Book Review: 1001 Things to Love About Military Life

1001 Things to Love About Military Life

Authors:  Tara Crooks, Starlett Henderson, Kathie Hightower, Holly Scherer
Published:  November 2011
Review by:  Brandy Woodley

I like how the introduction for 1001 Things to Love About Military Life is written, touching on the range of perspectives this book delves in to. However, I love when they answered, “ABSOLUTELY,” to the question of doing it all over again. As an Army spouse, I would definitely concur with the authors.

The book’s topics range from key military quotes and oaths, career facts, personal stories, children, spouses, growth and more. It is truly a complete “military” book, covering all of the branches of the Armed Forces. This allows for “cross-cultural” education and insight, which intrigued me, as well. My twin brother is in the Air Force, so now I have a little reference tool and small window into his world.

The composition of the book is very organized and inclusive for any reader. My favorites are that there are pictures that really capture the true moments of military life, and the authors saw fit to leave periodic spots for you to write down your own stories and accounts.

I asked Holly Scherer, one of the co-authors, what she would like to say about the book from an Army spouse (author) perspective to fellow Army spouses. Scherer shared the following, giving great perspective and food for thought for all spouses.

Over the years as Kathie and I have dove into the research on happiness, we developed workshops for military spouses and even wrote our first book, Help! I’m A Military Spouse ~ I Get A Life Too! to spell out how this research impacts your overall happiness in life as a military spouse. One of the keys uncovered in the research is the sense of gratitude, it is imperatively important to choose to reflect on what is good in your life.

It is natural as humans to want to fix what is not working, and in the middle of war it becomes easy to focus on the negatives. We have learned from the research that there has to be a healthy balance. Choosing to shift your focus on what is good in your life will absolutely affect your overall level of happiness in life. This is research based information.

We are in no way trying to send a message to suck it up; keep a smile on your face; or ignore what’s wrong and keep trudging. With this book we hope to provide some of the explanations to others and a reminder to ourselves, especially in a very challenging time, the answers to WHY? Why WE serve?  In the word ‘we’ it includes the service member (active and retired), their spouse, their children, their parents, their families…all who love that service member.

When the reader immerses themselves in what is good, it begins to unfold that sense of purpose we all strive for in life. Hopefully this book will become a keepsake book as the readers write down in the journal spaces provided their own personal military memories.  Then they can pass it on to their children and their children’s children. Passing the legacy.

Make sure to visit the book’s primary site to read up on the authors, see pictures and learn more about this wonderful idea turned book. Melissa Seligman, co-blogger of Her War, Her Voice!, wrote about her judgment of  the book’s title, and then her paradigm shift.

After reading the forward, I began to understand: she wasn’t asking me to suck it up or trudge on. She, and the other authors, were simply putting to black and white the requests of our military men and women to see their “why.”

It is the one question I think I have wanted answered by my husband. “Why?” What is it within him that makes doing this so important he would be willing to die? To leave us?

It is something I rarely question. Because I am so incredibly proud of him. I would hate for him to think otherwise.

But this book put it square in front of me. And as I sat on the carpeted stairs of our house, reading the words and stories, over and over again, I heard in my head: “This is why.”

And I cried.

“This is why I love a stranger enough to die. This is why I continue to stand beside him. This is why she makes me proud. This is why the flag still brings me to my knees. This. All of this—1001 these—is why.”

 I was ashamed. And deeply thankful.

I judged a book by a title.

As I lay in bed with my husband that night, reading through it with him, I caught myself smiling. And saw him nodding.

I definitely see this book being a keepsake for my soldier and our family. With there being 1001 well-categorized topics, there is bound to be something that triggers a memory or two for the reader-heartache or heart-warming. It all builds our Army life experience; one that most, if not all of us, would not trade and would do again.


Brandy Maltbia Woodley is the Editor-in-Chief of Army Spouse Magazine. She is an Army wife, mother and entrepreneur. Soaring Dove Enterprises is her virtual business where she does resumes, professional consulting, editing and other document assistance since 2006, Prior to military life, she earned the degrees of B.S. International Business with French minor and M.A. Human Resources. She worked in the corporate environment and obtained her certificate as a Certified Compensation Professional with an Expatriate emphasis from WorldatWork.

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