- The Anna Papers and every single other word Ellen Gilchrist has ever written. (Please note The Anna Papers is out of print, but the Norwich Bookstore can help you find a copy.) She shows us that you can explore all of the big questions in life really within one small geography and one rambling family system. Her characters come back and teach us about growing up and love and aging, and they face all of the big questions in their normal lives just like the rest of us do.
- Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. There is this great passage where the narrator, a paraplegic man, is researching his grandmother’s life through her papers. She had a big juicy life, but he has just come upon some tragedy she faced, her house burning down or something, and he wonders about the Doppler Effect on our lives. He imagined how it all must have sounded to her in the moment, bearing down on her like a freight train, as opposed to how it sounded to him years later when he knew about all the joys that had followed and the sounds of the tragedy had receded into the distance. It was a lesson about taking the long view that I try to remember almost every day.
- Texasville by Larry McMurtry. Mr McMurtry knows that humor is the grease and he doesn’t skimp on it either.
Archive for the ‘Belly Laughs’ Category
Posted in Belly Laughs, Closet Mystery Lovers, Fiction Fanatics, Historical Fiction Buffs, Kids at Heart, Must Read Memoirs, tagged A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon, Andrew Clements, Anthony Marra, audio-book, Audio-books, Barack Obama, Bill Bryson, books for road trips, Carin Pratt, Com Toibin, Department Q Mysteries, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Easter, Frindle, Hilary Schenker, Jack and Annie, Jack Reacher, JRR Tolkein, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Katie Kitchel, Lee Child, Lisa Cadow, Lisa Christie, Liza Bernard, Lucky Man, Magic tree House, Mary Pope Osborne, Meryl Streep, Michael J Fox, Michael Pollan, Neela Vaswani, No Talking, Norwich Bookstore, One Summer: America 1927, Same Sun Here, Seders, Silas House, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Testament of Mary on April 7, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Since in the very near future many, many people across the USA are heading to airports and getting in cars for April school vacations or for Seder and Easter dinners, we thought we would highlight a few great audio books for you to listen to during those long car rides, or to download to your devices for those plane trips. And since one of us always has young children in the mini-van making adult audio fare impractical for her, and the other Lisa’s work commute is too short for audio books these days, we also asked for help from two of our great local booksellers when we searched for audio-books intended for mostly adult audiences.
No matter where the road takes you, we truly hope you enjoy these picks. And yes, each of these picks is good in the printed form as well.
And, if you do not have a reason to listen to children’s literature, please skip to the end where there are picks just for you.
For families with pre-schoolers to 2nd graders in the car
Magic Tree House Series, by Mary Pope Osborne (assorted years) – Seriously, the phrases “Magic Tree House”, or “Jack and Annie”, are magic to the preschool set. These words are all you need to know to entertain pre-schoolers for hours. We promise. We have recommended these to hundreds of parents and grandparents and have yet to receive a complaint. OK we have heard one – the author, at a book a year, does not write and record fast enough. So now a synopsis of what causes all the fuss. In this series, siblings, named Jack and Annie, time travel in a magic treehouse that appears periodically in the woods near their home. While listening to these books, your kids learn a bit about all sorts of historical times and people, all while thinking they are part of an amazing adventure. You, as the adults in the car, get to know your children will not ask “are we there yet” as long as the audio-book is running. Bonus: The written versions make great early chapter books for emerging readers. ~ Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow
For families with elementary school aged children in tow (depending upon the kids, probably best for 2nd grade and up)
Same Sun Here by Silas House, Neela Vaswani, Hilary Schenker (2012) – An interesting audio book with alternating narrators reading alternating chapters telling the story of two pen pals — one in NYC and one in rural KY — and the adventures they share via printed page and letters mailed through the US Postal service. Bonus: We know it is shocking that they used pen and paper even though email was available (the novel is set just after 9-11), but maybe you can discuss how you survived the “Olden Days” before email as you listen with children. ~ Lisa Christie
