DISCUSSION AT THE NOVEMBER MEETING

Books recommended as gifts:

The Good Lord Bird –  James McBride – just chosen to receive the National book Award – From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive. Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces.

Tenth of December: Stories George Saunders – One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.

The Lowland – Jumpa Lahiri – National Book Award Finalist Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of The Namesake comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country

The Village Table – recipe collection  from the Folk Art Center of new England – can be ordered at www.facone.org 

More with Less, Doris Janzen Longacre – Since 1976, More-with-Less Cookbook has helped thousands of families establish a climate of joy and concern for others at mealtime, while improving nutrition and saving money. This anniversary edition is seasoned with their comments from twenty-five years of More-with-Less cooking.

Extending the Table Joetta Handrich Schlabach – Extending the Table is an invitation…to enjoy the gifts of people from Argentina and Bangladesh to Yugoslavia and Zambia. The stories and recipes help us enter into the lives and situations of these people and to be changed by them in significant ways. Food is a medium of communication, but it is more; in a mysterious way, it is part of the message, as Jesus so vividly portrayed in the breaking of bread and distribution of the cup.  (appears to be available only as an e-book)

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of scienceRichard Holmes – The Age of Wonder is a colorful and utterly absorbing history of the men and women whose discoveries and inventions at the end of the eighteenth century gave birth to the Romantic Age of Science. 

Living on the WindScott Weidensaul – Bird migration is the world’s only true unifying natural phenomenon, stitching the continents together in a way that even the great weather systems fail to do. Scott Weidensaul follows awesome kettles of hawks over the Mexican coastal plains, bar-tailed godwits that hitchhike on gale winds 7,000 miles nonstop across the Pacific from Alaska to New Zealand, and myriad songbirds whose numbers have dwindled so dramatically in recent decades.

Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health The Moosewood Collective-   All of the Moosewood cookbooks are worth looking at.  these are special favorites – the Cooking for health is especially recommended for those with dietary issues.

Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson – A pair of endearingly eccentric bachelors—in their fifties, and fraternal twins—own and operate a bed & breakfast establishment where people like them, the “gentle and bookish and ever so slightly confused,” can feel at home. Hector and Virgil think of their B&B as a refuge, a retreat, a haven, where folks may bring their own books or peruse the brothers’ own substantial library.

MosqueDavid Macaulay – An author and artist who has continually stripped away the mystique of architectural structures that have long fascinated modern people, David Macaulay here reveals the methods and materials used to design and construct a mosque in late-sixteenth- century Turkey. Through the fictional story and Macaulay’s distinctive full-color illustrations, readers will learn not only how such monumental structures were built but also how they functioned in relation to the society they served.

Return of the Osprey: A season of flight and wonder David Glessner – For six luminous months–an entire nesting season–David Gessner immersed himself in the lives of the magnificent osprey’s that had returned to his seagirt corner of Cape Cod. In this marvelous book–part memoir, part paean to a once-endangered species, part natural history of the Cape–Gessner recounts the many discoveries he made in the course of that magical season.

 Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage and Runaway Alice Munro – WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE® IN LITERATURE 2013 In the nine breathtaking stories that make up her celebrated tenth collection, Alice Munro achieves new heights, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves.  Runaway is a book of extraordinary stories about love and its infinite betrayals and surprises, from the title story about a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband, to three stories about a woman named Juliet and the emotions that complicate the luster of her intimate relationships. 

 Dirty Love Andre Dubus III – In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.

 Selected Stories Andre Dubus – (father of Andre Dubus III) – These twenty-three stories represent the best work of one of the finest and most emotionally revealing writers in America.

 A Possible LifeSebastian Faulks – Throughout this masterpiece of fiction, exquisitely drawn and unforgettable characters risk their bodies, hearts, and minds in pursuit of the manna of human connection.

The Shell Collector Anthony Doerr – The exquisitely crafted stories in Anthony Doerr’s debut collection take readers from the African Coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emotional landscape.

