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Carin's Picks

Carin Pratt moved to Strafford, Vermont three years ago from Washington D.C. where she worked at CBS News for 27 years, the last 20 as Executive Producer of Face the Nation. Her husband, John Echeverria, is a professor at Vermont Law School, and she has two grown sons. She likes to hike, cook, garden, bike, horseback ride. She reads a lot. 

$26.95
ISBN: 9780385352857
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 12th, 2014

This moving novel -- awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction, 2014 -- tells the story of an Australian doctor who led a unit forced, under horrific conditions (monsoon, cholera, lack of food and medicine, beatings) to build the infamous Burma railroad. While the parts in the prison camps are difficult, they give the reader great insight into men and their spirits and fortitude in extremis. Flanagan (author of Gould's Book of Fish) is also particularly good in depicting the struggles of both ex-prisoners and their Japanese tormentors to adapt to life after war.


$28.00
ISBN: 9781476756660
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 19th, 2014

If I recommended to you a book about the disintegration of one family's American dream coupled with their experience with a common and devastating disease, you'd probably say "Uh, no thanks, maybe next year."  If  so you would miss one of the best, most moving books of the year.  In beautiful, polished (took him ten years to write) prose Thomas realistically lays out the lives, hopes, dreams and defeats of the Leary family: Eileen and Edmund and their son, over a generation.  If you are not moved by their struggle and how Eileen develops over the course of the book, well...  Just read it.


$26.99
ISBN: 9780062335944
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - August 26th, 2014

The late 1700s in America were rough. Women died in childbirth, men went off to war or sea for years at a time, people lit out for the territories never to be seen again. Katy Smith has adroitly imagined this world, with five characters who suffer varying degrees of loss. A pirate turned shopkeeper, his wife and daughter, the wife's father and a slave. Written in almost biblical language (without getting annoying) this book explores the fates of these five and the "sediment of grief" loss engenders. An impressive debut.


$27.00
ISBN: 9781400069491
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - June 3rd, 2014

Paris,1938. War hangs over the world like a circling vulture. Dashing Spanish lawyer Christian Ferrar has plenty of business at his spiffy firm, dealing with family feuds and inheritance issues, but gets drawn into covert activities on behalf of the Spanish Republic. Arms smuggling, shootouts on the open sea, desperate compromised (and of course beautiful) femme fatale spies, canters in the Bois de Boulogne, Polish gangsters. Midnight in Paris has all that and atmosphere to boot. (Not to mention sex.)   

Classic Alan Furst.


$23.95
ISBN: 9780393245011
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 15th, 2014

This is the book you get when a poet goes to war.  In the vein of The Things They Carried and Yellow Birds,  Brian Turner (who wrote the poem "The Hurt Locker,") tries to make sense of his time in the Iraqi desert.  Along with his own experiences as a soldier he writes of the wartime days of his grandfather, father and uncle, all of whom served in other wars. With wonderfully precise and measured writing he evokes the surreality of life at war and after coming home.


$25.00
ISBN: 9780802122551
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - June 3rd, 2014

Lily King has written a fascinating pot-boiler set in New Guinea in the 30's during the heyday of cultural anthropology. She beautifully imagines a complex, intellectual love triangle among three young, ambitious and tortured anthropologists. Loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead. Field work, indeed. This book is terrific.


$24.95
ISBN: 9780307907769
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon Books - April 15th, 2014

What is Jake Whyte fleeing from? That's the central question in this dark propellent of a novel written by Evie Wyld, one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists. The novel, which goes back and forth in time, but is easily understandable, starts with Jake on a windswept British island trying to figure out who (or what) is picking off her sheep. Jake is a loner, but why? How did she get the scars on her back? Why is she estranged from her family in Australia? With each chapter, the reader learns what has driven Jake to this lonely existence. Wyld's writing is atmospheric, wild and scary, but there is a sense of redemption in the end. Not an easy book to read, but I couldn't put it down.


$26.95
ISBN: 9781594204999
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - March 4th, 2014

Every war is its own hell and has its own literature, and that from the Gulf Wars is just now percolating from authors like Kevin Powers (Yellow Birds) and Ben Fountain (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk). Redeployment is a masterful collection of 12 short stories from Dartmouth grad and Marine Corps vet Phil Klay. Mesmerizing, powerful and unforgettable tales about war and the cost of battle.


