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Archive for the ‘Armchair Travelers’ Category

There are so many books that we could list as perfect books for these last fleeting weeks of summer.  However, we recognize reading time is limited, and we severely limited our picks to help you choose the right book(s) for you.

We hope you enjoy our selections. And we truly hope, that whatever you choose to read during these last weeks of summer, you have a great time reading; we know we will.

FC9781594631573The Vacationers by Emma Straub (2014) – Put on your sun block and travel to the Mediterranean island of Mallorca with Manhattan’s Post family  for their two-week summer vacation. Things are not as they immediately appear however, for parents Franny and Jim who are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary or for their 28 year-old son and college-bound 18 year-old daughter. Author Straub slowly reveals the issues, skeletons, and neuroses of the Posts as well as those of the house guests who are accompanying them for this adventure. As a reader, I appreciated the way the characters’ concerns were slowly shared –  as well as were the the sights, sounds, beaches, nightclubs and even grocery stores of the island. There’s a little something for everyone in this book (i.e., love, remorse, redemption, parenting, cooking, a beautiful Spanish villa) which makes it the  perfect summer read. ~ Lisa Cadow

Euphoria by Lily King (2014) – Truly terrific. A well-crafted tale of three anthropologists and their time observing and living with the various peoples in the Territory of New Guinea. Set between the two World Wars, Ms. King explores a complex love triangle among three gifted and often confused young scientists. This novel is loosely based upon real life events from the life of Margaret Mead — all from a trip to the Sepik River in New Guinea, during which Mead and her husband, Reo Fortune, briefly collaborated with the man who would become her third husband, the English anthropologist Gregory Bateson —  and it has me searching for nonfiction treatments of her life. The New York Times agrees that this book is a must read this summer. ~ Lisa Christie

FC9781476746586All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014) – This is a fabulous World War II novel (yes, dear readers, there is room for another title in this genre) that tells the stories of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl from Paris, and Werner, a brilliant German boy with a gift for math, radios and engineering. Their seemingly disparate lives converge in the seaside fortress town on St. Malo, France in 1944. The author does and excellent job of slowly building the suspense and pace throughout the novel turning it into a real page-turner by the time the bombs start dropping in Brittany. Many people are describing this as “the book of the summer”, and I just might have to agree. ~ Lisa Cadow

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (2013 in Australia/2014 is US) – This haunting tale of Iceland (we at the Book Jam love Icelandic tales), takes the true stories of Agnes – a woman convicted of murdering two men, of the family of four forced to house her while she awaits her execution, and of Toti – the Reverend charged with saving her soul, and then combines them into a fabulous first novel. As winter unfolds, each night after the day’s work is completed, Agnes narrates her version of the events leading up to the murders for anyone willing to listen. The tale she weaves is haunting for all those hearing her; you will remember this novel long after you finish.~ Lisa Christie

Please note that this will be our last post until mid-September — we have “gone reading” for the month of August. We look forward to sharing our “gone reading” finds with you in our Autumn posts.

 

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Last week, on a GORGEOUS Spring evening that actually felt like summer (being Vermonters some of us were melting in the 78 degree heat), readers from Norwich, Vermont and surrounding towns gathered in The Norwich Inn Pub to hear about some superb new books to bring to the mountains this summer, and to give to grads and dads later this month.

The 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, educators, librarians, and book lovers for an evening of talking about great titles.

 beer & book

This event sold out, but those people lucky enough to get a ticket sipped drinks, listened to great book reviews and laughed a bit.  We focused on GREAT books for summer reading because summer is just around the corner, and great gifts for grads and dads because those celebrations are upon us. Because of everyone’s efforts, a few people completed their father’s day shopping during the event, and most got a good start on stocking up on great summer reading.  We also raised over $700 for the library, all while increasing sales for a treasured independent bookstore – The Norwich Bookstore of Norwich, Vermont.

