Rebecca Makkai

Local Indie Bookstore Summer Reading Picks, part 2

Earlier this spring, we reached out to a handful of our favorite bookstores to discover their picks for the perfect summer read. To learn what the booksellers at The Vermont Book shop and The Yankee Bookshop are suggesting, keep reading below.

To find out what the booksellers at Left Bank Books and The Norwich Bookstore recommended, check out Part 1 of this series.


The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, Vermont

Whenever we happen to be in Middlebury, our first stop is always The Vermont Book Shop. We just love the vibe of this store. The Vermont Book Shop is one of the older bookstores in Vermont; they've been providing book recommendations to the local community since 1949. Jenny Lyons, their Marketing and Events Coordinator, selected six novels to share that will definitely appeal to fans of literary fiction. If you swing through Middlebury this summer, stop in and tell them Literary North sent you!

The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai has launched herself into a whole new category of literary achievement with this flawlessly written third novel, a lovingly told saga about the immediate toll of the AIDS epidemic on the gay community and the long term impact on its survivors and their families. Set in mid-1980’s Chicago and Paris in 2015, The Great Believers features characters whose lives have been indelibly marked by the virus. (Note: Rebecca Makkai will be at The Vermont Book Shop on July 11  at 6pm in conversation with local author Stephen Kiernan about this novel.)

Mad Boy, by Nick Arvin

Not only does this novel offer an insider’s view of the oft-neglected War of 1812, it also offers a smart, highly enjoyable, fast-paced, wholly original book reading experience. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed.

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Tin Man, by Sarah Winman

Loss and love figure prominently in this warm novel, sparingly yet richly told. Details of life, brief moments, words exchanged between friends and family, small kindnesses, grand gestures, memories recovered and re-lived—these valuable bits that make up a life are recorded as a testimony to human lives, their fragility and temerity and strength. It’s a love story, but an unconventional one, one sure to broaden the reader’s view on what it means to love another person.

Circe, by Madeline Miller

I devoured The Song of Achilles when it came out a few years ago and have been waiting, not so patiently, for the incredibly talented author Madeline Miller to publish again! Circe is smart, fresh, and authentic; a beautiful literary Greek mythology tale. I loved every word. Miller's depth of knowledge makes it possible for her to spin a rich and believable tale that readers will love.

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Florida, by Lauren Groff

Wow. That is all you really need to know. These short stories each have their own Floridian resonance and each touch on heartrending truths of life, family and humanity. Lauren Groff doesn't pull punches but also be prepared to hang on every word because she will surprise you with joy as well as hardship.

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

Sophisticated plotting and intricate storytelling in this redux of Rumpelstiltskin shed some much needed light on dusty preconceptions. The voices that tell the story are distinct and powerful, unforgettably unique. At once a tale of values, value and self worth, Novik also reminds us of our responsibility to our choices and reflects on the roles of honor and truth.  Along with these big topics and heavy-hitting truths, Novik tells an artfully enthralling story.

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The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, Vermont

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Have we told you how much we adore The Yankee Bookshop's new co-owners, Kari Meutsch and Kristian Preylowski? They are welcoming and kind, eager to collaborate, and full of excellent recommendations. We had a lovely event at their shop in the spring (Lady Sings The Blues book group) and were very impressed with the little changes they've made to Yankee. Hello, vinyl! Kari offers four picks that you'll definitely want to add to your summer reading list. If you haven't popped in to Yankee in awhile, make it a summer priority! You won't be disappointed.

