A lot of mystery, a little magic and a couple of true tales

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Each month I try to pick a theme for this column that relates to the month itself or to the season or time of year. But every once in a while, I can’t come up with what I think of as an appropriate theme.

At that point, to use a football term, I drop back and punt and ask the staff at Phoenix Books at Misty Valley to choose any book they wish. Being avid readers, they always come up with the most interesting books. I think you’ll find something for every reading taste in this month’s column and, in the process, will enjoy some Good Reads.

the-nixAmanda starts us off with her most recent Good Read. “I’ve recently returned from a wonderful week in Portugal. The only negative aspect of the trip was that I had to leave my hardcover copy of The Nix ($27.95), a debut novel by Nathan Hill, on my bedside table. Now that I’m home, I’ve picked up this beautifully written novel where I left off. The Nix is filled with scenes and sentences that one rereads – this kind of writing doesn’t appear often.

“Briefly, the novel runs along two story lines centered on Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a professor at a small college whose attempt to finish his novel has not come to fruition and his mother, Faye, whose past holds secrets he attempts to uncover. My father recommends it highly, too!”

hero-of-the-empireKim’s suggestion is an example of exceptionally well-written historical biography. “My choice for this month is the latest by Candice Millard, author of previous Good Reads selections River of Doubt ($16) about Teddy Roosevelt’s river trip in Brazil and Destiny of the Republic ($17) about President Garfield’s assassination. This time, in Hero of the Empire ($30), she explores the Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the century, as seen through the eyes and experiences of a young Winston Churchill.

“Long before his fame as Britain’s prime minister during World War II, Churchill was an arrogant, reckless, overly ambitious young man, trying to make a name for himself in any way he could. While working as a reporter in South Africa, he was captured by the Boers, and put in a prisoner of war camp. His daring escape made headlines around the world, and launched his political career. This small chapter in Churchill’s incredibly diverse, but equally fascinating life reads as her other books do — as if it were an adventure novel rather than a biography. Great writer, great book.”

finding-winnieSara, our resident expert in children’s literature, recommends a book she has used with her students. “As the fall days come to an end and snow lurks in the background, I think about the quiet and peace that comes with curling up in a warm bed with a good story. A fantastic read I suggest is one I’ve read in my classroom quite recently called Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear ($18) by Lindsay Mattick. Finding Winnie is the story of veterinarian Harry Colebourn, a soldier in World War I, who rescues a baby bear and takes it to war. They build a bond that will last a lifetime. It is a great read for children but one that will be enjoyed by adults as well.”

peaced-like-a-riverWendy reaches back to the year 2000 for her recommendation, Peace Like a River ($16) by Leif Enger. “A near perfect novel and a favorite re-read of mine. Set in the Dakota Badlands, Peace Like a River tells the story of the Land family and the dramatic events that spiral out of one tragic night.  Written with beautiful clarity and warmth, author Leif Enger combines many key elements of great storytelling: murder, romance, spirituality, redemption and magic. This alchemy creates a remarkable, powerful and deeply human tale with memorable characters that open your heart wide, and who remain there as friends. The compelling plot pulls you in, and going along for this ride is pure pleasure.”

homeI am an avid reader of thrillers, so when I had the chance to read Harlan Coben’s most recent novel, Home ($28), I eagerly snapped it up. Win Lockwood and Myron Bolitar are best friends so when Win calls Myron from London for help locating two boys who disappeared 10 years earlier, he doesn’t hesitate. They manage to locate and rescue one of the boys in London but the whereabouts of the other remain in doubt. Myron enlists his nephew Mickey and Mickey’s girlfriend, Ema, in the search for the still-missing boy. With enough twists and turns and red herrings to satisfy the most discerning thriller reader, Home is at the top of my list of recent Good Reads.

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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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