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Joan's Picks

Joan Grenier

I am the only daughter of Romeo and Betty Grenier. My father founded the Odyssey in 1963. In 1985 while I was taking the GRE exam the Odyssey burned to the ground. In 1986 the Odyssey was once again the victim of an arsonist. My Dad was 76 at the time and I agreed to help out for a while. Well, somehow “a while” turned into decades and I decided not to pursue graduate school and instead took a different path of lifelong learning. My reading interests are varied. I love literary fiction, Scandinavian mysteries, American history and politics, nature, food, and environmental writing, and now that we have three granddaughters, I am thoroughly enjoying classic and new children’s books.

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Books: 
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Wren's Nest: A Picture Book By Heidi Stemple, Eugenia Nobati (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Heidi Stemple, Eugenia Nobati (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781641707527
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Familius - March 12th, 2024

A lovely picture book which introduces young children to the world of birds and baby sisters. Children learn about nests, binoculars, a variety of birds, hatching of baby birds, and the fledging of baby birds. Granddaughter Wren and her Grandpa share their love of birds and a very special relationship. The illustrations are captivating and unique, including Grandpa’s enormous moustache. The last few pages describe future steps to becoming a citizen scientist.   Ages 3 to 5.


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The Cemetery of Untold Stories: A Novel By Julia Alvarez Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781643753843
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - April 2nd, 2024

One of my favorite authors has written another inspiring novel.  Julia Alvarez is known for strong female characters, anticolonial themes, the struggles of new immigrants to the U.S., and the ruthlessness of the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic. Her protagonist Alma Cruz is a well-known author in the U.S. and upon the death of her father, she inherits land in the Dominican Republic, her homeland. Her idea is to create a cemetery to bury her untold stories and the characters she was unable to immortalize in a published format. This somewhat quirky premise does give the reader pause to think about what happens to all those drafts and manuscripts that never see the light of day.  There are multiple story lines which describe the history of the Dominican Republic and immigration to the U.S. Some are tragic such as Perla, the cemetery’s groundskeeper Filomena’s sister, and Bienvenida, the second wife of Trujillo, who is still controlled by her ruthless ex-husband. There are hilarious scenes when Alma’s sisters, Amparo, Consuelo, and Piedad, come for a visit and are totally baffled by their sister’s cemetery, and they consider an intervention to straighten out Alma.  A beautifully written novel, including Spanish phrases, magical realism, and Dominican culture and history.  Those untold stories live on in this imaginative and remarkable novel.

 


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Finding Home: Words from Kids Seeking Sanctuary By Gwen Agna, Shelley Rotner (Illustrator), Shelley Rotner Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780063304178
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - January 9th, 2024

This amazing book explains why kids and their families are forced to leave their home countries and what they go through to find a new home in our country. Shelley Rotner’s stunning and colorful photographs complement the text, which includes speech balloons from the children. Gwen Agna is an experienced early childhood educator in Northampton MA and besides the age appropriate text, the book also includes “ways to help”, additional resources, and a glossary. This book is an important addition to any home, school, or public library.


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The Light She Feels Inside By Gwendolyn Wallace, Olivia Duchess (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Gwendolyn Wallace, Olivia Duchess (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781728239798
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky - October 3rd, 2023

A wonderful picture book about a young Black girl, Maya, who sometimes glows with the people she loves, but other times is sad when confronted by difficulties. Ms. Scott, her local librarian, introduces Maya to women who were ancestors and were leaders in their communities. Maya reads books about Ida B. Wells, Nina Simone, Fannie Lou Hamer, and others, and their lives inspire young Maya. Included among these women leaders are members of the Combahee River Collective, a group of Black feminists and lesbians in Boston. They include Barbara Smith, a 1969 Mount Holyoke College graduate and much admired Black feminist leader. The statement that the Collective published in 1977 is still read and discussed today. This is an important community building book for young readers.


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Murder at la Villette (An Aimée Leduc Investigation #21) By Cara Black Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781641294478
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soho Crime - March 5th, 2024

Aimée LeDuc is racing around Paris’s 19th arrondissement searching for the murderer of her ex, Melac, even while she is the main suspect the police are looking for. Aimėe utilizes her cunning, clothing changes, and connections to follow her leads through la Villette with a variety of pursuers not far behind. Her talented partners René and Saj are indispensable and they all have advanced technical skills that aid in solving this convoluted case which now involves multiple murders, a number of corrupt flics and history dating back to the Nazi occupation of France. Cara Black gives us another fast paced thriller (her 21st installment), but be sure to keep track of the numerous characters which include several that are not at all who we first believe there are.


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The Road from Belhaven: A novel By Margot Livesey Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780593537046
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - February 6th, 2024

I loved Margot Livesey's description of life on a farm in Victorian Scotland. The daily hard work to plant and harvest the crops and tend to the various animals. Not an easy life and for Lizzie Craig, an orphan living with her grandparents, the excitement of the city (Glasgow) is a bigger draw. However, Lizzie faces difficult choices as a young woman with limited worldly experience and coming of age during a time when her options are limited. Love takes many forms in this tale and Margo Livesey with great skill and care gives her readers insight into how her characters respond to the many forms of love they experience.


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The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 By Rashid Khalidi Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250787651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Metropolitan Books - January 26th, 2021

This book by Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi was essential reading for helping me to understand the century long struggle for Palestinian human rights and nationhood. Khalidi describes the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which Palestinians are not mentioned, the British Mandate, the 1947 Nakba or Catastrophe where 80% of the Arab population (at least 720,000 people) were forced out of their homes never to return, and the continuing conflicts and wars between Israel and the Palestinians. Khalidi interweaves extensive historical documentation with his own family’s history and produces a compelling and informative narrative. I highly recommend this book.


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Prophet Song: A Novel (Booker Prize Winner) By Paul Lynch Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802163011
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - December 5th, 2023

 Authoritarians take over Ireland in this Booker Prize 2023 winning book. People disappear never to be heard from again. Food becomes scarce. The military attacks civilians with bombardments. Eilish Stack’s husband, a trade union leader for the teachers, is one of the first to be taken into custody. Eilish is the mother of four and a helper for her ageing father who stubbornly won’t come live with her. The future in Dublin is uncertain and frightening.  Should she leave or wait it out? Paranoia is widespread. Who can you trust? This book deeply affected me. I understood the dilemmas Eilish confronted and the impossible choices she had to make and it shook me. This is a powerful book that I highly recommend.


