Reading Group Favorites

 

 

 

1993-2018 – Celebrating 25 Years

 

Store Hours:  Monday through Friday, 9-5; Saturday, 9-4

“Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end
of a long day makes that day happier.” — Kathleen Norris 

 

 

 

Miss Jane

By Brad Watson (W.W. Norton, $15.95)

Now, drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central “uses” for a woman in that time and place: sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, Miss Jane Chisolm and her world are anything but barren.

 

Karolina’s Twins

By Ronald H. Balson (MacMillan $15.99)

Lena Woodward, an elderly woman, enlists the help of both lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart to appraise the story of her harrowing past in Nazi occupied Poland. At the same time, Lena’s son Arthur presents her with a hefty lawsuit under the pretense of garnering her estate–and independence–for his own purposes. Where these stories intersect is through Lena’s dubious account of her life in war-torn Poland, and her sisterhood with a childhood friend named Karolina. Lena and Karolina struggled to live through the atrocity of the Holocaust, and at the same time harbored a courageous, yet mysterious secret of maternity that has troubled Lena throughout her adult life. In telling her story to Catherine and Liam, Lena not only exposes the realities of overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, she also comes to terms with her own connection to her dark past. Karolina’s Twins is a tale of survival, love, and resilience in more ways than one. As Lena recounts her story, Catherine herself also recognizes the unwavering importance of family as she prepares herself for the arrival of her unborn child. Through this association and many more, both Lena and Catherine begin to cherish the dogged ties that bind not only families and children, but the entirety of mankind

 

The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing to our Brains.

By Nicholas Carr (W.W. Norton $15.95)

As we enjoy the Internet’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Carr describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”–from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer–and interweaves recent discoveries in neuroscience. Now, he expands his argument into a compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences. Our brains, scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. Building on insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a case that every information technology carries a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. The printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In contrast, the Internet encourages rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information. As we become ever more adept at scanning and skimming, are we losing our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection?
Pachinko
By Min Jin Lee (Hachette $15.99)
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
The Milagro Beanfield War
By Jon Nichols (Henry Holt & Co. $22.00)

Joe Mondragon, thirty-six with not much to show for it, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully, if impulsively (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel.And so began — though few knew it at the time — the Milagro beanfield war. But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it would be a patchwork war, fought more by tactical retreats than by battlefield victories. Gradually, ever so awkwardly, the small farmers and sheepmen begin to rally to Joe’s beanfield as the symbol of their lost rights and their lost lands. The tale of Milagro’s rising is wildly comic and lovingly tender, a vivid portrayal of a town that, half-stumbling and partly prodded, groped its way toward its own stubborn salvation.

 

 

Atomic Weight of Love

By Elizabeth J. Church (Workman $15.95)

In her sweeping debut novel, Elizabeth J. Church takes us from the World War II years in Chicago to the vast sun-parched canyons of Los Alamos, New Mexico, in the 1970s as we follow the journey of a driven, spirited young woman whose scientific ambitions are subverted by the expectations of her era.