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Archive for the ‘Armchair Travelers’ Category

On a chilly October evening at the end of a lovely fall foliage season, readers from Woodstock gathered to hear about some superb books they should add to their autumnal reading list.

This evening was the latest outing of the Book Jam’s live event – “Pages in the Pub”.  This event is designed to bring together independent booksellers, literary bloggers, public librarians, and book lovers for an evening of talking about great titles. This time, we gathered at Woodstock’s Bentley’s Restaurant, sipped drinks, and turned pages, all with the goal of raising money for Vermont public libraries, including Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library.

Below is a list of all sixteen books discussed during the evening along with its own special six word review written by the presenter.  (Yes, we limited the presenters to six words so we would not run out of room in this post, and they creatively rose to the challenge.) Each of their selections is linked to INDIEbound where you can learn more about their picks. You’ll also notice that the selections are divided into rather specific categories to make browsing easier.  Our superb presenters included:

  • Kathy Beaird - A librarian in schools and public settings for more than 20 years and a lover of books for 60.
  • Carol Boerner  – A retired eye surgeon, reinvented with Vermont Facial Aesthetics – a cosmetic beauty business.
  • Lisa Cadow  – Founder of Vermont Crepe & Waffle,  a food cart and caterer and co-founder/blogger of the Book Jam.
  • Julia MacDonald – She can almost always be found with her nose in a book or making chocolate chip cookies.

These four women persuaded audience members to purchase 78 books, raising over $700 for Vermont libraries, and helping Yankee Bookshop sales.  And now, their selections:

Adult Fiction: For women who only have time for the best

 

Little Island by Katharine Britton, selected by Julia - Secrets create the landscape of lives.

We are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, selected by Lisa - Humans. Chimps. Different Kinds of Family.

Adult fiction: For men who have enough electronic gadgets, but not enough good fiction to put in them

Hour of the Red God: A Detective Mollel Novel by Richard Crompton, selected by Julia - Maasai detective-exciting plot-dangerous Nairobi.

Adult Fiction: For ANYONE who loves fiction

 

Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, selected by Kathy - War story told with hopeful heart.

Say Nice Things About Detroit by Scott Lasser, selected by Lisa - Starting over midlife. Taking Chances. Love?

Memoir / Biography: For people who enjoy living vicariously thru other people’s memories/adventures

 

Road to Burgundy: The unlikely story of an American making wine and a new life in France by Ray Walker, selected by Julia - A full-bodied armchair travel book.

Mud Season by Ellen Stimson, selected by Kathy - LOL comedy of flatlander mistakes. Hilarious!

Memoirs with a food angle: For the foodies out there

 

The Telling Room: A tale of love, betrayal, revenge and the world’s greatest piece of cheese by Michael Paterniti, selected by Lisa - Magical cheese. Obsession. Spain. Fine Storytelling.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A memoir of food and longing by Anya von Bremzen, selected by Carol – Charming. Poignant. Horrifying. Personal. MUST READ.

Cookbooks:  For people looking for culinary inspirations

  

Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes: Over 100 recipes from the world’s greatest food regions by Jamie Oliver, selected by Carol - Culinary travelogue. Sophisticated recipes. Endearing style.

The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian recipes for a new generation by Mollie Katzen, selected by Kathy - Enchanted Broccoli Forest all grown up.

Moosewood Restaurant Favorites: The 250 most requested, naturally delicious recipes from one of America’s best loved restaurants  by The Moosewood Collective, selected by Lisa - Veggies, veggies everywhere. Prepare deliciously every day.

Coffee table books or literary gifts: For all your favorite hosts/hostesses/co-workers

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert by Richard Betts, selected by Carol - Novel. Serious. Instructive. FUN. Great gift.

Picture Books: For families to read together on cozy fall days

  

Journey by Aaron Becker, selected by Julia - Lonely Girl, red marker adventure, stunning!

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner, selected by Carol - Charming. Family fun. Exquisite illustrations. Wordless!

The Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney, selected by Kathy - Every page a work of art.

The Book Jam would also like to thank the Vermont Community Foundation for making it possible to take Pages in the Pub to Woodstock.

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore.  Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days leading up to their engagement.  Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

Today’s post features Meg Lukens Noonan, the author of The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, and Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 CoatWhile we have not yet read her book, we agree with her desire to meet/drink with Beryl Markham.

