On Gold Mountain by Lisa See

Years before “finding our roots” became popular, Lisa See wrote this book subtitled “The One-Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family.” While she didn’t have the plethora of online information that’s available today for such projects, she had something better: multiple family members still alive to tell her this remarkable tale of a...

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VILLAGE SCHOOL

 by Miss Read (1955) In times of stress, confusion, and disruption of our daily routines, resorting to our favorite foods, familiar places, or people can help to center us, just as a beloved book or author can. The prolific “Miss Read” wrote numerous books over a 40-year period in her two most popular series: Fairacre and Thrush Green. Village...

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The Revolution of the Moon

by Andrea Camilleri (2013) Many of us know Andrea Camilleri as the creator of the beloved Inspector Montalbano series of books and films. A few years ago, he discovered a little-known fact involving the Spanish Viceroy of Sicily in 1677 that was so shocking and unusual, it grabbed his imagination. This book is based on the few known facts which...

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A Bookshop in Berlin

by Francoise Frenkel (Atria Books Translation December 2019) Many booklovers regularly scour bookstores and book sales for rare books or books with special personal meaning. In 2010, an unknown person found a 1945 French memoir at a charity jumble sale in Nice, France. Translated from French, the title was No Place to Lay One’s Head. In recent...

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When I Was the Greatest

by Jason Reynolds (2015) It’s no secret that teens and young adults today struggle with many intense issues that take a terrible toll. Drugs, broken homes, bullying in person and online, abuse of various sorts, and school shootings are just some of the issues they face daily that create a sense there’s no trust and safety anywhere. Adults need to...

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The Secrets We Keep

by Lara Prescott (2019) If you love Doctor Zhivago, you will love this book. Add the story of the Cold War era CIA espionage used to circumvent serious Soviet obstacles to publication of Boris Pasternak’s Nobel prize-winning novel, and you’ll love Prescott’s debut book even more. Some of us may wonder why Stalin never sent Pasternak to the gulag...

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On the Bright Side

by Hendrik Groen (2017) Trigger warning: if you feel offended by such words as “old,” “geezer,” “coot,” and “codger,” you may be excused from reading this blog and the book under discussion. (Thanks to Rolynn Anderson for the “trigger warning” reminder.) If you decide to take a chance, you’ll find that it’s more sweet, wise, and darkly funny than...

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The Diary of a Bookseller

by Shaun Bythell (2017) Let’s be honest: we bibliophiles can be a bit eccentric. We love to be surrounded by books, often to a point of excess that non-bibliophiles don’t understand. Many of us take a book with us wherever we go in case we have a short wait here and there to read a few more pages. It’s not surprising, then, that many of us harbor...

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The Chicago Race Riots: July 1919

by Carl Sandburg (2013) In my February 2019 blog, I talked a bit about the civil unrest that arose in the U.S. in the years immediately following WWI. That incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, took place in 1921, but there were dozens of other riots and attacks that occurred throughout the country from the late winter to early autumn of 1919. That period...

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Meet Me in Monaco

by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (July 2019) I admit I have a deep affection for southern France. Any book about Provence with all its flowers, scenery, food, history and culture along with its temperate climate on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea interests me. Adding a bit of nostalgia to the mix adds to the enjoyment. This book is just the...

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