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Once again, a cold and snowy evening ushered Pages in the Pub into our hometown of Norwich, Vermont. And once again, the presenters - Lucinda Walker, Susie Stevens, Carin Pratt, and Peter Orner - did an incredible job of raising a lot of money for our beloved Norwich Public Library (thanks to the generosity of the Norwich Bookstore), confining their reviews to six words (harder than it sounds), helping many finish (or at least start) their holiday shopping, and giving all of us a GREAT list of books to give and get (and maybe start reading today). So HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of us who celebrate this holiday in November (hello Canada), and happy reading to all as the holidays begin. (Presenter bios are listed below the presenters' recommendations so that you can know a little bit more about the people who gave us all such great recommendations and six-word reviews. Lisa Cadow served as our emcee; thus her holiday recommendations will follow in a December Book Jam post.)
Cookbooks: For people who like to cook up a culinary snow storm
The Blue Zones Kitchen by Dan Buettner (2019). From Lands of Longevity and Happiness. ~ Selected by Susie.
Meat Free Monday Cookbook by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney (2019). Help the environment: Eat Less Meat! ~ Selected by Carin.
Adult Fiction: For anyone who only has time for the BEST fiction
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (2019). “Girl Devours BSU”: I’ll Explain. ~ Selected by Carin Pratt.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (2019). Children combust, (some) grownups adapt. ~ Selected by Carin Pratt.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (2019). Find yourself & love walks in! ~ Selected by Lucinda.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel by Olga Tokarczuk (2019). Witty, deep mystery ... Polish Nobel Laureate. ~ Selected by Susie.
Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (2019). Heart-crushing novel of Syria's Civil War. ~ Selected by Peter.
Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage by Bette Howland (2019). Personal Stories by extraordinary writer rediscovered. ~ Selected by Peter.
Thrillers to Help You Forget the News
The Chain by Adrian McKinty (2019). Parents saving kids in danger - unputdownable! ~ Selected by Lucinda.
Picture Books for Families to Read Together During Snow Storms
Wally the Wordworm by Clifton Fadiman (1984). Wally delightfully introduces language to kids. ~ Selected by Lucinda.
Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare (2019). Ingenious wordless kid's book, Moon included. ~ Selected by Carin.
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper (2019). Revels Comes Full Circle. Great GIFT. ~ Selected by Lisa Ch.
Books for Young Readers: Those beyond tonka trucks and tea parties but not yet ready for teen topics
Pay Attention Carter Jones by Gary Schmidt (2019). Butler shows difference between Gentleman & Bore. ~ Selected by Lisa Ch.
Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson (2019). All learn from 12th birthday trip. ~ Selected by Lisa Ch.
Books for Your Favorite High Schoolers
Here to Stay by Sara Farizan (2019). Internal sports narrators make absurd navigatable. ~ Selected by Lisa Ch.
Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes (2019). Trauma. Hope. Gumption. James Baldwin. Poetry. ~ Selected by Lisa Ch.
Memoirs: For people who enjoy living vicariously through other people’s memories
The Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith (2019). Patti Smith’s evocative and dreamy reflections. ~ Selected by Lucinda.
Keep it Moving: Lessons for the rest of your life by Twyla Tharp (2019). Aging well through vibrancy, purpose, and movement. ~ Selected by Susie.
To Float In The Space Between by Terrance Hayes (2018). Unique, personal homage to poet Ethridge Knight. ~ Selected by Peter.
Never a Lovely So Real by Colin Asher (2019). Biography of unsung, uncompromising Chicago novelist. ~ Selected by Peter.
Non-fiction or reference books: For people who like to think and chat while sitting by the woodstove
Say Nothing: a true story of murder and memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (2019). Terror is palatable on every page. ~ Selected by Lucinda.
Madame Fourcade's Secret War by Lynne Olsen (2019). Resistance fighter risks life & limb. Exciting! ~ Selected by Carin.
