The Book Jam Blog
Read our latest reviews
Last Thursday evening, during another "Pages in the Pub" we gathered and we talked and we laughed and we shared reviews of great books to read this summer. Like so many activities of late, this happened not in person, but on ZOOM. And now with today's post, we all have access to the great books our presenters recommended.
The presenters - Michele Campbell, KJ Dell'Antonia, Stephen Kiernan, and Sarah Stewart Taylor - did an incredible job of telling us about the books they hope we all read this summer. One of the Book Jam Lisas - Lisa Christie - reviewed the great new books each presenter has written for us to enjoy this summer. Natasha Leskiw, provided amazing tech support and linked each presenter's selections to The Norwich Bookstore website (our indie bookstore partner), allowing audience members to purchase books as the event unfolded. Lucinda Walker, the superb Norwich Librarian, used the event chat room to link to other books we might wish to read as each book was discussed. As a bonus, through the generosity of The Norwich Bookstore and audience members, the event raised money for Upper Valley Strong, a nonprofit now providing COVID-19 related relief services. For today's post sharing their picks, the presenters confined their reviews to six words (harder than it sounds), giving all of us a GREAT list of books to give and get. We also include the bonus selections from Lucinda Walker (in parenthesis) at the end of each presenter's review.
Bios for all the great people (OUR THANKS TO ALL OF THEM) who helped our Virtual Pages in the Pub are listed below the presenters' recommendations, so that you can know a little bit more about the people who gave us all such a great list of books to read. There truly is something in this list for just about every type of reader. And don't forget you can pre-order the summer releases by each of the four presenters today and have a steady stream of great books by KJ, Michele, Sarah, and Stephen delivered to you all summer long.
Enjoy this list and happy reading! (NOTE: We are heartsick about the events unfolding across the nation and plan to focus on this more fully in an upcoming post. In the meantime, we hope for healing and fair treatment for all. We will also use FB to highlight some great books that address race and racism.)
Cookbooks: For anyone looking for summer inspiration
The Outdoor Kitchen: Live Fire Cooking from the Grill by Eric Werner and Nils Bernstein (2020). Inspiration for our new entertaining normal. ~ Selected by Sarah Stewart Taylor (A fine pairing with this book might include: Fire & Wine: 75 Smoke-Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings by Mary Cressle & Sean Martin)
Non-fiction Or Reference Book: For people who like to ponder large tomes from their front porches while watching neighbors in masks stroll by
The Address Book by Deirdre Mask (2020). Mapping houses is mapping (unwitting) people. ~ Selected by KJ Dell‘Antonia (We’re spending so much time at home let Bill Bryson teach us so much more: At Home: A short history of private life.)
A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols (2001). First global solo sailboat race. ~ Selected by Stephen Kiernan (Add to the adventure by reading Coyote Lost at Sea: The Story of Mike Plant, America's Daring Solo Circumnavigator by Julia Plan.)
Adult Fiction: For a woman who only has time for the best fiction after hiking while remaining physically distant
The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell Antonio (2020). Social media and small-town life collide. ~ Selected by Lisa Christie (A great read alike is The Grammarians: A Novel by Cathleen Schine.)
There's a Word for That by Sloane Tanen (2020). Harry Potter's crazy writer
mom + Hollywood. ~ Selected by KJ Dell‘Antonia (Who doesn’t love a little family dysfunction? The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney.)
Adult Fiction: For anyone who only has time for the BEST fiction
Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (2005). Ignore title, an old man's love story. ~ Selected by Stephen Kiernan (Also try The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright.)
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (2019). (And bonus – Love by Roddy Doyle). Dry, funny, touching. Irish writers do it better. ~ Selected by Sarah Stewart Taylor (While not a laugh riot, it’s truly worth your time. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne.)
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (2017). Angsty writer’s doomed affair, literary setting. ~ Selected by Michele Campbell (A fresh take on Irish love is Eggshells by Caitriona Lally.)
Dominicana by Angie Cruz (2020). Dominican girl’s difficult immigrant experience — lyrical. ~ Selected by Michele Campbell (Also try Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.)
Thrillers to Help You Forget the News
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (2019). Cold War Spy Thriller with modern twist. ~ Selected by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Family secrets abound in Red, White, Blue: A Novel by Lea Carpenter.)
The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor (2020). Terrific atmospheric thriller. Ireland. Complex Detective. ~ Selected by Lisa Christie (May also like The End of Everything by Megan Abbot.)
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (2020). Sexism, racism, friendship, selling out—AND vampires. ~ Selected by KJ Dell‘Antonia (Read the book the women in the book club are reading before the vampires show up…The Stranger Beside Me by Anne Rule.)
Long, Bright River by Liz Moore (2020). Dark, lyrical: female cop, opioid crisis. ~ Selected by Michele Campbell (Could also like The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh.)
A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell (2020). Betrayed spouses, lovers, families mean trouble. ~ Selected by Lisa Christie (Described as a twisted and deliciously thrilling - The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks.)
