The best set of books that capture the magic of seeing everyday good even in the face of adversity

Paul E. Kotz Author Of Start Late, Finish Happy: Random Encounters - Unexpected Joy
By Paul E. Kotz

Who am I?

Every time I see a wonderful episode of life, I want to capture it in writing or tell a compelling story about it. Too often, we let the good memories go, and remember the difficult ones. So, I keep writing books that have a real—yet positive outlook that can ignite a smile out of someone—or a hearty laugh. In 2020, I published Profiles in Kindness—an award-winning CIPA/Reader's Choice Award for motivation & inspirational leadership. In 2018, I first released the CIPA Award-winning Something Happened Today, addressing seeing the goodness in everyday life even in the face of difficulties. 


I wrote...

Start Late, Finish Happy: Random Encounters - Unexpected Joy

By Paul E. Kotz,

Book cover of Start Late, Finish Happy: Random Encounters - Unexpected Joy

What is my book about?

Stories of inspiration, making mistakes, finding happiness as well as bringing to light anecdotes of deliberate and unexpected kindness are found within! Many times these random encounters have untapped joy. It is about everyday life, vulnerability, and our reactions. Ravi Zacharias stated, "None of us escapes life without some ecstasy and heartache." When you see a baby jumping for joy, splashing water during a bath, or smiling from a hug you just gave them, we rarely question their excitement and enjoy the moment of their ebullient happiness.

The books I picked & why

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Once in a Blue Moon Lodge

By Lorna Landvik,

Book cover of Once in a Blue Moon Lodge

Why this book?

Lorna Landvik captures your attention with entertaining and provocative characters who have endearing qualities that also can challenge us to look at our own lives. She writes with humor, race, and has a style that will draw you in. Many of her books have stories that take you off guard and make you laugh hysterically.

Once in a Blue Moon Lodge

By Lorna Landvik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once in a Blue Moon Lodge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set adrift when her mother sells the salon that has been a neighborhood institution for decades, Nora Rolvaag takes a camping trip, intending to do nothing more than roast marshmallows over an open fire and under a starry sky. Two chance encounters, however, will have enormous consequences, and her getaway turns out to be more of a retreat from her daily life than she ever imagined. But Nora is the do-or-die-trying daughter of Patty Jane, who now must embrace the House of Curl's slogan: "Expect the Unexpected."

With her trademark wit and warmth, Lorna Landvik follows Nora and an ever-growing…


The Diamond Eye

By Kate Quinn,

Book cover of The Diamond Eye

Why this book?

A true story of a heroine who is a sharpshooter in WW II is not one that I would immediately gravitate to. But, she is complex and can compartmentalize her need to defend her country, while at the same time trying to live an ordinary life when not in the military. She meets up with U.S. dignitaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR, and charms them with her no-nonsense approach to life. It is a historical fiction piece based on a true story and has been a NY Times bestseller.

The Diamond Eye

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Diamond Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brand-new historical novel based on a true story from the bestselling author of The Rose Code and The Alice Network

In the snowbound city of Kiev, aspiring historian Mila Pavlichenko's life revolves around her young son - until Hitler's invasion of Russia changes everything. Suddenly, she and her friends must take up arms to save their country from the Fuhrer's destruction.

Handed a rifle, Mila discovers a gift - and months of blood, sweat and tears turn the young woman into a deadly sniper: the most lethal hunter of Nazis.

Yet success is bittersweet. Mila is torn from the…


The Devil's Highway: A True Story

By Luis Alberto Urrea,

Book cover of The Devil's Highway: A True Story

Why this book?

In May 2001, a group of men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, the "Devil's Highway." Three years later, Luis Alberto Urrea wrote about what happened to them. The result was a national bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a "book of the year" in multiple newspapers, and a work proclaimed as a modern American classic. What resonates with many readers, including myself is the struggle that people will go through to enter the U.S., sacrificing just about everything a person has, including possibly losing one’s life their lives to start anew. It is chilling at times, and an eye-opening read.

The Devil's Highway: A True Story

By Luis Alberto Urrea,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Devil's Highway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A widely-praised piece of investigative reporting examining the journey of 26 men who in May 2001 attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of Southern Arizona through the region known as the Devil's Highway. So harsh and desolate that even the Border Patrol is afraid to travel through it, the Highway has claimed the lives of countless men and women - in May 2001 it claimed 14 more. History of high acclaim from the author of The Hummingbird's Daughter.


11/22/63

By Stephen King,

Book cover of 11/22/63

Why this book?

This book does a time travel back to the late 50s and early 60s. Jake finds himself being able to ‘reset’ each travel back in time, to alter history and save lives, or let a situation be as is—unaltered. In King’s style, he paints vivid pictures of good and bad characters who influence the hero’s decisions to often watch life unfold, or try and make a change for the best.

11/22/63

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked 11/22/63 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major TV series from JJ Abrams and Stephen King, starring James Franco (Hulu US, Fox UK and Europe, Stan Australia, SKY New Zealand).

WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless . . .

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of…


Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

By Joy Neal Kidney, Robin Grunder,

Book cover of Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

Why this book?

It is the captivating story of the five Wilson brothers from Iowa. Leora was their motherJoy’s delightful grandmother. All five of these brave young men enlisted. Only two came home. All served their country during WWII, two in the Navy, and three in the Army Air Corps. Kidney provides her readers with a genuine and heartfelt glimpse into the life of an American family during one of our nation's most difficult times. It is so well-crafted, combining letters, photographs, and narratives that touch your heart. Joy Neal Kidney makes you feel like a member of her family. I hoped that all men would make it back safely. Unfortunately, war is never that compassionate and affects many lives in the process. It is an absorbing read and well worth the endeavor.

Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

By Joy Neal Kidney, Robin Grunder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leora's Letters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one, all five sons were serving their country in the military. The oldest son re-enlisted in the Navy. The younger three became U.S. Army Air Force pilots. As the family optimist, Leora wrote hundreds of letters, among all her regular chores, dispensing news and keeping up the morale of the…


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