Lives in Ruins : Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson
This is an engaging look at the lives of archaeologists, a combination of armchair travel, popular science, and history. I enjoyed reading it very much, especially the author’s travels to visit archaeological sites and interview archaeologists in the Caribbean, Peru, a tiny island in the eastern Mediterranean, South Dakota, Fishkill and Fort Drum in New York, and the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island. The author audits classes, goes to field school before volunteering at a dig site, attends conferences, and visits museums. Other than the weather and working conditions, it sounds like fun. As a group, archaeologists are highly educated, passionate about their work, and grossly underpaid, if they’re even employed. They eat sandwiches, swat mosquitoes, work under hot sun or in the rain, often with a developer’s bulldozer looming, drive old vehicles, and tell great stories and drink beer at the end of a long day.
The reader learns about the discovery of an unknown Revolutionary War cemetery in New York, and how a civilian archaeologist working for the Department of Defense is helping soldiers learn to protect sites of cultural and historical importance with decks of playing cards. Many sites have been lost to development, while others are waiting for funding, such as the search for explorer James Cook’s Endeavour in the Newport harbor. This is a November Library Reads pick.
Here is a varied list of some of the best cookbooks published this fall. Enjoy! -Brenda
The Baking Bible. Rose Levy Berenbaum
A collection of recipes from simple to elaborate from an author known for her foolproof recipes, with plenty of baking advice and gorgeous photos.
Impressive but not too fussy recipes for a variety of French desserts from a well-known cookbook author who lives part-time in Paris.
Holiday Cookies. Chicago Tribune staff
Three decades of award-winning cookies created by Chicago Tribune readers.
How to Cook Everything Fast. Mark Bittman
Clear, step-by-step recipes with variations make efficient use of a cook’s time, but some of these delicious recipes are not what I’d consider fast.
The Kitchn Cookbook. Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand
Part cookbook and part friendly advice on stocking, organizing, cleaning, and designing kitchens, from the editors of a popular food blog.
Make it Ahead. Ina Garten
One Pot. Editors of Martha Stewart Living
120 recipes for weekday dinners, including desserts, using skillets, slow cookers, large pots, roasting pans, and more.
Plenty More. Yotam Ottolenghi
New recipes from a London chef known for his very creative Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired vegetable dishes.
Prune. Gabrielle Hamilton
Unconventional, minimalist recipes with hand-written notes from a New York chef.
Twelve Recipes. Cal Peternell
Originally written for his son in college, these detailed recipes (actually several dozen) may inspire a love of food and cooking.
In November, the library’s book discussion groups will read and discuss three very different books, set in Australia, New York City, Iceland, and England. On November 18 at 10:00 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will be discussing Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, a historical novel set on the north coast of Iceland in the 1820s. Based on a true story, Agnes Magnusdottir and two others have been convicted of killing two men, and are awaiting final word of an appeal from Denmark. Here’s my earlier review of this remarkable first novel, from an Australian author.
On November 25 at 7:00 p.m., the Tuesday Evening Book Group will be discussing The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, a heartwarming romantic comedy, also a first novel by an Australian author. It’s rare for this type of book to be substantial enough for a book discussion, but I think this one truly is. My earlier review is here.
The Crime Readers are meeting at Home Run Inn Pizza on Thursday, November 20 to discuss The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey. You may have previously read and enjoyed this classic mystery about Richard III, which was published in 1951. Detective Alan Grant, recovering from injuries in a hospital, is fascinated by a portrait of Richard III, and decides to analyze whether or not Richard was guilty of murder. Here is author Jo Walton’s review .
Copies of these books are available now at the Adult/Young Adult Reference Desk, but they are going fast. Enjoy! Brenda
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Petronella comes to Amsterdam in 1686 as the young bride of merchant Johannes Brandt, with only her parakeet for company. Johannes’ sister Marin rules the household, frowning on sweets and nagging her brother to find buyers for a recent shipment of sugar from South America. Marriage to Johannes is not at all what Nella had expected, and servant Cornelia is her only friend. A replica of the Brandt’s house in miniature is an extravagant wedding gift, and Nella writes to a miniaturist to furnish the little house. The elusive miniaturist seems to be either a spy or a prophet as the figures and objects delivered mirror people, objects, and tragedy which soon visit the household. Johannes is accused of a serious crime by the owners of the sugar in his warehouse, and many secrets are gradually revealed. The 17th century city of Amsterday is vividly described through Nella’s eyes, with its emphasis on order and cleanliness, prosperous yet rigidly moralistic. The atmosphere is dark and wintry, the pacing picking up speed as Johannes’ trial approaches and Nella struggles to find answers to the family’s dilemmas. While not all questions are answered by the end of the book, this first novel is impressive and memorable. A good read-alike is Tulip Fever, by Deborah Moggach.