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Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism By Rachel Maddow Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780593444511
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown - October 17th, 2023

Rachel Maddow’s new book is the history of American fascism before, during, and a few years after World War II. She describes some of the major pro-fascist players. Father Charles Coughlin not only hosted a popular radio show, but was also an anti-Semite and pro-Nazi who died a wealthy man. George Sylvester Viereck for years a Nazi spy paid by Hitler’s government to spread pro German propaganda in an attempt to keep the U.S. out of the war. Viereck recruited U.S. members of Congress to his cause, including illegally using their franking (postage) privileges to send out Nazi propaganda. However, even more importantly Prequel details the work of American anti-fascists, many are unknown to most Americans. They were investigators, journalists, and attorneys who were deeply committed to preserving democracy. These patriots include Leon Lewis, Henry Hoke, Dillard Stocks, William Power Maloney and O. John Rogge, all who persevered in searching for the truth despite huge obstacles. This book is relevant to our current situation where authoritarian impulses are once again on the rise.

 


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A History of Burning By Janika Oza Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781538724248
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 2nd, 2023

A phenomenal debut that tells the story of an Indian family and the trials they faced over a century. The story begins with the kidnapping of Pirbhai from an Indian village to East Africa. The British bring Indians from one of their colonies to another colony to build the East African Railway under brutal conditions and at the same time causing the destruction of local villages. Fast forward to 1972 and the murderous dictatorship of Idi Amin in Uganda. East Asians who were born in Uganda and have lived there for generations are expelled from the country and given 90 days to leave. Pirbhai’s granddaughters are caught up in the chaos and turmoil and end up on three different continents. Janika Oza has written a remarkable book detailing the complexities of British colonialism and post-colonialism.


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The Covenant of Water (Oprah's Book Club) By Abraham Verghese Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780802162175
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - May 2nd, 2023

Another remarkable novel from Abraham Verghese. Set predominantly in Kerala on the southwest coast of India, but also in the city of Madras. In 700 pages Verghese chronicles the first seven decades of the 20th century through the lives of his numerous characters. The astounding scope of the novel includes themes of family, love, secrets, sacrifice, addiction, death, faith, medicine, community, caste, colonialism and post-colonialism, the landholders and the landless, the bonds of female friendship and the changing status of women. This book had me waking up early to read before work and staying up late to continue immersing myself in a story I never wanted to end. A stunningly beautiful book.


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Small Mercies: A Detective Mystery By Dennis Lehane Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780062129482
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - April 25th, 2023

This could be Dennis Lehane’s best book. Small Mercies is much more than a typical mystery. The setting is Boston in the summer of 1974 right before the court-ordered desegregation busing of children from South Boston and Roxbury. Lehane skillfully captures the protests, racism, and anger in South Boston partly because he watched it as a 9-year-old in nearby Dorchester. He describes through the story of Mary Pat Fennessy, the complexities, the irrationalities, the contradictions, and short sightedness of white rage, as well as, the deep love for her missing daughter. Lehane exposes the role of the Irish mob not only in the protests, but the drug trade they dominate.


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We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir By Raja Shehadeh Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9781635423648
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press - March 28th, 2023

Raja Shehadeh is a well know Palestinian writer, lawyer, and activist. In his memoir, Shehadeh shares how in going through his deceased father’s papers, he realizes how little he understood his father’s life and the important work he did. His father Aziz was murdered in 1985. Aziz, a well-respected lawyer, spent decades fighting for the rights of Palestinians, opposing British rule, Jordanian rule, and the state of Israel. Aziz and his family were forced out of their home in Jaffa in 1948, always expecting to return once the war was over. They never were allowed to return. A fate they shared with over 750,000 displaced Palestinians. The impact of the many legal and political struggles and imprisonment took a heavy toll on Aziz. Raja deeply regrets that he did not understand more clearly his father’s anger and disappointment and how that affected their relationship. A powerful memoir that also examines the impact of historical events on family relationships.


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Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine By Hannah Moushabeck, Reem Madooh (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Hannah Moushabeck, Reem Madooh (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781797202051
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - March 28th, 2023

Homeland is a moving story about three sisters who learn about the birthplace of their father’s family.  At bedtime their father tells them stories of visiting his grandparents in the Old City of Jerusalem in Palestine. He and his grandfather stroll through the streets and greet the many vendors and shop owners. Colorful artwork depicts the variety of wares for sale, including olive oil soap with rose water, za’atar, and embroidered textiles. They visit the very busy family café and lend a helping hand. As the three sisters become sleepy, they ask to see the key to the family’s home. And as they turn off the light they hope for return to their homeland. One of the first picture books to tell the story of Palestinian refugees and beautifully illustrated with a glossary. The author’s note describes the forced removal of her father’s extended family in May 1948. This book is an important addition to children’s literature.


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Poverty, by America By Matthew Desmond Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593239919
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Crown - March 21st, 2023

In simple terms Matthew Desmond’s thesis on why poverty persists in America is that “the biggest government subsidies are not directed at families trying to climb out of poverty, but instead go to ensure that well-off families stay well off.” He documents (with over 90 pages of footnotes) how America came to have a lopsided welfare system and why we need to become poverty abolitionists. A few highlights: Today the wealth gap between Black and white families is as large as it was in 1960. In 2020 the federal government spent more than $193 billion on homeowner subsidies (primarily mortgage interest deduction) as compared to $53 billion for low income families. This book is so important for all Americans. Please read it.


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Lucy by the Sea: A Novel By Elizabeth Strout Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593446065
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Random House - September 20th, 2022

Elizabeth Strout gifts us another evocative Lucy Barton tale. Lucy’s ex-husband and father of her two daughters, William insists that Lucy leave NYC in the early days of COVID. He is a scientist and fears the deadly possibilities of the pandemic. Reluctantly, she agrees to head to Maine with him, expecting to return in a few weeks. Remember those uncertain times and our misplaced optimisms from March 2020?  I certainly do. Strout details those constant adjustments that Lucy and William (and all of us) made to survive COVID. And they are in a place where they know hardly anyone. A thoughtful and engaging novel about how old lovers and still caring friends support each other through the aging process and a dreadful pandemic. At times a quiet book, but with a surprising ending.


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The Writers: Portraits By Laura Wilson, Charles McGrath (Foreword by), Louise Erdrich (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Laura Wilson, Charles McGrath (Foreword by), Louise Erdrich (Introduction by)
$45.00
ISBN: 9780300257786
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - October 18th, 2022

A stunning collection of black and white photos of writers, including some of my favorite authors. Photographer Laura Wilson grew up in Massachusetts, but has lived in Texas for decades. Some photos are portraits, but more are candid shots of writers either at home, studio, outdoors, or in their communities. This project took twelve years and thankfully some of these photos were taken before several writers passed away, including Gabriel García Márquez, Sam Shepard, Seamus Heaney, Carlos Fuentes, Jim Harrison, and several more. We also see Edwidge Danticat in Little Haiti, Miami; Richard Ford in his writing studio (a former lobster shed); Bret Bennett with her family in San Diego; Cormac McCarthy with pals in Santa Fe; Margaret Atwood in her garden; Ta-Nehisi Coates in NYC; and Sadie Smith unpacking her kitchen in a new apartment in NYC. All book lovers will be thrilled with this marvelous book.


