Bethesda’s Sally Mott Freeman dug into the mystery of what happened during WWII to her father, Bill, an intelligence officer who worked in the White House; his brother, Benny, an anti-aircraft officer; and their youngest brother, Barton, who was taken prisoner in the Philippines. The three brothers have died, so Freeman talked with veterans, read diaries and traveled to archives around the world for her book The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home (Simon & Schuster, May 2017). “At its core, it’s a story about a family caught in turmoil,” Freeman says. “We all know what people are like when times are good. What are they like when they are facing a crisis? It’s not only about what happens on the front [lines], but also about how families behave.”


Wendy Kiang-Spray’s The Chinese Kitchen Garden: Growing Techniques and Family Recipes from a Classic Cuisine (Timber Press, February 2017) gives tips on how to grow 38 Chinese vegetables and includes traditional recipes for everything from dumplings to stir-fries. Arranged by season, the book features colorful photos and the author’s experiences as a child and as a parent. “Woven throughout the book are bits and pieces I heard growing up, stories about cooking, growing food, people, tales from my culture,” says the Rockville resident who works as a counselor at Rockville High School. “I think it’s going to be a very useful book if you want to grow vegetables and if you like to try to cook Asian vegetables. But for me, it’s a highly personal book, too.”


Anthony Franze writes thrillers late at night and edits during his daily commute on the Metro. “I’ll occasionally miss my stop, but it’s a system I’ve had for several years,” says Franze, a Chevy Chase resident who is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer in Washington, D.C. His third novel, The Outsider (Minotaur Books, March 2017), is a “fish-out-of-water story” about a poor kid, Grayson Hernandez, who just graduated from a low-ranked law school and finds himself unexpectedly thrust into one of the most elite legal jobs in the country as a Supreme Court law clerk, Franze says. The page-turning element: Hernandez learns that someone who works at the court may be implicated in a string of murders.


What is good pain versus bad pain? When is pain truly unavoidable? How do we make the best of the situation when we’re in pain? Those are some of the questions that Dr. Aneesh Singla addresses in his new book, Why It Hurts: A Physician’s Insights on the Purpose of Pain (IdeaPress, May 2017). “Pain is really a warning signal. It points to the direction of the problem,” says the Bethesda pain specialist. That signal can bring about a change to prevent further injury—it can be as simple as staying off an ankle if it is sprained. The book explains the importance of getting to the root causes of pain, and on a deeper level, it is about healing, resilience and hope for those living with chronic pain.


What’s on your bedside table?

Meri-Margaret Deoudes is president and CEO of the Bethesda-based nonprofit EarthShare, which forms partnerships between the private sector and nearly 600 environmental groups—including The Nature Conservancy and the Anacostia Watershed Society—developing employee engagement programs to support the organizations. Deoudes says Thomas Friedman has a way of writing that helps readers understand the most complicated issues. That’s one of the reasons she likes his book Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008).

Because there is so much important science connected with climate change and environmental work, advocates sometimes forget how to make the case in a way that resonates with everyday Americans, Deoudes says. “We need to speak in simple language to help them understand how big the issue is and what we need to do to move the needle.”

Climate change has become part of a broader social justice issue, says Deoudes, who lives in Bethesda. Friedman, also a Bethesda resident, writes about participating in the green movement as a “personal virtue,” and draws parallels to the call to action in the civil rights movement. “The book made me think about choices that I was making that might be better for my family and how that might make it better for the environment overall,” Deoudes says.