By Reginald Stuart

With holiday shopping chances evaporating as ideas, time, funds and opportunities appear to disappear, this year’s deadly coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic 2020 and the widespread economic disruption at home and abroad, has trampled lives and plans for many at home and around the world.

For people still pondering how to address the challenge, two new real-life books, overshadowed by the year’s drama, may be ideal stocking stuffers for people of any age.

“Conversations About Education, Careers and Life,” gives readers an upclose look at the future as seen by a dyed-in-the wool college educator and his son. a young adult still charting his future. Their fork in the road converges when they realize the historic, intellectual education, is today not the only route to success. 

This year’s surprise and rocky pause in life, and the unexpected disruption in education of all kinds at all levels, gives every family a chance to share candid, civil thoughts about the future.  

“My son and I wrote this book for young adults,” said 64 year-old veteran educator Arthur Affleck, the coauthor of “Conversations” with his 22 year-old son Calvin,  adding the two-part paperback is also for parents, teachers and youth advocates.

“Our fervent hope is that students will no longer be pushed to conform to what others want them to study, do, or be,” he said.  The goal of the dialogue is to ”impact the quality of conversations between students and their parents/caregivers about the variety of options for higher education and potential careers,” the senior Affleck said.

The 88 page book, subtitled “A Guide for Pursuing College and Non-College Education Options,” is written simply, minus familiar academic school book tones. It gives both  

writers room for candid talks about going to college and the value of non-college options, including the now familiar ‘stop out,’ break in higher education, more affordable and time-management online schooling and self-starter options.  The book gets its consumer past the first meal and back for a second helping of advice.

Learning how we got as far as we have since the Civil War and subsequent efforts to end racial segregation is accounted for in volumes of fact-based books, each with its own perspective. “Daughter Of The Boycott,” the new book by journalist Karen Gray Houston, adds a special angle. It is about her family’s `civil rights legacy’ starting with the Montgomery City Bus boycotts in the 1950’s.  

“Daughter’’ focuses on her late father, a federal administrative law judge, and uncle, legendary civil rights attorney Fred Gray, an Alabama native who went to high school at North Nashville’s Nashville Christian Institute (NCI) from 1942-47, before going to Alabama State College then Case Western Reserve University law school in Ohio. 

“Daughters,’’ which took five years of research plus writing, was composed as a “tribute,” said Houston to her “father and uncle and the many unsung heroes and heroines who have not gotten their due credit,” she said, explaining many people got the boycott going before neighbor Rosa Parks, a member of a neighborhood church congregation, became the civil rights bus boycott poster person. 

Houston pays “tribute” to many of the unsung heroes and heroines in the 238 page hardback.

“Daughters” got off to a rocky start this year, as its was released just as the nation began to hear about the corona virus on a regular basis and the deadly airborne virus began sweeping every community and age groups with stunning impact. Book stores, libraries and museums were closed. Book signings were cancelled. 

Still, acknowledging Houston’s polite persistence, the publishers worked diligently with her to get the word out. Girlfriends and former work colleagues hosted ZOOM virtual book club sessions.

Today, the book is available in book stores large and small. With necessity requiring invention, “Daughtes’’ now has a book `trailer’ on line, a promotion historically reserved for movies. The lack of book signing and autograph parties has been replaced by ZOOM audio-visual internet calls. It is now available by mail and on E-books. She was even asked to record an audio version, prompting the set up a small recording studio at her home. 

Attorney Gray, still practicing law in Montgomery, and known for his decades of meticulous review of details and factual chronology, said in a recent phone interview he had read one of the last drafts of his niece’s book. “I think it’s a very good job,” said Mr. Gray, a legal icon who celebrates his 90th birthday this month. “She talked to a lot of people,” he said, humbly, adding he “just happened” to be around.