Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Cleopatra’

Over three Saturdays this spring in an event called Tables of Content, generous friends of the Norwich Public Library – our local library, will host dinners in their homes to raise money for our superb librarians and the building they inhabit.  Each dinner is based on a book the hosts selected as the theme for their evening.  To add excitement to the event, dinner guests choose their dinner assignment by the book selections — the location and hosts are revealed only after the books and all the guests have been matched.

Photo: You're invited to a literary dinner! "Book" your table here: http://tablesofcontent.weebly.com

How does this relate to books for you to read?  Well, the event offers a diverse group of hosts, and wow did they provide an eclectic selection of books to read.  There is great fiction, some nonfiction sports books, a memoir or two, even Plato.  We realized that the books they selected will provide hours of inspired reading no matter what your reading preferences.  So, we asked the hosts to give us their selections, with a brief review of why they picked the book that they did. And now, we share their selections and rationals with you. Happy reading!

Themes for Saturday April 5

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (2004) – Nothing piques an appetite like “an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.”  From the opening scene in the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” to the dungeons of Montjuic, The Shadow of the Wind twists and turns through post civil war Barcelona.  Join us in a dimly lit cafe off Las Ramblas where the Catalans hold court and partake of the delicacies and intoxicants of a dangerous and mysterious world.

“Beans Green and Yellow” a Poem by Mary Oliver from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems by Mary Oliver (2011) – Reading Mary Oliver’s “Beans Green and Yellow” suggested a dinner menu for the “Tables of Content” event at our house. Beyond that, though, we envision that an evening with people who enjoy Oliver’s poetry will be fun, relaxed, and inspirational.  We encourage dinner guests to bring along a personal favorite if they’d like.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (2009) – In rural Mississippi 1962, three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. This book was loved by all members of our family. A great summer read or beach book. We will toast the coming of summer and indulge in southern style cuisine, but there will NOT be chocolate pie for dessert!

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (1990) – A Year In Provence is the true story of how a London advertising executive and his wife moved to a remote village in south-eastern France. The book documents their attempts to renovate an old farmhouse, but the heart of the story – and the inspiration for our dinner – is all the long lazy meals under the Provençal sun. Think romantic hill villages, cobbled market squares, fields of purple lavender, a canvas full of irises, scents of wild thyme and orange blossom, fat black olives, red tomatoes, and starry, starry nights.

My Life in France by Julia Child & Alex Prud’Homme (2006) – My Life in France is a delightful and delicious account of Julia Child’s love affair with French cuisine and culture.  Julia broke away from her narrow conservative upbringing when she moved to Paris with her new urbane husband.  There, she fell in love with all things French.  With grit, determination and an indomitable spirit, she recounts her tale of learning to speak the language and cook the food.  You can almost taste each dish as she lovingly describes it.  Mastering the Art of French Cooking, originally rejected for publication, took her eight years to complete.  But, American cooks lovingly embraced and emulated her.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (2012) – This story begins in the early 1960’s in a small, isolated town along the Italian coast near Genoa, where a young innkeeper looks up from his work to see a beautiful American actress approaching his dock by boat. Direct from the scandal-laden set of “Cleopatra”, she was sent by the film’s heartless producer for reasons that slowly become apparent. Spanning 50 years with stops in Edinburgh, Hollywood and the Pacific Northwest, the author spins a tale of love and following one’s dreams.  The book describes coastal Italian comfort food — simple, fresh and slow — this will be the inspiration for our meal.

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger (2003) – This non-fiction book is so fascinating it’s been made into a movie, a television series, almost another movie and inspired legions of cult-like followers.  In it, a Texas high school football team is challenged as their season careens toward “state.” We find that nothing in Texas is as important as high school football, where the players are gods, the schools are “football factories”, and the coaches are above reproach – until they lose.  At our dinner, you get all that, a Texas-sized helping of barbecue brisket, and other “only in Texas” foods! (This BBQ will have vegetarian options.)

Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1880) – Do you remember falling into the pages of Heidi, dreaming of the golden cheese grandfather would melt over toast in the fireplace of his mountain hut? If so, this literary evening is for you. Please join us for traditional Swiss raclette, freshly baked Fladen (Swiss apple tart) and Sven’s Schoggikuchen (Wet Chocolate Cake).  A real, live yodeler has promised to make an appearance to send out his call over the Vermont hills and valleys. Please feel free to wear your lederhosen or just come as you are.

