Nationally acclaimed West Michigan columnist Tom Rademacher has released a third collection of stories, “The Book of CAKE.” It’s a series he developed around what he describes as “invisible people who shouldn’t be.” Rademacher originally studied to be a special education teacher and was, in fact, working with special-needs children when he was offered the opportunity to write for The Grand Rapids Press. For 33 years, he endeared himself to Press readers with columns about, in his words, “everyday people both struggling and soaring.” But the “The Book of CAKE” brought Rademacher back to his first love. Developed, written and published in collaboration with West Michigan’s expansive, Christian mental health agency, Hope Network, this book is an anthology of remarkable profiles taking the people and stories of Hope Network out of the shadows and silence where they so often live. The book, rich in polished text and stirring photos—most shot by Rademacher when he’d gained his subjects’ trust—is the culmination of a year the writer spent in the offices, group homes, work sites, clinics, buses and families of Hope Network staff, volunteers, board members and, especially, clients. The idea for the stories was rooted in Rademacher’s history: “Apart from my wife and children,” he says, “these are the people who belong in my heart.” “Tom Rademacher came to us equipped with the gifts of a writer, the heart of a father and the desire to uncover and tell stories of hope,” Hope Network President and CEO Phil Weaver said. “He sat, he listened, he wrote, and he moved us all.” Added Dan Devos, chairman of Hope’s boards of directors, “This book is infused with Tom Rademacher’s power. He’s a gifted writer. Even more, he’s an explorer who uncovers what is unique in each of us, a trustworthy friend who opens us to public view without embarrassment. For a year Tom lived with the people of Hope Network. This book is his journal.” Among other stories, the book reports on a $600 mistake that nearly ruined a man, a message in a bottle, a janitor who can’t see, schoolkids on the rise, and inspirational sagas of men and women who have struggled valiantly against developmental disabilities, brain injuries, abuse, neglect and much more. “I’m as proud […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL For Rockford’s Tom Rademacher, last week was a whirlwind week of selling and signing copies of his newest book, “Knocking At Your Door.” The book is an encore of his debut book “Splitting Wood” that was released in 2010. The award-winning columnist’s newest book contains 80+ new columns gleaned from the more than 3,000 columns penned by the author over a thirty-year career. The book-signing tour wrapped up during the late afternoon and early evening of the day before Christmas Eve day, last Friday. Scheduled to make two appearances, one each at two of downtown Rockford’s anchor businesses – Kimberly’s Boutique and Great Northern Trading Company, we caught up with Tom at Kimberly’s. “I’m gratified and very humbled by the traffic here and the response to my latest book,” said Tom, adding, “It’s also a plus for Kimberly’s that many people seeking my book found themselves in the boutique for the very first time and ended up leaving the store, not only with copies of the book, but laden with Christmas gifts from the boutique’s eclectic offerings. It’s a win-win for both.” Your reporters chuckled when Tom, exhibiting the wry sense of humor oftentimes found in his writings told us he had, not so subtly, been instructed by wife Holly that he’d better be looking for her Christmas gift when he was not signing books! Book sales had been brisk at every stop along the way in West Michigan, during the book-signing tour and Tom, again, used the word, “humbled” when describing the large turnouts at every venue. One buyer purchased 40 copies, because the book contained a story about her sister who had been in a coma for 52 years, and she wanted to give a book to everyone in her life who had mattered. “How can you not be humbled,” said Tom. “Knocking At Your Door” buyers were seeking the second anthology of the collected works of a storyteller who is, first and foremost, a listener who oftentimes is moved to tears by capturing the lives and times of the subjects in his stories. Tom has an innate and genuine ability to listen. It’s a quality that one would hope to find in their own doctor and that’s […]
Long-time columnist for The Grand Rapids Press lauded for reminding readers of ‘the love, hope and humor in our own lives’ Nationally acclaimed newspaper columnist Tom Rademacher of Rockford has launched a second book of stories culled from the thousands he authored during his 30-plus years for The Grand Rapids Press. Entitled “Knocking At Your Door,” area bookstores are bracing for brisk sales this holiday season in the wake of his debut book “Splitting Wood,” which at one point was outselling Sarah Palin’s memoir at area Schuler Books & Music outlets. “We’re proud to partner with Tom as he continues to share his storytelling skills with readers who embrace his unique ability to connect with everyday people,” said Grand Rapids Press Publisher Dan Gaydou. “He has a gift, and it deserves to be shared not only in the Sunday Press, where he continues to be published, but in another anthology of collected works.” “Knocking At Your Door” includes more than 80 columns, including stories of: • a youngster whose discovery of a motherless fawn helped heal his own pain; • the Air Force vet who agonized for 52 years over what happened after bombs from his plane took out another U.S. aircraft directly below him; • Jackie, the woman who endured a coma for more than half a century; • an area man whose life was changed when his dog chewed off his toe; • and memories of The Glass Hut… an ArtPrize artist who ekes it out from a 12-by-12-foot log cabin… a gentleman who worked 18 years for his community college degree… “Hattem’s Cocktail Room”… and many more. “I’ve rubbed shoulders with billionaires and movie stars and sports icons, but I’m convinced that my best stuff has always been in the telling of stories about people who live next door, around the corner, both gently and demonstratively in our midst,” said Rademacher. “Give me a woman who still hangs laundry on a line, kids who volunteer, the dad who coaches a t-ball team after working a 10-hour day. Those people are real.” Rademacher came up with the title “Knocking At Your Door” while reliving a day early in his Press career, when he was assigned to return to the newsroom with an interview […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The sun had not yet risen last Saturday morning when long-time Rockford resident, Tom Rademacher, found himself ensconced comfortably at a table in front of the Coffee Ranch counter at Herman’s Boy. A regular at Herman’s Boy, Rademacher had been invited by his close friend, the store’s owner Floyd Havemeier, to hold a book-signing for the recently released “Splitting Wood” authored by Rademacher himself. After retiring last year from a 31-year career at the Grand Rapids Press, the last 21 years as a columnist, Rademacher chose and compiled his 100 favorite columns from the over 3,100 he had written into a first book. “Tom is one of Rockford’s treasures,” said Havemeier. “People were lined up outside the front door even before we opened this morning at 7:30 a.m.” Responding to the book-signing event that had been announced earlier in the week in both The Rockford Squire and the Grand Rapids Press, everyone wanted a copy of the book personally signed by the singularly popular award-winning columnist. The book is a compelling and uplifting easy read. They are the stories, for the most part, of everyday people authored by an everyday kind of guy. In a time when it seems that all one hears and reads in the media is economic gloom and doom, governmental dysfunction, and sky-is-falling weather forecasts, the columns featured in “Splitting Wood” are a breath of fresh air. The book is composed of 10 chapters in which the columns are categorized into 10 one-word titles, interestingly enough, all beginning with the letter L, opening with Life and moving on to Lilt, Legacies, Lore, Loss, Labels, Leagues, Losers, Lessons and ending, of course, with Love. There is something for every reader and leaves us, at the book’s conclusion, hoping that in the future other books may follow. There were a limited number of books left as the signing ended, and Rademacher personally signed each of those. They are available for sale at the front counter of West Michigan’s popular and eclectic Herman’s Boy, located at 220 Old Northland Drive in Rockford. A portion of the sale of each book goes to the Santa Claus Girls.