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Specializing in contemporary fiction, children's books, young adult, local authors, & a large Shakespeare & theatre section.

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Reviews by Rebecca

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knittingyarns
KNITTING YARNS: WRITERS ON KNITTING
Ann Hood, ed.
Don’t miss this fantastic anthology edited by Ann Hood, which includes such notables as: Barbara Kingsolver, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Hope Edelman, Alison Lurie, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve and Jane Smiley. Who knew knitting enjoyed such a literary tapestry… enjoy!

 

onelastthingbeforeigoONE LAST THING BEFORE I GO
Jonathan Trapper
One could argue that great fiction is not remembered by the plot, but by unforgettable characters. Such is Trooper’s protagonist “Silver.” Frustrating but loveable, Silver is a divorced has-been, forty-something, muscian who is filled with numbness and regret. That numbness is about to explode as he is suddenly faced with a critical heart condition. Despondent, Silver refuses to undergo the imperative heart surgery that will save his life. Despite the profound and dire nature of the narrative, the writing is hilarious. Tropper manages to create a character that is completely original and reminiscent of an unlikely mix of Voltaire’s Candide, Carlos Castenada and David Sedaris. The dialogue leaves the reader hanging on every word for wit, truth, and gasping originality. Surprises and ephiphanies of all sorts abound, as one raptly turns the pages, never knowing if you will laugh or cry.

gravediggersdaughterTHE GRAVEDIGGER’S DAUGHTER
Joyce Carol Oates
I cried my heart out at the end of this book – something I have done seldom in my long reading life…Oates goes deeply into the characters’ psychology and does not flinch from her wrenching insights. Rebecca Schwarts is born on a ship in New York harbor to Jewish parents who fled Germany in 1936. Her father, once a math professor becomes the gravedigger in the small town of Milburn, New York. The portrait of the de-based immigrant family and subsequent events remains an indelible literary experience. But at the core of the novel is the unlikely hero – Rebecca Schwart. As the story follows her courage, fortunes, and will to persevere, the reader is drawn into her destiny ultimately life’s deepest questions of purpose and meaning. Hang on to your hat and your heart, as you read this book – the journey will throw away the map, and bring you to unforgettable and uncharted territory.

ageofinsightAGE OF INSIGHT, by Eric Kandel
Though Kandel focuses on Vienna of 1900, his scope of inquiry brings one to the most cutting-edge and far reaching conclusions. Through revelatory investigations of the biology of the brain, art, and science of the mind, Kandel engagingly reveals how our perceptions and thoughts can be mapped within the brain. Studies show how brain function reflects mind function, shedding light on the very core of our aesthetic, emotional, and perceptual experiences. Rather than reduce the mystery of the mind, such understanding expands its wonder and vastness. Kandel brilliantly weaves together such greats as Darwin, Freud, Klimt, and Einstein, always making his subject understandable and connecting it to a greater scope. Few books can be said to alter the way one comprehends the world. This is one of them. I used almost an entire tablet of Post-Its, as I fervently marked page after luminous page.

firstratemadnessA FIRST-RATE MADNESS: UNCOVERING THE LINKS BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND MENTAL ILLNESS, by Nassir Ghaemi
If history, psychology, and biography entice you, this book is a most satisfying and unusual read. I was captivated by the revelations concerning some of our most beloved and successful historical figures. Much of the information is shocking; from John Kennedy’s extreme medical problems and treatment; to Martin Luther King’s teen suicide attempts; and General Sherman’s innovative military brilliance, despite the medical diagnosis of insanity. Ghaemi’s brillant premise is pursued with relevant and startling data. His shocking contention is that certain forms of mental illness or imbalance, can be an asset to leaders in times of crisis. In Mahatma Ghandi’s case, the author contends that Ghandi’s depression perhaps was the springboard for his politcal and consciouness- changing innovations. How can something so counter-intuitive be true? Pick up this book, and you may come to understand the accuracy of his contention. Also, you may never forget these surprising portraits of uncoventional, yet often, tormented leaders, who had the uniqueness, drive and originality to change our world.

vienna1900VIENNA 1900: Klimt, Schiele, and Their Times: A Total Work of Art
As I turned the pages of this sumptuous book, I was amazed by the vibrant artistic genius that flourished in Vienna during this Golden Age. The scale and quality of the reproductions transported me to the heart of this enduring, innovative, and astounding period. Not only does Vienna 1900 explore the paintings and drawings of these revolutionary artists, it also covers the decorative arts including fabric design. One can discover how intertwined the decorative and fine arts were, and how they crossed-over and inspired one another. The classic example is the famous “Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, but this type of cross-fertilization among the decorative and fine artists abounds. In addition to the many revelations concerning the art of this period, I discovered an entirely new painter, Richard Gerstl, who died tragically in his early twenties. It is hard to fathom that such a young painter was able to break through so many conventions to produce this powerful and prophetic work. However, the consummate artistic giant, for me, is Egon Schiele, who also died in his twenties. Schiele’s paintings and drawings practically jump off the page with their erotic, fearless, and timeless force. His work is reproduced with vibrant clarity in this large format gorgeous volume. As a coffee-table or an exceptional art book, you will treasure,Vienna 1900, sets a new paradigm of beauty and brilliance.

untetheredsoulTHE UNTETHERED SOUL: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael Singer
For the reader seeking paradoxically timeless truths and fresh insights, this is a must read. Singer will challenge your precepts about who you think you are versus your own limitless self…Singer presents a new paradigm of the relationship among the components of psyche, mind, and consciousness. He holds the mirror of self-reflection poised for revelation. Singer sweeps aside preconceptions with his broad-based philosophy; he does so with astounding metaphors, as well as, practical suggestions. Reading this seminal book, one begins to perceive reality with a perspective that contains no vanishing point. One’s horizons of the heart seem to fold open with the turn of each page. Order here