Maeve’s Times: In Her Own Words by Maeve Binchy
Maeve Binchy fans rejoice! A new collection of her articles from the Irish Times has just been published. A wide variety of topics are included, most humorous but some serious, and the articles were written over a period of five decades. Maeve, who died in 2012, was a born storyteller who wrote for the paper’s London office, bringing an Irish viewpoint to stories set in England and abroad. Maeve writes about royal weddings, Margaret Thatcher, clothing, travel in Europe and Australia, life as a young teacher, boring airline passengers, daily life, and getting older. In case you missed it, her last collection of connected stories, Chestnut Street, was published earlier this year.
Two novels being published this month feature Jane Austen as a fictional character. Jane Austen and the Twelve Days of Christmas, by Stephanie Barron, is the twelfth book in a mystery series, but this book can be enjoyed without reading the other titles. Jane, her sister Cassandra, and other relatives are guests at a house party at The Vyne over the Christmas holidays in 1814. When Jane isn’t socializing, being a dutiful daughter, or penning her novels, she is a witty and observant amateur sleuth. Spirits are high because Napoleon is in exile and the War of 1812 seems to be over. But when a military courier falls from his horse and dies after visiting The Vyne, Jane suspects murder. Fans of Jane Austen novels or historical mysteries will find this book a real treat, and it’s been selected as a Library Reads pick for November.
First Impressions: a Novel of old books, unexpected love, and Jane Austen, by Charlie Lovett is the author’s second book, following The Bookman’s Tale.
Upset by her uncle’s death and the loss of his personal library, recent Oxford graduate Sophie Collingwood takes a job with an antiquarian bookseller who knew her uncle. Within a week two customers ask for the second edition of an obscure book by Richard Mansfield. One threatens her, the other man, Winston, takes her to dinner. In the past, Jane Austen has made a new friend, the elderly cleric Richard Mansfield, who admires her writing. Jane has not yet published anything, and struggles to find time to write. Sophie’s quest for the book turns into a mystery that questions Jane Austen’s authorship of Pride and Prejudice, in a romantic and suspenseful book. I would have liked more scenes with Jane and less of Sophie trying to decide whom to trust, publisher Winston or book-loving American Eric. Both Sophie and Jane rely on their sisters for advice and friendship, which is a nice touch. I enjoyed this book, but it’s not as absorbing and memorable as Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas.
October is National Reading Group Month! Learn more about it here.
I’ve updated a list of discussible books. These are books that have been discussed at the Woodridge Public Library in the past several years, and which have all led to lively discussions. Some of the titles were not universally liked, but that can make for memorable discussions. Enjoy! Brenda
Benjamin, Melanie. The Aviator’s Wife
Chevalier, Tracy. The Last Runaway
Coomer, Joe. Pocketful of Names
deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers
Doig, Ivan. The Whistling Season
Donnelly, Jennifer. A Northern Light
Dunant, Sarah. Sacred Hearts
Erdrich, Louise. The Round House
Follett, Ken. Pillars of the Earth
Ford, Jamie. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Gloss, Molly. The Hearts of Horses
Hill, Lawrence. Someone Knows My Name
James, P.D. Death Comes to Pemberley
Joyce, Rachel. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
King, Laurie. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
Kingsolver, Barbara. Prodigal Summer
Kline, Christina Baker. Orphan Train
Larsson, Stieg. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife
Moon, Elizabeth. The Speed of Dark
O’Nan, Stewart. Last Night at the Lobster
Parkin, Gaile. Baking Cakes in Kigali
See, Lisa. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Semple, Maria. Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Simonson, Helen. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Stockett, Kathryn. The Help
Trigiani, Adriana. The Shoemaker’s Wife
Vreeland, Susan. Clara and Mr. Tiffany; Luncheon of the Boating Party
Walls, Jeannette. Half Broke Horses; Silver Star
Algeo, Matthew. Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure
Beavan, Colin. No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process
Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Caputo, Philip. The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean
Child, Julia with Alex Prudhomme. My Life in France
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business
Goodman, Matthew. Eighty days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World
Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Krist, Gary. City of Scoundrels: The Twelve Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago
Kurson, Robert. Shadow Divers : The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Millard, Candice. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President
Salisbury, Laney & Aly Sujo. Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art