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Two Independence Day Book Recommendations

July 1, 2020


Two Independence Day Book Recommendations


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa


On WORDWALK, this year’s “fireworks of nonfiction” spotlights two books which I highly recommend for your reading during this mid-summer season. Independence is a key factor of both books. One of the recommendations is a somewhat older copyright while the other is very recently published. Coincidentally, David McCullough’s book was published in 2017, the year that Christie Bane wrote her book which was published in May of this year. While Mr. McCullough’s book contains only 176 pages, Ms. Bane’s tome includes 596 pages.


As fireworks light up the evening’s sky or splash across your television screen, reading David McCullough’s THE AMERICAN SPIRIT: WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE STAND FOR will be perfect timing. (DB 89507 on BARD–Braille and Audio Reading Download, is four hours and 35 minutes.) This collection of a myriad of Mr. McCullough’s speeches is a most interesting review of highlights of our American history. (Reading this book should guarantee your being able to respond more often correctly on JEOPARDY!) The date, place of delivery, and occasion accompany each speech. The author–winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and 54 honorary degrees (as of 2017)–also recommends some exceptional books within his dynamic and very readable speeches. I enjoyed and greatly learned from reading this short book for the fourth time.


Thinking of independence in another way–of the independence which guide dogs afford the blind or visually impaired handler–I am delighted to recommend to you Christie Bane’s outstanding book FORWARD TOGETHER: AN INSIDE LOOK AT GUIDE DOG TRAINING. When I received my current Leader Dog in June of 2016, Christie was our Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI) at Leader Dogs for the Blind (Rochester, Michigan); nevertheless, I can put on my unbiased journalistic hat and classify this book as demonstrating highly impressive thoroughness of topic. Within the 42 clearly written chapters, Christie guides the reader through all aspects of guide dog training, including puppy-raising. At age 11, Christie raised her first puppy for a guide dog school as a 4-H project; at that young age, she found her career of a lifetime. Since 1999, Christie, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Orientation and Mobility, has professionally trained guide dogs. Additionally, she continues to volunteer as a puppy raiser. Her love of writing and her energetic dedication to this career of training guide dogs and their blind handlers certainly make her well-qualified to write this book which is truly a gift to all who are interested and/or curious about the lives and work of guide dogs.


In 1989 when I applied for my first Leader Dog and was seeking greater independence, I tried to read any book which I could find on topics related to guide dogs. Although over three decades ago I was unable to benefit by reading such a detailed book on the topic of guide dogs as is FORWARD TOGETHER, I, as a seasoned guide-dog user, greatly enjoyed and learned from reading this book at this stage in my life. While I do imagine this book will be used as a most interesting textbook within the blindness professions, FORWARD TOGETHER will be a vitally important read for those considering a guide dog, family members and friends of guide-dog users, co-workers of guide-dog handlers, seasoned guide-dog users, puppy raisers for guide dog schools, and all who love and admire dogs–especially working dogs.


Although I read the Kindle version of FORWARD TOGETHER via my Smart-speaker “Alexa,” I look forward to listening to the book again when it (hopefully soon) becomes available through an audio publisher and BARD. The Kindle version’s listening time is eighteen hours.


Both of my Independence Day book recommendations are available on Amazon. Please let me know if you have read them or plan to read them.


Happy summer reading!

Happy Fourth of July!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


July 1, 2020, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Tried to comment on the post. Will try to do it on the computer later.

  2. lindambritton permalink

    I have reserved David McCullough’s book at our local library (closed except for picking up materials outside that have been requested). So, I am late for Independence Day, yet I believe I am just on time. Meanwhile, I am enjoying learning so much as I continue to read Forward Together as we prepare to return our puppy for formal guide dog training in Rochester, Michigan.

    • Hi, Linda–Many thanks for reading and commenting on this post! Hearty congratulations on raising your fifth puppy for Leader Dog School! Also, abundant thanks to you for your wonderful volunteer work for Leader Dogs for the Blind! Your “Future Leader Dog” is a most impressive, young Yellow Labrador who will make a blind handler’s world of waiting into a world where dreamscan again come true.
      Best wishes–Alice and Leader Dog Willow

  3. Happy 4th of July Weekend, Alice and Willow! Thank you for inspiring your readers with two wonderful book recommendations. Your reviews are detailed and interesting, and I look forward to reading both books sometime in the future. We are blessed to live in the USA!
    Love, Mary

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