Take a break from the icy mud with adventures, amusements

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Winter officially ends later this month as we begin the slow climb to the warmer temperatures of spring.

Casting about for a theme that might convey a spring-like mood, but unable to come up with anything terribly original, I told my colleagues at Misty Valley Books to do any title they wished. Sleep Walkers GuideMy thought was that, with spring right around the corner, we all would need something to take our mind off “mud season” and the titles in this month’s column certainly seem to do that.

Lynne starts us off with a novel full of complex themes. “I just finished The Sleepwalkers’s Guide to Dancing ($16) by Mira Jacobs. A luminous book about a transplanted Indian neurosurgeon who starts talking to ghosts. Moving between India and America, there’s adaptation, alienation, loss of country and family, beautiful love stories, and finding one’s way. There is so much in this novel! And love of family triumphs.”

Sweet ToothBill takes a trip back in time, not to the season just ending but considerably further back than that. “I recommend Sweet Tooth ($15.95) by Ian McEwan, my favorite living writer of novels.  It is a brilliant spy thriller, a portrait of Britain in the ‘70s, and an entertaining essay on ‘fiction.’  Effervescent prose.”

Kim was most likely influenced by the cold temperatures of last month when choosing her title. “Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World ($12.99) by Jennifer Armstrong is the incredible story of explorer Ernest Shackleton, and his ill-fated trip to the South Pole in 1914. While attempting to cross Antarctica, his ship The Endurance, became trapped in pack ice where it was slowly crushed and destroyed. His men then camped out on and crossed the ice pack on foot, before attempting to launch a 20-foot rescue boat into the open Atlantic Ocean, in an effort to find help.Shipwreck at the bottom Miraculously, after 19 months, in one of the world’s worst environments, not a single life was lost. An amazing story, told with plenty of vintage photos that were taken by crew members.

Armstrong’s book is this year’s selection for the Vermont Reads state-wide reading program and the Whiting Library will be showing “Shackleton,” a movie about the expedition in two part, at 6 p.m. March 16 & 23. Whiting Library is located at 117 Main St. in Chester.  Shackleton events are also being held in Ludlow.

If Kim’s selection was a look back, then Sylvan’s seems to beAsk Anna Dean Koontz looking forward to the season to come. “The last days of calendar winter leave me wanting something light and cheery. So my pick is Ask Anna: Advice for the Furry and Forlorn ($14.99) by Dean Koontz with his dog Anna. Written in the form of a ‘Dear Abby’ type series of letters between dogs, this book is full of glossy pictures and tail-wagging witty words that are sure to put your troubles in perspective and make you smile.”

Major PettigrewBeing an Anglophile, my pick for this month is a delightful novel that I just couldn’t resist. Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand ($16) is set in a small village in the English countryside. The story revolves around a retired army major and widower who slowly begins to go against every stereotype of the proper Englishman, including his growing infatuation with Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani owner of the village store. From his clueless, “modern” son to his rather horrid sister-in-law, this book is comic at times but sweetly poignant at others, all of it set against the backdrop of two people who never thought they’d love again.

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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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