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My People: Five Decades of Writing About Black Lives By Charlayne Hunter-Gault Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780063135390
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Harper - October 11th, 2022

An amazing collection of Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s journalism over the last 50 years. She desegregated the all-white University of Georgia (along with Hamilton Homes) in 1962, which caused a riot by students and must have taken enormous courage on her part. She was a trailblazer in many ways, often being the only African American, or one of just a few, at the New York Times and the New Yorker, and then she joined “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” in 1978. She wrote about Black life in many of her pieces, from the South to Harlem to South Africa. History comes alive in these pages. Signed copies available.


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Read Island By Nicole Magistro, Alice Feagan (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Nicole Magistro, Alice Feagan (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781736523308
Availability: Not in Stock - Backordered
Published: Read Island, LLC - October 1st, 2021

Books and readers are the topics of this wonderful rhyming picture book.  An island made of books is perfect for a menagerie of animals who are enjoying story time. Mythical sea wolf, rare spirit bear, along with a gang of elks and other animals join together and are enthralled by books. Illustrations made out of collage are enchanting with an abundance of colors and things to discover within the pictures. How marvelous a book about books and reading for the very young.

Perfect for 3 to 8 year olds.


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Solito: A Memoir By Javier Zamora Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593498064
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Hogarth - September 6th, 2022

I wish every American would read this book. It tells the story of nine-year-old Javier who in 1999 travels 3,000 miles from El Salvador to be reunited with his parents in the United States. His parents fled their country in part due to the U.S.-backed military takeover in El Salvador. This harrowing memoir recounts the 9-weeks journey (it was supposed to take 2 weeks) by boat, bus, truck, and the dangerous walk through the desert. We learn of the many difficulties, delays, and dangers along the way. However, it is also a story of love and the strangers that cared for him and without whom he might not have survived. Especially important are Chino and Patricia who become his guardians and Clara his sister. This newly formed familia supported each other and due to their determined resilience they made it across the border.


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Clark and Division (A Japantown Mystery #1) By Naomi Hirahara Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781641293693
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soho Crime - June 28th, 2022

More than a murder mystery, Clark and Division is a historical novel set in L.A., Manzanar, and Chicago during World War 2 recounts the lives of Japanese Americans. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Ito family is forced to leave L.A. (and their possessions) and is incarcerated in Manzanar. In 1944 the family is released and once again relocated. This time to Chicago! Hirahara describes the racism and sexism the family confronts in Chicago and exposes an awful part of our history. I highly recommend this detailed historical mystery.


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Jacques Pépin Art Of The Chicken: A Master Chef's Paintings, Stories, and Recipes of the Humble Bird By Jacques Pépin Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780358654513
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harvest - September 27th, 2022

A unique compilation of Jacques Pépin’s stories, recipes, and artwork of the chicken. The artwork is whimsical and some very good. I did not know that Jacques Pépin has had a lifelong obsession with chickens and this book details that love and obsession from learning how to cook chickens at an early age in rural France to being trained in the best restaurants, cooking with other chefs and celebrities and creating the dozens of colorful chicken paintings which adorned this book. The stories are fascinating and often humorous and one can learn how to prepare any part of the chicken.


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The Mediterranean Dish: 120 Bold and Healthy Recipes You'll Make on Repeat: A Mediterranean Cookbook By Suzy Karadsheh Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9780593234273
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarkson Potter - September 13th, 2022

Filled with beautiful photography and delicious recipes this is a cookbook that should be in everyone’s kitchen. We made the Spanish-style garlic shrimp with potatoes and it was easy and scrumptious. There is a very helpful chapter “my Mediterranean pantry” for anyone new to ingredients used in Mediterranean cooking. Next up for us to try include: caramelized cauliflower, onion, and parsley eggah (Egyptian frittata), olive oil and garlic spaghetti with artichokes and olives, harissa, red lentil and tomato soup, and skillet chicken cutlets with artichokes and mushrooms. There are many more recipes we want to try; I practically have the entire book flagged with bookmarks.  Enjoy the many flavors of the Mediterranean.


The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor) Cover Image
By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor)
$38.00
ISBN: 9780593230572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - November 16th, 2021

This book should be required reading for everyone. Many of our history textbooks have mythologized the founding of our country and omitted or only scratched the surface of the over four centuries of injustice and inequities perpetrated on enslaved Africans, Indigenous people, and their descendants in the United States. In this amazing group of essays, stories, and poetry, every reader will encounter important information that they were never taught and is essential to understanding our history and the current moment.


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Woman of Light: A Novel By Kali Fajardo-Anstine Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780525511335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - April 18th, 2023

The American West told brilliantly through the lives of five generations of a Native American and Mexican family. Segregation, discrimination, and the brutal violence of the Klan are ever present. The strong, hardworking, and caring women of these marginalized people are central to the survival of their families and communities. Partially set in Denver in the 1930s, this story is not the version that is usually taught in standard textbooks about the West. However, this is a story that should be told and should be read.


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How I Survived a Chinese
$26.95
ISBN: 9781644211489
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Seven Stories Press - February 22nd, 2022

It is nearly impossible to know what has happened to nearly two million Uyghurs from Xinjiang who have disappeared into Chinese jails, “reeducation” camps, or forced labor factories.  The author spent over two and a half years under horrendous conditions in Chinese jails and “reeducation” camps on trumped up charges. These facilities are well guarded and not open to journalists. We are fortunate that Gulbahar has courageously written down her story. It is not easy to read, but it is so important to bring this situation out in the open with hopes that this genocide can be exposed and stopped.


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The Naked Don't Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees By Matthieu Aikins Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063058590
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - February 14th, 2023

In this important book the reader learns the various reasons why refugees are forced to leave their countries and the myriad difficulties they face in their travels to seek asylum and a better life, including unreliable and criminal smugglers, unsanitary and dangerous camps and jails, running out of money, discrimination, and even death. Investigative reporter Matthieu Aikins, who can pass as Afghan, leaves behind his passport to join his friend Omar on the underground journey with Afghan refugees. Aikins is an award-winning journalist and gives us an inside view of the situations refuges face worldwide.