Frindle (1996) or No Talking (2007) by Andrew Clements – Mr. Clements is a former elementary school teacher and principal who truly seems to understand kids, and seems to have a special place in his heart for young troublemakers. Both of these books take place in a contemporary school setting where students cause a bit of a mess for themselves and/or the adults in their lives. Listen and enjoy the humor of elementary school aged students and the adults who work with them. Bonus: If you like these books, Mr. Clements has written many, many more, and someone has recorded them all for you to hear. ~ Lisa Christie
For families needing a good book to appeal to kids in 3rd to 12th grade
The Hobbit (1937) or The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (1954) by JRR Tolkein - The “oh so British” narrator is superb. The content is both interesting enough for the teens in your car and adventurous enough for the elementary school aged. And since the only visuals are in their head, the plot is not too scary for most upper elementary aged kids. Bonus: You can cross some “classics” off your high schooler’s college prep reading lists. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
For families with teens and above
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (2003) – The US President won a grammy for his reading of his autobiography. You will win greater knowledge of his life. Pre-teens and teens can relate to his story of how hard his mother made him work at school. Parents can ponder his comments about how parenting with his wife Michelle caused him to think hard about divisions of labor in households and the chores that typically fall on women, whether they work outside the home or not. Listen and have fun road-tripping with the President in your ear. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox (2002) – Yes, this choice may seem cheesy at first glance, but his life is full of ups and downs that make great stories (alcoholism, stardom, Parkinson’s). The book is well-written and funny. Yes, we said well-written; and yes, he admits he got some advice from his brother-in-law Michael Pollan. Bonus: Honestly, having his voice in your car is like a lovely conversation with a long lost friend or an intense introduction to someone you would like to know. ~ Lisa Christie
For times when mostly adults are listening
NOTE: These next choices are picked by our friends Liza Bernard and Carin Pratt of the Norwich Bookstore. Both have a long enough commutes to listen to numerous audio-books.
One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson and read by Bill Bryson (2013) – Humorist Bill Bryson, tackles the events of 1927 in his latest book. The players include Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone. The New York Times review declares this book “a wonderful romp.” Carin’s review of the audio-book, “well done”. ~ picked by Carin
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibon (2013) – Katie Kitchel, another great Norwich Bookstore Bookseller, picked this novel as her staff pick recently. To quote her – “Don’t let the slim size of this novel deceive you. It is full of haunting questions, powerful imagery, and the emotion of a mother who has lost a son. This novel seeks to remind us, that first and foremost, Mary was a mother.” Liza is now recommending the audio-book. Since it is read by Meryl Streep, we have no trouble imagining why. ~ Picked by Liza
Department Q Detective series by Jussi Adler-Olsen (assorted dates) – We have sung the praises of this Danish series in its written form. Now Carin, a very well-read woman, has told us they are delightful in their audio-book form, especially the voice of Assad, the main detective’s trusted assistant. ~ Picked by Carin
Posted in Belly Laughs, Fiction Fanatics, Historical Fiction Buffs, Just the "facts", Kids at Heart, tagged African American history month, African-American history, Andrew Aydin, Baratunde Thurston, Bartlett's Familiar Black Quotations, Congressman John Lewis, Henry Louis Gates, How to Be Black, Jefferson's Sons, John Lewis, Jr., Kimberly Bradley, March: Book One, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, Nate Powell, Retha Power, Sally Hemings, Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings, The Secret Life of Bees, Thomas Jefferson, Toni Morrison on February 10, 2014 | 2 Comments »
The Book Jam is of two minds about African-American history month. On the one hand, any excuse to delve further into books by amazing authors who are African-American (see Toni Morrison) is a reason to rejoice. On the other hand, we do not want to seem belittling by focusing on African-American history just because it is February. And, since one of our sons (who technically is Latino) is identifying as a Black boy, we are especially cognizant of the complicated issues this month brings to light.
