It is Non-Fiction November, and although I am not participating with the weekly blog posts, I am trying to read 4 non-fiction books this month. Here are my first two.
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede, Ray Porter (Narration)
Published June 27th 2017 by HarperCollins
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
With the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this year, many people recommended this book. Come From Away is one of my favourite musicals, so with both of these things, I knew I had to read or listen to this book. I am very glad I did. Author, Jim DeFede has been an award-winning journalist for sixteen years and did an amazing job with this book. It is non-fiction, but reads like a fiction story. When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000.
I knew about this event, but hearing the individual stories from the POV of both the passengers and the residents of the towns surrounding Gander, brought this to life for me. This is not a story of grief and sadness (although there is some of each), but a story of hope. This is the inspiring story of how the people (the heroes) of Gander cared for nearly 7,000 passengers with gestures of friendship, acts of kindness, and attitudes of goodwill at a moment’s notice. Hearing the story of stores like Canadian Tire giving whatever the stranded passengers needed at no cost, families emptying their linen closets and inviting people into their homes to shower and sleep, pharmacies calling all over the world to get prescriptions and provide drugs to those who needed them, veterinarians sleeping in plane hangers to care for some of the animals that were on the planes were so uplifting and this is a small number of wonderful experiences. Stories of sleeping in tents on the lawn outside the Legion Hall, Jewish passengers being provided kosher kitchens, cookware and food to eat (no Jewish people in Gander) and older persons being invited into someone’s home showed the hospitality given. I could go on and on, but I want everyone to read this book. It shows humanity at its best. I think this is one of the best quotes from the book, “They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed. If the terrorists had hoped their attacks would reveal the weaknesses in western society, the events in Gander proved its strength.” I definitely recommend this book!
The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, Written and Narrated by Ron Howard, Clint Howard
Published October 12th 2021 by HarperAudio
Ron Howard will forever be Opie or Richie Cunningham to me, but this book introduced me to Ron Howard as a brother, a son, an actor, a director, and more. I was also a big fan of Gentle Ben, and did not realize that Clint Howard, Ron’s brother, played Mark. This was such a well written memoir, not just of Ron and Clint, but of the family. Rance Howard, the boys father was an actor, who played specific character types. Their mother Jean, gave up the acting bug to be a wife and mother. This was an acting family, but not a dysfunctional one. They lived a life where there was a lot of traveling, working hard and both success and failures, but they used them to move forward. Ron was the older brother, Clint was five years younger. They wanted to write this book as a love letter to their parents, who held the family together. I laughed at many of their stories and some were not so happy. Seeing how Ron was treated just because he was Opie, by total strangers was sad, but he always held his head up and did not react, because that is what his parents taught him. Dealing with producers who didn’t always have the actors best interests in mind was not surprising, but seeing how the Howards dealt with it certainly was. The story is told and narrated by both Ron and Clint. We get both their POVs. I enjoyed this book, and it was refreshing to see how wholesome and family centered the Howards were. The narration of the audiobook by the brothers was enjoyable and gave the impression of sitting and talking with them. I definitely recommend this one.