Books for Saturday April 26

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (2009) – This is a “Song of New York City” — the high, low, rich and poor, black, white and Hispanic. The author wanted to transport even those who have never been to NYC to that fabulous city.  The dinner? A NYC style one, perhaps with an Irish influence.

Life Is Meals: A Food Lovers Book of Days by James & Kay Salter (2006) – We chose Life Is Meals : A Food Lover’s Book Of Days because it is a wonderful book about eating and celebrating food and friends. Whether or not we serve something directly from the book remains to be seen, but we promise a delicious time.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010) – “The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality also prone, should the dream ever sour, to misanthropy and rage.”  – Jonathan Franzen, Freedom.  There’s so much to discuss in this book…from the complicated and often unlikable characters to the detailed examination of life in America in 2010.  While reading Freedom, I had to retreat to my bedroom to read, ignoring my children, my spouse and even the poor dog so I could tear through all 608 pages.  If you loved Freedom, or better yet, if you hated it join us for a lively discussion of this ambitious novel.

Symposium by Plato (c. 385-380 BCE) – Come eat food appropriate for love, and discuss this ancient version of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking”.

Books for Saturday May 10

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon. We chose Death at La Fenice because Donna Leon portrays Venice in such wonderful detail in each of her books, always providing readers with a map so that we can follow Inspector Brunetti as he solves the crime.  Also, his wife Paola is a splendid cook and we will try to recreate one of her mouth-watering Venetian meals for our dinner.

One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, An Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season by Chris Ballard (2012) – I chose this book because I always read a baseball book in the spring.  For me, the last days of winter are agonizing, but reading about baseball always makes me think of summer, childhood, innocence…… and the heroes of my youth.  So much of sports conversation now is about cultural issues and how they fit into sports, and vice versa — will a gay player be welcome in the NFL?  Sports, especially baseball with its special place in our nation’s history, help us relate to one another in a different way, and perhaps can bridge gaps that otherwise wouldn’t be bridged. If there is a theme to this dinner, it’s not just this specific book, but the effect that baseball and other sports can have upon us as we enter the second half of our lives.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2010) – Hunger Games is a fun, fast-paced read that leaves some thought-provoking questions about the future of our society.  Most importantly, this book features fabulously extravagant food, drinks and table settings.

Hungry yet?

For those of you near Norwich in April and May, please join us for these fun and book-infused evenings. For more details and to purchase your tickets, visit the Norwich Public Library or call them at 802-649-1184.

If you can’t join these dinners, we hope you can enjoy this extensive and eclectic list of fifteen books to read.

BONUS: For people attending the dinners, if you wish to read the book before the dinner and you purchase the books from the Norwich Bookstore, the store will generously donate a portion of those sales (both online and in person) to the library as part of this event.  To activate this donation, you only need to indicate when you make your purchase that you are attending one of the dinners.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Happy final days of summer everyone. Sadly, we have only about five of them left, but luckily we have three literary gems to suggest that will help distract you – and keep you mentally warmed – as we transition to the chillier days of autumn.

It was hard to winnow our summer reading down to just a few picks as many excellent titles passed through our hands over the past few months. But  never fear, we will find ways to tell you about all of the special stories we encountered as many of the ones we truly loved will find their way into future posts.

So for now, three of our favorite picks from our summer reading; stay tuned for more later in the fall.  In the meantime, grab a comfortable chair, a cozy blanket, a steaming cup of tea, and start reading. And, Happy Rosh Hashanah; the plot of Beautiful Ruins will definitely fit into any thoughts of atonement and new beginnings.

 Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters (June 2012) – My favorite page-turner from this summer.  Just when I thought I had anticipated all the possibilities of this book, the author slipped in a surprise.  Please read and enjoy this well-written tale.  It has intelligence, romance, gorgeous scenery, coming of age themes, and dealing with death themes all interwoven in a tale of the lives, loves, choices, and losses of a cast of characters as unique as any you will ever encounter.  This tale includes an Italian hotel owner living in a town on the Italian coast so small Cinque Terra doesn’t claim it, a lovely American actress, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor and their filming of Cleopatra, and aging movie mogul, a few young men overcoming addictions, a modern-day woman trying to figure out when her life will begin and so many more (you will not be bored and somewhere in there you will relate to someone).  The story jumps from 1962 to today and back again and back again, each time unveiling another layer of connections and dreams.  What results?  A tale that ultimately illustrates how your life emerges from your choices.  The characters and scenery will remain long after that last page ends. ~ Lisa Christie