We also recognize that as white women, we can not ever know what it is like to be Black in the USA. However, we believe as recent well-publicized research about reading has shown, good fiction has the power to transform and teach. So in that light, and, since The Book Jam often features books by or about African-Americans and/or Africa, we are choosing to look at February as another excuse to highlight more great fiction and nonfiction options by and about African-Americans. May we all learn something.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kid (2014) – I sincerely hope any Oprah nay-sayers are ready to overlook her pick of this book for her book club. If you dismiss this novel just because she chose it, you will miss out on a great story. Besides, we honestly believe that any book that helps you understand the day-to-day plight of African-American slaves and the forming of two important American abolitionists is worth your precious reading time. The narration mostly takes place in Charleston, SC and alternates between the voices of a young woman slave owner and of her young slave. The prose by the best selling author of The Secret Life of Bees keeps you turning the pages, the characters are interesting, and few of the relationships are simple – which makes you think. What I most loved about this book — both of the narrators are based upon actual people from history. Enjoy! ~ Lisa Christie
March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (2013) – Yes, that John Lewis, the Congressman and the man who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., has (with two collaborators) written a memoir in the form of a graphic novel. Told in flashback as a story relayed to two young constituents who came to visit his Capital Hill offices on the morning of Barack Obama’s first inauguration, this book begins with his childhood in rural Alabama and follows Mr. Lewis through meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. and into his student activist days in Nashville. The pictures perfectly explore how his life must have felt at the time. The prose explains what he was thinking as each of the momentous moments of his life unfolds. According to the authors, the 1958 comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story was inspirational to Mr. Lewis and other student activists. We hope March proves as inspiring to future leaders. We are so glad we found this book (thanks to our town’s children’s librarian), and are truly looking forward to Book Two. ~ Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow
Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations Edited by Retha Powers and Henry Louis Gates (2013) – Perfect for anyone interested in history, famous individuals or words of wisdom. Five thousand (although we took the editors’ word for that number and did not count them) quotes are pulled — covering such diverse time frames as Ancient Egypt, American slavery, the Civil Rights Era, Apartheid, and today. With a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and passages from authors, artists, scientists, philosophers, theologians, activists, politicians, this volume places quotes from Aesop’s Fables and the Holy Bible beside the words of Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou and Jay-Z. How many books can claim that? ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
And yes, we reviewed these last year, but we believe they are worth mentioning again -
How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston (2012) – As the author himself facetiously writes, please read this as part of your preparation for African-American history month activities. Through truly funny and often painful humor, Mr. Thurston makes readers think hard about their own racist tendencies. He even has a focus group, with a token white person, to help him think through many of the items he discusses. Whether you agree with him or not, for me, any time I am thinking about how I could better interact with the world, I am truly appreciative of the source that started me thinking about improving my actions. Bonus – it makes you laugh. ~ Lisa Christie
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Bradley (2011) – A book for children and the adults in their lives. In this book, three young slaves, two of them President Jefferson’s own children fathered with his slave Sally Hemings, tell their stories of life at Monticello. Their voices highlight the contradiction between slavery and freedom, and illustrate the USA’s struggles while the Founding Fathers still lived and worked. As such, the USA’s history unfolds from a typically unseen perspective. ~ Lisa Christie
Posted in Belly Laughs, Fiction Fanatics, Food Lovers, Historical Fiction Buffs, Just the "facts", Kids at Heart, Must Read Memoirs, Tough GIfts, tagged 11/22/63, 50 Foods, Aaron Becker, Aleksandra Mizielinska, Bad Monkey, Bitter Almonds, Bo at Ballard Creek, Carl Hiaasen, Claire's Restaurant, colum McCann, Cosse, Daniel Mizielinska, DJ Brown, Drew Daywalt, Edward Behr, Elizabeth Gilbert, Everybody Wins!, Galaxy Bookshop, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Holiday gifts, Jerry Schneider, Jeudevine Memorial Library, Journey, Kerstin Gier, Kevin Powers, Kirkpatrick Hill, Linda Ramsdell, Lisa Christie, Lisa Sammet, Lori Evert, Maps, Meg Wolitzer, Natalie Kinsey Warnock, Ohio, Palacio, R.J. Palacio, Raymond Carver, Ruby Red, Sherwood Anderson, Stephen King, The Boys in the Boat, The Christmas Wish, The Day the Crayons Quit, The End of Your Life Book Club, The Interestings, The Signature of All Things, Tom Lichtenheld, Transatlantic, True Colors, Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories, Will Schwalbe, Winesburg, Wonder, Yellow Birds on December 9, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Luckily for anyone still looking for great books to give to friends and family this holiday season, our 2013 holiday gift themed Pages in the Pubs continued in Hardwick, Vermont on December 3rd.
