Posts Tagged ‘independent bookstores’

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Once again, as a very special treat for all of us, we asked our favorite booksellers to review the one book they are recommending right now. We hope these titles help you adjust to the shorter days of autumn, take some time to sit and read, and find your next great book to recommend to all your favorite readers.

Thank you Norwich Bookstore Booksellers. As always, your selections have added to the stack of books weighing down our bedside tables.

And now, their list:

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Penny Recommends

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Cover ImageRising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush (2018) – I believe this book may be the “Silent Spring” for our times. At first, I was not sure that I could write a review, for it is both a beautiful and yet devastating read. From New England to the Eastern Coast to California, the seas are rising, the marshes are flooding and we are in great peril. There once were bayous in Louisiana that no longer exist. There are people whose homes are now under water. Yes, the tale is at times overwhelming, but somehow Rush’s poetic and flowing language draw the reader further into her story. Descriptions of the scientists and volunteers who are working daily to combat these dire conditions, as well as the personal commentaries of people whose lives have been affected recount courage and elicit empathy. I found myself loving this book and looking forward each morning to reading a few more pages.

David Biello in the New York Times Sunday Book Review gave Rising a glowing review: “This is a book for those who mourn the changing climate and coast, as well as, perhaps, America’s diminishing literary culture: sadness benefits from lyrical prose”.

Carin Recommends

The Silence of the Girls: A Novel Cover ImageThe Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (2018) – Pat Barker writes about the cost of war better than just about anybody. (Her WW1 Regeneration Trilogy is a classic.) In The Silence of the Girls , she retells the story of the Trojan War, mostly from the point of view of Briseis, a queen who becomes Achille’s slave and concubine after he kills most of her family and obliterates her town. All the Iliad characters are here and wonderfully wrought — Achilles, driven mad by bloodlust and desire for revenge, sorrowful Priam who just wants his beloved son’s body, Achilles’ loyal childhood friend Patroclus. But this story really belongs to the women — the “spoils” of war, and how they deal with their changes in fortune. This is a powerful, visceral, anti-war novel.

Kathryn Recommends

Around the World in 80 Trees Cover ImageAround the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori (2018) – This beautifully illustrated book is a pleasure to read. Filled with some of the world’s most important trees from around the globe: historically, economically and societally (i.e.,sacred trees). Pick it up from time to time, or read it all the way through…



Beth Recommends

The Incendiaries: A Novel Cover ImageThe Incendiaries by RO Kwon (2018) – In the tradition of The Mothers, Exit West, Speak No Evil and What We Lose, Kwon’s novel packs dazzling prose and centers around a heavy topic, yet all marvelously contained in a small amount of pages. The Incendiaries asks essential life questions: What happens if you put all your faith into something and then discover that the bottom falls out from under you leaving you no solid base? What do you replace it with, do you rebuild or start over? In her debut, Kwon gives us three different points of view, twenty-somethings who hold onto each other so they don’t hit rock bottom. In an interview I read, one of several insightful pieces, she talked about writing on the syllable level. This granular, elemental level speaks to me, the atoms from which all creations come. I would read anything that flows from her pen.

Sara Recommends

The Mystery of Three Quarters: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) Cover ImageThe Mystery of the Three Quarters; The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah (2018) – This is Hannah’s third incarnation of Agatha Christie (The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket). I swear she’s channeling the Grande Dame of Mystery, and this is her best yet. Poirot is quirky and intense as expected, more so for having to defend himself from four strangers who received forged letters accusing them of the murder of a well-known industrialist. He must clear himself and solve a murder. Trustworthy Inspector Catchpool is at the ready to assist his friend in the investigations. Pure madcap and volley. Written in uniquely dry British humor, it’s a jolly race to the defense of our Inspector and his forensic conclusion.

Susan Recommends

Clock Dance: A novel Cover ImageClock Dance by Anne Tyler (2018) – As Willa Drake reminisces about her past, four powerful events stand out but it is an unexpected moment of her sixth decade that sets the stage for the rest of her life. Such an engrossing read! I will never ignore another saguro cactus. I very much liked the quirky characters and the wonderful notion of how dance might express one’s perception of time passing. Chapters zipped by so quickly I was quite disconcerted when I realized only a few pages were left. Take this book on vacation. You will not be disappointed.

Brenna Recommends

Dear Mrs. Bird: A Novel Cover ImageDear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce (2018) – When you just can’t one more terrible news story, Dear Mrs. Bird is the solution. Living in London during the Blitz, impulsive and determinedly cheerful Emmy dreams of being a war correspondent, but ends up as a letter reader for a dour and repressive advice columnist. Instructed to destroy all letters deemed unpleasant, Emmy instead begins responding to them. A charming, if temporary, respite from our current reality.