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (2012). This is simply a lovely book. With poignancy and beautiful prose, Brunt tells the coming of age story of fourteen year-old June who’s grieving the loss of her beloved uncle Finn – a famous painter who’s recently died from a mysterious illness – who was the only one who ever really understood her. Set in the late 1980’s and full of cultural references to that era, June tries to continue on with a “teenagerly” (we may have coined a new word here) existence in Westchester Country – studying, fighting with her sister, going to the occasional party, listening to the “wolves” howling in the woods  – but it is only through a most unlikely friendship in New York City, with a friend of her uncle’s,  a young man named Toby, that she finds solace. This is a book about love, loss, acceptance, sisters, family, art, and what is means to truly care for someone. ~ Lisa Cadow

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012). Just when you think you know what’s going on in this thriller, think again. “Gone Girl” will keep you on your toes – and out of commission since you won’t be able to put it down! – until you turn the very last page. Meet Amy and Nick, a seemingly golden couple (Amy with her Harvard degree and Nick with his good looks and writer’s talent who met and courted in Manhattan), trapped in a marriage that’s gone terribly wrong. The story starts out with Amy’s sudden disappearance from the house they’re renting in a Missouri developement. All eyes turned to Nick as the clues start pointing in his direction. The story is told from Amy and Nick’s alternating points of view so the reader learns about their relationship from its romantic beginning to its present difficult place. If you’re a fan of Tana French, you’ll appreciate Flynn’s story telling style and mastery of the psychological thriller genre. ~ Lisa Cadow, with Lisa Christie seconding this review

Read Full Post »

Books to curl up with Dec 2010 (Click to Listen) or download http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_662868909.

We’ve decided to dedicate a second annual show to recommending a few books that would be perfect to curl up with once the holiday houseguests have left. Or in the case of those of us living in central Vermont, to read while we’re snowed in (like the rest of northern New England). Yippee!

And in between the sledding and skiing, we’ve also added a few titles to the list that we’re hoping to read ourselves.  We will report on the results later. In the meantime, happy new year and happy reading.  May 2011 be full of good books for you.

What we have read and recommend

Perfect for a long winter’s read

Hawaii by James Michener – Having had a bad Michener experience in her youth,  Lisa Christie never thought she would recomend one of his books.  So here it goes. She loved Hawaii.  The saga of how the islands formed from the sea, were peopled by Polynesians, and then shaped by New England missionaries, Japanese immigrants, Chinese immigrants and history is full of interesting characters and decisions.  One caveat, be prepared to devote a lot of time to this book.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson — A very comforting book about the English countryside, class conflict and second chances at love.  The  main character is of another era and delightful – wish we could meet him. This book is lovely, old-fashioned and yet somehow so of-the-moment.

Truly great writing

Let the Great World Spin by Collum McCann – Just an amazing book about life in New York City.  Truly great writing and a thought provoking tale of making a life in all kinds of circumstances.

Almost any title in the Penguin Classics Series — They have developed a gorgeous printing of many classics. The beautifully illustrated hardcovers will make you happy just to hold them while you read amazing tales.  Titles include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, with Arabian Nights coming this spring.

What we hope to curl up with soon:

Isn’t it time you met this woman?

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff – A look at the life of the woman everyone has heard of but knows so little about.

Read this and send it to a friend

Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A memoir of friendship by Gail Caldwell — A look at friendship and it’s importance told through the sotry of two women – Ms. Caldwell and Caroline Knapp the author of Drinking: a love story.  A good book for a good friend.

Still a best-seller one hundred years later

The Autobiography of Mark Twain – What could be better? The great author Twain writing about the fascinating subject of Twain.

Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell  – the latest novel by Mr. Mitchell is well written tale of Japan and Holland.

At Home: a short history of private life by Bill Bryson – Our former across the river neighbor dissects the rooms in his English home and in doing so writes a history of why we live in the dwellings we do.

Coffee and a mystery to boot

On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle – A series of mysteries set in a NYC coffeehouse. If you want to learn a little about coffee while reading a light mystery, this series might be for you.

Read Full Post »