Once again, our goals were to uncover great gifts for our readers, raise money for libraries (this time, Jeudevine Memorial Library), increase sales for superb independent bookstores (Galaxy Bookshop), and gather a community of book-lovers together, bringing business to a local restaurant (Claire’s). Once again, the list the presenters came up with is eclectic, and full of superb ideas for giving.
This post lists all 21 books that at least one of the four Hardwick presenters picked as a superb holiday gift. Each has a special six word review written by the presenter. Their selections are linked to the Galaxy Bookshop’s web site where you can learn more about their picks and order your selections. Our Hardwick presenters included:
- Jerry Schneider – Jerry was born and raised a few miles from “Winesburg”, Ohio and taught English a few years before heading to Montana. He is a children’s librarian/educator in schools. In summers does nature programs in libraries. He is working on a YA novel about a father, son, and baseball.
- Lisa Sammet – Lisa is the Library Director at the Jeudevine Memorial Library in Hardwick. She’s been a librarian, youth librarian, English teacher, farmer, and Peace Corps volunteer. She also has been a professional storyteller performing in schools and libraries for over 30 years.
- Linda Ramsdell – Linda opened The Galaxy Bookshop in 1988 and has enjoyed opening boxes of books and putting them in the hands of readers ever since. Linda considers herself extraordinarily fortunate to have spent half of her life in a place where books, people, ideas and imagination meet.
- Lisa Christie – Lisa is the co-founder/co-blogger for the Book Jam Blog. In previous times, she was the founder and Executive Director of Everybody Wins! Vermont and USA, literacy programs that help children love books. She currently works as a non-profit consultant/independent bookseller.
Have fun looking at the selections. We truly hope you enjoy getting some holiday shopping accomplished from the comfort of your computer/iPad/cell-phone (you can download from the link), or from an in-person visit to your local independent bookstore. Enjoy!
End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe. Selected by Lisa S. – As mother dies, she and son read.
NON-FICTION/REFERENCE BOOK/POETRY: FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO THINK AND CHAT WHILE SITTING BY THE WOOD STOVE
Maps by Aleksandra & Daniel Mizielinska. Selected by Lisa C. – The world unfolds through fun illustrations.
Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by D. J. Brown. Selected by Linda – Gripping and inspiring window to a world and time.
50 Foods by Edward Behr. Selected by Linda – Opinionated culinary guide with fun illustrations.
ADULT FICTION: FOR A MAN WHO HAS ENOUGH TECH TOYS BUT NOT ENOUGH GOOD FICTION
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Selected by Jerry – Classic glimpses of small town lives.
Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. Selected by Lisa S. – Two friends. Iraq War. Poetic. Tragic.
Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories by Raymond Carver. Selected by Jerry – Shows why Carver is the best!
ADULT FICTION: FOR A WOMAN WHO ONLY HAS TIME FOR THE BEST FICTION
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Selected by Lisa S. – Follows friends from camp. They mature.
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Selected by Lisa C. – Not Eat Pray Love. Just great fiction.
Bitter Almonds by Cosse. Selected by Lisa C. – French woman tutors. Immigrant teaches. Sparse.
ADULT FICTION FOR ANYONE
11/22/63 by Stephen King. Selected by Jerry – Can Jake alter events around JFK?
Transatlantic by Colum McCann. Selected by Linda – Spectacular storytelling, expansive scope, real and imagined.
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen. Selected by Linda – Pure laugh out loud fun.
