Posts Tagged ‘The Art of Fielding’

And so it was on a snowy night last week in late November that sixty people from the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire gathered in the wine cellar of the Norwich Inn to talk about some of 2012’s great books. Great books for gifting, great books for curling up with on the couch, great books for sharing with friends. It was, in a word, well, great.


This special event, the second incarnation of “Pages in The Pub”-  an evening designed by “The Book Jam” (and this time sponsored by The Vermont Community Foundation) to gather people at a local inn  to discuss literature – raised over $1,300 for Vermont Libraries. We heard suggestions from booksellers and bibliophile alike who discussed titles that would make the perfect gift for friends and loved ones. They covered everything from engrossing reads for the memoir enthusiast, picks for the man who “has enough flannel shirts but not enough fiction,”  to mouth-watering tomes for people who like to “cook up a culinary snowstorm.”


Below is a list of all twenty books discussed during the evening along with its own special six word review.  (Yes, we limited the presenters to six words so we would not run out of room, and they creatively rose to the challenge.) Each is linked to The Norwich Bookstore where you can learn more about these treasures. You’ll also notice that our picks are divided into rather specific categories. These are ones that we created last year as part of our annual “best of” list for  The Book Jam blog; our 2012 “best of” edition of the Book Jam will be published separately next week so stay tuned.  And, just a small technicality: some of the books below were first published in 2011, but are new to paperback in 2012, so we counted them.

Our wonderful, dynamic, thoughtful presenters included:

  • Penny McConnel, Owner, Norwich Bookstore
  • Beth Reynolds, Children’s Librarian, Norwich Public Library
  • Arline Rotman, President of the Norwich Women’s Club (and retired Massachusetts judge and current family law consultant)
  • Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie, curators of the Book Jam Blog

We’d like to thank the our panelists, The Norwich Inn, The Norwich Bookstore, all those who attended, and the Vermont Community Foundation for making this evening possible.

So sit back and read on for ideas —- holiday shopping help is on its way.

Cookbooks: For people who like to cook up a culinary snow storm:


Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan, selected by Lisa Cadow (2012) – Cook from this all winter long.

Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman, selected by Penny McConnel (2012)- Yum yum yum delicious delicious delicious.

The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, selected by Arline Rotman (2011) – Cuisines, cultures, history—delicious  reader’s cookbook!

Non-fiction or reference book or poetry: For people who like to think and chat while sitting by the wood stove:


Stag’s Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds, selected by Penny McConnel (2012) – Divorce through a wife’s compassionate eyes.

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie, selected by Arline Rotman (2011) – History that reads like a novel.

Memoirs: For people who enjoy living vicariously through other people’s memories:


 Wild by Cheryl Strayed, selected by Lisa Cadow (2012) – Hiking boots: too small. Adventurousness: infinite.

Winter Journal by Paul Auster (2012), selected by Penny McConnel – Intimate. Honest. Difficult. Beautiful. Unforgettable.

Field Guide to Now by Cristina Rosalie  (2012) selected by Beth Reynolds – Little books can change your life.

Adult Fiction: For a woman who only has time for the best fiction:


Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman (2012), selected by Lisa Cadow – Australia 1920s. Baby washes ashore. Decisions.

The News From Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story by J. Wickersham (2012), selected by Penny McConnel – Seven delicious short stories that deliver.

The Secret Keeper  by Kate Morton (2012), selected by Beth Reynolds – Puzzles from the past demand solving.

Adult fiction: For a man who has enough flannel shirts but not enough good fiction:


The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, selected by Lisa Cadow (2012) – Beauty, grace in Colorado despite apocalypse. Really.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon (2012), selected by Beth Reynolds (2012) – It’s so much more than music.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (2011), selected by Arline Rotman – Youth, ambition, family, friendships—peripherally baseball.

Coffee table book or literary gifts for your favorite hosts/hostesses/co-workers:


Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matter (2012), selected by Beth Reynolds – Inspirational beauty found in unexpected places.

Jerusalem: A cookbook by Ottolenghi & Tamim (2012), selected by Arline Rotman – A beautiful book that I covet!


 End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (2012), selected by Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie – Mother. Son. Many books. Little time.



Picture Books: For families to read together during snow storms

The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents by Susan Katz, selected by Lisa Christie – Humorous poems. Facts. Presidential Inauguration soon.

Books for young readers (ages 8-12): Those beyond Tonka trucks and tea parties but not yet ready for teen topics

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke, selected by Lisa Christie – First friend helps end family curse.

Books for your favorite High Schooler: Tales for teens who still like to drink hot chocolate and spend snowy days reading, but who are not quite ready for adult themes

Rush for the Gold: An Olympic Mystery by John Feinstein, selected by Lisa Christie (2012) – Gold Medals. Teen Detectives. Great Series.


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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “Three Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

We are thrilled to welcome Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher. He hails from the state’s gorgeous Northeast Kingdom. A gorgeous part of this country where one of the Lisas from this Book Jam has placed some superb yurts to which she often travels to read uninterrupted.  So, we truly appreciate his sense of place. His latest – The Great Northern Express: A Writer’s Journey Home, chronicles a book tour taken shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.

HOWARD FRANK MOSHER is the author of ten novels and two memoirs. He was honored with the New England Independent Booksellers Association’s President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts and is the recipient of the Literature Award bestowed by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His novel A Stranger in the Kingdom won the New England Book Award for fiction and was later made into a movie, as were his novels Disappearances and Where the Rivers Flow North.

Mr. Mosher will be appearing at the Norwich Bookstore on Wednesday, March 28th at 7 pm.  Call (802) 649-1114 to reserve your chair, but hurry as always, because seating is limited and this one comes with a slide show so seats will fill faster than usual as there will be fewer seats available.

1. What three books have shaped you into the author you are today, and why?

Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations and To Kill a Mockingbird.  I love coming-of-age novels.  These are the three that have most influenced me because of their memorable characters. Though the main characters are somewhat older, I love Henry IV, Part One and Pride and Prejudice for the same reason.

2. What author, living or dead, would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Probably Mark Twain. He might tell me a story I could steal and use.

3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

I’m reading Robert Olmstead’s wonderful new novel, The Coldest Night (due April 2012) and What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.  Just finished State of Wonder, The Art of Fielding, and Stephen Greenblatt’s Shakespeare biography, Will in the World:How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.

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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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