Books That Help Us Remember September 11, 2001

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Many of us will not forget that gorgeous September morning when we shared the shock of the decade as the Twin Towers fell. It’s good to take into account though, that to some people–and by some people I mean perhaps children who were born in 2001–this might be a story for the history books. I can understand that notion because it would be akin to what the assassination of John F. Kennedy was to me. Not having been born when it happened, I have no relationship to it. But for many who were there, and witnessed the story unfolding, they struggled with the senseless act, and found it difficult to articulate their emotions. They were forever haunted by it. So, perhaps, the same is true with September 11, 2001. Maybe it’s an event in the history books without a human face.

But many personal accounts have been written about it to keep alive the memory of what a blow it was too all of us. I, too, join the ranks and have a personal story about that day. Just one week to the day my husband and I had been in the Trade Towers. We had been in New York for the U.S. Open, as my husband is an avid tennis fan. One morning, Tuesday, September 4, precisely,  we took a trip via subway to downtown Manhattan. One of our favorite discount department stores, Century 21, was nearby, and we wanted to walk around Wall Street as well. We got off at the Trade Tower stop, right underneath the building. It was cool looking, but dark, and quiet. I guess many people were already at their desks in the offices above us. There were a lot of little stores and there was a Borders Bookstore I wanted to stop in if we had the time. As I was washing up in the restroom I noticed a sign posted that listed a number of rules about conduct in the towers. At first, I thought it odd, but then I remembered the World Trade Center Bombing attack in 1993, the epicenter was the parking garage beneath the tower. Granted, this had taken place eight years prior, but it resonated with me. I found my husband browsing the mall area and told him I thought we should get out of the building. I reminded him of the bombing in 1993, and then said, “This place is a target, we need to leave.” Isn’t that crazy? I thought nothing more of it until after we came home and we were watching in horror as the news covered the story of  two Boeing 767 jets flying into the twin towers, collapsing them on September 11, 2001. For me, 9/11 will always be personal.

On Monday’s Book Hound radio program Jan and I discussed some of the books that came out after 9/11. So, if you are interested in reading more about 9/11, then this short list might be of some interest to you. Let me know what you think, or if there are any 9/11 books you think should be here.

Nonfiction

Firehouse, by David Halberstam, published in 2003. Firehouse is the story of  Engine 40, Ladder 35, and the thirteen men who were on two rigs setting out from this firehouse, twelve of whom never returned. Along the way, we learn the culture of the firehouse and try to understand why these men would become firemen and pursue so dangerous a profession.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, by Maira Kalman, published in 2005. This is a children’s picture book. The John J. Harvey was the best fireboat of its time, but by 1995 the city didn’t need fireboats any longer, so the John J. Harvey was retired. Then one  day in September a horrible event shook the world. The fireboat was needed to fight a roaring fire. This is a true story.

American Widow, by Alissa Torres, illustrated, published in 2008. A memoir written by a young widow who lost her husband that day in September. Alissa’s entire world was upside down. This book chronicles her journey through being a widow and carrying the baby of a father who would never set eyes on his child.

Fiction

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, published in 2006. Narrated by nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who is trying to discover clues about his father’s death on September 11.

The Zero: A Novel, by Jess Walter, published in 2007.  New York city cop Brian is suffering from a brain injury due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He is  now a tour guide for celebrities who want to visit “The Zero.” He ultimately gets a job with the Documentation Department and uncovers clues about who he works for and who he was before he tried to kill himself. This book is described as a dark comedy and I can see why! It’s a complicated story that sheds some light on a harrowing time in our history.

Falling Man, by Don DeLillo, published in 2008. This story brings to the surface emotions and memories of Sepetember 11, and shows how those events shape our perception of our world as it is now. It centers around a married couple and their son who are forever changed by the events surrounding 9/11.

And check out Flashlight Worthy for more recommendations.

Please join us Monday’s on The Book Hound. We sniff out new books and learn about new and bestselling authors. We air weekly on 101.3 FM Renegade Radio and 99.1 FM Talk Fox News Radio. Tunein radio: Search America Matters Media
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