Tag Archives: biographies

Book Review: “I Love You, Ronnie”

Well – my friend Haley (who recommended this week’s book) takes the trophy for best recommendation so far in this book challenge! This week, to kick off the “Month of Romance” theme for February, we picked up I Love You, Ronnie, by Nancy Reagan.

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This book was nothing short of breathtaking.

I Love You, Ronnie is a collection of letters from Ronald Reagan (yes, the former US president) to his wife, sewn together with lovely commentary from his wife Nancy, which gives readers a more in depth look at the famous man, behind the scenes. She takes letters her husband had written to her – from various movie sets, from the road campaigning, from the White House, and beyond – and uses them to tell the story of their love, and their life together.

Who knew Ronald Reagan was such a romantic?! His words were absolutely beautiful, and give a great insight into how Ronald Reagan was away from the camera. This book was the perfect way to start the “Month of Romance” reading, because it tells a true, honest, inspiring love story! The more I read, the more I fell in love with “Ronnie and Nancy Poo Pants.” Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these two.

Here’s a little snippet of one of my favorite letters (to be honest, it was REALLY HARD to choose one), so you can better understand what I mean by “romantic:”

However there is one golden glow warming my soul in this first sunset – I’m twenty-four hours closer to you. Last night was another one of those nights – just too beautiful to stand. So tonight I’ll probably be looking at the Moon which means I’ll be looking at you – literally and figuratively because it lays far to the South of the mountain top and that’s where you are. That takes care of the “literal” part – the “figurative” part requires no direction, I just see you in all the beauty there is because in you I’ve found all the beauty in my life.

Seriously… who wouldn’t want to get a letter like that?

The most amazing part of this story was realizing that I wasn’t reading a work of fiction. Unlike other great romances dreamed up in the mind of one author, this one was real, and the copies of handwritten letters are there to prove it. Ronald Reagan is like a knight in shining armor, or perhaps a bard singing about an epic love – yet the epic love is his own. I mean, these two were really, head-over-heals in love for their entire marriage! It’s inspiring to see a relationship be so successful for so long, despite the multiple hardships they faced. I felt a connect with Nancy talking about how hard it was to spend so much time away from her husband while he was off filming movies or campaigning – as a military wife, I spend months away from my husband (he is actually two states away as we speak, and will be there until March 31, close enough to come home on the weekends). I loved being able to see that, despite their multiple and frequent separations, they were able to make their love last. I have to say, I cried a bit at the end, when Nancy discusses facing Ronald’s Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis, and her realizing that “Alzheimer’s is a truly long, long good-bye.” It crushed my heart to think of that goodbye – not taken by death or old age or even an accident, but for their lives to slowly dissolve… it’s too much to bear!

In the Prologue to this lovely piece of biographical literature, Nancy suggests that current generations of lovers need to get back to the basics of writing letters and expressing our love for one another through words that will last beyond our lifetimes. In the age of phones, email, social media, and texting, we are more connected than ever, but we are also missing out on the joys of seeing our lover’s handwriting, of the excitement that goes with receiving a letter in the mail, of the elation of seeing “I love you” in print, and being able to read it over and over and over again. I am making a point of following her advice and following in her dear Ronnie’s footsteps by writing out handwritten letters for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and major holidays. I hope you can be inspired to do the same.

This one is a must read. I am not normally a fan of biographical literature, and I generally steer clear of anything that can have anything to do with politics, but with a recommendation calling the book’s main character “the most romantic man ever,” how could I resist?! I am so happy I picked this one up (thank you, again, Haley!!)! It was such a refreshing story, and left me filled with such wonderful feelings. I will happily pass this one on to whoever is interested in a good – TRUE – love story! I can honestly say that Ronald Reagan is my favorite “leading man” in any book we’ve read this year (and that’s saying a lot, because most of them have been imagined by romantic minds).

Well, how about you? Did you read I Love You, Ronnie? What were your thoughts and reactions? Are you head-over-heals for Ronald Reagan? Were you surprised to learn how romantic he was? Share your feelings about this book with me!

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Week 23 Reading: “I Love You, Ronnie”

Well folks, we are entering February, and starting off our “Month of Romance” theme for our book club-like reading atmosphere. For those of you who have joined us recently, the idea behind this blog is to pick a theme for each month, and for each week within that month, a different book associated with that theme. I try to mix it up by picking different genres, to keep everyone interested, and to expose myself (and you!) to books we wouldn’t normally pick up. Within any month, we can read a biography, a sci-fi, a trashy romance, and a historical fiction… or anything else on the broad spectrum of literary themes!