Our SUPERB presenters included (and we truly thank them for their time and talent):

  • Beth Reynolds - Beth is the children’s librarian at the Norwich Public Library during the week and dons her bookseller cap on the weekends at the Norwich Bookstore where she has helped many a family find the perfect last-minute birthday present. When not working in town you can find her at home knitting, reading, baking, writing or taking pictures of her new lop-earred bunny.
  • Carin Pratt – Carin moved to the Upper Valley three years ago after spending 30 years in DC working as a television producer. She’s never looked back. She reads a lot.
  • Penny McConnel – Penny is the co owner of The Norwich Bookstore. She lives in Norwich with husband Jim and enjoys gardening, reading, studying Italian, cooking, knitting, visiting her three sons and a grandson in Phoenix, the Bay Area and Burgundy France, and best of all, doing things with Jim.
  • Jim Gold – Our first male presenter in Norwich says — “Reading has given me the quiet eye and understanding heart to see beyond the confines of my dental profession. It fosters good conversation. Other activities that feed my soul:  hiking, cycling, canoeing, gardening, woodturning, cooking and time with my favorite and far more experienced book seller, Penny McConnel.”
  • Lisa Christie – Lisa is, among other things, the co-founder of the Book Jam and a nonprofit consultant. One of her best jobs was being the founder of Everybody Wins! Vermont, a statewide literacy organization.  In her spare time she reads (though never as much as she would like), bikes, swims and has fun with her husband and two sons.

Since most of you could not join us in person, we now share the great titles discussed last week. This post lists all twenty-one books discussed during the evening (Beth somehow snuck in an extra title), each with its special six-word review written by the presenter. Each of their selections is linked to The Norwich Bookstore web site where you can learn more about the picks and order your books. You’ll also notice that the selections are divided into rather specific categories to make browsing easier.  Have fun looking, and enjoy getting a head start on your summer of great reading.

Non-fiction or reference book – For people who like to ponder large tomes during summer vacation

  • Summertime by Joanne Dugan (2014). Selected by Beth – Photos you’ll want to jump inside.
  • My Venice by Donna Leon (2013). Selected by Jim – Poignant. Insightful. Clever. Observant. Witty. No BS.

Cookbooks – For anyone looking for summer inspiration

Memoirs – For people who enjoy living vicariously through other people’s memories

  • My Beloved World by Sonya Sotomayor (2013). Selected by Penny – Inspiring. Hopeful. Insightful. Educational. Fantastic story.

Adult Fiction – For a woman who only has time for the best fiction after hiking all day

  • Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (2014). Selected by Carin – Thirty-somethings navigate small town lIfe.
  • While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (2014). Selected by Lisa – “True” story of “Sleeping Beauty”. Fun.
  • We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride (2014). Selected by Beth – It’s all about connections. And love.
  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (2012). Selected by Jim – Excellent character development carries moving tale.
  • And The Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass (2014). Selected by Penny – Searching can bring you home again.

 

Adult fiction – For a man who has enough camping equipment, but not enough good fiction

Books for summer campers/ young readers in Tree-houses (ages 8-12) – books for those beyond tonka trucks and tea parties but not yet ready for teen topics.

  • Capture the Flag by Kate Messner (2012). Selected by Lisa – Series. Art. History. Fun. Smart kids.

Books for your favorite High Schooler – “not required” reading for teens to ponder during the long hours of summer vacation

  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009). Selected by Beth – Imagine Harry Potter going to college.
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014). Selected by Lisa – Charmed Island Life? Tragic Choices.  OK?

PERFECT books for the dads and grads in your life – or stated another way, last minute gifts to ensure happy celebrations

A brief note to our valued readers — While we are not Goodreads, we are trying to grow and show that small independent bloggers and bookstores make a difference.  So this June, we are campaigning to increase our subscribers.

Please subscribe if you have not already done so.  And if you are a subscriber, please encourage your fellow readers to subscribe to the Book Jam.  To subscribe, go to the right hand side of our blog – under email subscription – and provide your email. THANK YOU!

 

 

 

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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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