What do Tony Bennett, Dolly Parton and the movie It’s a Wonderful Life have in common? They’re each the focus of new books that are guaranteed to inspire, advise and entertain.
Tony Bennett’s Life Is a Gift will be a hit with anyone who loves anecdotes about famous people (and, let’s admit it, that’s all of us!). From Cary Grant to Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga, Bennett’s famous friends span the century, but readers will recognize them all, and his stories about them have the ring of someone who truly cares. Subtitled “The Zen of Bennett,” the book also offers nuggets of advice on many topics, including maintaining good relationships, insisting on a quality product and having fun. There are also a few surprises: Did you know that Bennett is an accomplished painter whose work is hanging in the Smithsonian? Did you know it was Bob Hope who coined Bennett’s stage name? This book is full of joyful appreciation for the life Bennett has lived and the audiences he’s served. His loving and happy attitude will linger in your ears like the sweet notes of his treasured music.
Dolly Parton keeps Dream More short and sweet—and very funny. There are four core pieces of advice the “Dolly Mama” (as she sometimes calls herself) offers: dream more, learn from everything, care for everyone and be more. These principles also guide the Imagination Library, an organization she founded that provides free books to children, first in the Smoky Mountains and now across the country. This book makes you want to cheer for Parton. For instance, she doesn’t just give books away to lower-income kids, but rather to any child in a participating community who signs up. She knows from experience that charity only directed to the poor can make the receiver feel “less than.” Parton dedicated this book to her father, who, as she puts it, “never learned to read and write, paid a dear price for that, and inspired me not to let it happen to others.”
Speaking of everyday heroes, Bob Welch’s new book celebrates one of America’s favorites, George Bailey, whose life forever changes his hometown of Bedford Falls in It’s a Wonderful Life. From this classic Christmas film, Welch pulled 52 Little Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life. Be prepared to find morals in moments you might not even remember, like the transformation of George’s mother-in-law. These lessons are cut from the same life-affirming cloth as the film itself, and stitched lovingly together by an author who is clearly an affectionate fan.