Anything Goes: Open up to fiction, history and memoir

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

In casting about for November’s Good Reads theme I remembered these lyrics by Cole Porter:

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking

Was looked on as something shocking,

But now, God knows,

Anything goes.

NO 4 Imperial LaneThis inspired me to turn the Misty Valley Books staff loose with the only direction being “anything goes!” I hope you’ll agree that the results, while not particularly shocking, are some really Good Reads.

Lynne’s choice for November is No. 4 Imperial Lane ($26) by Jonathan Weisman. “Ostensibly this is the story of David, an American studying in London, and his volunteer job as a caregiver for Hans Bromwell, a British lord who is a quadriplegic. But actually it is the wonderful story of Han’s alcoholic sister, Elizabeth, who speaks in Shakespearean English and whose love affair with a young Portuguese doctor carries her to the bloody battlefields of colonial Africa. The ending was so unexpected that I almost cried.”

Gods KingdomIn preparing for Vermont Voices this month, Bill found the perfect book for our “anything goes” theme. “Howard Frank Mosher’s new book, God’s Kingdom ($25.99), has familiar Mosher elements – baseball, fly fishing and, of course, above all, the dramatic setting of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. As usual, he exaggerates and glorifies his home turf as well as his characters but tells, again as before, a story that swings along to a fabulous conclusion … the good stuff, the very best stuff, honest and emotionally resonant. Don’t miss it.” Mosher will be a Misty Valley Books Vermont Voice on 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22  in the Stone Church.

Strangler VineFrom Vermont, Amanda takes us to the Indian sub-continent for her pick. “Based on Lynne’s Misty Valley “Recommend Tag” review of M.J. Carter’s The Strangler Vine ($27.95), I picked up a copy – and couldn’t put it down. This historical-fiction novel is set in India in the 1830s during the height of the British East India Co.’s powerful presence there. The two main characters are well-drawn and engaging and the suspense that accompanies their mission to uncover the whereabouts of a missing writer was riveting. The author’s previous work includes a biography of the British Cold War spy Anthony Blunt and she clearly uses her knowledge of espionage to inform the murky business of intelligence gathering here.”

BlizzardKim reacted to her choice on an emotional level. “Summer and fall are generally far too busy for me to read much, but I did manage to read Blizzard of Glass ($14.99) by Sally M. Walker, about the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Explosion of 1917 — when a ship loaded with ammunition and bound for Europe and WWI, collided with another ship in the harbor. The resulting blast, which flattened the city, was the largest man-made explosion until the atomic bomb nearly 30 years later. The story is told through the first-hand accounts of families (specifically children) who witnessed the events. Be sure to read this with a box of tissues handy!”

True Diary of Partime IndianSylvan’s choice takes us into the genre of Young Adult books choosing Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ($15).This young adult memoir is about the author’s experience attending an all-white high school, but anyone at any age can relate to how he describes struggling to find his place. According to the American Library Association, it’s one of the most often banned and challenged books because it contains ‘… cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, etc.’ In other words, it’s an honest depiction of adolescence.”

Shortly after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ($9.99) by Stieg Larsson hit the streets in 2005 readers began to rave about it but I resisted reading it because people said it was Girl in Spider Webdifficult to get into. When I finally read “Dragon Tattoo” I couldn’t stop, going directly on to The Girl Who Played with Fire ($9.99) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest ($9.99). Earlier this year when David Lagercrantz’s The Girl in the Spider’s Wed ($27.95) became available I quickly grabbed a copy and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Lisabeth Salender and Mikael Blomkvist are back in a new story that is as thrilling as those in the first three books of the series. I’m hoping Lagercrantz adds more to this wonderful series.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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