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Archive for the ‘Nature Lovers’ Category

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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We recorded this episode of the Bookjam celebrating hardworking farmers and the bounty they bring to our communities way back in June. It still seems quite relevant post Labor Day considering the devastation that’s occurred at many valley farms in the wake of recent post-Irene flooding. Please consider a donation to help Vermont farmers recover from their losses.

Listen now to Farmers Markets

Summer’s amazing Farmer’s Markets provide an excellent excuse to read books about food and farming. We found, read and recommend three new books:

This Life is in Your Hands a memoir by Melissa Coleman.  Weeks after finishing, J Lisa C is still pondering the story contained in this memoir. It has so much, the trials and successes of building a life and a family, how failures shape you, an unbearable pain that comes with the loss of a child/sister, making peace with an upbringing and more.  Beyond the actual real life tale in this book, the author’s rendering of her childhood spent as neighbors to Helen and Scott Nearing (famous homesteaders and authors of  The Good Life) also raises questions about how to accomplish a life that remains true to your ideals, yet brings the least amount of harm to and the most amount of help for the people you love. Specifically, it deals with organic farming and lessening carbon footprints. Globally, this book just deals with life.

The Dirty Life: on farming, food and love by Kristin Kimball – A tale told by a former suburban and urban dweller who interviews and then falls for a man and his life in the country. Visual delights include a description of unloading a car full of Pennsylvania treats in the midst of Manhattan, their weekends in the country before they embark on their life together as husband and wife.  The memoir then does a fabulous job of juxtaposing the merging of her urban sensibilities with his desire to live only off the land.  As a bonus, because she is a food lover to the core – you want to sit and eat with them again and again.

Goat Song: A seasonal life, a short history of herding and the art of making cheese by Brad Kessler – beautiful prose and refelections about life with goats and the changes those four hoofed friends bring. Lisa LC likens his work to poetry.

Read these under a tree this summer or wait until winter when you need to think a bit about vegetables fresh from a garden, and find your own answers to the questions within each.

We hope you enjoy the bird song and russling leaves in this podcast. They are the sounds of summer and actually occurred during our recording session.  We certainly enjoyed the live visitors and recording from the porches of The Norwich Inn.

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Listen now to David Macaulay Jun 2010 or download at http://www.box.net/shared/mtmsc9sp4v

A favorite read makes for a fascinating discussion

“The way things worked” here last week, Lisa and Lisa conducted an author interview very close to home. We walked down our Vermont town’s main street, just past the local libraryDan & Whit’s general store and our favorite independent bookseller , to climb a set of wooden stairs that landed us in the magical studio (Greek columns included) of local author and illustrator David Macaulay .

Our conversation with Mr. Macaulay took a few more philosophical twists and turns than most jamcasts. We touched on questions such as “when is one truly educated?”, “why do we read?”, “what are “appropriate” topics for children’s literature?”, “how does one find their passion?” and “how do you tell a good story?”.

In between reflecting on these lofty topics (and nibbling on coffee cake Lisa LC brought along – see if you can hear the clinking of knives and forks in the background) we discuss in-depth David’s recent recommended reading including: Richard Hamblyn’s  The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies.   His thoughts about this nonfiction book inspired both Lisa’s to more deeply consider not only clouds but other every day phenomenon, such as snowflakes, raindrops, sand and eventually even death as we learned about another of Macaulay’s favorite books, How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin Nuland. This is the only book he has ever read  in one sitting as it was so fascinating he was unable to put it down.

An Unforgettable Read

We also learned what Mr. Macaulay’s  wife and children, all avid daily readers, are engrossed in and took a moment to appreciate the importance of a good librarian  .  His family’s current reading choices include a young James Bond series by Charlie Higson, Anthony Horowitz’s series for young adults, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout.  David Macaulay’s own childhood reading remembrances include Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales Grimm’s Fairy Tales and titles that use maps to enrich story and the stimulate the imagination – The Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan.

A "brilliant" book

Based upon David’s recent reading materials, Lisa LC added two recommendations:  Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup and Hot Pink Flying Saucers and Other Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney and International Cloud Appreciation Society members (who knew there was such an organization).

This epidsode of the Bookjam offers an insight into what can inspire the best conversations – hit upon what a person is passionate about and listen – and how much fun it is to speak with someone who is as  gracious as he is interesting.

David Macaulay’s many books include: The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Angelo, Black and White, Mosque, and Cathedral to name only a few.

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Another John Feinstein "hit"

He did, he did the Iditarod!

LISTEN NOW to Olympic Book March 2010 or download the jamcast at http://www.box.net/shared/r84dkhq7bf 

Inspired by the Olympics, Lisa and Lisa discuss books that remind them of the Olympics.  While only one book in this discussion is actually about the actual event, all deal with endurance and perseverance against the odds  while providing engrossing reads.

J Lisa C’s picks include John Feinstein’s sports series for young adults and Dead Reckoning: Great Adventure Writing from the Golden Age of Exploration, 1800-1900 by Helen Whybrow.

Lisa LC’s picks are Magic Tree House #16: Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne, Winterdance by Gary Paulsen, Grayson by Lynne Cox, and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

And be sure to listen to Lisa and Lisa’s new jam “tasting” and the weekly “Book Bind.”

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LISTEN NOW to “Books That Make Us Laugh”  or download the podcast at http://www.box.net/shared/gxbfpuiysy

A very funny walk

In the “Books That Make Us Laugh” jamcast Lisa and Lisa share some books that make us chuckle, or at least smile, every time. However, we each interpret this topic a bit differently. Lisa LC chose books that made her smile, not necessarily laugh out loud. J Lisa C chose the laugh-out-loud types. Our choices are:

Lisa LC – The Family Man  by Elinor Lipman,  A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, and  The Dud Avocado a little known work by Elaine Dundy.

J Lisa C – Anything recorded byDavid SedarisA Walk in the Woods
 and Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town in America
by Bill Bryson, Frindle, The Landry News
and No Talking all by Andrew Clements, also good as audio books. 

Recorded January 2010.

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LISTEN NOW to Books to Curl Up With After the Relatives Have Left or download the jamcast now at http://www.box.net/shared/hv75ckge2i

After the relatives have gone... ...curl up with these treasures.

Lisa and Lisa pick recently published books to read once the holidays have passed, the wrapping paper is recycled, and your relatives have left.  These would also be great books to curl up with if you need to ignore the mess in your house or that project due for work.

The Lisas’ choices are The Help by Kathryn Stockett, My Life in France by Julia Child, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld and Louise Penny’s Inspector Garmache mystery series. Recorded January 2010.

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