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The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven By Nathaniel Ian Miller Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316592581
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - October 4th, 2022

I loved this debut novel set primarily in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago, during the decades between the two World Wars. The landscape is beautiful in its starkness, but also harsh, especially during the four months of darkness. Sven  first arrives to be a miner and later survives as a trapper in a remote fjord. Survival skills and luck are absolutely essential in this challenging environment. Despite the isolation, Sven has a group of loyal friends and dogs who enrich his life and the novel. Nathaniel Ian Miller’s masterful portrayal of this far removed land will fascinate readers.


The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America By Carol Anderson Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781635574289
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - March 7th, 2023

Carol Anderson’s thesis is that the Second Amendment is Anti-Black and so structurally flawed that it can never guarantee human rights for African Americans.  Anderson in her thoroughly documented book, tells the story of the Second Amendment and its negative impact on African Americans beginning in colonial times, through the war for independence, the ante-bellum era, the Civil War, the Black Codes, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and up to the case of Kyle Rittenhouse. I have read three of Carol Anderson’s books and I highly recommend all of them. They are “must reads” for all Americans to understand our complicated history.


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Damnation Spring By Ash Davidson Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781982144418
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 3rd, 2022

This debut novel is set in the timber country of northern California in the late 1970s. The gigantic Redwood forests are being cut at a rapid rate. The work is dirty and dangerous, but provides a decent livelihood for the surrounding communities and has for generations. Greedy timber companies are in such a hurry to exploit the remaining forests that they spray deadly herbicides from helicopters. However, the herbicides are not only killing brush, but people are getting sick and fish are dying. Miscarriages and birth defects are happening too often, along with bloody noses, cancers, and other health issues.

The Yurok people have fishing rights on the river and they have fished salmon for thousands of years, but the herbicides are affecting the fish and mudslides from clear cutting are causing silt build up in the river and the fish are disappearing. Environmentalists are protesting against the continued logging.  A powerful story about the clash between what work is available and the impact that work has on the environment for the current and future generations. This is a story that is all too familiar, whether it is paper mills in Maine, or ancient redwood trees in California.

Ash Davidson writes with deep empathy for her characters and the dilemmas they confront. Characters that we love and some we get very angry with.  This is a love story, a story of a tight-knit community confronting difficult choices, and a powerful story that is so relevant for our times.


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Transient Desires: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery By Donna Leon Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780802158185
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Grove Press - March 15th, 2022

One of my favorite mystery writers, Donna Leon, has written another fantastic (her 30th) Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery.  Venice is one of the main characters, along with Guido and his family, and Guido’s fellow officers at the Questura. My personal favorite characters (along with Guido) are Neapolitan Commissario Claudia Griffoni and Signorina Elettra. In this book the Coast Guard and Guido’s team work together to apprehend smugglers and to liberate their cargo. Another expose of the underbelly of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.


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The Undocumented Americans By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399592706
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - April 6th, 2021

The author is undocumented and on DACA. Traveling to a variety of cities Cornéjo Víllavícencío interviews a number of undocumented people who are living in the shadows throughout our country. They are indispensable workers, often working for low wages in dangerous jobs. They are the people who cleaned up after 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. They are day laborers and factory workers. They are Flint residents unable to quality for clean water supplies. They are in sanctuary in churches, hoping to avoid deportation. As immigrants they are easy targets for exploitation. A powerful and heartbreaking book which demands that we work together to end this inhumanity.


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A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman's Harrowing Escape from the Nazis By Françoise Frenkel, Patrick Modiano (Preface by) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501199851
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - August 4th, 2020

A fascinating rediscovered memoir of a dedicated bookseller and her harrowing escape from the Nazis, first in Germany and later in France. A Jewish woman from Poland who studied at the Sorbonne and fell in love with the French world of books, Frenkel decides to open a French language bookstore in Berlin in 1921. La Maison du Livre soon became an intellectual hub and as the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, a target for their harassment. Forced to flee after Kristallnacht in 1938, she arrives in Paris and then must flee again to the south of France. With the help of friends and strangers she survives and finally reaches safety in Switzerland. Written in 1945, this book was out of print for over sixty years.


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A Burning: A novel By Megha Majumdar Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780525658696
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Knopf - June 2nd, 2020

The simple choices we make often have unexpected dire consequences. Megha Majumdar’s stunning debut novel details how these choices and the lack of honesty and morality destroy a young Muslim girl from the slums. Jivan is a sales clerk at Pantalons, hoping her new job will lead her out of poverty. Her social media post decrying police inaction during a terrorist attack lands her in prison. Two acquaintances could help her with an alibi and support her character as a good student. Lovely is an intersex hijara and is hoping for a big break to reach stardom in Bollywood. Jivan is her English tutor. PT Sir is Jivan’s PE teacher who is bored with life and teaching. An opportunist, he is recruited by a right-wing party and his lies produce horrendous consequences. The age old themes of innocence, betrayal, lies, abuse of power and opportunism are brilliantly portrayed in a timeless story set in modern India. 


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My Friend Earth: (Earth Day Books with Environmentalism Message for Kids, Saving Planet Earth, Our Planet Book) By Patricia MacLachlan, David Diaz (Illustrator), Francesca Sanna (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Patricia MacLachlan, David Diaz (Illustrator), Francesca Sanna (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9780811879101
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Chronicle Books - February 25th, 2020

I love this book!  The Earth is a brown-skinned woman who tends to a variety of animals of all sizes and environments, including birds, zebras, reindeer, horses, polar bears and more. The illustrations are magnificent with die cuts, flaps, and curved pages. Beauty and mystery come to together in perfect harmony to celebrate our earth. (Ages 4-7)


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The Night Watchman: Pulitzer Prize Winning Fiction By Louise Erdrich Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780062671196
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - March 23rd, 2021

This novel exposes yet another attempt by the U.S. government to take away Native American land and identity during the 1950s. Erdrich’s grandfather fought against this “termination” legislation as a tribal chairman in rural North Dakota. The main character, Thomas Wazhushk, a night watchman in a jewel bearing plant, is based on Erdrich’s grandfather. Thomas’s niece Patrice is the other main character and a favorite of mine. Smart, independently minded, and feisty, she journeys to Minneapolis to search for her older sister who vanished in the underbelly of the city. A varied cast of characters reveal the close family and tribal ties amidst the limited options the community faces as treaties are broken and their land stolen.