Coffee table books, Poetry, and Literary Gifts: For your favorite hosts and co-workers
Here: Poems for the Planet by Elizabeth Coleman (2019) . Poems to inspire activism, hope, and connectedness. ~ Selected by Susie.
Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live by Monica Berlin (2018). From the heartland, intimate, lyrical poems. ~ Selected by Peter.
In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules by Karen Karbo (2018). Women who challenge the tyranny of “nice”. ~ Selected by Susie.
Lucinda Walker is the Director of the Norwich Public Library. In the words of Eloise, she “loves, loves, loves” her job, her colleagues and the Norwich community. She is addicted to podcasts (Ear Hustle, the Cultural Gabfest & Dolly Parton’s America are current favorites), popcorn and dark-roasted coffee. A new empty-nester, she’s rediscovered the joy of singing with thanks to the Juneberry Community Chorus. Lucinda lives in Brownsville with her writer/librarian husband Peter and two kids, Hartley & Lily.
Susie Stevens is a psychologist, specializing in social support research. She is also an avid reader and helps keep the Norwich Bookstore in business as a result of her love of books. She lives in Norwich, Vermont with her husband and High School aged son and one stubborn dog. When not taking her son to the hockey rink or soccer field, or walking the dog, she likes to drink coffee, buy books and talk with friends.
Carin Pratt, a native of Massachusetts, Carin moved to the Upper Valley (specifically Strafford) eight years ago after spending 30 years in DC working as a television producer, finishing as executive producer of Face the Nation. She’s never looked back. She reads a lot, and works part-time at the Norwich Bookstore in order to afford her addiction to books. She has a husband and two adult sons.
Peter Orner is the author of six books, most recently Maggie Brown & Others, a 2019 New York Times Editor's Choice. Orner is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. Born in Chicago and educated at the University of Michigan, he recently taught at the University of Namibia on a Fulbright. He lives in Norwich with the novelist Katie Crouch and daughter Phoebe who will be presenting during the December 3rd BOOK BUZZ at Marion Cross. (And Roscoe who is three and eats books.)
BOOK JAM Lisas
Lisa Cadow is the co-founder of the Book Jam. When not reading or experimenting in her kitchen, she is a full time student of counseling at the University of Vermont. She fervently believes that health outcomes would improve if doctors could prescribe books to patients as well as medicine. Lisa lives in Norwich with her husband, three cats, and a fun border collie and loves it when her three adult children visit.
Lisa Christie, co-founder of the Book Jam, was in previous times the Founder/Executive Director of Everybody Wins! Vermont and USA, literacy programs that help children love books. She currently works as a part-time non-profit consultant, part-time Dartmouth graduate student, and all-the-time believer in the power of books. She lives in Norwich with her musician husband, two superb teenage sons, and a very large dog. She often dreams of travel.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND HAPPY HOLIDAY READING!
Good news -- once again, we asked our our favorite booksellers at The Norwich Bookstore to review their favorite books from their reading thus far this autumn. Great news -- this list is by no means the extent of their recommendations. So, if you like what you see here, view their staff reviews here, or better yet visit them in person. And, THANK YOU Norwich Bookstore staff for always providing great books for us to read and to give.
Tell Me Who We Were: Stories by Kate McQuade (2019). McQuade’s connected stories, centering around the lives of girls who once attended boarding school together, kept me intrigued and curious. As each story started, I made a game of guessing which girl was the focus and who the narrator might be. We see them as women, girls, teens, elderly, mothers, daughters, friends, lovers, and wives. The incident with their teacher is a point of connection and here are the spokes spinning out from the hub. Nothing in nature is permanent, neither are books. These images are ethereal, try and wrap your arms around them and they billow like smoke. The glimpses are haunting and gauzy, and some are based in myths and fairytales. In these pages you will stumble across crows, trees, taxidermy, secrets, lies, and the freedom of summer. Reading one is like letting the peach juice run down your chin. ~ Selected by Beth.
