Babylon's Ark - Lawrence Anthony. This was written by the same guy who wrote the book about elephants on his game reserve. When the Iraq War came to Baghdad, Anthony hopped on a plane to save the Baghdad Zoo. He was the first civilian allowed into the city, and even though a high percentage of the animals had been killed by bombs or killed for food by rampant looters, Anthony was able to save most of the remaining animals, including a herd of man-eating lions who had been kept in Saddam's palace. This book gives an interesting perspective about how war touches civilian lives.
A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson. So I can't decide if I liked this book or not. Bryson writes about attempting to walk the 2000+ miles of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. I loved the parts about the trail's history because there were some fun little tidbits of American folklore. But guess what? They don't even hike the whole trail, and at the end of the book, the author is like, "We got to know the trail and spent a lot of time on the trail so we basically hiked it." Um, no you didn't.
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury. A Zollinger Book Club book. I thought some of Bradbury's observations about technology in culture were so spot-on. I didn't find myself really drawn to the characters but this book really makes you think. So many nuggets of wisdom. I will always remember how at the end of the book, the keepers of the literature head back to help those in a city that has just been totally bombed out. They are the only ones who remember Shakespeare, and the Bible, but rescuing humanity is more important, ultimately, than safeguarding the books. Books and literature are only valuable if they help us remember and learn what is really important.
Flags of Our Fathers - James Bradley. A good book to read around Independence Day. This book is about the six flag-bearers who put up a flag on Mount Suribachi. The picture that was taken became iconic for so much more.
Three of the men who raised the flag were killed within days. Sometimes we only hear the life stories of the men who came back from war, so I think it's important to learn about the background of common soldiers who didn't come back too. The twist here is that just a few years ago, they figured out that the man whose son wrote the book was mis-identified, and wasn't actually in the picture.
Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt. A pulitzer prize winning memoir about a boy growing up poor in Ireland in the 1930s and 40s. I love memoirs, but this one got rather crass at the end and seemed to lose substance to me as it did so. I skipped a few parts, but the coming of age story was memorable.