As a very special treat, we asked some of our favorite readers – the superb booksellers of the Norwich Bookstore – to choose just ONE book that they believe every one needs to read RIGHT NOW. (The “just one book” part was difficult, and you will see that one of them failed completely.)
We love the list their picks generated, and think you will as well (at least we hope so). So, now that Memorial Day has ended, go ahead — start your summer reading. (So you know a bit more about the people guiding these selections, the selectors’ bios follow this list.)
This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary — I have loved the other three books that this author/illustrator duo created—but I fell head over heels for this one. I don’t know if it was seeing Sadie in a box, on a boat, hammering, wearing a fox mask, sleeping in a blanket fort or looking for her wings that felt most like a connection to my younger self. I do know that reading the lines – “A perfect day is spent with friends. Some of them live on her street, and some of them live in the pages of a book” – made me want to give a copy to every family I know. ~ Picked by Beth
All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Towes — This award-winning book by Canadian author Miriam Toews is at the same time very funny and and heartbreaking. It’s the tale of two sisters, one a renowned pianist. This is a story about suicide, but also about resilience, the use of biting wit as a coping device, and love. Beautifully written with an original voice you won’t forget. Remarkable. ~ Picked by Carin
- A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear: Book #12: Maisie Dobbs Novels
- Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear: Book #1: Maisie Dobbs Novels
- Dreaming Spies by Laurie King: Book #15 Mary Russel & Sherlock Holmes Series
- The Beekeepers Apprentice: Book #1Mary Russel & Sherlock Holmes Series
- The Children Return by Martin Walker: Book #7 Bruno, Chief of Police Series
- Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker: Book #1: Bruno, Chief of Police Series
The ONE best thing… is when I walk into a bookstore and find not just one but THREE of my favorite mystery writers with new titles on the shelves. Just in time for decadent sunny afternoons on the porch, (of which admittedly I have relatively few with my three young boys running around), I have the great fortune to pass the time with my dear literary friends: Bruno, Chief of Police; Maisie Dobbs; and Mary Russel & Sherlock Holmes. With the rugged Bruno I plunge into international intrigue and unravel ethnic tensions in the south of France; with the introspective and observant Maisie, (who shockingly drinks more wine and coffee in this edition rather than solid English tea!), I journey to Gibraltar to discover a world of spies and hidden identities; and with the dynamic Russel & Homes I find myself immersed in the world of Japanese samurai and ninjas, touched with the simple elegance of haiku. All of these new titles add depth and pleasure to three series that I have grown to love. If you have been eagerly awaiting new installments, then your wait is over! However, if you’ve yet to discover these series, go out and start with the first of each. I envy the discovery, and friendship, that awaits you. ~ Picked by Katie
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman — A haunting and beautiful portrait of a bright, artistic fifteen-year-old boy and his experience with schizophrenia. Magically fantastical and hauntingly realistic scenes carry the reader into this scary and all-to-common other world. Based on his son’s story, Shusterman gives voice to amazing internal and external dialogues. Reading this novel helped me form a deeper understanding of this condition that affects many. ~ picked by Liza
The Book of Aron by Jim Shephard – If you can stomach a bit of heartbreak and devastation in your spring/summer reading, Shepard’s book is worth it. Within the first few pages, I fell in love with little Aron despite (or maybe because of) his troubled mind. He’s fragile and yet has grit, which he will need at Treblinka. ~ picked by Meghan
A Slant Of Light by Jeffrey Lent — This is a stunningly beautiful book; both in the writing and the narrative. For this his newest novel Lent returns to the Civil War of his very popular “In The Fall”. A farmer arrives home from the war to find his wife gone off with his hired hand and at the end of the day two people are killed. and another lies badly injured. While this may not sound like a plot that makes you want to read the book, do not hesitate. This is a book of luminosity rarely found in fiction these days. Lent’s use of language will astonish you and at the end, you will be sad to turn the last page. ~ picked by Penny
The Plover by Brian Doyle — This delightful book is reminiscent of The Life of Pi. Other reviewers are reminded of the magic of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or the passion of Walt Whitman. It is a novel filled with adventure and misadventure, and surprising and endearing, even dangerous, moments that make it a page turner and a joy to read. Doyle also invites the reader to deliberate on the philosophical angles of a life’s journey: Declan O’Donnell is done with humanity and is setting off into the great blue sea world in his patch-worked boat, The Plover, to pursue solitude and a life apart. However, the Universe has other plans. Enter characters and personalities, both human and animal, that interrupt his solace and eventually, completely change his course. The telling is sometimes a poetic ramble, often humorous, but always moving, unpredictably like the tides. ~ picked by Sara
Bios of our superb selectors
- Beth — Beth Reynolds has been a bookseller for 20-plus years, 12 of them at the Norwich Bookstore. She spends her weeks in the children’s section of the Norwich Public Library, but on Saturdays you can find her here, helping a child find the perfect birthday present or recommending books to adults looking to get lost in a good read.
- Carin – Carin Pratt moved to Strafford, Vermont, three years ago from Washington D.C. where she worked at CBS News for 27 years, the last 20 as Executive Producer of Face the Nation. Her husband, John Echeverria, is a professor at Vermont Law School, and she has two grown sons. She likes to hike, cook, garden, bike, horseback ride. She reads a lot.
- Katie – Katie Kitchel has rejoined the Norwich Bookstore staff on a very part-time basis as she has her hands full with three young boys. She is a Dartmouth graduate, a trained mediator, and lives with her husband Davis here in Norwich.
- Liza – Liza Bernard has had many careers including weaver, cookbook writer, art show director, graphic designer, and bookseller. All of these taught her the different skills needed to do the many things necessary to keep the Norwich Bookstore afloat. She lives in Pomfret with husband Brian and daughter Rachel (when she is home from college).
- Meghan – The newest member of the Norwich Bookstore team, Meghan Oliver has taken on an eclectic list of responsibilities, including the store’s PR and working bookstore events. Her free time is spent reading, birding and tending to her needy beagle.
- Penny – Penny McConnel has worked in bookstores for over 30 years. She lives in Norwich with her husband, Jim, and Penny spends as much time as she can reading, gardening, spending time with Jim, and learning Italian.
- Sara – An eclectic reader, fabulous dresser and a fun mom, Sara Trimmer has been selling books to readers for years.
THANK YOU and HAPPY SUMMER READING!