Good Husbandry by Kristin Kimball (2019). I loved The Dirty Life, Kimball's first book about starting a farm on 500 acres in Essex, NY. In Good Husbandry --great title -- she continues the story. Problems erupt: runaway horses, an injured husband, the intense vagaries of modern weather. Children, as they are wont to do, complicate the work balance and her relationship with her husband. But Kimball's love of the farm and what she and her husband are trying to do triumph. And boy do they work hard. A well-written and often moving tale of what it's like to be a young farmer these days. ~ Selected by Carin
White Bird by R.J. Palacio (2019). This well-written graphic novel, by the author of Wonder, is a wonderful way to introduce middle grade and older readers to the many acts of bravery and heroism that took place before and during World War II. A young Jewish girl is hidden by a family in Nazi-occupied France by a couple and their son. This is done at large risk to the family and the reader discovers both great bravery as well as kindness. The art is simple, and skillfully helps tell the story. This quote from the book sums it up for me: "It always takes courage to be kind, but in those days, such kindness could cost you everything." ~ Selected by Penny
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (2019). January lives in a big house on the shores of Lake Champlain with her guardian, a collector of antiquities, while her father is away for months at a time seeking treasures to add to the guardian’s collection. January is left mostly to her own devices and discovers a room where mysterious presents appear as if by magic. The discovery of a book containing stories of other worlds leads January on adventures that are both exciting and dangerous. The Libro.fm audio version of this book (available for download from the bookstore!) had me enthralled and making opportunities to listen so I could find out what happened next. ~ Selected by Jennifer
Talking to Strangers; What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell (2019). I think Malcolm Gladwell is the original ‘Outlier’ given his unusual, timely perspectives on topics generally under the radar. Or do his books deeply explore the obvious? In any case, Talking to Strangers is as absorbing and full of ‘AHA! Moments’ as his previous works. I’m from the generation who grew up with the enforced “never talk to strangers” mantra, so I was fascinated by the theories he proposes. Gladwell analyses through history and current events how we all fail to detect a lie, miss cues and ignore our intuition about strangers when we do interact with them. Bernie Madoff, Adolf Hitler, the CIA, and more recently, the unfortunate and fatal Susan Bland traffic stop in Waller Country, TX are among the featured examples here. We cannot assume the best about people we do not know but that is a trait of our modern society. And we cannot abandon trust, either. “There are clues to making sense of a stranger. But attending to them requires care and attention.” Absolutely engaging. ~ Selected by Sara
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (2019). Whether you are 4, 44, or 94, this picture book/graphic delight (and my pick for serious 2020 Caldecott consideration!) has it ALL. Begin with its fuchsia end papers directing you to the book on the shelf. Pull that book off the shelf on the calligraphy collaged title page that introduces us to the book’s graphic style. Feast your eyes on the rainbow compilation of text and color that follows it Don’t miss the almost too pale apple shape poem that is the colophon and then join the satisfied reader under her book umbrella and the rain of letters on the dedication page.
Now slide into this adventure, savor each turn of the page, and as Kwame Alexander exhorts, “ SLEEP. DREAM. HOPE (You never reach)---------THE END. I loved it! ~ Selected by Susan
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry (2019). There is a deceptive power in silliness, when wielded by someone truly clever, to convey ideas and emotions with a light hand. This novel is very silly, and very clever, and mostly, a love letter both to English literature and to those that know and love it as well as the author. Because this rollicking adventure is clever, and silly, it would be very easy to overlook its deft sensitivity, its greater themes of influence and interpretation- not just in the give and take between reader and writer, but in the influence we have upon each other. A delightful gift for lovers of Dickens, and fans of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. ~ Selected by Brenna
Running With Sherman by Christopher McDougall (2019). This is a story of Sherman - a once-neglected donkey - with people, community, caring, and connections at its core. McDougall (Born to Run) adopts Sherman and explores ways to help him heal - beyond the obvious physical support. A colorful cast of two- and four-legged characters is involved with side explorations of mental and physical fitness and health issues. Burro racing in Colorado anyone? ~ Selected by Liza