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Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War (The Henry Roe Cloud Series on American Indians and Modernity) By Lisa Brooks Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780300244328
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - February 19th, 2019

Lisa Brooks, winner of the Bancroft Prize and Amherst College professor of English and American Studies, presents a detailed account of how extractive colonialism became settler colonialism and how multiple tribes resisted the attempts to destroy their way of life and their communities. Native people did not vanish, but rather settlers disrupted their horticulture and fishing and took land through questionable deeds. Reading this book gave me a deeper understanding of the real history of early colonial New England which Native peoples called ndakinna or “our land” the place “to which we belong.”


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Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive  Industry on Earth By Rachel Maddow Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780525575474
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Crown - October 1st, 2019

This is the most important book I read this year. The oil and gas industriesare destroying our environment, undermining democracy at home and abroad by paying off politicians, propping up corrupt despots around the world, and getting very rich off their exploitation of people and planet. This information packed book covers many topics including:

● One hundred years of U.S. government subsidies for the oil and gas industries.

● Earthquake swarms in Oklahoma caused by fracking

● The truth about Putin (probably the wealthiest man in the world) and his kleptocracy, which is causing great harm to the Russian people, and the prime reason for the Russian cyber attacks on America and other countries.

● The devastating consequences for the people of Equatorial Guinea and other poor countries where a few elites abscond with oil and gas revenues and payoffs are at the expense of the majority of the citizens. 

Please read this book. Pass it on and work to insure clean energy for future generations.


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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel By Ocean Vuong Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780525562047
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 1st, 2021

How to describe On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous?  It is a novel about the impact and the aftermath of war, including how PTSD not only is devastating for combatants, but also for civilians and their descendants. It is a novel about the complexities of families and the love and pain they share. It is a coming of age novel and the many emotions of first love.  It is a novel about immigration and otherness in America. It is a novel about race and class in America. It is a novel about the powerful and the powerless. It is a novel about poverty and addiction. It is a novel that had me stopping to re-read a sentence or a paragraph, so that I might think more deeply about Ocean’s imagery and his profound understanding of the human condition.  The honesty of this book is at times heartbreaking, but despite the pain, it is love that comes through as a central theme and stays with the many readers of this important novel.


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The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail By Tim Voors (Editor), Gestalten (Editor) Cover Image
By Tim Voors (Editor), Gestalten (Editor)
$30.00
ISBN: 9783899559774
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Gestalten - June 12th, 2019

Tim Voors hails from the Netherlands and is an art director at an advertising agency. He has been married for 20 years and has three children. At 44 years old he begins a six month hike along the Pacific Crest Trail—2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada passing through three states—California, Oregon, and Washington.  The book includes spectacular photos, lovely watercolors and line drawings, and painted maps. His diary details the many thru- hikers and trail angels he meets, along with the physical and mental challenges he confronts. At first being alone is daunting, but soon Tim comes to embrace the space that aloneness gives him to slow down and think deeply about his life. A fascinating book on a journey most of us will not take. Thank you to Tim Voors, whose trail name is Van Go, for sharing his amazing story with all of us. 


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A Woman Is No Man: A Read with Jenna Pick By Etaf Rum Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062699770
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Harper Perennial - February 4th, 2020

Etaf Rum’s debut novel delves into the lives of Palestinian women not only under occupation, but also in the diaspora, primarily in the United States. Violence and liberation are central themes of this novel. There is the violence of the occupation and its devastating impact on Palestinian women and men. Additionally Etaf Rum pulls the curtain back on the violence and oppression of patriarchy, exposing arranged marriages and domestic violence which have been shrouded in silence and personal shame, not unlike many other cultures.  This is a rare and bold Arab-American novel about female oppression and liberation.


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Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story By Lesléa Newman, Amy June Bates Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781419727474
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Abrams Books for Young Readers - February 5th, 2019

The year is 1900. At the last minute Gittel’s mother is not allowed by a health inspector to immigrate to America. Nine year-Gittel must travel alone and this is her story. Kind strangers help Gittel find her family in America. This is a moving tale of immigration based on Leslea Newman’s family and friends. Included in the book is an author’s note with family history and photos, along with a glossary of Yiddish words. The watercolor illustrations are lovely and eye-catching. Beautiful borders and endpapers enhance the wonderful design of the book.

Grades 2 to 5


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Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country By Pam Houston Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780393241020
Availability: Not in Stock - Contact to Order
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 29th, 2019

Pam Houston’s childhood was dominated by an abusive father and a loving, but alcoholic mother. Home was an elusive concept until her thirties when she purchased a 120 acre ranch in Creede, Colorado, whose population was under 700. The ranch is located at 9,000 feet in high mountain meadows with a spectacular view of snow-covered 12,000 feet peaks. Pam puts down roots and gathers a menagerie of beloved animals, including horses, donkeys, Icelandic sheep, and Irish wolfhounds. In order to pay the mortgage and keep the animals fed and healthy, she must travel to teach around the country and around the world. Ranch hands must be hired and paid to keep everything working. Blizzards, forest fires, sick animals are all part of owning the ranch, but more important is the beauty, joy, hope, and the love for a place to call home.


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Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century By Jessica Bruder Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393356311
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 4th, 2018

The U.S. has the most unequal society of the developed countries according to the World Bank and other international economic forecasting organizations. What has happened to some Americans who were hit hard by the 2008 recession and other circumstances such as job losses, ill health, or personal issues? Jessica Bruder observes a world of nomads that most of us are not aware of. Many nomads are older Americans who worked hard their entire life and unexpectedly lost their homes and middle class status.  They are now living in vans, converted trucks, and RVs. They are “workcampers” for Amazon during the holidays, harvest beets in the Dakotas, work at state parks as hosts, and do other low paying part-time jobs. The exploitation of these workers is horrendous. They are very clever and able to eke out an existence that barely keeps them fed and clothed. They are the victims of our broken and corrupt social order. Read this book for a better understanding of what happens to our shrinking middle class.


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Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? By Bill McKibben Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781250178268
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - April 16th, 2019

I have been reading Bill McKibben for the last 30 years and he is one of the best writers on climate change and the widespread impact of global warming. He brings together scientific reports and journalistic articles across many disciplines and from around the globe and presents this material in a coherent and accessible manner. And although the situation is dire, there is still hope for our grandchildren and future generations. But we must educate ourselves, join together, and fight for our planet Earth. Read this book, pass it on, and work for environmental justice.


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The Age of Light: A Novel By Whitney Scharer Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316524087
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown and Company - February 5th, 2019

A young Lee Miller arrives in Paris in 1929. Previously in NYC she was a successful model. Now she would prefer to be the photographer rather than in front of the camera. Paris in the 1930s is a magnet for writers and artists. Lee meets the already successful artist Man Ray and arranges to be his assistant in exchange for him teaching her photography. A passionate love affair develops. Lee’s photographic skills improve to challenge her lover and mentor. Jealousy, male ego, and possessiveness are obstacles to Lee Miller’s artistic development and she must make difficult choices. In clear and compassionate prose Whitney Scharer describes the struggles, insecurities, and contradictions that Lee Miller confronted and her evolution to be a world renowned photographer and wartime journalist.  This is historical fiction at its best.


