Kurt Schmoke is mayor of the City of Baltimore.
"Succeeding Against the Odds" by John Johnson. I felt so strongly about the messages in this book that I personally purchased enough copies to give one to every ninth-grade student in the academy of finance program at Lake Clifton-Eastern High School. It apparently encouraged a great number of them to pursue careers in business that they originally thought were not open to them.
Monica Crowley served as foreign policy assistant to former President Richard Nixon from 1990 to his death in 1994 and is the author of "Nixon Off the Record" (1996) and "Nixon in Winter" (1998), both published by Random House. She is completing work for a doctorate in international relations at Columbia University.
In early 1993, I gave former President Richard Nixon a copy of Niccolo Machiavelli's "Discourses," which inspired him with its argument that political action is the best way of life because it's the only way to achieve greatness. In fact, that argument resonated so strongly with Nixon that he used it as a philosophical basis for his last book, "Beyond Peace," published the next year.
Elsbeth Bothe retired from Baltimore Circuit Court after spending 18 years as a judge who tried capital cases; as a lawyer, Bothe represented a number of death row inmates.
"In 1945, when I was a literarily and sexually challenged freshwoman at the University of Chicago, English professor Wallace Fowlie loaned me his personally inscribed, French-published, banned copies of Henry Miller's 'Tropics of Cancer' and 'Capricorn,' the otherwise inaccessible works of the "greatest contemporary writer then extant." I passed the books over to my new boyfriend, letting it be known that my appreciation was diminished by being unable to comprehend a certain four-letter word which frequently popped-up on those pages. The boyfriend dropped me."
John R. Alden, an archeologist, has done field work in northern Chile, Mesoamerica and the Middle East. He has also written two travel articles, on Chile's Atacoma Desert and the Florida Everglades, for the New York Times.
Years ago I reviewed an intriguing first novel, written by a Baltimore-area insurance agent and published by an obscure academic press. I liked the book so much that I ordered a copy for my father, a retired naval officer. He called a few days later to thank me for the book, which had arrived inscribed by the author: "To a real sub driver - Tom Clancy."
Jeff Danziger is a political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times syndicate and a novelist.
I have given copies of Lampedusa's "The Leopard" to a number of aquaintenances of Italian descent, almost all of whom have become good friends. The novel is a searing delineation of the Italian character, so I must assume that my friends appreciate unpleasant honesty as long as it is beautifully written.
Rosemary Klein is editor of the Maryland Poetry Review and president of the Maryland State Poetry and Literary Society Inc.
I relish giving people T.S. Eliot's "Selected Works," especially those who are familiar with his work primarily through the critical mythology that has branded him an "academic" poet. Though I can never be certain the extent of the impact, experience suggests that once those gifted really read his work, silently and aloud, their perceptions of Eliot change, and, more importantly, as they appreciate the intellectual, philosphical, emotional, sensual and spiritual depths that resonate within his finely wrought poems, they realize the authority and pleasure that inform appreciative readers who venture beyond the barricades of the critical.
Dorothea Straus has written six books, among them "Virgins and Other Species," and "Under the Canopy." She has written for Harper's Bazaar and the Partisan Review.
"Dreams of My Russian Summers" by Andrei Makine, links memories of his boyhood during the late years of communism in rural Russia, with his imaginings of Belle Epoque Paris. A different gulf between generations has been bridged by my granddaughter's mutual enthusiam for this novel.
Lisa Schwarzbaum is a regular contributor to national magazines and critic for Entertainment Weekly. She was previously feature writer at the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine and has worked for the Boston Globe and the Real Paper.
A workplace girlfriend was having those yearnings a tough-chick reporter can get when she hankers to write something with more soul than a daily newspaper allows. I gave her "Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life," Anne Lamott's irresistible meditation/memoir/textbook that makes telling a story sound like the most wonderful thing a person can do in this world - and long story short, my friend just completed her first draft of a novel.
Victoria A. Brownworth is author and editor of several books, most recently "Film Fatales: Independent Women Directors" (Seal Press), co-authored with Judith Redding. She received the 1997 Myers Center Award for Human Rights in North America. Her writing on lesbian and gay issues appears in Ms., the Village Voice, the Nation and Spin.
A few years ago I taught a GED program for pregnant teen-age girls. My best student, a 15-year-old African-American with an interest in history, was bored by the class and wanted to drop out. I bought her two books: "Black Women in White America" by Gerda Lerner and "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." I hoped the books would resonate for her as they had for me, that they would encourage her to fight to educate herself. She stayed in class, got her GED and entered a program at a local college. Later she wrote me a letter, which read in part, "I never knew that stuff before [I read those books]. They made me want to learn more. I kept them for my son."
David Kusnet was chief speech writer for President Clinton from 1992 through 1994 and was on the staff of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) from 1974 through 1984. He is a visiting fellow at the Economic Policy Institute.
I used to recommend that friends who were feeling down read Bernard Malamud's novel, "A New Life," about a drifter who begins his life anew in the Pacific Northwest of the 1950's. The book had lifted me out of adolescent angst the summer after I finished high school, and it often boosted my friends' morale as well.