The Electric Woman, by Tessa Fontaine

Few things make it feel more like summer to me than a carnival, and how many of us are consistently intrigued with the characters that make up the mythical traveling sideshow? Sword swallowers, fire eaters, death-defiers and all of their like. Tessa Fontaine spent a summer following the last American Traveling Sideshow and lived to tell the tale of learning their tricks and seeing their life on the road. Dovetailed with the story of her mother's recovery from what should have been a life-ending stroke, both women set out on adventures that teach them more about themselves and each other than they ever thought possible.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, by Cherise Wolas

This book is best gone into mostly blind, recommended by a trusted friend who knows you will love it—which is how I found it myself. Since we aren't that level of friends (yet), what I will tell you is this: Joan Ashby knew at a very young age that she wanted to be a famous writer. At one point, in an early journal, she set down a list of rules for herself to make that happen, two of which proclaimed that she should never fall in love and never have children. She does become a world-renowned short story author, but then proceeds to break her own rules and essentially falls off the face of the writing world. What happened to her? You have to read to find out. Side bonus: Throughout the book, Wolas shares bits and pieces of the fictional Ashby's writing that are so intriguing I wish Joan Ashby were real and that I could read all of her books. And also that we were friends and could go out for a glass of wine together. This story is amazing, and you will not be able to put it down.

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Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

If you are looking for a new fantasy world to sink your teeth into, I highly recommend you give Orïsha a try. A world where magic had been beautiful and strong is taken over by a king who fears it, and ultimately drives all maji into poverty or hiding. After losing her mother, and discovering her own abilities, young Zélie must decide whether to back down or help lead a rebellion to bring the maji and their powers back from the brink of extinction. Adeyemi's magic system is borne out of West African mythology, her characters are fully fleshed out and engaging, and the scenery is so vividly brought to life. I loved it, and can't wait for book two!

Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

Written in the 1990s, but set in the ever-closer 2020s, this dystopian novel is disturbingly timely when read today. The story chronicles the experience of Lauren Olamina, a young girl with hyper-empathy, a condition that causes her to feel others' physical pain, as she tries to navigate an increasingly dangerous world and get herself and her loved ones to safety. Along the way, we also watch her develop a new religion, writing it down and sharing it with others she meets on her journey. If you are a fan of dystopia or speculative fiction, and intrigued by some comparative religion mixed in with your reading, this one will not disappoint.

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The Dipper - June 2018

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know!

 

June News

We're so excited that many of you have already signed up to join us for Poetry & Pie II, featuring Didi Jackson, Julia Shipley, and Ocean Vuong!

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We're more than halfway to capacity now, so please RSVP soon if you'd like to attend. In addition, we're delighted that The Norwich Bookstore will be on site as the bookseller for our event, which means you will be able to buy books and have them signed if you'd like.

As for pie, how do rhubarb hand pies, fresh blueberry, banana cream (vegan and gluten free!), peanut butter, apple, and plum crumb sound to you? And don't worry, there will be a savory option in the mix as well. It's going to be a special afternoon, and we're looking forward to seeing all of you on Saturday, July 21.

On May 15, our Lady Sings the Blues book group met at The Yankee Bookshop. We had a lively group discussion and listened to Billie Holiday's recordings of "Yesterdays" and "Strange Fruit," as well as a 1956 interview with Billie on "Voice of America." Many thanks to Kari and Kristian at Yankee for being lovely hosts and handling the audio clips, to Julia Cooke for her excellent conversation starters, and to Jarvis Green for sharing insights about his latest work, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill.

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We both attended this powerful play at The Engine Room and cannot recommend it highly enough. Top notch acting and singing, fabulous atmosphere and mood, and a powerful staging. If you didn't get a chance to see it in White River Junction, please note that tickets are still available for the Pomfret, Vermont, and Burlington, Vermont, shows. To learn more and purchase your tickets, please visit the JAG Productions website. Support local theater!

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For our summer Slow Club Book Club selection, we'll be reading a collection of short stories. We'll reveal the book in the June 15 edition of our SCBC newsletter. Sign up now to be the first to know what we'll be reading together.

We recently interviewed Vermont author Maria Hummel about her new literary thriller, Still Lives, which comes out on June 5. If the art world, Los Angeles, and a page-turning thriller ring all of your bells, you'll definitely want to add this book to your summer reading list. Read our interview with Maria, then grab a copy of Still Lives at your local indie bookstore!

