Nancy Cressman

Local Indie Bookstore Summer Reading Picks, part 1

Earlier this spring, we reached out to a handful of our favorite bookstores to discover their picks for the perfect summer read. Whether you're in the mood for something light or serious, we've got you covered. We start off with summer reading picks from Left Bank Books and The Norwich Bookstore.


Left Bank Books, Hanover, New Hampshire

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If you've ever happened across Left Bank Books, you'll know what a special spot this is. A second floor, mostly used bookshop overlooking Hanover's bustling Main Street, Left Bank has a wonderfully curated selection of used books, hosts many unique events, supports Bloodroot Literary Magazine, and has been a loyal friend to Literary North. We are lucky to have Left Bank in the Upper Valley.

Left Bank's owner, Nancy Cressman, had these four selections to share with us:

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

This story, set in Italy along the rocky coast and moving on to glamorous Los Angeles, introduces you to characters whose temperaments match the terrain. You are immediately drawn in to the story because of the compelling characters who carry their loves and pains a lifetime. Surprises await!

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

This is a book with a light touch on some very deep themes including trust and how your life is sometimes more layered than even you know. Set in a bookstore with a book store owner as a main character and with its many references to literary masterpieces, this story with its novel construction will bring pleasure to book lovers of every age.

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Drinking the Rain, by Alix Kates Shulman

A memoir of a woman turning 50 who discovers in the yard and rocky shore frontage of her primitive cabin on the Maine coast an environment that nourishes her both literally and figuratively from the moment she returns for her summer retreat. She comes to write, but instead finds herself awakened to genuine curiosity, a feeling she had lost at great cost and, with great effort, regains.

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Evicted, by Matthew Desmond

This award winning nonfiction book published in 2016 is a study of housing struggles and the intersection of poverty and public policy on those struggles. Follow along with Harvard University sociologist Desmond as he delves into how eight families in Milwaukee struggle to keep a roof over their heads. You will be brought into the lives of these families, and his vivid prose paints a searing picture that will educate and build compassion.


The Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vermont

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The Norwich Bookstore is the quintessential, independent bookstore in downtown Norwich. Two floors of books, a dedicated bookselling staff that you'll quickly learn by name if you're a voracious reader, great customer service—they have it all! This bookstore is a definite must-visit if you find yourself in Norwich. Literary North has partnered with The Norwich Bookstore for author events in the past and will have The Norwich Bookstore provide books for our upcoming Poetry & Pie event. One of our favorite places to shop!

The High Season, by Judy Blundell

Beth's Tips for Summer Reading:

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  1. Pick up High Season and turn to page 76.
  2. Start reading at the bottom, "Summer is my favorite season..."
  3. Imagine yourself continuing in the sunshine, with a cool drink close at hand.
  4. Buy the book and read it while you ignore the rest of the world.
  5. Finish by having your breath taken away by the last line.
  6. Come in and tell us some of your favorite lines.

We love talking books with you, and *bonus* we can recommend another so you can start the whole process all over again. Summer should be about losing yourself in a book. This is a great place to start. —Beth Reynolds

 

Midnight Blue, by Simone Van der Vlugt

A story of 17th century Holland that reads like a Vermeer painting in depth and detail. Twenty-five-year-old Catrin hastily leaves her small village to take a job as a housekeeper in the home of a wealthy merchant in Amsterdam. Helping his wife finish a painting, Catrin shows an extraordinary talent, which ultimately takes her to Delft where the new blue and white pottery is sweeping the industry. But 1654 is a deadly time in Europe and ultimately tragic choices must be made. Colors are vivid. Smells are intense. This is an historical novel that heightens the senses. —Susan Voake

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Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje

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This is Ondaatje's first novel since the estimable The Cat's Table (2011) and, boy, is it worth the wait. The story follows two siblings who have been mysteriously abandoned by their parents in the aftermath of the Blitz in London. It has all the trademark Ondaatje themes: what parents owe their children (and vice versa), the seduction and destruction of war, memory and the "ravine" of childhood, what one does with the history and traits one inherits, and of course the endlessly fascinating elements of love. Ondaatje is an artist who paints with words and woven into this intricate puzzle of a book, are indelible images. Just read the first sentence and try to resist. —Carin Pratt


For middle grade readers:

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Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea, by Lynne Rae Perkins

Sisters Alix and Jools, along with their parents, spend a summer week at the beach. We have the pleasure of experiencing the sea for the first time through their eyes —and ears and hopes and fears! A refreshingly wonderful interlude in the otherwise tumultuous array of chapter books written for this age group. No parent dies, no one is abused, there are no floods: just caring and sharing, learning and growing with wonder about the world around them. —Liza Bernard

 

The Ensemble, by Aja Gabel

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It is always a joy to come upon a debut novel by an author who excels at her craft and is a good storyteller. The Ensemble is just that. This is a story of a young string quartet founded in San Francisco that moves through the lives of its members spanning their 20's into their 40's. These are complex lives, both individually and as members of an group who need to be so fine-tuned to each other that they play as one. Everything each individual does has ramifications within the whole. Being a lover of chamber music increased my enjoyment of this book, but it is definitely not a prerequisite. The Ensemble was one of those delicious novels that I did not want to end. —Penny McConnel