Check out This Month’s Books, pick one (or more), and read along! At the end of each week, I post my review, and ask you to join in with your own review/commentary/questions. I enjoy having opposing opinions, learning something about the book I missed, or just discussing a novel with friends!

I’m very excited to pick up this week’s book, I Love You, Ronnie by Nancy Reagan.

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This book came as a very enthusiastic recommendation from my friend Haley (hey Haley, and Thing 1 and Thing 2!!). The book is a collection of letters from the late Ronald Reagan to his wife, Nancy Reagan. The letters encompass the bulk of their relationship, from the acting days, to the White House, and beyond. These love letters were lovingly assembled, and explained, by Nancy Reagan. When recommending this book, my friend Haley said that Ronald Reagan is possibly “the most romantic man ever.”

This should be an interesting selection. It is a collection of letters, and falls under the title “biographical literature,” which isn’t usually my genre of choice. But again – expanding my literary horizons and embracing something I usually wouldn’t pick up on my own. With a recommendation like “most romantic man ever” from Haley (who I trust with book recommendations), this should be a great one to start off our “Month of Romance,” and get us into the mood for love.

 

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Book Review: Letters from Amelia

This week started our first of November’s “Month of Travel” theme for the reading challenge. We kicked off our challenge picking up a biography (the first of the challenge) about Amelia Earhart, a legendary woman, American and pilot. I’ve always found her legend fascinating, mostly because of the mystery surrounding her disappearance.

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Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart by Jean L. Backus uses a recently (well, recently as of the book’s 1982 publication) found collection of letters written by Amelia to her mother, Amy. Backus uses the letters, as well as interviews, newsreels and newspaper clippings, and biographical books to piece together a never-before-seen-view of Amelia’s life, told mostly through her own words. The book was very interesting. Amelia was, from youth, a very bright and inspired woman. She didn’t have a life-long fascination with avionics, and only took to the sky in her 20s. She lived an unconventional life even before becoming famous, refusing to settle down and protesting to marriage – mainly because of the unhappy relationship between her parents.

Amelia’s fame wasn’t guaranteed simply because she was a trend-setting woman. Her fame was carefully promoted by her public relations representative, who later became her husband (when Amelia was well into her late 30s). He pushed her career, encouraging her to take herself and her plane to the ultimate limit – making her famous and infamous for her record setting career. Backus presents various suggests theories surrounding Amelia’s mysterious disappearance, and leaves the reader to come to their own conclusions.

This book was slow going. I’m not really a fan of biographies (give me historical fiction any day), but I felt that Backus went off on tangents and had a hard time staying on track. I think her book could have been much better (and possibly shorter) if Backus had kept to the subject at hand instead of spending pages on friends who visited Amelia at her house when discussing her married life. Just an example of the kinds of tangents Backus took. I feel like Backus wanted to fit in everything she discovered about Amelia, when really the writing should have been much more selective to make the book more interesting. I also had a few problems with her writing style – there were frequently oddly-worded sentences thrown into the mix… sentences I found myself reading and re-reading in an attempt to make sense of it.

Overall, I enjoyed Letters From Amelia. I’m glad I took the opportunity to learn more about Amelia Earhart. She was truly ahead of her time, taking on challenges that at the time (and even into our time) were seen as masculine, without a care for what anyone thought of her. She had a wonderful support network, was exceptionally caring to her family (even taking financial responsibility for her mother and later her married sister), and a visionary in regard to women’s rights. Her main goal seemed not to set records, but to inspire women (and men) to know that women were just as capable as men. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “please don’t bother” and 5 being “this book is nothing short of miraculous) , I would give this book a solid 2.5.

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Week 10 Reading: “Letters From Amelia”

This week kicks off not only our “double digits” of reading, but also starts our November reading! Each month of my year long reading challenge has a theme (see the Themes page), and November’s theme is “Month of Travel” (see the This Month’s Books page to see this month’s selections).

This week’s reading is a book about one of the most famous pilots in American history, and one of the world’s most famous female pilots – Amelia Earhart. Jean L. Backus’s biography Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart uses letters written by Amelia throughout her lifetime to help tell her story.

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I have always wanted to learn more about Amelia, but I’ve never really been one for biographical literature. That’s the pleasure of the book challenge – I’m introduced to books I’d never have picked up before! Amelia was far ahead of her time personally and professionally, and I look forward to learning more about this interesting woman. Amelia’s letters will be a great addition to the biography by allowing us to see Amelia’s life in her own words – introducing us to her personality, her intellect, and her sense of humor.

I hope you’ll be inspired to read along with me, and join me by reading at least one book this month.

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