I made my list
I checked it twice
These are the books
That are oh so nice!
Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown – triumphant quest for 1936 Olympic gold medal in Berlin
Backyard Parables by Margaret Roach – garden writer shares life philosophy and love of gardening
Fresh off the Boat by Eddie Huang – young chef’s cheeky, irreverent memoir
Longbourn by Jo Baker – enthralling historical fiction from the servants’ point of view.
Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope – smart, updated version of Austen’s classic
Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – autistic young man reaches out to help barmaid find her father
Long Live the King by Fay Weldon – second in author’s delectable Edwardian trilogy
Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller – an 82-year-old American veteran risks his life to save a little boy
The Good House by Ann Leary – untrustworthy but completely endearing main character
Me before You by JoJo Moyes – powerful novel presents difficult moral choices
Keep them handy to enjoy like candy!
A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford
A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership by Wendell Berry
A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William M. Kuhn
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
India Black and the Widow of Windsor by Carol K. Carr
A Christmas Garland by Anne Perry
America’s Other Audubon by Joy Kiser
Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball by R.A. Dickey
Visiting Tom: a Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace by Michael Perry
The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose
Open Heart by Elie Wiesel
America’s Other Audubon by Joy Kiser contains gorgeous hand colored drawings of the nests and eggs of the birds of Ohio. These stunning prints were produced in the late 1800s by Genevieve Jones, a young woman from Circleville, Ohio. The drawings were influenced by the work of John James Audubon, and they are said to rival any of his work for their beauty and scientific accuracy.
The book is completely enthralling. Each time I open it, I find something new and beautiful. If you have a birdwatcher or lover of the natural sciences on your Christmas shopping list, this book would take a place of honor under the tree.
It’s that time of year when so much is added to everyone’s “to do” lists. I often wish the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas would contain little time warps in which I could accomplish everything on my list. I think I have found just the book to help me through the next few weeks. It is The Art of Procrastination by John Perry, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University. The subtitle of this brilliant work is “a guide to effective dawdling, lollygagging and postponing or, getting things done by putting them off.” Sounds just perfect, doesn’t it?
Julia Keller is best known for her career as a journalist with the Chicago Tribune. Her writing is so exceptional that she won a Pulitzer Prize for one of her articles. Now she has tried her hand at writing a mystery, and A Killing in the Hills is exceptional as well. The mystery features Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, West Virginia. Bell is a native of Acker’s Gap in West Virginia and hides a world of hurt behind her serious, professional exterior.
One Saturday morning, three older men were shot dead while eating breakfast in the Acker’s Gap diner. Bell’s high school age daughter, Carla, was the only person to recognize the killer in all the confusion. Carla is shaken and devastated from witnessing the killings, but she tells no one of her knowledge. Her secret leads her into incredible danger. Julia Keller has written a mystery that packs a huge emotional punch and the tense and frightening ending is absolutely perfect.
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, by Wendy Welch, tells the story of the creation of a used bookstore in the hills of Appalachia. (The name Big Stone Gap might sound familiar to you, because it is the small town in Virginia where Adriana Trigiani’s fictional Big Stone Gap series takes place.) This bookstore, however, is real and just bursting with books and activities. It wasn’t always this way. The owners, Wendy Welch and Jack Beck, along with their cat Val-Kyttie, struggled mightily to make their fledgling shop a success.
They put a lot of elbow grease, risk, and heart into their idea. Initially there was a great deal of skepticism from the area residents who simply couldn’t believe that two strangers would pick economically depressed Big Stone Gap to open a store of any kind. They refused to believe that the owners meant to stay. The local Kiwanis chapter was so suspicious of them that they denied Jack membership. But slowly, over the years, the “little bookstore” has become part of the fabric of Big Stone Gap, and Wendy and Jack have found their home, as well.
Last week we had about an inch of snow and my dog was beside himself with happiness. Jack loves the snow! He loves it when I kick it up into the air and he can launch himself at it. As we were heading back home from our walk, I noticed how his small footprints and my big ones were intersecting all the way down the sidewalk. I wonder if we will have a white Christmas? I know Jack is dreaming of one. My top 2011 books were all read and savored in the company of my faithful companion.
Dark Inquiry by Deanna Raybourn
The Call by Yannick Murphy
Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven
Emily Alone by Stewart O’Nan
Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope
Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn
Nightwoods by Charles Frazier
Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly
To be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
South of Superior by Ellen Airgood
I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher (nonfiction)
It’s full steam ahead for the holidays with all their magical delights! The food and music of the season add that special touch to any gathering of friends and family. M.F.K. Fisher writes in An Alphabet for Gourmets: “Gastronomical perfection can be reached in these combinations: one person dining alone, usually upon a couch or a hill side; two people, of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good restaurant; six people, of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good home.”
Here are seven recent cookbooks that the library has purchased to help you attain a semblance of perfection in the kitchen: All About Roasting by Molly Stevens; Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible by Paula Deen; Lidia’s Italy in America by Lidia Bastianich; Food52 Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs; Ruhlman’s Twenty by Michael Ruhlman; Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi; and Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe by Alisa Huntsman.
No matter which of Fisher’s combinations you fall into, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
On the evening of Wednesday, November 16th, the National Book Award winners will be announced at the NBA Benefit Dinner in NYC. The awards are given by the book publishing industry and honor the very best of American literature. Each selected author receives a prize of $10,000.
Since poetry is a special love of mine, I am particularly interested in the Poetry Award. These authors are the finalists for this year’s award: Nikky Finney, Yusef Komunyakaa, Carl Phillips, Adrienne Rich, and Bruce Smith. I wonder which poet will carry home the beautiful crystal sculpture and prize?
If you can’t choose a favorite from among this esteemed group, why not try one of our poetry anthologies? Two of my favorites are edited by none other than Garrison Keillor: Good Poems for Hard Times and Good Poems American Places. He has selected poems heard on The Writer’s Almanac on public radio. These anthologies contain so many beautiful, thought-provoking poems. No matter your taste in poetry, I think you will find a few gems in these books.