Happy summer! If you get a chance, drop us a line and let us know what's on your summer reading list.

A housekeeping note: We recently asked subscribers to confirm that they want to continue receiving emails from us. Please know that you can manage your subscription options at any time by using the links at the bottom of our Dipper and Slow Club Book Club emails. If you're not receiving a newsletter you think you're subscribed to, just let us know and we'll make sure you're signed up.

 

June's Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month!

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  • Blank Verse Films is a new video series of poets reading their own poems. There's just one video so far (when is a series not a series?), but it's a good one: Brendan Constantine reading his poem "The Opposites Game." I really hope they do more of these! —Rebecca

June Highlights

Bread Loaf Environmental Writers' Conference and Bread Loaf Translators' Conference both begin in Middlebury, Vermont, on Friday, June 1 and go through Thursday, June 7. The conferences feature a full slate of public lectures and readings by Kazim Ali, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Jennifer Grotz, Brooks Haxton, Deirdre Heekin, Bill Johnston, Scott Russell Sanders, Luis Alberto Urrea, Emily Wilson, and many more. See the complete schedule on the Bread Loaf website.

January Gill O'Neil. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

January Gill O'Neil. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Maria Hummel is launching her new book, Still Lives, on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:00 pm, at Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont. (We recently interviewed Maria about Still Lives on our blog.)

The Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program concludes its season of Hoot readings with January Gill O'Neil and Patrice Pinette on Wednesday, June 6. The readings, at Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, begin at 7:00 pm. An open mic begins at 8:00 pm.

On Thursday, June 7, Celeste Ng will be in conversation with Joe Hill at 7:00 pm at the Music Hall Loft in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to discuss her latest work, Little Fires Everywhere.

The 2018 Thing in the Spring Reading Series has four events from Thursday, June 7 through Sunday, June 10. Authors include Michelle Aldredge, Corwin Levi, Chris Fritton, Rage Hezekiah, Bill Doreski, Henry Walters, Abayomi Adebayo, Amanda Petrusich, Alice B. Fogel, Marilyn Nelson, and Jasmine Dreame Wagner. All readings take place at The Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Tommy Orange. Photo by Elena Seibert.

Tommy Orange. Photo by Elena Seibert.

Tommy Orange is at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, on Saturday, June 9 at 6:00 pm to read from his acclaimed debut, There There.

Andrea Lawlor will be at Bloodhouse in Bellows Falls, Vermont, on Sunday, June 10, at 5:00 pm. The reading will be followed by a "relatively excessive and anectodal tea."

Neil Shepard celebrates the publication of his new collection, How it Is: Selected Poems, with fellow poets Julia Shipley and Martha Zweig at The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vermont, on Tuesday, June 12 at 7:00 pm.

You don't want to miss The Mudroom storytelling event at AVA Gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire on Thursday, June 14. This quarter's theme is The Longest Day. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Food is available for purchase before the performance. Tickets are available online.

The Hyla Brook Reading Series continues on Friday, June 15 at 7:00 pm with Melissa Balmain and the Frost Farm Prize winner (TBA). The reading is held at the Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire, and begins at 7:00 pm.

If you haven't been able to catch one of Robin MacArthur's readings from Heart Spring Mountain, you can see her at Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday, June 19 at 7:00 pm.

Novelist Rebecca Makkai will read from her new book, The Great Believers, as part of the New Hampshire Institute of Art's Master of Fine Arts June Residency event, on Wednesday, June 27, at 7:00 pm. The reading will be held at NHIA, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle

A Literary North favorite, Mary Ruefle will be reading at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, on Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00 pm.

 

 

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

Juniper Summer Writing Institute has a wonderful week of readings open to the public from June 17 to 24 in Amherst, Massachusetts. The readings feature Joy Williams, Leni Zumas, Terrance Hayes, Eileen Myles, and more.

