Books

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Widowed and retired Major Pettigrew leads a quiet life in the small English village of Edgecombe St. Mary. That is, until he strikes up a an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Ali, the widowed Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. While their neighbors, friends, and family members look on mostly with shock and disapproval, these two lonely people from different worlds tentatively explore the possibility of a future together.

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

“Whatever else it was, it was one hell of summer.” That’s Bryson’s excellent summary of the epochal summer of 1927 with its captivating events (Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic; the invention of TV), outsized characters performing deeds heroic (the Babe's pursuit of home run glory) or dubious (Al Capone’s rule of Chicago), cultural faux pas (the popularity of eugenics and the heydey of the KKK), and just plain weirdness (Alvin Kelly establishes a new record by sitting atop a flagpole for 12 days).

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

The most intense Anna Pigeon novel to date (and this is number 18!), this thriller starts when our favorite National Park Service Ranger's short weekend camping trip with friends turns into a fight for survival against kidnappers. As with all Nevada Barr mysteries, the Minnesota wilderness is as much a character as any of the people.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He wanders into the farmstead of a friend from his youth, follows a path to a duck pond--which may be the ocean--and, begins to remember “everything.”  His friend’s grandmother may be as old as the world. His nanny may be a monster. The pennies in his piggy bank may be gold.

Into the Wilderness (a series) by Sara Donati

If you’re a fan of Diane Gabaldon, and like big historical novels for the summer, here’s a great series for you. Okay it’s not as well written as the Outlander series, but it’s for the beach! The whole series is available as e-books. “Into the Wilderness" (the first of five books in this series) is the story of Elizabeth Middleton, an independent, strong-willed English woman who travels to America in 1792 to set up a school in 'Paradise', a primitive settlement in New York state. Her father has plans to marry her off to a wealthy settler and solve his financial problems.

Hild by Nicola Griffith

Set in 7th century Britain, this coming of age story narrates the early life and young adulthood of the girl who will become abbess St. Hild of Whitby, whose advice was sought by religious and political leaders. Griffith’s telling evokes a richly detailed world that is so different from our own that it’s virtually alien. Born into a pagan world where power is often brokered by marriage alliances between kingdoms,  Christianity is on the rise. Hild’s preternatural observations of human nature and keen political acumen secure her place as her uncle, the king’s, seer and “peaceweaver”.

Waiting for Teddy Williams by Howard Mosher

E.A., short for Ethan Allen, comes of age in Northern Vermont and lives for baseball. So does the whole town of Kingdom Common.  They are all rabid Red Sox fans and have a replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster on top of the local baseball bat factory.  To say the least, E.A's upbringing is unconventional, yet in its own way grounded and loving. As he grows so does his love for baseball, especially when a talented drifter comes to town and becomes coach and mentor. The book was written pre-Red Sox World Series Championship wins.

Margaret Fuller: A New American life by Megan Marshall

She counted among her best friends the literary giants of the nineteenth century yet few people really know her story. Megan Marshall’s suburb biography brings her story to a new audience who will enjoy discovering the life of this strong vibrant woman living in a paternal and masculine world yet forging her own path. Margaret was H. Waldo Emerson’s confidante, Thoreau’s editor and the first female war correspondent for the New York Tribune. She experienced firsthand the Italian revolution of 1848-49 while becoming romantically involved with an Italian soldier.

An Economist Gets Lunch by Tyler Cowen

New Rules for Everyday Foodies. Why do restaurants full of happy, attractive people usually serve mediocre food? Why is it difficult for consumers to see the real environmental costs of many of their decisions? Why is it common to find good ethnic restaurants in junky retail outlets? Where’s the best BBQ in the world? Why is airport (but not airplane) food getting better? Since food is a product of supply and demand Cowen helps us figure out where the supplies are fresh, the suppliers are creative, and the demanders are informed. A mouthwatering tour.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

If Taylor Greer can manage to graduate high school without getting pregnant, she can manage anything. Ready for an adventure and a life better than what is offered in her small town in Kentucky, Taylor heads West in an old VW Bug. But before her car dies in Tucson, Arizona, and she begins her new life working at Jesus is Lord Auto Repair, Taylor becomes the one thing she worked so hard to avoid--a mother--after a stranger gives her a 3 year old. This is an awesome story with great characters, funny moments (and some heartbreaking ones), and a satisfying ending.

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