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Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive By Stephanie Land, Barbara Ehrenreich (Foreword by) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316505093
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Legacy Lit - January 21st, 2020

There are tens of millions of working poor people in this country. Many are invisible to other Americans or, worse, looked down on for their desperate need of federal assistance. Stephanie Land shares with us in painful detail her account of how as a working poor single mother she struggles to keep a roof over her and her daughter's heads. How they lived on the edge of homelessness and what it is like to hope that there is enough money for food at the end of each month. How it tears the heart apart not to be able to give her daughter a secure life. How back breaking, exhausting, and low paying it is to be a house cleaner. Stephanie survives and reaches her goal of getting a college education and becoming a writer. We are left wondering how many other working poor are unable to reach their goals. This is a book everyone should read. 


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Virgil Wander By Leif Enger Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780802128782
Availability: Not in Stock - Contact to Order
Published: Grove Press - October 2nd, 2018

On the first page of this novel Virgil Wander’s car skids off the highway, landing in Lake Superior and sinking fast. However, Virgil’s luck is with him that day because a local salvager happens to be beachcombing and was able to pull Virgil out and prevent a watery death. Virgil suffers a mild traumatic brain injury that the neurologist expects to be short term. For now he has memory and language gaps. Virgil lives in the once economically vibrant town of Greenstone, Minnesota, and runs a movie house. Leif Enger’s characters are quirky and generally kind hearted. It is a place where everyone knows each other and where those who have stayed have a deep affection for their town, despite the loss of the mine and a once busy port. Fans of Richard Russo will enjoy this story of a small town in the upper Midwest. 


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The Wonderling By Mira Bartók, Mira Bartók (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Mira Bartók, Mira Bartók (Illustrator)
$21.99
ISBN: 9780763691219
Availability: Not in Stock - Backordered
Published: Candlewick - September 26th, 2017

Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward & Misbegotten Creatures is a horrible orphanage where we meet our main character. He is a creature who does not know his real name and is called Number 13 by the nasty Miss Carbunkle and her nearly as nasty right-hand Mr. Sneezeweed. Number 13 is renamed Arthur by his new and trusted friend Trinket. Arthur is a fox-like groundling who stands upright, has no tail, and is missing an ear. This book is filled with many adventures as Arthur and Trinket escape from the orphanage and come across good and evil creatures. Arthur’s goodness persists and along with a string of friends, they are triumphant in the end. Mira Bartok has written a brilliant debut with her lovely artwork throughout. I can’t wait for my granddaughters to read this splendidly imagined story.


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The Women in the Castle: A Novel By Jessica Shattuck Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062563668
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: William Morrow - March 28th, 2017

Three German women react in very different  ways to the rise of Nazism-resisting, embracing, and avoiding.  They experience the horrors of the war including death, imprisonment, separation from family, and near starvation. With an inner strength they did not know they possessed, they manage to survive, although with lasting scars. The power of Jessica Shattuck’s story and writing illuminates for the reader a more complex understanding of what civilians experience living under an oppressive and cruel regime, as well as, the shattered civil society that remains after the war has ended. One of the finest example of historical fiction in recent years.


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Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers By Bob Eckstein, Garrison Keillor (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Bob Eckstein, Garrison Keillor (Foreword by)
$22.00
ISBN: 9780553459272
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarkson Potter - October 4th, 2016

The New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein has brilliantly illustrated independent bookstores from around the world, including several that are no longer in business. The colorful paintings are accompanied by quirky and amusing stories about writers, customers, and booksellers. This fascinating selection of seventy five bookstores includes several that I have visited, others I have heard of, but a good number that are new to me. The book has an interesting format, with a flip up jacketless hard cover that reveals horizontal pages. And after you have enjoyed the visual and written description of the seventy five bookstores, there are endnotes and miscellany to peruse. This is a delightful book for any bibliophile.


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Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart By Krista Halverson (Editor), Jeannette Winterson (Foreword by), Sylvia Whitman (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Krista Halverson (Editor), Jeannette Winterson (Foreword by), Sylvia Whitman (Afterword by)
$34.95
ISBN: 9791096101009
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Shakespeare and Company Paris - September 27th, 2016

I loved this book!  It traces the history of one of the most famous bookstores in the world—Shakespeare and Company in Paris. The editor Krista Halverson searched through the extensive archives of the shop and pulled together hundreds of photos, poems, newspaper articles, ephemera, and reminiscences, giving the reader a spectacular portrait of this iconic bookshop. George Whitman, an American expat, opened the shop in 1951 after the original Sylvia Beach shop had been closed for 10 years. The bookshop has been a haven for writers from the Beats to present day. In exchange for helping out people can sleep in the bookshop. Over 30,000 tumbleweeds, as they are called, have been nocturnal guests! 


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Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape By Lauret Savoy Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781619028258
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint - September 13th, 2016

This book is a brilliant and unique musing on American history and landscape. Lauret Savoy is a mixed race woman and professor of geology and environmental studies. Her search for her ancestors leads her to landscapes, including borderlands of the southwest, the Grand Canyon, Washington D.C., and her birthplace in California. Inevitably the role of race in American history is part of her family’s history. Savoy details the inaccuracies, silences, and omissions throughout American history, including the Black Codes in Washington D.C. and South Carolina, land grabs from Mexico and Native peoples, and the disappearance of African American towns. An important book as we struggle to understand and overcome the wrongs of history and the impact on our current lives. 


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Ada Twist, Scientist: A Picture Book (The Questioneers) By Andrea Beaty, David Roberts (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Andrea Beaty, David Roberts (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781419721373
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Abrams Books for Young Readers - September 6th, 2016

This is a marvelous collaboration between writer and artist. Beaty’s rhyming story about a spunky and curious little girl named Ada Twist is a treat to read. Illustrator David Roberts creates amazing and detailed drawings to enhance the text. Girl Power Rocks!


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Words in Transit: Stories of Immigrants By Ilan Stavans (Editor) Cover Image
By Ilan Stavans (Editor)
$32.34
ISBN: 9781625342195
Availability: Not in Stock - Contact to Order
Published: New England Public Radio - August 11th, 2016

We often hear mention of immigrants and refugees in the news, but we don’t often hear their voices or their stories. This book shares the oral histories of twenty-eight immigrants and refugees to western New England, many living in the Pioneer Valley. Some heartbreaking stories portray harrowing escapes from either war torn countries or desperate economic conditions. Others describe the pain and confusion of being an outsider. All give us important insight into the lives of immigrants and refugees. The proceeds from this book go to scholarships for immigrant students at Holyoke Community College.