$25.99
ISBN: 9781250039811
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thomas Dunne Books - March 11th, 2014

Shotgun Lovesongs is a paean to small town life. Butler lets five friends, one a famous indie rock musician, who grew up in the bucolic midwestern town of Little Wing, Wisconsin, tell about their intertwined lives, loves and trials. He captures the depth and dependence of relationships, forged in youth, that small town life engenders. And, while he inches close to the brink of sentimentality, he rarely breaches it. At the end you will be sorely tempted to buy a one way bus ticket to Little Wing.


$27.95
ISBN: 9780670016433
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books - January 23rd, 2014

Not many writers can write about having cancer with the warmth and humor that Roddy Doyle brings to The Guts. You might remember Jimmy Rabbitte, former manager of the band The Commitments? Well, he's middle-aged now, and has a wife and four kids he adores.....and cancer. This book is about how he deals both in good and understandably bad ways with his illness. It's a hugely likeable and funny book(how many cancer patients do you know who want to name their new dog "Chemo"? ), which is more about what it means to be in and of a family, than cancer.


By Catherine Burns (Editor), George Dawes Green (Foreword by), Adam Gopnik (Preface by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781401311117
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hyperion Books - September 3rd, 2013

This is a terrific book to have at your bedside, especially when you are tired and in between novels, and it's too dispiriting to root through the foot-high piles of the New Yorker for something short to read. It's a collection of stories from the popular public radio short story show, The Moth Radio Hour. Few are more than 5 pages long, and the subject matter is as varied as poker, wedding toasts, Mother Theresa, and test monkeys. Some of the authors you have heard of; most you haven't, and all I can say is that it's very hard to read just one of these tales before you drop off.


$26.00
ISBN: 9781250039569
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - December 31st, 2013

Olivia Laing has written an engrossing book that will have you rummaging through your shelves to re-read authors Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver. All these authors, among America's best, were bedeviled, for lack of a better word, by alcohol. Laing explores how drinking permeated their lives and she is best when she delves into how it laced through their art.


$26.00
ISBN: 9780374180669
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sarah Crichton Books - October 1st, 2013

The costs of war are not always obvious to those citizens who do not fight. (And let's not forget that all military personnel make up less than one percent of the U.S. population) This brave book, by David Finkel (author of The Good Soldiers), tells the personal and heart-wrenching stories of a number of soldiers, injured in mind or body, or both, who come home. How are they treated, both by the medical and military establishments, their peers, and by their communities? What do their partners and children experience? Why can't the U.S. get a handle on the shocking suicide rate of returning vets? This is a heartbreaking, well-written, important book.


$25.95
ISBN: 9780307958266
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 17th, 2013

It's hard to turn around in a bookstore these days without knocking over a pile of novels set during WWII. This one, as indicated by the deceptively mundane title, is set after the war, in Hamburg, 1946. A decorated British colonel is sent there to help rebuild the city and de-Nazify the people. He brings his wife and one son, the other having died in a bombing back home. He is quartered in the large house of a German architect, and in a break from tradition decides to share the house with the architect and his daughter. A great deal of adapting occurs, both in the house and outside, where feral groups of starving roam, and some defeated Germans are acting not so defeated. A fascinating look at post-war Europe. Already optioned for the movies…


$25.95
ISBN: 9780307271792
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 27th, 2013

This book is less about Claire, the titular child who goes missing and stays so for most of the book, than it is about the braided lives and loves of the inhabitants of the small seaside Haitian town of Ville Rose. It's also less steeped in the violent history of Haiti than Danticat's most recent devastating novel, The Dew Breakers. While she writes no fairy tale here -- there is tragedy, and loss -- Danticat's writing is often mystical and poetic. She has created a town and people you won't soon forget.


$15.99
ISBN: 9781602861800
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Weinstein Books - September 4th, 2012

This engrossing Somerset Maugham-like novel will put you right in the middle of post WWII Malaysia (or Malaya as it was called). A war-scarred woman, the sole survivor of a camp where she was a "guest of the Emperor" or POW, tries to vanquish her numerous ghosts by apprenticing herself to a mysterious exiled Japanese gardener. He is not quite what he seems, but then neither is she. Themes of memory and loss, lies and secrets pervade this book. A good exotic book to get lost in. (Oh, and you will learn a lot about Japanese gardens and tattooing.)


$25.95
ISBN: 9780307960498
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 15th, 2013

Having a Harry Hole/Jo Nesbo thriller in my house is like being hungry and locked in a room with a bowl of roasted cashews. They will be eaten. The book will likewise be consumed, usually in one sitting. When last we left Harry Hole in Phantom, he was a goner, or so we thought. He's back, and more clever and anguished than ever in his efforts to catch a diabolical and ruthless police killer. If you are a Harry Hole fan you know what to expect -- good writing, well-drawn characters, ceaseless suspense, gruesome deaths. If you aren't a Harry Hole devotee (yet) you might want to start with The Bat, or Redbreast and read your way through the series, as Nesbo often refers to earlier characters and cases.


