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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The Red Address Book

by Sofia Lundberg English Translation 2019 On her tenth birthday in 1928, Doris Alm’s bibliophile father gave her a red leather address book. “You can collect all your friends in it.” Pappa smiled. “Everyone you meet during your life. In all the exciting places you’ll visit. So you don’t forget.” (p. 7) That is exactly what Doris did. We meet...

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Chicken Every Sunday and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

CHICKEN EVERY SUNDAY by Rosemary Taylor (1943) A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith (1943) In my June blog, we learned about “stories that helped us win World War II” distributed to soldiers in the form of Armed Services Editions (ASE) books. Of all the ASE books, Chicken Every Sunday and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were among the most beloved. I...

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When Books Went to War

This month’s selection, When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning (2015) is offered in memory of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. While memory of this aspect of the war has dimmed over the intervening decades, the impact of books on American culture remains. This is the true story of...

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The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

by Phaedra Patrick We meet Arthur Pepper, a 69-year-old retired English locksmith, on the one-year anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death. He had spent the last year in semi-hibernation, taking a “time out” from Life, stunned by the unexpected end of their happy marriage of more than 40 years. Feeling that it was the end of something and not...

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Yes, Chef

by Marcus Samuelsson I intended to choose a book for this month’s selection that was unrelated to cooking and chefs. Then I read Samuelsson’s book. I hope you’ll bear with me--I think Samuelsson’s and Ripert’s book (32 Yolks, March selection) should be paired. I hope you agree and enjoy this astonishing man’s memoir of his very different path to...

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