 

Worth a Listen

The NYPL podcast about Zora Neale Hurston's book Barracoon, featuring Glory Edim of Well-Read Black Girl, Dr. Sylviane Diouf and noted Hurston scholar Deborah G. Plant is well worth your time.

The conversation between Rachel Kushner and Michael Silverblatt on Bookworm makes an enjoyable bookend to your reading experience of The Mars Room.

 

We're Looking Forward to These June Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The application deadline for The Frost Place Conference on Poetry (July 8 to 14) has been extended to June 6. The application fee is $25. Conference rates are from $250 (day rate) to $1550 (includes all tuition, meals, and lodging). For more information and to apply, please visit the Conference page.

Vermont Studio Center (VSC) fellowship applications are being accepted until June 15. VSC fellowships are open to all artists and writers living and working anywhere in the world. Every VSC residency opportunity includes a private room, private studio space, all meals, and full access to their schedule of evening programs and events. For more information and to apply, please visit the VSC fellowship page.

Registration for the Green Mountain Writers Conference (July 16 to 20) is open through June 15. The conference is held at the Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden, Vermont. This year's conference participants include Yvonne Daley, Chard deNiord, Elizabeth Inness-Brown, Justin Ahren, Kate Rushin, T. Greenwood, Chuck Clarino, Verandah Porche, Patty Carpenter, Stephen Kiernan, and Gary Margolis. Tuition is $675 and includes workshops, readings, snacks, and day use of the Mountain Top indoor and outdoor facilities. For more information and to register, please visit the Conference page.

The Frost Place Poetry Seminar (July 29 to August 3) is accepting applications until June 28. The application fee is $15. Seminar rates are from $250 (day rate) to $1550 (includes all tuition, meals, and lodging). For more information and to apply, please visit the Seminar page.

Putney Mountain Association and Antidote Books have announced the first Putney Mountain Poetry Contest, judged by poet Seth Landman. The winner will receive a broadside print of their poem displayed at the Putney Mountain Trailhead and a featured reading at Antidote Books. Submit up to three original poems inspired by the Vermont landscape as PDFs to putney.poetry@gmail.com. Do not include your name on the poems, but please include your name, town of residence, and contact information in the email. All entries are due by June 30.

Zig Zag Lit Mag is looking for submissions of writing and art from residents of Addison County, Vermont, for Issue 5. Zig Zag accepts fiction, non-fiction, dramatic forms, and poetry in any genre and on any topic. Art must be submitted in high-resolution, black-and-white format. Submissions are open through June 30. For more information, please visit the Zig Zag Lit Mag Submissions page.

The Hopper, the literary magazine from Green Writers Press, is accepting submissions of full-length manuscripts to its 2018 Hopper Poetry Prize through July 1. Judged by Amie Whittemore, the winner of this contest will receive $500 and publication by Green Writers Press. The contest is open to all poets with an identified interest in the natural world. There is a $25 entry fee. For more information and to see work by previous contest winners, please visit the Hopper Prize page.

Registration is open for the League of Vermont Writers "Writers Meet Agents 2018" gathering (July 21). All writers are welcome. Held at Trader Duke's Hotel in South Burlington, the event includes presentations, pitch sessions, panels, and more. $135 for League members; $185 for non-members; $35 for one pitch session. The registration deadline is July 7. For more information and to register, please visit the Gatherings page.

Clara Martin Center is seeking submissions for their third annual art/poetry show entitled "Abundance: Celebrating Creativity in Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery" (September 10 to November 2). You are invited to submit poetry, or 2-D or 3-D artwork to display in the exhibit. Submissions are due by July 31. Applicants must be Vermont residents, and preference is given to artists/writers in the Upper Valley. For more information, please visit Clara Martin Center's website.

Registration is open for the 3rd Annual Poetry Festival at the Fine Arts Work Center (August 5 to 10) in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The Festival includes poetry and songwriting workshops. Faculty includes Traci Brimhall, Cornelius Eady, Nick Flynn, Vievee Francis, Ross Gay, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Patty Larkin, and Patrick Rosal. For information on tuition, housing, and registration, please visit the FAWC Festival page.