Liza Recommends

Harbor Me Cover ImageHarbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson (2018) – In this powerful novel for middle grade readers, Ms. Woodson paints stunning portraits of six “special” 5th and 6th graders. Given the opportunity to have an hour every Friday just for themselves, they learn that by sharing who they are, their fears – and their dreams – become manageable. One boy’s father has been detained and may be sent back to the Dominican Republic. One girl’s mother is dead and her father is in prison. Another boy is bullied every day on the way home from school. A “rich” girl struggles with behavioral issues… The messages about the importance of friendship, of empathy, of understanding and accepting others has never been more urgent than now.Related image

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Soon there will be time to curl up with a good book...

Ah the holidays… they’re lovely, they’re fun, and they mean special time spent with family, friends and books. Books?

Yes, books. Following the opening of presents, the carving of prime rib and the savoring of the yule log, the days after the relatives have left can mean sinful, precious, pockets of time to read. During those brief spells when you do not want – or have! – to face the dishes, go back to school, work, or regular routines, there are sagas awaiting hungry eyes and tired psyches.

So, welcome to what is now an annual tradition at The Book Jam: a list of books we recommend reading during the peace that descends when the holiday bustle ends. We’ve added some books to our list that we, too, are hoping to tackle “after the relatives have left”.

(Please note that once again we are keeping it local and linking to our town’s gem, the Norwich Bookstore. Future posts will again link to the IndieBound site so that we can support independent bookstores nationwide.)

What We Have Read and Now Recommend to Others 

The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad HarbachReading this book is akin to watching a no-hitter unfold.  You know something special and rare is happening and all you can do is enjoy. While baseball is important in this novel, so are friends and education and learning how to live a good and honorable life. ~ Lisa Christie

East of the Sun (2009) by Julia Gregson. This book caught me by surprise. I picked it up at a bookstore in a train station knowing nothing about it. It turns out it to have been international bestseller written by a Brit and though many people review it as a romance,  I perceived it quite differently. East of the Sun is compelling historical fiction about four British women starting new lives in India in the 1920s. I lost myself in it and couldn’t do anything else but read for two days. ~Lisa Cadow

Hunting and Gathering (2007) by Anna Gavalda. Truly an original, uplifting (though it may not seem so at first!) book set in modern-day France and translated beautifully. It is a story of friendship and connection despite the busy life that swirls all around us. It leaves you feeling good about life. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

Let the Great World Spin (2009) by Colum McCann.   A great look at NYC and 9/11 and characters whose lives touch by coincidence, but whose impact upon each other is profound. ~ Lisa Christie

The Night Circus  (2011) by Erin Morgenstern.  This new, fast-paced novel is magic-filled and has a plot that keeps readers turning the pages. Author Morgenstern is a creative story-teller and a beautiful writer who tells the tale of an ephemeral 19th century circus with one-of-a-kind performers. It’s a love story, an artistic exploration of place, people, time and timepieces.  Think of it as a circus themed Romeo and Juliet story with alchemy, sorcery and a very dangerous game at its core. ~ Lisa Cadow

What WE Hope to Read after the Relatives Have Left

11-22-63  (2011) by Stephen King  – Because 1) I have heard once you get started you just can not put it down.  And, I am intrigued by the thought of altering history so that JFK is not assassinated. I look forward to seeing if my version of  what would happen instead is even remotely related to Mr. King’s.  Because, 2) ever since reading On Writing by Mr. King, I have been a fan of his, even if I don’t usually pick up his fiction as I tend to think the  news has enough terror for my life.  Finally, because 3) reading this would expand my usual choices and experiencing an atypical genre is not a bad way to start a new year. ~ Lisa Christie

Lionheart (2011) by Sharon Kay Penman – Because I just finished one of her other tomes and would love to get lost in medieval England/France/Wales again.  And, time is required for reading this; once you pick up one of her historical sagas, there is little room for anything else. ~ Lisa Christie

Sister (2011) by Rosamund Lupton. This book has been mentioned on many “best of” lists, enough so that I delved a little deeper. It seems like the kind of intelligent, suspenseful tale I look for when choosing a mystery.  Besides, I am always up for a trip to present day London.  ~Lisa Cadow

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgiveness (2011) by Alexandra Fuller.  Fuller is one of my favorite authors. I loved her last memoir of growing up in Africa in the 70’s and 80’s and look forward to learning more about her  family and about mother’s experience in Zimbabwe. This is a writer not to miss.~Lisa Cadow

Other Recommended Reading – in the Form of a Blog – for after the Relatives Have Left (or Even For While They Are Here as It May Inspire a Good Meal or Two)

A Fork on the Roadhttp://forkontheroadblog.com. A SUPERB Blog about food and cooking.  A great resource for those of you looking to try some new recipes for the new year or to go on some food adventures.  Latest entry looks at the Met in NYC from the perspective of food. ~ Lisa Christie

What We are Reading Right Now and Loving

West of Here (2011) by Jonathan Evison. ~Lisa Cadow

The Rules of Civility (2011) by Amos Towles. ~Lisa Cadow

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (2011) by  Mark Adams. ~ Lisa Christie

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