Leaf through fall’s flavors, New England’s bewitching history

Good ReadsBy John Hoover
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Autumn makes its own special mark on our senses: fall foliage and Halloween costumes to delight our eyes; cider and pumpkin pie to tantalize our taste buds; the aroma of wood fires to excite our sense of smell.

In line with this new season the staff at Phoenix Books Misty Valley has put together a list of some of our favorite fall books. The name of our bookstore has changed but we still have lots of Good Reads recommendations for you.

maple-syrup-cookbookAmanda starts off our fall suggestions with a cookbook. “Somehow, when fall rolls around and I notice the days getting shorter, I get the urge to head back to the kitchen to do some baking and I look to one of my favorite cookbook authors, Ken Haedrich, for inspiration.  All of this New Hampshire resident’s cookbooks are excellent, but for this month’s Good Reads column I’m choosing to recommend his Maple Syrup Cookbook ($14.95).  When we think of maple syrup we think of early spring – but this book combines maple syrup with all the fall flavors I love – root vegetables, roasted pork, apple pie, butternut squash – you get the idea!  An excellent cookbook to look to for Thanksgiving ideas as well.”

witch-of-blackbird-pond-and-witchesKim highlights the end of the month holiday and its emphasis on the spooky. “For my fall Good Reads pick, I decided to revisit an old classic I hadn’t read since middle school — The Witch of Blackbird Pond ($7.99) by Elizabeth George Speare.  In re-reading it, I realized it was more about Connecticut and colonial history than witchcraft, but it was a great read just the same. It’s the story of a young woman from Barbados named Kit Tyler who finds herself in the alien world of Puritanical New England in the late 1600s. When sickness breaks out, witchcraft is suspected, and Kit’s outspokenness and free spirit gets her caught up in the accusations.

“For a much more comprehensive study of the mass hysteria and the petty, personal grudges that drove much of the ‘witch hunt’ craze from that era, I’d also recommend The Witches: Salem 1692 ($18.99) by Stacy Schiff. a non-fiction, in-depth look at the Salem Witch Trials 1692.”

how-many-seeds-in-a-pumpkinSara has the perfect book for our younger readers. “What better way to enjoy cooler weather then to count pumpkin seeds. In How Many Seeds are in a Pumpkin? ($17.99) by Margaret McNamara, Mr. Tiffin’s class is on a mission to count seeds in pumpkins. The class realizes it’s a slimy job, but they learn a lesson none of the students can forget! This is a wonderful book for young children, replete with lots of excitement. Never underestimate the size of a pumpkin and what is inside!”

in-the-fallOur newest staff member, Wendy, recommends a work of fiction whose title references autumn, Vermont author Jeffrey Lent’s In the Fall ($16). “This novel found a place on my Top 10 list when it was first published in 2001. Fifteen years later, it’s still there. Spanning post-Civil War era America to the Great Depression, this multi-layered family saga is rich with long-held secrets, the complexities of slavery and racial divides, the sense of place and the pull of home. In the book’s title, Lent references autumn’s transitory nature as well as the biblical notion of human frailty. This story is generous and deeply moving, its characters fully realized, and Lent’s writing – lyrical, lovely and elegant – balances gravitas with buoyancy. This is a book to immerse yourself in – a long, compelling and wholly satisfying read.”

craft-cider-and-cidermakersAs we move deeper into fall, our thoughts turn more and more toward the wonderful foods of the season and what could be more in tune with fall than apples and apple cider. You can go buy your cider at the farm stand or grocery but if you’re interested in making your own, there are two books you might want to consider: Craft Cider ($17.95) by Jeff Smith and Claude Jolicoeur’s The New Cider Maker’s Handbook ($44.95). Both contain all you need to know, from choosing the right type of apple to pressing equipment and even recipes for cocktails using cider. Once done your main responsibility is to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Oh, and I would sure enjoy an invitation to sample your wares and praise your accomplishment.

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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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