YOUNG ADULT FICTION: FOR TEENS & TWEENS AND THE ADULTS WHO LOVE THEM
The Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier. Selected by Lisa S – Time Travel, Mystery, Adventure and romance.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Selected by Jerry – Can classmates get beyond extraordinary face?
BOOKS FOR YOUNGSTERS: THOSE BEYOND TONKA TRUCKS & TEA PARTIES, BUT NOT YET READY FOR TEEN TOPICS
Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill. Selected by Lisa C. – For Little House Fans. Gold Rush.
True Colors by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Selected by Linda – Heartwarming, historic, memorable characters & mystery.
PICTURE BOOKS: FOR FAMILIES TO READ TOGETHER DURING SNOW STORMS
Journey by Aaron Becker. Selected by Jerry – Red marker, imagination, & her spectacular journey!
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Tom Lichtenheld. Selected by Lisa S. – For littles who love machines & need sleep!
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Selected by Lisa C. – Crayons protest. Readers laugh. Great gift!
Posted in Belly Laughs, Fiction Fanatics, Food Lovers, Just the "facts", Kids at Heart, Must Read Memoirs, Sports and other Adventures, Tough GIfts, tagged Adam Johnson, Atonement, Beautiful Ruins, Ben Hewitt, Benjamin Black Mysteries, Blue Balliet, Book Jam Blog, Canada, Catherine the Great, Claire's Restaurant, Danger Box, Dianne Warren, Douglas Smith, Elsewhere, Everybody Wins! Vermont, Far From the Tree, Former People, Freeeman, Galaxy Bookshop, Ghana Must Go, Good Kings Bad Kings, Hardwick, Hold Fast, Ian McEwan, Jesse Walters, Jeudevine Memorial Library, John Kenney, John Saturnall's Feast, Jonathan Emmet, Juliet in August, Laura Hillenbrand, Lawrence Norfolk, Leonard Pitts, Linda Ramsdell, Lisa Christie, Lisa Sammet, Madeleine Albright, Memoirs, My Beloved World, North of Hope, Northeast Kingdom, Orphan Master's Son, Pages in the Pub, Peter Heller, Prague Winter, Rachel Hexter Fried, Richard Ford, Richard Russo, Robert Massie, Saved, Seward, Shannon Huffman Polson, Slow Democracy, Sonya Sotomayor, Stannard Selectboard, Susan Clark, Susan Nussbaum, Sweet Tooth, Taiye Selasi, The Dog Stars, the Princess and the Pig, Tracey Medeiros, Truth in Advertising, Unbroken, Vermont, Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Farm Table, Walter Stahr, Whistle, Woden Teachout on May 13, 2013 | 4 Comments »
On a GORGEOUS spring day last week – yes, spring does eventually reach Vermont – The Book Jam traveled to Vermont’s amazing Northeast Kingdom. We love to visit this region to bike, camp, ski and to simply enjoy the magnificent views. This time, though, we were there to chat about books, to learn what librarians and booksellers in this more remote part of our state are recommending for summer reading, and to raise some money for Vermont libraries. (We also spent a bit too much in the Whistle Emporium, a superb gift/art/kitchen/just fun stuff store, located next to Claire’s.) Thank you to the Vermont Community Foundation for making Pages in the Pub in Hardwick possible.
Our presenters to a packed pub at Claire’s Restaurant and Bar in Hardwick, Vermont included:
- Linda Ramsdell, owner and founder of Galaxy Bookshop since 1988. Linda considers herself extraordinarily fortunate to have spent half of her life in a place where books, people, ideas and imagination meet.
- Lisa Sammet, library director of Jeudevine Memorial Library in Hardwick. She’s been a librarian, youth librarian, English teacher, farmer, and a Peace Corps volunteer. She also has been a professional storyteller in schools and libraries for over 30 years.
- Rachel Hexter Fried, retired attorney and current Chair of the Stannard Selectboard. She supports independent bookstores and loves having the Galaxy in Hardwick. She is a voracious reader.