$16.00
ISBN: 9781609450915
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - March 5th, 2013

A discerning patron of the NBS told me this was the most affecting book she had read in the past year. A tornado hits a Midwestern city. Every family in the town loses someone or something; some lose all. Except for one family, which survives intact and unscathed. This impressive first novel deals with how the town treats this family in the aftermath of destruction, and how the family copes. A timely and affecting book.


$24.95
ISBN: 9780307962577
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - July 30th, 2013

A remarkable book. It's about a woman who grew up in Liberia, and given that country's violent and disturbing recent history, readers should know that this is a difficult story. The main character, adrift in every way, is trying to come to terms with a past that's impossible to come to terms with. That said, the book is beautifully written, truly gets inside its character and is ultimately very moving.


$14.95
ISBN: 9780345807090
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Books - July 2nd, 2013

A faithful bookstore patron once told me that he thought the Harry Holet mysteries of Jo Nesbo were a bit "lugubrious." I agreed with him and then went to look up lugubrious in the dictionary. He's dead on. These novels are dark, moody, mournful--but, oh-so-good. This is the debut in the series, first published in 1992. Set in Sydney, it’s a MUST for all Harry Hole devotees


$24.95
ISBN: 9780307596918
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - June 11th, 2013

This is one in a long line of what I call "ICA" memoirs -- ICA being "I Conquered Adversity" -- adversity defined as alcohol or drug addiction, substandard parenting, bad (sometimes REALLY bad!), lovers, psychological issues, the Pacific Coast Trail, etc. You get the drift. Mardi Jo Link's nemeses include a bad divorce and subsequent poverty. This is the story of how she holds onto her farm in northern Michigan and creates a home for her three boys. She tells good, funny stories, comes through her trials, and finds true love. (One hopes.)


$24.95
ISBN: 9780307959966
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - February 12th, 2013

If you are a fan of tradecraft (how to do things, e.g. rob a casino, pack a getaway bag, disappear without a trace, break into a storage facility -- you never know when those skills will come in handy) this is the suspense-filled thriller for you. FYI, a "ghostman" is a disappearance specialist. I disappeared into this book and didn't come out for several hours.


$24.95
ISBN: 9780307908056
Availability: Special Order
Published: Pantheon Books - April 23rd, 2013

Snapper is about Indiana and birdwatching -- wait, wait, don't stop reading this yet -- this book is charming, well-written and good, especially for a debut novel. Yes, it's set in Indiana, and yes the main character is a birdwatcher, but he truly loves and knows birds and he's funny and and the combination of those qualities is pretty irresistible. Throw in a mysterious, hard-to-get (or rather, easy-to-get, hard-to-keep) girlfriend and a rogue snapping turtle, you've got yourself a pretty good story. Besides, you can't beat the cover.


$27.00
ISBN: 9780316154697
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - April 23rd, 2013

Whenever I am blue, I reach for one of two authors: P.G. Wodehouse or David Sedaris. Both of them make me snort with laughter, and it's pretty hard to be sad when you are snorting with laughter. David Sedaris' new collection of essays, many of which were first published in the New Yorker, is, as usual, hilarious. Whether he's writing about strangers on a train, the ghoulishness of taxidermy, especially when it involves humans (hard to explain; you'll just have to read it), and the peculiar sociology of a North Carolina Costco-- you can't help but laugh.


$25.00
ISBN: 9780812993240
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Spiegel & Grau - February 26th, 2013

This memoir is astounding. Domenica Ruta grows up in working class Massachusetts with a dealer/user mother. The family is subject to wild economic swings, rolling in it one day, having a hard time heating the house the next. Her mother loves her in her own warped way, but to survive Domenica has to get away. This book is about how she did it and it's funny, horrifying and wonderfully written. It'll stay with you. In the end it's about the ability of the written word to make sense -- and art -- of the confounding. If you like Mary Karr, or Geoffrey Wolff, you will love this.