Kelly Brandt has worked for Barnes and Noble bookstore since )) August 1996 and has opened three stores for them: one in Bel Air, one in White Marsh and the latest at the Power Plant. She graduated from Hunter College in New York in 1987, but is a Minnesota native.
I gave my grandmother a book titled "We Interrupt This Broadcast" by Joe Garner. (It chronicles all of the major events of this century with old articles and photos.) Because the book comes with two CDs of the actual radio broadcasts it was like reliving a time in her life that could otherwise never have been recaptured. It is a rare moment when you can share an emotion with someone that changed their life dramatically.
Rev. Victoria R. Sirota, an Episcopal priest, is vicar of the Church of the Holy Nativity in Baltimore. She holds a doctorate in music as well as a master of divinity degree. An organist and university music teacher before ordination, she has written widely about creativity, theology and music.
Nikos Kazantzaki's "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Simon & Schuster, 1960) has been a comfort to people who struggle with faith and grapple with the idea of a living God. This theologically provocative work is a passionate portrayal of a Christ who comes alive in the tension between being fully human and fully divine.
Rev. Bill Axe is pastor of St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Church in Jessup. He did his undergraduate work at Kansas University, after which he entered the Order of the Most Holy Trinity. He has been a priest for 24 years.
I give a copy of "The Color of Light" by Perry Tilleraas to all the PWA's [People With AIDS] I get to know. So many of them have been hurt by organized religion and want no part of it, yet this book has enable many to refind a connection with the Divine - and it's excellent for people who do not have AIDS, as well.
Beth Kephart is the author of the recently published nonfiction book "A Slant of the Sun: One Child's Courage." She won the 1998 Leeway Foundation Grant in nonfiction, and was also named a finalist in the Pew Fellowship in Arts program.
I gave Michael Ondaatje's "Coming Through Slaughter" to my husband (a visual artist, a non-reader) with a threat: If you love me, you will read this book. Gloriously, he read it through. Even more gloriously, he felt a passion for it, began to understand, I think, why story and language mean so very much to me.
Laura Demanski is a lecturer at the University of Chicago, teaching a course on 19th-century British literature. She is writing a doctoral dissertation about portrayals of the urban underclass in the novels of Henry James, George Gissing and Arthur Morrison.
I love to eat, and to make gifts of MFK Fisher books - from her five-volume, virtuosic "The Art of Eating" - to good or potential friends who have sat at memorable meals with me. The habit formed after the first such friend ate the books up, so to speak, and came to consider me a worthy guinea pig for all her culinary experiments and endeavors thereafter; applied in this manner, Fisher brings to such relationships another indulgence, literary pleasure, to be shared.
Pia Nordlinger is a reporter for the Weekly Standard. Her work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, the Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Orlando Sentinel, and the on-line magazine Squire. Nordlinger attended Kenyon College, where she was the editor of the Kenyon Observer.
"Tell Me Why: A Father Answers His Daughter's Questions About God" by Michael Novak and Jana Novak. As soon as this book came out, I gave it to a Catholic friend of mine who had expressed frustrating doubt regarding her faith. Novak's book gave my friend a sense that she was not alone in her queries and exceeded my expectations by motivating her to make church a regular part of her life again.
Clarinda Harriss chairs the English Department at Towson University. Three collections of her poems have been published; her poems and short fiction appear in numerous publications around the U.S. She edits and directs BrickHouse Books, Inc., and is currently working with a 600-page memoir by a female inmate at a Texas prison.
When my son was about 11, I gave him a used Ludwig snare drum and a book of rudimentary instructions, whereupon he started taking drum lessons and adding other pieces; by time he was in his teens he was part of a fairly successful local rock band. A few years later he packed his drums (and his old drum book, of course) into a rented van, moved to Athens, Georgia, played music there just long enough to convince the University of Georgia he was a Georgia resident worthy of admission as a "local" to its Veterinary Medicine program, and is in practice as a large-animal vet today.
Lauren Weiner is an editor in the office of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona). She has worked as a reporter, writer and editor for jTC the Washington Times, the Institute for Contemporary Studies and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the New Criterion, Insight and elsewhere.
Two years ago I convinced my father to try Anthony Trollope. I thought he might like the ins and outs of parliamentary politics, and even (though he might not admit it) the romantic stuff, and he devoured "Phineas Finn," proceeding through Trollope's entire Barchester series and much of his Palliser series before I could complete them myself.
Gregory Kane, a columnist for The Sun, was half of a reporting team that two years ago bought two slaves in Africa, freed them and then wrote a series of articles demonstrating that slavery is still practiced.
Some years ago, my sister Barbara was browsing through my copy of J.A. Rogers "Africa's Gift to America" and marveled at the contributions blacks had made to the country while lamenting that she had never learned this history in school. "Keep the book," I told her, "as Gregory's gift to Barbara."
Rev. Bruce Romoser has been senior pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Ellicott City for eight years. Before that he was senior pastor at Berwyn Baptist Church in College Park for seven years. He has a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas.
The book that I have given to many people that has had more impact than any other is the Holy Bible. I have seen God use it to totally transform lives in ways that seem unbelievable and I recommend the reading of it to everybody.
Pub Date: 11/22/98