The Burlington Writers Workshop 2018 anthology team is pleased to invite submissions from the BWW community. Fiction, flash fiction, poetry, memoir, personal essay—it's all welcome. The only requirement for submission is that you must have attended at least one BWW workshop within the past five years. For more information, please visit the Burlington Writers Workshop website.

The Poetry Society of Vermont's Summer Contests are open. Submissions must be received by July 1. For more information, please visit the Contests and Awards page.

Registration is open for the New Hampshire Poetry Festival (September 15), which will be held in Henniker, New Hampshire. Speakers include Adrian Blevins, Robert Crawford, Sharon Dolin, Matthew Guenette, and Linda Pastan. For more information and to register, please visit the NH Poetry Festival website.


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Poet Ina Anderson is offering "Your Poems," a poetry workshop series for beginning through experienced poets. Meeting at the Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon, Vermont, sessions are scheduled the 2nd Wednesday of each month, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, May 9 through November 14. A donation of $10 for each session is suggested. No pre-registration is required. For more information, please visit the Workshop page.

Burlington Writers Workshop and Melissa Lourie are offering a workshop called "Exploring Characters & Dialog Through Drama Techniques" on June 23. Participation in the workshop will be via lottery, which closes on June 4. For more information about the workshop and to enter the lottery, please visit the Workshop page.

Registration is open for The Center for Cartoon Studies Summer Workshops (June 11 to August 10), in White River Junction, Vermont. This year's workshops include everything from drawing and writing single-panel comics, to creating graphic memoirs and novels, taught by award-winning artists and writers, including Hilary Price, Jo Knowles, Tillie Walden, and Melanie Gillman. Tuition ranges from $600 to $1200. For more information and to register, please visit the Summer Workshops page.

Registration is open for the annul Frost Farm Poetry Conference (June 15 to 17). Join a small community of people at the historic Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire, learning, reading, and writing formal poetry with contemporary award-winning poets in an intimate workshop environment. Choose your focus from a series of offerings designed to provide tools for beginning poets as well as perfect the mastery of published poets. Tuition is $310 and includes all instruction and meals. For more information and to register, please visit the Conference page.

On Saturday, June 30 (10:00 am to 1:00 pm), join Mimi Schwartz at SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a workshop called that focuses on the ways that personal narrative is enriched by history—be it family legacies, neighborhood landmarks, or the social history that shapes us. "Beyond the I: When Memoir Meets History," will use readings, discussion, and in-class exercises to help participants discover new strategies for writing their life stories in ways that friends, family, or strangers will want to read on. $50 for New Hampshire Writers Project members; $75 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.

On Wednesday, July 11, the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, New Hampshire, is offering a writing workshop with teacher Joni B. Cole titled, "Tapping Into Your Write Brain." The workshop, based on the Hood's new exhibit of Toyin Ojih Odutola's paintings, fuses an exploration of Ojih Odutola's work with a fun and meaningful creative exercise using thematic prompts. All writing levels welcome. Free but space is limited; to ensure your space register by July 9. For more information and to register, please visit the Registration page.

Register now for CAConrad's workshop, "Occult Poetics and (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals," at Antidote Books in Putney, Vermont. Sliding scale fee of $27 to $108. The workshop will take place July 24 to 27. To confirm a place in the workshop or for more information, email hello@antidotebooks.com.

Fiction author Robin McLean will be leading a Prose Writing Retreat in Grande Isle, Vermont (August 25). Participation in the retreat will be decided by lottery, which closes on July 29. For more information about the retreat and to enter the lottery, please visit the Retreat page.

Carol Potter, poet, teacher, MFA faculty, editor, and author of five books of poetry is currently available for manuscript consultations—what to include, what to revise, what to abandon, how to structure the manuscript, and where to send it. She is also available also for editing of individual poems. For more information, please visit Carol's website.