$15.99
ISBN: 9780061692031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - January 22nd, 2013

You are fifteen years old and your parents decide, on little more than a whim it seems, to rob a bank. Being rank amateurs, they are caught and sent to prison. What do you do? Where do you go? And how does this affect you -- how you think, feel, and remember? These are the questions Richard Ford, author of the Bascombe novels The Sportswriter and Independence Day, asks in Canada. Del, the main character, ends up going north to Canada, where he comes under the tutelage of an American with a violent and shady past. I found this book profoundly moving in its depiction of a child left adrift to forge a life.


$16.00
ISBN: 9780143122234
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - August 28th, 2012

This is the time of year when many of us focus on what we want to change about ourselves.  Eat better!  Lose weight!  Exercise more!  Stop Smoking!  Buy more books at local independent bookstores! (ok, ok).  This all takes willpower and few understand how willpower is used, how it's strengthened, and how it gets depleted. Co-authors Baumeister and Tierney have written a readable and useful book about all this, based on a number of fascinating and often counter-intuitive psychological experiments and studies. 
 


By Kevin Young (Editor)
$25.00
ISBN: 9781608195510
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - October 16th, 2012

This is, if you'll forgive the expression, a mouthwatering book. Just read a few of the titles: “Ode to Chicken”; “Display of Mackerel”; “Grapefruit”; “The Gospel of Barbecue”; “O Cheese” (a personal favorite); “Frying Trout While Drunk”; and, “Poem with a Cucumber in It”. And it includes the famous poem by William Carlos Williams about plums (and so much more) which you have always meant to memorize....but haven't.


$26.00
ISBN: 9780812993806
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - January 8th, 2013

The New York Times reviewer said that, "George Saunders has written the best book you'll read this year."  A pretty bold prediction for the beginning of January, but he might be right.  Saunders is a clever satirist, but, unlike some, he has a big heart.  Difficult to characterize (you'll just have to read them!) his quirky tales draw you in and the magnificently original writing keeps you reading, even when you don't quite grasp what's going on.  Then when you get to the end of a story, you want to read it all over again, to see what you missed!  And did I mention Saunders is laugh-out-loud funny, reason enough to read any book.  I'm with the New York Times on Tenth of December!


By Gesine Bullock-Prado, Tina Rupp (Photographer)
$29.95
ISBN: 9781584799634
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang - April 2012

Ok, all you bakers, and baker wannabees -- I dare you! Look at page 174...Look at 98...And 77. Now tell me you don't want this book and want to make these desserts? The pictures are fabulous, the directions clear and clever, the ingredient lists obvious. I want to make just about everything. This is the second cookbook (Sugar Baby was the first) by Bullock-Prado, who has a bakery in Vermont and lives in Hartford.


$24.99
ISBN: 9780316219365
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - September 11th, 2012

War is never easy to read about, and the Iraq War is certainly no exception. That said, some books about war NEED to be read, and this is one of them. It's the equivalent, in my opinion, of Red Badge of Courage, and All Quiet on the Western Front. Two young men, ages 18 and 21,are engaged in a bloody battle for the city of Al Tafar. The older tries to support the younger, but the boy becomes increasingly unhinged. The novel switches back in forth in time....alternating war scenes and events, with scenes set back in the U.S. after one of the soldiers comes home. All of the book is well done -- war written about by a poet -- but the depiction of the difficulties and the alienation of a soldier who returns home after the harrowing experiences of war, is especially poignant.
 


$24.00
ISBN: 9781451673166
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - June 12th, 2012

Frances Thorpe is one clever girl, but not necessarily in a good way. She happens to come across the aftermath of a bad car accident and comforts a dying woman, the "Alys" of the title. Frances wants to BECOME that woman and she quietly and slowly, but definitely, insinuates herself deep into the dead woman's family. This is a chilling and well-observed character study of a master manipulator.


By Maria Speck, Sara Remington (Photographer)
$29.99
ISBN: 9781580083546
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ten Speed Press - April 26th, 2011

Farro, Bulgur, Kamut, Aramanth, Quinoa, Spelt. They may just look like good Scrabble words, but they are actually delicious whole grains that can serve as the base for any number of mouth-watering dishes, from soups to desserts. Open this book and you will open up a whole new (actually old) world of whole grains.


$15.00
ISBN: 9780143121343
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - June 26th, 2012

This is the sequel to what Fuller's mother calls "THAT AWFUL BOOK:" Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood. Written ten years after, this is the story of how Fuller's parents settle in Africa. While it's a tale full of wrenching personal tragedy, hard times and war(s), it's also the story of a couple of indomitable spirits, Nicola and Tim Fuller, whose love of Africa carries them through. Fuller doesn't sugarcoat the role of white settlers in Africa, either, so you might learn something. A compelling story.