Staff Picks - 2010 May

Staff Picks May 2010
TinkersTinkers by Paul Harding.

A complex, vivid, and occasionally surreal examination of diffuse family relationships largely told from the viewpoint of a man in the final stages of dying. As his family dutifully tends him, George Washington Crosby drifts in and out of reality. Harding also integrates the troubled lives of Crosby's father and grandfather into the narrative. The prevailing sadness of eminent death that hovers over this novel contrasts starkly with its fierce reaffirmation of life, of tenaciously clinging to the gift of every new day -- and with what a profound regret the prospect of a limited number of tomorrows is finally accepted. ~ Alden Graves
Winston's WarWinston's War by Max Hastings.

Justly admiring yet well balanced reaffirmation of Churchill's greatness as war leader, although his ideas and power became increasingly irrelevant. Among the foremost works of its kind, well timed for current generations with minimal understanding of The War. Hastings at his superb best. ~ Bill Lewis
George, Nicholas and WilhelmGeorge, Nicholas, and Wilhelm by Miranda Carter.

Vivid, entertaining, compelling chronicle of the decline and fall (thank goodness) of authoritarian European monarchy at the start of the 20th century. Should encourage further reading about a fascinating period. ~ Bill Lewis
KnockoutKnockout by Suzanne Somers.

Cancer rates are steadily on the rise- both in the US and in the world (as western culture and its accompanying poor dietary habits- and industrial pollution- continue to spread). And, sadly, the prevailing medical strategy of treating cancer patients by attacking the symptoms (read more) ~ Jon Fine
Making Haste From BabylonMaking Haste From Babylon by Nick Bunker.

Don't be misled. This isn't a conventional history of Plymouth Plantation. Rather, it is a deeply researched, wide ranging and often fascinating study of how the "emigrant dissenters" came to be. Unusual yet effective. ~ Bill Lewis
Hay FeverHay Fever by Angela Miller.

In this charming memoir, Miller recounts her double life as a successful New York literary agent and the almost accidental owner of Consider Bardwell Farm in nearby West Pawlet, producer of award-winning cheeses. A humorous, informative, inspiring book - with recipes. ~ Louise Jones
Destiny DisruptedDestiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary.

Why do the Western and Islamic worlds interpret the history they share so differently? Ansary clearly explains in this engaging, informative and very pertinent book. ~ Louise Jones
Animal FactoryAnimal Factory by David Kirby.

Finally, a book about factory farms that involves the direct negative impact on people, their communities, and the environment. This book doesn't even begin to discuss the animal welfare issues, and it's still packed with unsettling information about the problems with factory farms. It focuses on the stories of three different people and their battles with the CAFOs that come to their communities. ~ Krysta Piccoli
Quilt ArtistryQuilt Artistry by Yoshiko Jinzenji.

An exquisite book for quilters or anyone interested in textile art. Japanese artist Jinzenji's subtle patterns are based on Asian art with wonderful contemporary quilting designs. Both an art book and a how-to book, including patterns for quilts, pillows, tassels and even a silk ribbon hammock. ~ Sarah Knight
FordlandiaFordlandia by Greg Grandin.

In 1927, Henry Ford bought a tract of land the size of Connecticut in the Brazilian Amazon to grow his own rubber and export American culture. But what a mess it became! Bad planning, ignorance, corruption and, especially, Mother Nature led to its downfall. ~ Louise Jones
Last Child in the WoodsLast Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.

For Louv, it is vital for children to have as much unstructured direct experience in nature as possible. With any luck, his message will reach parents, mentors and educators to help kids whose only experience with nature is a video about the rainforest. ~ Stan Hynds
The Singer's GunThe Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel.

A young man whose family deals in stolen goods successfully scams himself into a legitimate middle management job. When he becomes romantically interested in a co-worker, his cousin blackmails him into one last criminal act, and his past and present come together. Quirky characters in a highly enjoyable story. ~ Sarah Knight
Girl In TranslationGirl In Translation by Jean Kwok.

