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Posts Tagged ‘We are All Completely Beside Ourselves’

On a chilly October evening at the end of a lovely fall foliage season, readers from Woodstock gathered to hear about some superb books they should add to their autumnal reading list.

This evening was the latest outing of the Book Jam’s live event – “Pages in the Pub”.  This event is designed to bring together independent booksellers, literary bloggers, public librarians, and book lovers for an evening of talking about great titles. This time, we gathered at Woodstock’s Bentley’s Restaurant, sipped drinks, and turned pages, all with the goal of raising money for Vermont public libraries, including Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library.

Below is a list of all sixteen books discussed during the evening along with its own special six word review written by the presenter.  (Yes, we limited the presenters to six words so we would not run out of room in this post, and they creatively rose to the challenge.) Each of their selections is linked to INDIEbound where you can learn more about their picks. You’ll also notice that the selections are divided into rather specific categories to make browsing easier.  Our superb presenters included:

  • Kathy Beaird – A librarian in schools and public settings for more than 20 years and a lover of books for 60.
  • Carol Boerner  – A retired eye surgeon, reinvented with Vermont Facial Aesthetics – a cosmetic beauty business.
  • Lisa Cadow  – Founder of Vermont Crepe & Waffle,  a food cart and caterer and co-founder/blogger of the Book Jam.
  • Julia MacDonald – She can almost always be found with her nose in a book or making chocolate chip cookies.

These four women persuaded audience members to purchase 78 books, raising over $700 for Vermont libraries, and helping Yankee Bookshop sales.  And now, their selections:

Adult Fiction: For women who only have time for the best

 

Little Island by Katharine Britton, selected by Julia – Secrets create the landscape of lives.

We are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, selected by Lisa – Humans. Chimps. Different Kinds of Family.

Adult fiction: For men who have enough electronic gadgets, but not enough good fiction to put in them

Hour of the Red God: A Detective Mollel Novel by Richard Crompton, selected by Julia – Maasai detective-exciting plot-dangerous Nairobi.

Adult Fiction: For ANYONE who loves fiction

 

Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, selected by Kathy – War story told with hopeful heart.

Say Nice Things About Detroit by Scott Lasser, selected by Lisa – Starting over midlife. Taking Chances. Love?

Memoir / Biography: For people who enjoy living vicariously thru other people’s memories/adventures

 

Road to Burgundy: The unlikely story of an American making wine and a new life in France by Ray Walker, selected by Julia – A full-bodied armchair travel book.

Mud Season by Ellen Stimson, selected by Kathy – LOL comedy of flatlander mistakes. Hilarious!

Memoirs with a food angle: For the foodies out there

 

The Telling Room: A tale of love, betrayal, revenge and the world’s greatest piece of cheese by Michael Paterniti, selected by Lisa – Magical cheese. Obsession. Spain. Fine Storytelling.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A memoir of food and longing by Anya von Bremzen, selected by Carol – Charming. Poignant. Horrifying. Personal. MUST READ.

Cookbooks:  For people looking for culinary inspirations

  

Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes: Over 100 recipes from the world’s greatest food regions by Jamie Oliver, selected by Carol – Culinary travelogue. Sophisticated recipes. Endearing style.

The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian recipes for a new generation by Mollie Katzen, selected by Kathy – Enchanted Broccoli Forest all grown up.

Moosewood Restaurant Favorites: The 250 most requested, naturally delicious recipes from one of America’s best loved restaurants  by The Moosewood Collective, selected by Lisa – Veggies, veggies everywhere. Prepare deliciously every day.

Coffee table books or literary gifts: For all your favorite hosts/hostesses/co-workers

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert by Richard Betts, selected by Carol – Novel. Serious. Instructive. FUN. Great gift.

Picture Books: For families to read together on cozy fall days

  

Journey by Aaron Becker, selected by Julia – Lonely Girl, red marker adventure, stunning!

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner, selected by Carol – Charming. Family fun. Exquisite illustrations. Wordless!

The Tortoise & the Hare by Jerry Pinkney, selected by Kathy – Every page a work of art.

The Book Jam would also like to thank the Vermont Community Foundation for making it possible to take Pages in the Pub to Woodstock.

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We are back from our August “gone reading” break and have some wonderful books to share with you. We chose only two for today’s post and will highlight many more during the remainder of 2013.  Some future picks will include cookbooks, memoirs (some are even cooking memoirs!) as well as a few great old-fashioned stories.

So before Autumn officially begins next week and the leaves truly blaze with color here in Vermont, we thought we would start with one title each that rose to the top of each of our lists.  These are not necessarily our favorite books from the summer, but they are the ones we are still thinking about, even as the leaves begin to fall to the ground, and ones we can recommend highly to all of you.  And, by pure coincidence the reviews both mention Jane Austen.

And now, drumroll please….

 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (2013). This book shows just how well Karen Joy Fowler can write. She burst on to the literary scene in 2004 with her bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club and while I enjoyed her first novel, this most recent effort eclipses it, taking a deep look at human and animal behavior, and the meaning of family. Part of the power of this story results from the way Fowler has chosen to craft it –  the first eighty pages yielding a surprise to the reader who comes to it without knowing too much at the outset.  If you don’t want spoilers and trust me as a reviewer, then read no further and just pick up a copy of this book and get started.  But for those who wish to know more, continue on. This is a fictional portrait of a family who chose to raise a chimpanzee in their home alongside their biological children (based on actual experiments that were happening in the United States in the 1970’s). Meet narrator Rosemary and her older brother.  Then move around in time with them from college years, to adulthood, and back to childhood as a picture of this strange upbringing emerges, and their later lives take shape in reaction to it. What the reader is ultimately left with after turning the last page is an insight into the profound relationships and connections that exist in the animal kingdom. Highly, highly recommended. ~Lisa Cadow

Capital by John Lanchester (2012) – This book is brilliant.  As you begin, you think it is a straightforward story about a disparate group of Londoners united only by the fact they all live on the same street – Pepys Road in London.  And, it is true — the novel plots an intriguing story line.  However, what sneaks up on you is the social commentary. Hopefully, without creating unfair images, or unintentionally offending anyone, you could think of the author as a male Jane Austen for modern times.  How, could we compare him so?  Well, mostly because Mr. Lanchester (an award-winning journalist and novelist) nails life in the 21st century and all its messes and glories — immigration, bank failures, the consumer culture, football, love, art, terrorism, dying, twitter, to name a few.   Each chapter is a short two to three page look into the lives of people residing in one of the various houses on Pepys Road. The next chapter takes up the next household’s stories, and the next circles back again.  In each chapter, each resident is reacting to their own unique life and the personalities that inhabit it, but also to the fact they are all receiving anonymous postcard pictures of their homes each marked with the ominous message — “We want what you have”.  Each chapter is also a cliffhanger, often causing you to read on longer than your time, and your need for sleep, should allow.  As the chapters stitch together, this book lingers long after the last page.  Enjoy. I highly recommend this for anyone in the mood for a contemporary novel that offers insight without preaching, and laughter. ~ Lisa Christie

 

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