Turning the leaves of a good book: food, founders, football and fall


By John Hoover Good Reads1 copy

November means so many things to so many people that it almost became difficult to come up with a unified theme for this month’s column. But, sit back while we at Misty Valley offer you a cornucopia of Good Reads.

Choosing sidesIf you’re the one preparing the Thanksgiving holiday feast, then Amanda has some recommendations for you.  “Turn to Rick Rodgers’ Thanksgiving 101 ($16.99).  His cookbook takes the guesswork out of planning and covers all the cooking and baking essentials.  New this year is Choosing Sides ($24.99) by Tara Desmond.  If you’re tired of the same old side dishes, this cookbook has excellent ideas for jazzing up the old standards.  Perfect for the vegetarian contingent!”

Perhaps you want to learn more about the history1493 of the colonial period that launched our present culinary extravaganza.  If so Bill says, “For an unvarnished look at the early days of white Europeans in America and the effects on native American — plus a different take on the first Thanksgiving — read Charles C. Mann’s 1493 ($16.95).  After that, you will certainly want to go back to its prequel, 1491 ($16.95), an equally eye-opening account of pre-Columbian America.  A masterful historian and writer, Mann presented both those books at overflow events at Misty Valley Books.”

MayflowerAnother good work of history that is appropriate for the Thanksgiving holiday is Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower ($17).  Philbrick’s work is not the fairy tale story we were taught in grade school. Rather it reveals a more complete history of the Pilgrims, a 55-year epic, at once tragic and heroic.
For younger readers, Jory suggests The Mayflower and the Pilgrims’ New World ($8.99) Philbrick’s own adaptation of his larger work.  While we’re recommending books for children and tying into the theme of the fall season, how about Fall ($4.95) by Roger Piddy? FallThis is a board book with seasonal pictures for fall and Thanksgiving along with touch-and-feel textures that little fingers love to explore.

There are two books on football that we’d like to recommend.  First is The National Forgotten League ($26.95) by Dan Daly, subtitled, Entertaining Stories and Observations from Pro Football’s First Fifty Years.  Rather than write a history, Daly relates the colorful first 50 years of professional football through stories told by the players, newspaper articles and statistics.

National Forgotten LeagueThe second is Mark Bowden’s The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958 and the Birth of the Modern NFL ($14).  When professional football players played football on Sunday and sold cars or insurance on Monday, football was a much different game.  Bowden recounts the story of the 1958 NFL Championship game, a game many believe set the stage for the emergence of the modern NFL.

As long as we’re on the topic of football, my wife Sally, who isn’t a football fan, Playing for Pizzalikes John Grisham’s Playing for Pizza ($9.99).  A novel set mostly in Italy, Playing for Pizza is part athletics, part travelogue and part food blog. It’s the story of a not very good professional quarterback whose only option to continue playing is to play for a club team in Italy.  It’s fun to read and quite a change from Grisham’s usual legal thrillers.

I’m going to suggest two books with the word fall in the title.  First, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ($16) by Edward Gibbon.  As a history major, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gibbon’s seminal work.  Widely considered the greatest work of history ever written, it narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the 2nd century AD to its collapse in the west in the 5th century and in the east in the 15th.

Second on my list is Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants ($9.99), book one of his Century Trilogy.  Fall of Giants spans the years leading up to and including World War I through its immediate aftermath by following the fortunes of five families from five countries whose lives often intersect.  Epic in scope with richly detailed character, I found this work equal to Follett’s Pillars of the Earth ($7.99), one of my favorite novels ever.

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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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  1. Beverly Carmichael says:

    Great article. How convenient to have such an intelligent staff at our local book store. These book recommendations will be sought out and purchased. Thanks!