Based on Kowk's life, a captivating tale of Kimberly, a young girl, and her mother's immigrant experiences. Well-to-do in Hong Kong, the mother now works in a sweatshop. Kimberly attends an exclusive private high school on scholarship where she keeps her two lives, including boyfriends, very separate. ~ Sarah Knight
The Map of True PlacesThe Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry.

Good contemporary fiction with strong characters and a delightfully complicated story. Barry introduced us to modern Salem, Massachusetts in The Lace Reader and her new novel returns to the area and to her themes of mental illness and relationships. ~ Karen Frank
The Secret Lives of People in Love:StoriesThe Secret Lives of People in Love: Stories by Simon Van Booy.

Sparse, resonant and unabashedly hopeful, this collection sings. Van Booy has strung together stories distinguished by their vitality and profound humanity. Postcards from our sublime present. ~ Emilia B.
StripStrip by Thomas Perry.

Perry always has three or four plots running simultan-eously, featuring thugs as dumb and confused as Elmore Leonard's and one smart guy who figures it out, yet finally he ties up all of the strands to the reader's delight. ~ Louise Jones
The Poacher's DonThe Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron.

Doiron examines the ties between fathers and sons and the tensions between contemporary Maine and its past in his outstanding debut thriller, featuring compelling characters, exceptional nature writing and an intricate plot. Doiron is editor-in-chief of Down East Magazine. ~ Louise Jones
The Winter VaultThe Winter Vault by Anne Michaels.

The author lays bare souls in this cinematic novel of loss, love and memory. As only a poet can do, she isolates thoughts and feelings and presents pure and vivid images that are almost archetypal. The characters draw close to each other by telling stories of their past and time flows constantly like the rivers that are at the heart of the story. (read more) ~ Karen Frank
A Conversation on Climate Change:
Where Do We Go From Here?
Saturday, June 5th
Join us for a discussion on climate change featuring Bill McKibben, Dianne Dumanoski, and Jeff Goodell on Saturday, June 5 at the Burr and Burton Riley Center for the Arts. Many more details to come.
EaarthThe End of the Long SummerHow To Cool The Planet
The ThrowawaysThe Throwaways by P. J. O'Dwyer.

Based on magical Irish myth, this mesmerizing novel set in a post-apocalyptic era follows a group of exiled children and their mentor. A first novel, beautifully written, exciting, moving and provocative. A sequel is planned. A Shires Press publication. ~ Louise Jones
The Age of OrphansThe Age of Orphans by Laleh Khadivi.

A breathtaking first novel set in Iran during the mid-20th century. A Kurdish boy is conscripted into the shah's army and trained to deny his origins. Khadivi's poetic writing is a marvel of historical fiction and introspection, showing how fear, ambition and brutality destroy the soul. ~ Louise Jones
AgaatAgaat by Marlene Van Niekerk.

This is by far the best book I have read in quite some time! A unique story, intense, complex personalities and relationships sets this book apart from all others. It is a brilliant and haunting book! ~ Liz Barnum
The God of Small ThingsThe God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

With lush, unnerving prose, Roy slowly unfolds the details of the lives of Rahel, her twin brother Estha, and the tragic demise of their family. Love, longing, death, and rebirth are interwoven among the pages of this tale of political and personal upheaval. ~ Cheryl Cornwell
The UntochableThe Untouchable by John Bainville.

Banville's superlative, literate espionage novel is based on the infamous Cambridge spy ring. When the last member of the group, aged and ill, is finally identified, he begins an existential journal of discovery and self-discovery, asking why he spied and who betrayed him - and who he really is. ~ Louise Jones
The Cruel Stars of the NightThe Cruel Stars of the Night by Kjell Eriksson.

An elderly man disappears and two more die suspiciously, initiating the search for a serial killer. This complex, subtle Swedish mystery will involve you until the wrenching and enigmatic end. ~ Louise Jones