punks by Vivien Goldman is a rock and rolling book about reliving the turbulent days of youth. Goldman was Bob Marley’s first UK publicist but also wrote searing music reviews in the 70s and 80s. She now turns her pen to telling the stories of female music writers and women’s relationship to the music that defined generations. She tells stories of the genre’s rebel women such as Bikini Kill, Nehen Cherry, and activist punks. Goldman’s book explores their lives, capturing the spirit of rebellion to get you pumped for July 4th.
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2. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino is a collection of essays revolving around our own self-destruction, fueled by the rise of social media and our increased isolation. You might not think that’s an optimistic, breezy read, but the author tackles the essays with humor and grace, tackling challenging topics with easy to understand context. This may be a little more challenging, but if you’re looking for a way to truly stop your self-reflective sense of self-delusion and self-destruction, this is the read for you.
Image via Amazon
1. A Death in the rainforest by Don Kulick
A Death In the Rainforest by Don Kulick discusses what it means to truly study another culture that is not your own. It tells of Don Kulick, who went to the tiny village of Gapun in New Guinea to document the death of the native language, Tayap. Over thirty years, he documented the slow death of Tayap and the look of vanishing death. The story tells not only of Don’s illuminating look into the native language, but also the white society’s reach into the farthest corner of the Earth, and Kulick’s realization that he had to stop his study of the culture altogether.
Featured Image Via Amazon
Fireworks are by far and away the most exciting thing about July 4th! Enjoy your day and night, see the fireworks and be safe!
“We shall go wild with fireworks…And they will plunge into the sky and shatter the darkness.
We don’t have any fireworks that big”
― Natsuki Takaya
“When you meet someone
so different from yourself,
in a good way,
you don’t even have to kiss
to have fireworks go off.”
― Lisa Schroeder
“Colored lights blink on and off, racing across the green boughs. Their reflections dance across exquisite glass globes and splinter into shards against tinsel thread and garlands of metallic filaments that disappear underneath the other ornaments and finery.
Shadows follow, joyful, laughing sprites.
The tree is rich with potential wonder.
All it needs is a glance from you to come alive.”
― Vera Nazarian
“July 4th fireworks exhale over the Hudson sadly.
It is beautiful that they have to disappear.
It’s like the time you said I love you madly.
That was an hour ago. It’s been a fervent year.”
― Frederick Seidel
“You’re much better than fireworks. They’re all over in a moment, and you’re going to stay for a fortnight. Besides, fireworks are noisy, and they make too much smoke.”
― Kate Ross
“I want to feel them against my bare skin.
I want their colourful touch to burn itself into my body
and set my blood on fire with chemicals and fury,
to drag me from a place of retreat and smothered tears
into destruction and gloriously bright fire falling.”
― Miriam Joy
“The fireworks went on for nearly half an hour, great pulsing strobes, fiery dandelions and starbursts of light brightening both sky and water. It was hard to tell which was reality and which was reflection, as if there were two displays, above and below, going on simultaneously—one in space-time, mused Max, and the other in time-space.”
― Sol Luckman
“At the water’s edge, barrels of pitch blazed like huge bonfires. Their reflection, crimson as the rising moon, crept to meet us in long, wide stripes. The burning barrels threw light on their own smoke and on the long human shadows that flitted about the fire; but further to the sides and behind them, where the velvet ringing rushed from, was the same impenetrable darkness. Suddenly slashing it open, the golden ribbon of a rocket soared skywards; it described an arc and, as if shattering against the sky, burst and came sifting down in sparks.”
― Anton Chekhov
“I ignite the wick, and the firework takes flight. In that moment, I wish my existence were as simple as being set on fire and exploding in the sky.”
― Adam Silvera
Featured Image Via Freeport News Network
Hold your breath and grab your nearest box of eggos. Netflix has dropped the trailer for Season 3 of Stranger Things (finally!) and this season looks even more exciting than the second. Featuring the return of all the actors from the previous season, including Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matazarro, Caleb MacLaughlin, Charlie Heaton, Sadie Sink, and Dacre Montgomery. A new addition to the cast is actress Maya Hawke, who made her screen debut in the BBC 2017 adaptation of Little Women. She will be playing a new character who works at the town’s mall, which looks to be a centerpiece for the season.
Image Via IGn
Highlights from the trailer include the characters dealing with something more horrible than any demogorgon: puberty! Yes, it seems this season will be about growing from kids into teenagers in this season and dealing with the pressures of growing into adulthood. The kids, from Eleven to Mike to Max, all looking to be handling these confusions with appropriate teenage angst and it looks to add even more drama to the circle of friends. Of course, not all threats are grounded in reality, and besides the themes of maturity, the monsters are coming back in full force as well. Glimpses of a terrifying new beast are seen near the end of the trailer, a grisly thing pulsating with tentacles and teeth. Not to mention, the whole thing is set to the chaos of July 4th, with images of fireworks and celebrations littered throughout the trailer.
We look forward to seeing the continued adventures of the Stranger Things crew this summer. The new season drops on July 4th and should prove for a binge-worthy time.
Featured Image Via IGN