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Recently, our indispensable and beloved Norwich Bookstore changed hands. We are so grateful for the hard work and vision that Liza Bernard and Penny McConnel brought to building such a vital part of our community; and, we are excited to welcome Emma Nichols (also a podcaster) and Sam Kaas with their fresh energy and creativity to Vermont. We look forward to seeing what the store becomes under their stewardship. For now, we have asked them to introduce themselves to Book Jam readers with a few recommendations of what to read right now. We hope you enjoy their picks and are able to visit them in person soon. ~ Lisa and Lisa
We are the new owners of the Norwich Bookstore, and so, naturally, we wanted to introduce ourselves by recommending a couple of books. It is, of course, impossible to introduce a reader in only two books, but we’ve made the attempt, choosing titles that we think paint a somewhat accurate picture of our own personal reading tastes. We hope you enjoy these picks! ~ Emma and Sam
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell (2019). How to Do Nothing is not exactly instructional, as the title suggests, but I guarantee it will teach you something. It is a takedown of our society’s prioritization of productivity, efficiency, and capital. It is a love letter to bird-watching, long walks, and careful attention. It is a plea for maintenance and sustainability. Ms. Odell reframed the way I saw the world and my place in it, which is why I return to these pages again and again. ~ Emma Nichols
Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks (2002). Fire Logic is the first in a fantasy quartet, and it is my favorite book—not in the series, but of all the books I’ve read. There is too much to the plot to summarize it in a satisfying way, so I won’t attempt to. But I will say it hurdles relentlessly forward, enthralling and entertaining, with villains that are drawn with as much detail as the heroes, until they become indistinguishable. It is one of those books that is both dark—concerning war, revenge, a land under siege, a society demolished—and full of hope—showing a community reimagined and rebuilt. It insists its characters question their beliefs, their driving forces, and do what’s right no matter how difficult. With themes of forgiveness, friendship, community and generosity, I believe this series is trying to teach its readers how to be. ~ Emma Nichols
The Sunset Route: Freight Trains, Freedom, and Forgiveness on the Rails in the American West by Carrot Quinn (2021). This astounding memoir was, appropriately enough, one of the books that I carried across the country with me as we traveled from Seattle to Vermont. A meditation on the sometimes-contradictory urges we all feel for freedom and for connection, The Sunset Route lingered with me for months. Carrot Quinn grew up in a harrowing environment of neglect, with a mother whose mental illness was severe and sometimes violent, before leaving home in her teens. She spent the next several years traveling the country - hiking, exploring, and riding freight trains with a tight-knit community of travellers, all of whom were seeking their own solace. Ms. Quinn’s vivid descriptions of her travels across a seldom-seen landscape will make you want to hop a freight yourself (don’t, though; it’s very dangerous), and her explorations of what it takes to find a family, wherever you may be, might just leave you feeling hopeful. The Sunset Route will appeal to readers of Jon Krakauer and Sebastian Junger just as easily as it will to fans of Tara Westover and Cheryl Strayed. ~ Sam Kaas
Someone Should Pay For Your Pain by Franz Nicolay (2021). I first came to Franz Nicolay as a fan of his music. Mr. Nicolay, who plays keys in The Hold Steady, and was previously part of dozens of bands (notably World Inferno/Friendship Society) that could probably best be described as cabaret punk, is a beguiling songwriter in his own right. This doesn’t always translate well into prose - in fact, it rarely does - but Someone Should Pay For Your Pain, Mr. Nicolay’s debut novel, is remarkable - tender, authentic, and sincere without being didactic. Rudy Pauver has seen better days - he had a promising album fifteen years ago, but since then, he’s been stuck: alone on the road, playing to increasingly indifferent crowds, and deeply hidden in the shadow of his former protege. Most of his personal relationships can best be described as “conflicted.” His current tour is already on its way from bad to worse - a gas station robbery, a cancelled show - when his niece shows up with troubles of her own, forcing Rudy to confront both his past and his future. Mr. Nicolay is one of the rare writers who accurately captures the way working musicians speak and interact, and his intricate dissections of a creative life - of the sometimes surprising conflicts between ethics and morality, love and responsibility, success and fulfillment - make this slim novel a standout. ~ Sam Kaas
10/15/2021 12:56:10 pm
When reviewing books, it would be helpful to provide formats available, ie hardcover, paperback,etc, and price of each. I prefer paperbacks, so always to know this upfront.
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