In brief — The Coat Route looks at the question – “In today’s world of fast fashion, is there a place for a handcrafted $50,000 coat?”. To answer it, Ms. Noonan traces a luxury coat from conception to delivery, looking at all its components and the places they come from.
Ms. Noonan has been a freelance writer for twenty-five years, specializing in adventure, active and luxury travel. Credits include Outside, The New York Times, Travel and Leisure, Islands, Men’s Journal and National Geographic Adventure. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two daughters.
Ms. Noonan will appear at the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, August 28th.  This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Please call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com for more information or to save a seat.
1.What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?
 The Panama Hat Trail: A Journey from South America by Tom Miller. I’ve always admired this book, which traces the making of a Panama hat all through Ecuador. It’s a good story, told with humor and filled with history and colorful characters. I swiped the idea of a sartorial travelogue from him.
 The Orchid Thief: A true story of beauty and obsession by Susan Orlean. Orlean is one of those magical, dogged non-fiction writers who can make a subject you didn’t have any interest in at all become the most fascinating thing in the world. She absolutely nails characters with just a few perfectly-chosen words. She’s also very good at knowing just how much of herself to put in the story. I studied that book to try understand how she did it.
 At Home: A short history of private life by Bill Bryson. Bryson’s voice is so distinctive and seems so effortless–it’s like he’s sitting in the room chatting with you. He’s also a brilliant researcher, who packs every paragraph with astonishing, meaningful facts. There are no throw-away sentences. I love all his books, but Home is the one I kept referring to when I was working on The Coat Route. I was trying to figure out how to write about things that were inherently boring–like buttons–and how to present history and information without being really tedious.
2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?
Beryl Markham, author of West With the Night, her lyrical memoir about living in Kenya. She was fearless, beautiful, scandalous and a superb writer. I’m pretty sure she would want to skip the coffee shop and go straight to a bar to drink gin–and I would happily tag along.
3.What books are currently on your bedside table?
  
Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd
Dear Life by Alice Monro

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imgres-3In just a few more turns of the page it will be here:  Sunday, May 12th, 2013, Mother’s Day. This occasion offers an opportunity to honor your own mom and the other special maternal influences in your life.  It is a day for breakfast in bed, a family walk through the springtime landscape, presents, dinner out at the local inn – and if a mother is really, really lucky, some time to curl up quietly with a good book.

For some the stress of finding just the right gift is too much.  For others the pressure of creating the perfect experience for mom brings out cold sweat.

So, may we suggest a hand-made card tucked into one of these special titles, and a the gift of an hour of uninterrupted reading time. And if you are a mother, consider picking out one out  of these for yourself – you deserve it.  (Don’t worry Dads – your turn will come in June, and we promise good books for you too.)imgres

Our 2013 Mother’s Day selection includes:

 The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (2013) – This engrossing, entertaining story follows a group of friends from the moment they meet at summer camp.  It then chronicles their lives as they go to separate colleges, get married – sometimes to each other, try to live on entry-level salaries, find and lose success, become parents, face an assortment of crisis points and well, just live their lives.  Told from the perspective of Jules Jacobson, a girl from the suburbs who infiltrates a group of sophisticated young Manhattanites when sent to their camp on a scholarship, this novel is populated by complex, and well “interesting”  characters who come together and apart as their lives and their interpretations of New York City change.  In fact, “the City” itself is a character changing as mayors come and go, crime increases/decreases, AIDS epidemic enters, finances collapse and twin towers fall.  The Interestings explores friendship, how to make a life, and what to do with your talents and dreams.  Perfect for moms who attended summer camps, lived in the 70s or 80s or 90s, ever had a life-long group of friends, and for anyone - mom or not – looking for a page-turning saga. ~ Lisa Christie

9780316175678The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (2012). I was immediately drawn into to this stark, beautiful novel, a tale set in Alaska in the 1920′s.  Older homesteaders Jack and Mabel have left behind their life in the eastern United States to carve out a farm on the frontier, an existence which has proven starker and more difficult than they had imagined, leaving their finances strained and their spirits dwindling.  One night, during the first snowfall of the winter, they build a snow girl together and by the next morning a real little girl has taken its place – filling Jack and Mabel’s life full of wonder, hope, and uncertainty.  This book introduces the reader to strong characters, weaves in traditional fable and fairy tale, creates a sense of magical realism, all while  drawing a portrait of a very real and particular time and place in America’s history.  It seems an apt choice for a mother’s day post as it tells the story of a couple who have long wished for a family and then parenthood – along with its challenges, love, and learnings – finds them when they least expect it.  Recently named as a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. ~Lisa Cadow

 Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith (2013) – The power of stories, the power of trains to make strangers friends, and the power of love come together in this brief gem of a book.  Four strangers sit next to each other on a train from Edinburgh to London: a female and three males.  Two are young (20s), two older (let’s say past 40).  One man opens up with a story of why they are on the train – a new job, but tied to a girl.  The others follow with their own stories (of their parents’ lives in the Australian Outback, of forbidden love of their youth, of the importance of trust in a relationship).  By the time they part in London, you know something about each from their stories and their reactions to the stories of the others.  You also know a bit more about yourself.  A must-read for any mom in your life who ever traveled by train. This book will help them remember all the people they opened up to for a few hours in a railroad car and may lead to a few new stories, you never know. ~ Lisa Christie (Oops – we just realized that this is not available until June 11th, but we think Moms will like it so much we kept it in this post. This way you can pre-order it today, and extend Mom’s Day into June.)

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