Books From A Genre You Don't Usually Read
The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin (assorted years). Global pandemic scarier than the current one. ~ Selected by Stephen Kiernan (Perhaps a bit too close to our reality right now but a classic: The Stand by Stephen King.)
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (2016). Finding family, understanding others, including aliens. ~ Selected by KJ Dell‘Antonia (A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes.)
Books for summer campers/ young readers in Tree-houses (ages 8-12): Or, put another way, books for those beyond tonka trucks and tea parties but not yet ready for teen topics
The All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor (assorted years). Loving family's adventures in early 20th century New York. (With hope in the midst of scarlet fever and polio.) ~ Selected by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Might also like The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser.)
Books For Your Favorite High Schooler: “not required” reading for teens to ponder during the long hours of summer vacation
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins (1990). Funny, sexy, subversive, greatest hitchiker ever. ~ Selected by Stephen Kiernan (May also like The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey.)
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (2019). “The West Wing” as snarky romance. ~ Selected by KJ Dell‘Antonia (Also try Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner.)
The Baker’s Secret by Stephen Kiernan (2017). Historical fiction teaches, entertains. Bread unites. (Bonus picks Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Aceveda and Stephen's new release - Universe of Two.) ~ Selected by Lisa Christie (If you like The Baker’s Secret, also try The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.)
Books That Will Always Remain On Your Shelves: No matter how many times you purge them as part of Covid-19 stay at home projects
Dune by Frank Herbert (1965; timely because there is a new film adaptation in the works). Classic fantasy: young messiah, desert planet. ~ Selected by Michele Campbell (A classic in the making - The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.)
Our Terrific Presenters - Four authors with books out this summer
Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.
A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in It's Always the Husband. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels. She has had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her. Ms. Campbell's latest novel, A Stranger on the Beach, can be pre-ordered now to ensure you have it for its July 23rd release.
KJ Dell’Antonia is the author of The Chicken Sisters, her debut novel, as well as How to Be a Happier Parent. She is the co-host of the #AmWriting podcast, the creator of the #happyendingsplease series on IGTV and the former editor of the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, and is never happier than when she's getting to tell somebody about a book she loves. She lives in Lyme with her husband, 4 children, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 8 chickens, 2 mini-ponies and an ever-changing line-up of other horses. The Chicken Sisters is available July 1st, and available to pre-order now.
Stephen Kiernan - Between his newspaper career and his novels, Stephen Kiernan has had more four million words in print. He’s a doting dad, an outdoor exercise addict, and a decent guitarist. His new book, Universe of Two, comes out August 2nd, and is available to pre-order now.
Sarah Stewart Taylor is the author of the Sweeney St. George series and the Maggie D'arcy series. She grew up on Long Island, and was educated at Middlebury College in Vermont and Trinity College, Dublin, where she studied Irish Literature. She has worked as a journalist and writing teacher and now lives with her family on a farm in Vermont where they raise sheep and grow blueberries. The Mountains Wild is available via pre-orders right now, with a June 23rd release date.
Our Amazing Emcee
Danielle Cohen is an audiobook narrator and actor, living in Norwich, Vermont. She grew up in Manchester, England, reading anything and everything aloud, and at the age of eight dreamed of being a news reader, or later, a stand-up comedian! Neither of those ever happened, but she did pursue an acting career for many years and has performed in many productions at Northern Stage in White River Junction, VT. She loves telling a good story and being an audiobook narrator has been a natural progression. When she is not narrating audiobooks, she can be found walking or running with friends, playing board games with her husband and teenage daughters, or baking and eating cake!
The Superb Librarian Providing Expertise with Additional Recommendations
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 (pandemic be damned!) She is addicted to podcasts (Ear Hustle, Jill Lepore's The Last Archive & Staying In with Emily & Kumail are current favorites), popcorn and dark-roasted coffee. Recently, she’s discovered the joys of the co-working space at her dining room and birdsong. Lucinda lives in Brownsville with her writer/librarian husband Peter and two kids, Hartley & Lily.
Our Outstanding Tech Support
Natasha Leskiw runs her own company, Personally Yours, doing social media and online community management for indie bestselling authors, charities, and local businesses. When not locked in her office she can usually be found wandering around the hundred-year-old house she shares with her boyfriend in Bradford Ontario, being overly caffeinated and yelling at cats.
Pages in the Pub INDIE Bookstore Partner
The Norwich Bookstore is full of stories: for adults and for children; some true, many fictional; tales of joy and sorrow, intrigue and inspiration. The bookstore has its own tale of connections and personalities, of visions and hard work. Since August 1, 1994 the great booksellers at The Norwich Bookstore have been helping readers find perfect books for all occasions.
The Book Jam Lisas
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, can't believe she recently finished her work as a Dartmouth graduate student, and is an 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; and she is trying to figure out how to turn her recent Dartmouth thesis looking at race and racism in white spaces into a play.
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. She is currently a full-time graduate student at the University of Vermont hoping to become a full-time therapist one day soon.