 The Death of SantiniPat Conroy – In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and his father, the inspiration for The Great Santini, find some common ground at long last. 

 The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket – Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star of The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well. The ending is happy, at least for some. People who are interested in any or all of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as though Hanukkah were being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights.

 Collision Low CrossersNicholas Dawidoff – We watch football every Sunday, but we don’t really see it. By spending a year with the New York Jets, Nicholas Dawidoff explored the game in such an intimate way that he can now put you right inside the NFL. Collision Low Crossers* is a story that is part Paper Lion and part Moneyball, part Friday Night Lights and part The Office. In this absorbing, funny, and vividly written narrative, he describes the Combine, the draft, the practices, the strategy meetings, all while thinking deeply about such fundamental truths and the nature of success and disappointment in a massive and stressful collective endeavor.

 Lynette identified the books from her long list that she most highly recommends:

 The Son Philipp Meyer – Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the bloody price of power, The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim.

 The Signature of all Things Elizabeth Gilbert – A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed

 The Boys in the BoatDaniel James Brown – Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

 New England Soup Factory Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes from the Nation’s Best Purveyor of Fine SoupMarjorie Druker, Clara Silverstein

 River Cottage Veg – A comprehensive collection of 200+ recipes that embrace vegetarian cuisine as the centerpiece of a meal, from the leading food authority behind the critically acclaimed River Cottage series.

 The Stonewall Kitchen Winter – Stonewall Kitchen shows how to celebrate in style with these 50 tantalizing recipes for holiday entertaining.

 and as is often the case, we then veered off to just talk about books.  Here are some of titles that were mentioned (remember this is a group of readers)

 The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud; The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Stroud; Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell;  The Damnation Game and Weaveworld by Clive Baker; The Liars ClubMary Kerr; ElsewhereRichard Russo; The Warmth of Other Suns Isabel Wilkerson; Flight BehaviorBarbara Kingsolver; The Aviator’s Wife Melanie Benjamin; Mud Bound Hillary JordanHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Jamie Ford; Burnt ShadowsKamila Shamsie; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society Mary Ann Shaffer; The Lost Wife Alyson Richman; Major Pettigrew’s Last StandHelen Simonson; The Story Teller and Plain Truth Jodi Picoult

CLASSIC TITLES FOR YOUNG READERS

 

You can probably find the newest titles on endcaps at the book store but some kids books that have been around for many years are just too good to miss.  Here are some favorites.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell – The gripping story of young Karana, who survives by herself for eighteen years on a deserted island off the California coast. Left alone on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of California, a young Indian girl spends eighteen years, not only merely surviving through her enormous courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White – who doesn’t love Wilbur the pig and Charlotte – the very clever spider (not to mention the rat Templeton).

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnetteThe book tells the story of Mary Lennox, a spoiled, contrary orphan, who is sent to live in her uncle’s manor in Yorkshire. She is left to herself by her uncle Mr. Craven, who travels most of the time, trying to escape from memories of his wife. The only person who has any time for Mary is the chambermaid Martha. It is Martha who tells Mary about the walled garden, Mrs. Craven’s favourite garden, which nobody has seen the inside of since she her death; Mr. Craven locked it and buried the key.

Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson – It has been a while since Folks lived in the Big House, and an even longer time has passed since there has been a garden at the House. All the animals of the Hill are very excited about the new Folks moving in, and they wonder how things are going to change. It’s only a matter of time before the animals of the Hill find out just who is moving in, and they may be a little bit surprised when they do.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, L’Engle’s work of fantasy and science fiction combined with some Christian theology has now been read by several generations of young enthusiasts. The author went on to write three others, forming a quartet based on the Murry family, and including themes like the power of love and the need to make responsible moral choices. In this story, Meg Murry, her extraordinary little brother Charles Wallace, and schoolmate Calvin O’Keefe make the acquaintance of eccentric Mrs. Whatsit and friends (who turn out to be extraterrestrial beings). Together they journey through a wrinkle in time, a tesseract, to rescue the Murrys’ missing father from an evil presence (likened by some interpreters to a black hole), and a sinister brain called IT.