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A Great Reckoning: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #12) By Louise Penny Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781250022134
Availability: Not in Stock - Out of Print
Published: Minotaur Books - August 30th, 2016

Our beloved Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is brought out of retirement to be the Commander of the Sûreté police training academy. And as in the past, he is investigating corruption and brutality.

There are many mysteries to solve, but most pressing is who killed the corrupt, exploitative, and arrogant Sûreté professor Serge Leduc? There are also the secrets about a WW I map found in the dead professor’s room, a map that Gamache gave to four of the cadets. Are they now in danger or are they suspects? And who is this smart and solitary cadet with the multiple piercings?  And why is there a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigator reviewing suspiciously Gamache’s every move? The quirky and loveable gang of characters from Three Pines is, as usual, gathering at the bistro and helping Armand with his investigation. Louise Penny does it again with multiple twists and turns and a surprise finale.


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Barkskins: A Novel By Annie Proulx Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780743288781
Availability: Not in Stock - Contact to Order
Published: Scribner - June 14th, 2016

At slightly over 700 pages, Barkskins is quite a time commitment, but if you love history and multiple generation sagas, the hours spent delving into this fascinating novel will be well worth it. As a descendant of a French Canadian lumberjack (woodcutter or barkskin), I was immediately drawn to this story. Proulx follows the lives of two indentured Frenchmen and their descendants for 300 years. Some endure hardships and near starvation, while others experience immense wealth. The destruction of massive forests of North America and other countries and the exploitation and near annihilation of native peoples are central themes that reoccur throughout the generations. The ecological disasters that we are now confronting have been set in motion for generations due to our repeated mismanagement and exploitation of human and natural resources. This is an environmental epic and a literary masterpiece.


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The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks By Terry Tempest Williams Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374280093
Availability: Not in Stock - Out of Print
Published: Sarah Crichton Books - May 31st, 2016

In this book Terry combines several genres –nature writing, memoir, and public policy. She writes about a diverse and eclectic selection of parks, some obvious choices like Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, her family favorite, and Arcadia National Park in Maine, but also Gettysburg National Battlefield in Pennsylvania, Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa, Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Mississippi, and the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in California.

In her chapter on Gettysburg we learn that it wasn’t until 1998 that the National Park Service shifted its interpretation of the Civil War from just focusing on military strategies to telling the truth about slavery. While visiting Gettysburg, Terry, her husband Brooke, and writer Rick Bass have a conversation with a Confederate soldier re-enactor who insists that the Civil War is not about slavery, but rather states rights vs. the Federal government. There still is a great deal of education that must occur and Terry Tempest Williams’ writings are invaluable in the discussion of the importance and the role of our National Parks.


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White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide By Carol Anderson Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781632864123
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 31st, 2016

Carol Anderson’s new book is a must read for everyone. Her thesis is that since Emancipation any steps towards Black equality or advancement trigger a white rage response, which includes a highly organized opposition to roll back the clock. Whether it is Reconstruction, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement, or the election of our first African American President, the response is swift, destructive, and pervasive. Her case is made strong not only by the text she has created, but also by the dozens of pages of notes detailing the extensive research she carried out. This book gives the reader a clear understanding of our painful racial history and how it shapes our current political landscape. 


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Before the Fall By Noah Hawley Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781455561780
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 31st, 2016

Yes, this is a novel about the crash of a private plane minutes after it takes off from Martha’s Vineyard. Only two of the eleven passengers and crew survive after a harrowing long distance all night swim.  However, this book is about much more than a plane crash.  The back story of all the characters is really the heart of the novel. The negative sides of human nature, including greed, power, anger, bullying, and a hefty dose of male ego are portrayed with razor sharp precision. The disturbing gotcha “journalism” of a Bill O’Reilly type is particularly well drawn. Hawley is a talented screenwriter and this compelling novel will surely make it way to the big screen.  A fast paced read for the summer or anytime of the year.


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Heat and Light: A Novel By Jennifer Haigh Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780061763298
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Ecco - May 3rd, 2016

An amazing novel about America’s energy crisis and the people and planet that are being destroyed by our greedy, ill conceived, fossil fuel driven economy. The long shuttered coal mines of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, once provided jobs and energy. There’s a new kid on the block – natural gas companies exploiting the Marcellus Shale with a drilling process now all too familiar – fracking. Haigh’s cast of characters includes local landowners and farmers, as well as wealthy Houston energy company owners and their high paid out of town workers. She does a first rate job of describing the conflicting goals and moral dilemmas that some of her characters confront, even members of the same family. I have loved Jennifer Haigh’s novels since her debut. This book is her best to date and I hope will significantly enlarge her readership. 


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The Penny Poet of Portsmouth: A Memoir Of Place, Solitude, and Friendship By Katherine Towler Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781619027121
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Counterpoint - March 15th, 2016

This is an amazing gem of a book. Katherine Towler describes with heartfelt prose her friendship with poet Robert Dunn. Dunn was so committed to poetry and books that he spent most of his waking hours reading and writing. He did work part time and in the decades before gentrification was a well known poet among the literary community in the seaport city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.. He lived simply in a rented room without owning a phone, car, computer, or television.  He was a writer’s writer and he sold his poems for a penny on the streets of Portsmouth. He was admired and supported by many people, including Katherine Towler. Towler skillfully captures the longing for creative solitude and the sacrifices it necessitates for many writers and artists.


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Bottomland By Michelle Hoover Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780802124715
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - March 1st, 2016

The shattering impact of World War I on a German-American farm family in Iowa is starkly portrayed in Michelle Hoover’s second novel. Hoover describes with precise details the necessary hard work and hardships to run a farm in the early 20th century Midwest. Add to this the limitations that young women confront and the anti-German prejudices that turn the Hess family’s neighbors against them, and the ingredients for a volatile situation are in place. Chicago is a gritty industrial city teeming with immigrants, factories, and a different array of hardships where several of the younger Hesses set out for. This haunting story combines the challenges of city and farm, war and peace, and resonates with the U.S. we face today with speeches about walls and exclusion based on ethnicity and religion


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Wildflowers of New England (A Timber Press Field Guide) By Ted Elliman, Native Plant Trust Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781604694642
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Timber Press - February 24th, 2016

For those of us that love to be outdoors, especially hiking and walking throughout the fields, forests, waterways, and coasts of New England, this is a book we all will treasure. With over 1100 photos and succinct details, this guide will help us determine the name of those lovely wildflowers that abound in our region. Ted Elliman is a trained botanist and has skillfully organized the guide by color and shape and the book includes a handy ruler on the back cover.


