OPINION | WOODY BASSETT: Recommendations for a few books to help in the quest for knowledge

Recommendations in the quest for knowledge

It has been several years since I used this space to write about books and recommend a few to readers.

For book readers, navigating a good book from start to finish is a fulfilling journey, one of life's simple pleasures. I'm not very good at sitting still for long, preferring instead to be on the move from one thing to the next, but diving into a new book can usually keep me planted in one place for hours at a time.

Like movies, a book provides a chance to relax and temporarily escape from what's going on in your own life or what's swirling around you in the life of the nation. Books are always there for you, just waiting for you to pick one up. Doing so won't cure all that ails you but spending time with a book is healthy and stimulating for the mind, something which can be enjoyed through both good and bad times in your life.

Books tell us the stories of people we don't know, places we haven't been, things we haven't experienced, historical events that shaped us and worlds we can only imagine. Books expand our minds and broaden our horizons. They make us think. They help us satisfy our quest for knowledge or a better understanding of the human condition. They often teach us something new or assist us in seeing some things differently. Books fuel our curiosity, affording us the opportunity to never stop learning, no matter our age.

Reading interests understandably vary from person to person. Here's a list with a variety of books, all of which I personally recommend:

• The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II by Buzz Bissinger -- This is the piercing and heartbreaking true story of a group of college football All-Americans and other players who served in the United States Marine Corps near the end of World War II and fought in the bloodiest battle of the war, the invasion of Okinawa. John Grisham praised this book, saying it's "destined to become a classic."

• Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown -- This is a gripping saga of patriotism and courage, the story of the special Japanese American army unit that overcame brutal odds fighting the German army in Italy while their families were incarcerated back home. More than a war story, this book also chronicles the tragic story of what happened to Japanese American families in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

• Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man -- Billed as an autobiography by the late Paul Newman, this remarkably honest and revealing memoir provides a new and deep understanding of the iconic actor, film director, race car driver, entrepreneur, philanthropist and political activist from the perspective of Newman himself and from others who knew him well.

• And There Was Light by Jon Meacham -- A a masterful, highly readable biography of Abraham Lincoln. Meacham illuminates Lincoln and his times as well as the troubled society that we live in today.

• Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens -- A fabulous novel. Riveting. A real page-turner. "Painfully beautiful ... a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative, and a celebration of nature," as the New York Times describes it.

• G-Man by Beverly Gage -- The author explores the full sweep of J. Edgar Hoover's fascinating and contradictory life and lengthy career as the all-powerful director of the FBI.

• Ted Kennedy: A Life by John A. Farrell -- Well researched and written, this biography of Kennedy is a comprehensive and candid assessment of his life and times.

• The Vapors by David Hill -- This is the captivating story of Hot Springs from the 1930s through the 1960s and an engrossing look into a bygone era of American vice.

• The Forgotten 500 by Gregory A. Freeman -- This is the astonishing and untold story of the greatest rescue mission of World War II.

• War and Peace: FDR's Final Odyssey D-Day to Yalta, 1943-1945 by Nigel Hamilton. A close examination of the final two years of Franklin Roosevelt's life, especially his exemplary leadership as President, Commander-in-Chief and world statesman, as his health rapidly deteriorated.

• Confessions of a Chancellor: The Politics of Higher Education by Fayetteville's David Gearhart, former chancellor of the University of Arkansas. I can't wait to read this memoir. Just waiting for Amazon to deliver it to my front door.

• Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari -- Recommended by a friend, this exceptional book is for those who are interested in history, anthropology and evolution.

• Like a Rolling Stone -- Rolling Stone magazine founder, editor and publisher Jann Wenner's deeply personal memoir takes the reader inside the music, the politics, the lifestyle of a generation and the cultural change that swept America and beyond.

• Tiny Blunders/Big Disasters: Thirty-Nine Tiny Mistakes that Changed the World Forever by Jared Knott -- A very interesting read.

I hope some of these books catch your fancy.

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