Sounder by William H. Armstrong – A landmark in children’s literature, winner of the 1970 Newbery Medal and the basis of an acclaimed film, Sounder traces the keen sorrow and the abiding faith of a poor African-American boy in the 19th-century South.  Angry and humiliated when his sharecropper father is jailed for stealing food for his family, a young black boy grows in courage and understanding by learning to read and through his relationship with his devoted dog Sounder.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien – Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachian – “Did Mama sing every day?” Caleb asks his sister Anna.”Every-single-day,” she answers. “Papa too.”  When their father invites a mail-order bride to come live with them in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by their new mother and hope that she will stay.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – The struggle of thirteen year old Salamance (Sal) to understand and deal with her mother’s disappearance unfolds while on a cross-country trip with her eccentric grandparents. Sal tells them the story of her friend Phoebe whose mother has also left home, but in reality it is her own story. A funny, mysterious, and touching novel.

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck – What happens when Joey and his sister, Mary Alice — two city slickers from Chicago — make their annual summer visits to Grandma Dowdel’s seemingly sleepy Illinois town? August 1929: They see their first corpse, and he isn’t resting easy.   August 1930: The Cowgill boys terrorize the town, and Grandma fights back. August 1931: Joey and Mary Alice help Grandma trespass, poach, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry — all in one day. And there’s more, as Joey and Mary Alice make seven summer trips to Grandma’s — each one funnier than the year before — in self-contained chapters that readers can enjoy as short stories or take together for a rollicking good novel. In the tradition of American humorists from Mark Twain to Flannery O’Connor, popular author Richard Peck has created a memorable world filled with characters who, like Grandma herself, are larger than life and twice as entertaining.

The Dark is Rising Susan Cooper – On the Midwinter Day that is his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers a special gift — that he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. And for the twelve days of Christmas, while the Dark is rising, life for Will is full of wonder, terror, and delight.

Books for Teens

I must admit that when faced with choosing a book for a teenager I often take the easy route and hand them a gift certificate to a book store.  But – if you want to be sure your gift dollars don’t go for chocolate – here are a few suggestions.

1.  John Green is a popular and award winning author for this age.  His books deal with difficult subjects but are wonderfully written.  His most recent is The Fault in our Stars and is the story of two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group. (three hanky story)

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2.  Our first Maynard Reads Together selection The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is back in the news as the film opens.  Dealing with the lives of people living in Germany during WWII, it is an engrossing story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

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3.  Also set during that WWII period, Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity won the YA Edgar award this year.  This heart-in-your-mouth adventure has it all: a complex plot, a vivid sense of place and time, and resonant themes of friendship and courage.

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4.  Another historical mystery/romance is our own Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s in Me – (her latest great review is in the NYT).  “Every now and then, a novel comes along with such an original voice that readers slow down to savor the poetic prose.  This is such a story.  A tale of uncommon elegance, power and originality”  Kirkus, starred review

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5.  Dystopian themes seem very popular with teenagers.  In the mode of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Giver by Lois Lowry, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth is this year’s hot series.  “In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.”

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6.  One more suggestion for people who aren’t avid readers – graphic novels are often a way to ease them into books.  Jeff Smith was recently at the library to talk about his latest novel RASL  “When Rasl, a thief and ex-military engineer, discovers the lost journals of Nikola Tesla, he bridges the gap between modern physics and history’s most notorious scientist. But his breakthrough comes at a price. In this twisting tale of violence, intrigue, and betrayal, Rasl finds himself in possession of humankind’s greatest and most dangerous secret.”  Smith’s earlier books in the BONE series are equally delightful and are now perceived as books for younger readers – that 10-14 age – but were originally written for adults.

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