The Book Jam Blog
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Two of our favorite things are travel and reading great books. Visiting bookstores in foreign lands allows us to combine the two into one great activity. Not only is this a great way to learn about the place you are visiting, but you often find memorable books you just would not have come across back home. So, in our inaugural post with our new web design, we decided to share some of the best books we have picked up on our travels while browsing local bookstores. We hope you like these books and our new look, and that you remember to visit a bookstore or two (or three) the next time you come across a new place.
We would like to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to Danielle Allen of Root5Farm for designing this new Book Jam site. We are very excited about this new endeavor. It will eventually allow us to add some new services (e.g., eventually curating gift baskets full of books for your favorite gift giving occasions, better live events). And honestly, we just think this new site is so much better merely because it is much easier to navigate the book reviews, allowing you to better find your next perfect read. Plus, well, the design is just better. So THANK YOU Danielle.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (2013 in Australia/2014 in USA) – I discovered this haunting tale of Iceland in Rhode Island at Island Books; and, I am glad I did. Ms. Kent does a superb job of taking the true stories of 1) Agnes, a woman convicted of murdering two men, 2) the family who must house Agnes while she awaits her execution, and 3) Toti, the Reverend charged with saving Agnes’s soul, and combining them into a fabulous first novel. ~ Lisa Christie
Atlas of Adventures: A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun fun festivities from the four corners of the globe by Lucy Letherland (2014) – Ms. Letherland’s book encourages the reader, through fun illustrations and some well selected prose, to travel the world, while suggesting adventures specific to each unique location. When we were lucky enough to live in Spain one autumn, Pasajes, a fabulous Madrid bookstore, was our neighborhood store. Lucky because it meant weekly visits to its shelves were very convenient. On one of those visits, we discovered Ms. Letherland. Her work has been a holiday gift staple every since. ~ Lisa Christie
Hunting and Gathering by Ana Gavalda (2007) - One of my favorite books to give is Hunting and Gathering. Why? Well, it was a gift to me from Lisa Cadow when I desperately needed a well-written book that just left me feeling happy. Lisa, in turn, discovered Hunting and Gathering at WHSmith Bookstore on Rue de Rivoli (one of her most cherished places to visit when abroad) in Paris during her time abroad there. As I wrote in an October 20, 2015 Book Jam post, "Time spent with this group of Parisians is well spent. When I read this in 2008, it was the first book in a long time that left me feeling happy about the world when I finished it. And since it was recommended to me by Lisa Cadow, we recommend it again here". I can't really review it much better today. But I will add that I hope you pick it up and enjoy it soon.~ Lisa Christie (with a strong original recommendation from Lisa Cadow)
The next book in this post was not discovered in a bookstore we visited while visiting another country or city or town. Instead, Lisa Cadow discovered it visiting our hometown destination - the fabulous Norwich Bookstore. We include it here as a bonus review because it fits the spirit of this post -- that great books take you to amazing places. Enjoy!
The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti (2016) - I was immediately drawn to this Italian coming-of-age story when I saw that the New York Times described it as "a good old fashioned novel." Who doesn't seek this, especially if said book is just over 200 pages and takes place in remote alpine pastures? Set in the late in the 20th and early 21st centuries, readers journey with young Pietro and Bruno through their boyhoods and high up into the Aosta Mountains. City boy Pietro's parents rent a small house in a hamlet summers for their family of three with the hope of sharing some part of their own rural childhoods with him. It is here that he meets Bruno and spends days on end with him exploring the village ruins, cool streams, and hillsides while also learning how to be a cowherd and climbing mountain peaks with his distant father. The boys lives take very different paths into adulthood but always re-converge in the village. This novel is deeply atmospheric and quietly explores male friendship and father-son relationships. It conveys a love of mountains, nature, farming, and respect for making a living from the land with one's hands. I found this book to be an important one. It offers insight into the changing nature of post-war European economies, culture, and the challenges presented to traditional livelihoods. "The Eight Mountains" remained on the bestseller list in Italy for years, and has won both the Italian "Premio Strega" prize and the French Prix Médicis Étranger. ~Lisa Cadow