- Lisa Christie, co-founder and co-blogger of The Book Jam Blog. Formerly the Executive Director of Everybody Wins! Vermont and USA; currently, a nonprofit consultant and mom who reads whenever she can find time.
We limited their written reviews to six words (those in the audience were able to hear a 2 minute review). So, although the list of books in this post is longer than our usual, we hope the brevity of the reviews helps you think about each, and helps you decide whether they should make your summer 2013 reading list. Enjoy!
Non-fiction or reference book – For people who like to ponder large tomes during summer vacations
Former People by Douglas Smith. Selected by Rachel Hexter Fried. Bolshevik Revolution’s destruction of aristocratic Russia.
Memoirs – For people who enjoy living vicariously through other people’s memories
Elsewhere by Richard Russo. Selected by Rachel Hexter Fried. Russo’s life with his compulsive mother.
Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright. Selected by Lisa Sammet. Remarkable WWII story of courage tragedy.
North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson. Selected by Lisa Christie. Bear kills. Daughter grieves, grows, loves.
Adult Fiction – For a woman who only has time for the best fiction
John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk. Selected by Rachel Hexter Fried. Poor boy’s rise to Manor master chef.
Sweet Toothby Ian McEwan. Selected by Lisa Sammet. Cold war espionage, clever, love and truth.
Juliet in August by Dianne Warren. Selected by Linda Ramsdell. 1 horse, great characters, nothing terrible happens.
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi. Selected by Lisa Christie. Father Dies. Family Gathers. Gorgeous Prose.
Adult fiction – For a man who has enough camping equipment, but not enough good fiction
Canada by Richard Ford. Selected by Rachel Hexter Fried. Exquisitely written story. Parents rob bank.
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. Selected by Lisa Sammet. Post-apocalyptic suspense, savage and tender.
Truth in Advertising by John Kenney. Selected by Lisa Christie. “Ad-man” matures late in life.
Cookbooks or coffee table books or reference books – For your mom/grad/dad
Vermont Farm Table by Tracey Medeiros. Selected by Linda Ramsdell. Inspired photos, approachable recipes, neighbors, friends.
Saved: How I Quit Worrying about Money and became the Richest Guy in the World by Ben Hewitt. Selected by Linda Ramsdell. Much to ponder at any point in life.
Picture Books (zero to 7) – books for youngsters to peruse under trees and in tree houses
The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmet. Selected by Lisa Sammet. Fractured fairy tale with wry humor.
Books for summer campers/ young reader (ages 8-12) – books for those beyond tonka trucks and tea parties but not yet ready for teen topics.
Hold Fast by Blue Balliet. Selected by Lisa Christie. Langston’s poems. Homeless Family. Books save.
Books for your favorite High Schooler – “not required” reading for teens to ponder during the long hours of summer vacation
Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum. Selected by Linda Ramsdell. Rarely glimpsed window to a world.
Some bonus books mentioned by the presenters during their presentations:
Catherine the Great by Robert Massie. Mentioned by Rachel.
Atonement by Ian McEwan mentioned by Lisa S.
Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon mentioned by Linda
The Danger Box by Blue Balliet mentioned by Lisa C.
At the end of our chats, the four presenters were curious about what audience members were reading. Some of their current reading includes:
Beautiful Ruins by Jesse Walters; Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand; Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwen; Freeman by Leonard Pitts; Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson; Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, bringing decision-making back home by Susan Clark and Woden Teachout; Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensible Man, by Walter Stahr; My Beloved World by Sonya Sotomayor; Mysteries by Benjamin Black; and Same Ax, Twice by Howard Mansfield.