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Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right By Jane Mayer Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780385535595
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Doubleday - January 19th, 2016

This is one of the most important and disturbing books I read recently. Jane Mayer is an incredible investigative journalist. I thought I knew a fair amount about the Koch brothers, but they and their billionaire cohorts are even more pervasive and destructive of our democracy than I had previously understood. Mayer begins with a short history of Fred Koch, the father, who was one of the 11 original founders of the John Birch Society and who owed his early success to joint ventures with Hitler and Stalin. Since the 1970s the Koch brothers and others have strategized, conspired, and financed think tanks, policy organizations, lobby groups, academic institutes, and legal programs with the goal of “limiting government”, which has more to do with drastically lowering their personal and corporate taxes and reducing oversight of their industries, especially environmental regulations. The donor lists behind these efforts are hidden and thus the title of the book.  ~  Joan


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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania By Erik Larson Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780307408860
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Crown - March 10th, 2015

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. When I started reading Dead Wake, I was aware of the fate of the Lusitania one hundred years ago. However, the power and pacing of Erik Larson’s writing, along with the depth of his research, immerses the reader in the minor and major happenings of 1915 in America and Europe. You not only become familiar with some of the Lusitania’s captain, crew and passengers, but also the U-boat’s captain, the British Admiralty’s war room, and President Wilson’s struggle with loneliness, depression, and attempts to keep America out of World War I.  This is a gripping and fascinating retelling of history.


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The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well With 700 Foolproof Recipes (The Complete ATK Cookbook Series) By America's Test Kitchen (Editor) Cover Image
$34.99
ISBN: 9781936493968
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: America's Test Kitchen - March 1st, 2015

This book is fast becoming one of my favorite go to cookbooks. The 700 recipes span the global cuisines and include interesting and detailed descriptions of various foods. Some of my favorites are Quinoa and Vegetable Stew, Indian-Style Vegetable Curry with Potatoes and Cauliflower, and Roasted Carrots and Fennel with Toasted Almonds and Lemon. And I can’t wait to experiment with the 8 pesto sauces!  Whether you are vegetarian or not this is a book every cook should have. Also includes 250 vegan and 500 gluten-free recipes.  


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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City By Matthew Desmond Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780553447439
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Crown - March 1st, 2016

Evicted  belongs on everyone's bookshelf next to The New Jim Crow and Nickel and Dimed. We need a multi-focused drive to reduce poverty in this country and certainly the crisis of the housing situation should be one of our top priorities. Three out of four families that qualify for housing assistance receive none. Tenants are forced to pay 50% to 75% of one's income for housing leading to widespread eviction rates in many cities. Matthew Desmond brings us into the lives of those facing eviction and the pain and desperation it brings to their families. 

 


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My Life on the Road By Gloria Steinem Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780679456209
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Random House - October 27th, 2015

Gloria Steinem’s new book, which is part memoir and part organizing manual, will inspire feminists and social justice activists of all ages, races, ethnic groups, and genders. Her nomadic childhood was difficult, but good preparation for the next more than half century during which she spent half of her life on the road. Her embrace of the talking circle concept began in her twenties when she traveled in India working with non-violent peace and land reform activists. Talking circles, based on talking, but just as importantly, on listening and building consensus.  The ‘77 National Women’s Conference in Houston is described in some detail in the book since Steinem sees that event as a turning point not only in her life, but in many lives of the 20,000 women that attended. Her life on the road continues today, even as she enters her 80s. 


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A Lesson in Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel By Jacqueline Winspear Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780061727719
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Harper Perennial - March 6th, 2012

My first Maisie Dobbs mystery is Jacqueline Winspear’s eighth book in her highly acclaimed series. I shall have to start with her first book and catch up since I was very much taken by Maisie and her independent nature. The year is 1932 and Maisie’s begins her first assignment with the British Secret Service and Scotland Yard’s Special Branch as a junior lecturer at a Cambridge private college. The College of St Francis was recently founded on pacifist principles by Greville Liddicote who is found dead shortly after Maisie’s arrival. The rise of Hitler and British Nazi sympathizers is a major theme in this book as Maisie and her colleagues attempt to unravel the circumstances surrounding Liddicote’s death.  Maisie’s instincts, integrity, and investigative skills are crucial in solving the crime.  


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Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg By Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062415837
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: Dey Street Books - October 27th, 2015

How exciting that a tumblr blog becomes a bestselling book about a feminist lawyer and judge! A book for a wide range of readers, from young adults to those of us who remember those difficult days before and during second wave feminism. We learn about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early years as one of the very few female law students, her struggle to find a job after law school, her work with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, as well as, her impressive judicial decisions and Supreme Court dissents. For all of us who are fans of the notorious RBG there are added features such as a description of her workout, RBG swag, and photos of lace collars!   


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Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape By Lauret Savoy Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781619025738
Availability: Not in Stock - Hard to Find
Published: Counterpoint LLC - November 10th, 2015

This book is a brilliant and unique musing on American history and landscape. Lauret Savoy is a mixed race woman and professor of geology and environmental studies. Her search for her ancestors leads her to landscapes, including borderlands of the southwest, the Grand Canyon, Washington D.C., and her birthplace in California. Inevitably the role of race in American history is part of her family’s history. Savoy details the inaccuracies, silences, and omissions throughout American history, including the Black Codes in Washington D.C. and South Carolina, land grabs from Mexico and Native peoples, and the disappearance of African American towns. An important book as we struggle to understand and overcome the wrongs of history and the impact on our current lives. 


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Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: Not in Stock
Published: One World - July 14th, 2015

National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote this book for his teenage son, but it is probably at least, if not more, important that white America read this book. For white America this is not only an eye opening book, but one of the clearest statements on what are the daily consequences and confrontations of being black in America.  Others have called him the James Baldwin of our era and the analogy is accurate. Coates brilliantly weaves together America’s violent and disgraceful history of racism with his personal experiences to present a devastating portrayal of how America has exploited the black body throughout centuries. Required reading for all of us. 


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Trail Running Western Massachusetts By Ben Kimball Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781611687866
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University Press of New England - May 5th, 2015

Trail Running Western Massachusetts by Ben Kimball. Not just for trail runners! The only in print hiking guide to western MA. Each trail has scannable codes to download trail maps to your smartphone. Ben Kimball has a passion for trail running and utilizes his cartography skills to give us a 21st century trail guide.