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Posts Tagged ‘Olive Kittredge’

So a very “late in the calendar year” Labor Day has come and gone, most students have returned to the classroom (though some college kids on quarter systems are still waiting for classes to resume), work has turned serious again after those long summer days, and, the Book Jam is back from our annual reading hiatus with two of our favorites from those long summer days.

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9780525429142Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (2015) – Possibly my favorite book of the summer, this quirky, original, and funny read explores raw talent, choices, and chance outcomes. Eva Thorwald is the central character of this novel, but we mostly get to know her through the observations of others. In this way, “Kitchens” is a lot like Olive Kitteridge, but the setting of the “great” midwest lend it a very different tone and flavor. We meet Eva as an infant and travel with her, mostly through the eyes of others, through the first thirty years of her life. She has a once-in-a-lifetime palate, is a gifted chef, and her talent is affected and developed by an interesting cast of characters we meet along the way. There are even recipes included in this smart, laugh-out-loud book — but it is about so much more than food. The author, a native of Minnesota,  is a keen observer and is gifted at capturing our culture and delivering it back to us whether it be on a plate of Walleye or on a tray of good old fashioned church peanut butter bars. Read it and eat. ~ Lisa Cadow

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (2014) – This could be my favorite book from 2015 (so far). Now, how to effectively describe it? The plot involves Elf, a world-reknowned concert pianist, and the effects her repeated suicide attempts have on her family, most specifically her sister and mom. Perhaps more importantly it is a love letter to a sister. It is an attempt to understand why some people end their lives in suicide. It is an example of compassion and understanding and love. And, it is all wrapped up in a superb prose and a fabulous tale set in Canada. Please pick this up and read. (Thank you Norwich Bookseller extraordinaire Carin Pratt for insisting over and over again that I read this novel. I finally did, and I am so so grateful for your recommendation. ) ~ Lisa Christie

This post is dedicated to the memory of Ian Gemery. May he rest in love, and may the loved ones he left behind each find their own peace.

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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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