Posted in Belly Laughs, Book Clubs, Fiction Fanatics, Must Read Memoirs, Two Peas in a Pod: Similar Themes, tagged Alternative Love Stories, Catcher in the Rye, Ground Hog Day, Julie by Julia, Julie Powell, Luisa Weiss, Maria Semple, modern love, My Berlin Kitchen, The Wednesday Chef, Truth in Advertising, valentine's Day, Where'd You Go Bernadette on February 4, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
AH February, once the groundhog has left his/her lair and seen/not seen a shadow, everyone’s thoughts turn to love. However, we don’t want to be the kind of book bloggers who when Valentine’s Day rolls around recommend predictable, saccharine love stories, those that could be described as glasses of Rhine wine too sugary to swallow. Our own experiences of February 14th haven’t always been red, rosy and filled with heady, oaky Chardonnay. And, we’re guessing this is probably the case for some reading this post as well. So, in the spirit of that understanding, we’d like to suggest three titles that are more attuned with 2013 cocktails poured full of modern love – those with shake-ups, stir-ups, trips over thin ice (in Antarctica no less!), but with the occasional sweet, unusual, happy ending, too.
Affairs of the heart know no boundaries of course. All three picks also take the reader on wild geographical adventurers: Where’d You Go, Bernadette, starts out in Seattle but has scenes set at the ends of the earth in a place most writers don’t dare to tackle – Antarctica. The whimsical My Berlin Kitchen looks at issues of identity and belonging; and, we move with the author around the America and Europe in search of a kitchen she can call home. Truth in Advertising is set closer to the center of “civilization” in the ad world of modern New York, but moves the reader from coast to coast and beyond. Upon turning the last page of any of these three selected stories about modern love, readers will not only feel well-traveled, but also that their own hearts have stretched and grown in unexpected ways. Each offers an alternative love story – each will make you laugh and leave you with a smile. Sip slowly, though, they will come to an end all too quickly.
Cheers, book lovers. And, Happy Valentine’s Day, too.
Truth in Advertising by John Kenney (Jan 2013) – Funny, observant, wry, thoughtful, insightful, unswervingly full of modern truths and questions, not at all preachy — we should have expected nothing less than being able to use these adjectives to describe a book by a New Yorker contributor. That said, this book was just what we needed – a funny, unique coming of age story about a 40-year-old man (yes, it took him awhile) making a living, but not a life, as a NYC ad man. Mad Men fans might appreciate a chance to look at advertising in the current century. New Yorkers will love the chance to see Manhattan in all its glory. Anyone in need of some humor and a well written tale (with an echo of a Catcher in the Rye sensibility) will surely enjoy this book. P.S. This is a perfect read for right after the Super Bowl as it features main character Finbar Dolan working under the wire to create the perfect ad for a demanding client to show to the nation during the Super Bowl. ~ Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (2013). In this unique send up of all things pretentious, internet-oriented and well basically, all things about modern life that are enjoyed by those people who can afford it (e.g., private schools, Starbucks, exotic travel, personal assistants), a mother mysteriously goes missing and her child investigates. The cause of her disappearance? Possibly a workaholic husband, difficulty competing with local stay-at-home moms, an aversion to rain (it takes place in Seattle), a home being invaded by blackberries, an overwhelming aversion to people, a mysterious past, and a few well-plotted surprises. We loved the plot twists and the unexpected quirkiness of this witty send up of modern life, modern love, modern parenting, and the exploration of what it means to find a place (no matter what age you are) for one’s talents in this ever evolving world. ~Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow
My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss (2012). This is lovely, gentle read by an author many may recognize as the creator of the popular food blog, “The Wednesday Chef” which was inspired by none other than Julie Powell’s Julie by Julia blogging adventures. In this food memoir, Weiss explores what it means to belong. Born in Berlin to an Italian mother and an American father who soon divorce, she spends much of her childhood schooling and summering in different countries and on different continents. Her interest always lay in the kitchen and with books which ground her through her peripatetic, international and fascinating upbringing. Each chapter tells a piece of her story with recipes inspired by time spent in places such as Sardinia, Berlin, and Brookline, Mass (a highlight: the description her uncle making pizza in a little cottage in the Italian countryside with stringy mozzarella and puffy, soft dough). Part of Weiss’ quest for belonging involves not only finding the perfect kitchen in which to cook but also the person with whom her heart feels most at home. A very nice addition to the food lover’s library – recipe box?- of titles. ~Lisa Cadow