News & Sports -> Newsletters

Ponderings - Bear Pond Books Newsletter July 2, 2012

posted at 11:37 am Mon Jul 2nd, 2012 by (WherezIt_Staff)

newsletter masthead

Vermonters know July is for local eating but don't forget local reading! We have a bevy of great local books right now from a beautiful photographic history of Circus Smirkus to a biography/profile of Montpelier's Sargent-in-Arms Francis Brooks to a fantastic new guide to local swimming holes called "Taking the Plunge". (See below for details on the July 3rd signing for that one.) We also have some great suggestions of what to read while relaxing by that swimming hole here, on our website and in our store. We always have ideas on what to read next so come by and see us soon!


Claire: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This novel is a wonderfully paced, dazzlingly written psychological thriller about a married couple who's lives unravel on their 5th wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing and feckless Nick becomes the prime suspect. The story that follows is told in alternating chapters between Nick's account of the present day murder investigation and Amy's journal entries from the last seven years chronicling their courtship and marriage. The problem is, these two tell very conflicting stories and they both appear to be lying a good amount of the time. Nick's been relying on his affable charm and winning smile for years and he's pretty sure that's all he needs to get through this predicament, too. Amy has been striving for distorted story-book perfection all her life and keeps her real self carefully under wraps. The reader, meanwhile, is kept reeling as this tightly constructed, multi-layered story unfolds.

Gone Girl ends up being more of a psychological "why dunnit" rather than a "who dunnit". The pacing, the characters, and the plot twists draw you right in to the diabolical marriage of Nick and Amy. Flynn has written a very smart thriller with no loose ends that will keep you engrossed right up to the last page when you will immediately need to find someone who's already read the book to discuss it with. Gone Girl certainly makes the argument that you never really know what goes on inside someone else's marriage. Amy and Nick might not even know what goes on inside their own.

Lynne: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

If you've been in the store lately I have likely babbled at you about this book, I loved it that much. Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn) has called it "the catch-22 of the Iraq War" and he's right. Funny and heartbreaking, Billy tells the story of a group of soldier/heroes returned to the US for a victory tour. The book takes place over one day of this "tour" as the soldiers participate in the half-time show at a Dallas Cowboys game. Fountain holds no one harmless or blameless as he skewers American culture, politics and values while concurrently rendering what I fear is an all too accurate portrait of the youth, inexperience and vulnerability of our armed forces.

You literally get inside Billy Lynn's head as he attempts to deal with the insane parading around of these soldiers for political purposes, while dealing with all the normal urges, anger and fears of any nineteen year old. If you want a glimpse into the heads of the young men we are sending to war, read this book.

Chris: New Kings of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass

Most of these writers--Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Buford, Jack Hitt, et al.--have been around for quite awhile, so to call them "new" is a stretch. But they are still among the finest journalists working today. This anthology, edited and introduced by "This American Life" producer Ira Glass, collects some of their best work, on subjects as varied as British soccer hooligans (Buford), the actor Val Kilmer (Chuck Klosterman) and, my personal favorite, Susan Orlean's "The American Male, Age Ten." Comprised of edifying--and thoroughly entertaining--essays that you can read in a half-hour or less, this is a perfect book to leave on your bedside table.

Justin: The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey

This is a thought provoking novel that alternates between a modern horologist, and a Victorian gentlemen, both battered by bereavement, grasping for comfort and meaning in the construction of an automaton. The book begins as Catherine, a conservator who specializes in antique clockwork, learns that her lover is dead. As their affair was secret, she is unable to publicly grieve. Her Curator takes pity, and sends her to a side annex to work on a special project, where she will be out of the way. It is there, through entries read from crumbling journals, that she meets Henry. Henry's son is ill, and in increasingly desperate efforts to find a cure, he embarks on a journey to Germany to commission for his son, the construction of a clockwork duck. Little does he know that the only engineer who can help him is an eccentric genius, Sumper, who will change Henry and Catherine's lives in ways they couldn't expect.

The story alternates between the two voices. dwelling for a time on the nature of loss. But the most interesting question the novel asks is what it means to be alive. Catherine, Henry and Sumper all work with automatons and clockwork, creatures made of metal and wood, but still move with grace and purpose. Catherine remembers fondly the moments she shared with her lover, when they exalted in their "soulless" bodies, focused entirely on the here, the now, and the real. Sumper, the genius who actually creates the clockwork, can't help but assign greater meaning to the numbers, the cogs, and the chains that bring his creations to life. Which of them have the right idea? Are we humans anything more than chemical machines? Do the metal and silicon creatures we create occupy the same spiritual space that we do? Peter Carey raises these questions and uses them to tell a story as complex and mystifying as the clockwork that drives it.


Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain

In a not-too-distant future L.A. where master chefs rule the town like crime lords and people literally kill for a seat at the best restaurants, a bloody culinary war is raging.

Anthony Bourdain, top chef, acclaimed writer (Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw) co-writes with Joel Rose (Kill Kill Faster Faster, The Blackest Bird) this stylized send-up of food culture and society.

Gold by Chris Cleave

Gold is the story of Zoe and Kate, world-class athletes who have been friends and rivals since their first day of Elite training. They've loved, fought, betrayed, forgiven, consoled, gloried, and grown up together. Now on the eve of London 2012, their last Olympics, both women will be tested to their physical and emotional limits.

Chris Cleave is the author of Little Bee .

Broken Harbor by Tana French

The mesmerizing fourth novel of the Dublin murder squad by New York Times bestselling author Tana French. With her signature blend of police procedural and psychological thriller, French's new novel goes full throttle with a heinous crime, creating her most complicated detective character yet.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Over the course of his career, New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on a spectacular array of journeys. Midwives brought us to an isolated Vermont farmhouse on an icy winter's night and a home birth gone tragically wrong. The Double Bind perfectly conjured the Roaring Twenties on Long Island. Now, Sandcastle Girls brings us on a very different kind of journey. This tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012-a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author's Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.

Chris Bohjalian will be doing an event for this book at Bear Pond in August.


Buy on-line
Tuesday, July 3 at noon
Signing: David Hajdasz
Take the Plunge: An Explorer's Guide to Swimming Holes in Vermont

As part of Montpelier's Independence Day celebration, and just in time for summer we are having a signing with the author of this fun book about swimming holes in Vermont. Join us at noon!

Tuesday, July 17 at 7PM
Poetry reading: Jane Shore
That Said: New and Selected Poems

That Said continues Shore's lifelong, vivid exploration of memory-her childhood in New Jersey, her Jewish heritage, her adult years in Vermont. Jane is the author of five books of poetry, including her most recent, A Yes or No Answer, and Music Minus One, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a frequent customer at Bear Pond Books along with her husband, Howard Norman. They live in Vermont and near Washington, DC where she is a professor at The George Washington University.

A signing with Richard Russo and Kate Russo in June.

With so many new and unusual cookbooks arriving every day at Bear Pond, it's sometimes easy to be overwhelmed by choices and lose sight of the fact that cooking should be a pleasure, not a torture, and a cookbook should build your skills and confidence in the kitchen. Following is the first installment of an annotated list of basic (and admittedly personal favorite) cookbooks that will keep your kitchen a happy, tasty place to be.

Best All-around Basic Cookbooks:

Betty Crocker Cookbook

The first cookbook I received as a newlywed 35 years ago, it still contains my favorite pie crust recipe as well as updated versions of my trusty ( and oft-used) recipes for quiche lorraine, coffee cake and butter cookies.

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Bittman is one of the best food writers alive today and this cookbook is the perfect choice for the beginning cook. Lots of flavor without hard-to-find ingredients and solid, fool-proof instructions.

Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer et al.

Although often given to beginning cooks, this cookbook assumes a certain level of expertise on the part of the chef. Recipes are sometimes lacking in detailed instruction but anyone with a grip on the basics can do just fine. Joy contains my favorite white cake recipe and some of my very favorite sauces. Comprehensive and educational.

Best International Cookbooks:

The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

Yes, I know this is a second mention for Bittman, but his cookbooks are just so good! My daughter and I both own this book and there isn't a week that goes by that we don't use it. Indian to Polish, Chinese to Spanish and all the ports in between, this book has them covered in simple, easy instructions with delicious results

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

This is one of Jaffrey's latest cookbooks and I think it is her best. This is the Indian cooking that she makes daily in her own home. The recipes are simple, straight-forward and imbued with the flavors that make Indian food so wonderful. My favorite way to use this cookbook is to pick 4 or 5 compatible recipes - you'll find you'll need to chop, grind, etc many of the same ingredients- spend the afternoon cooking them all and have a true Indian feast. Bonus: your house will smell terrific!



July 1st kicks off the WHERE IS WALDO IN MONTPELIER Scavenger Hunt, sponsored by Bear Pond Books, and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. WALDO is turning 25 this year, and what a perfect way to celebrate! All month long, 20 local businesses will each hide a standee of Waldo somewhere in their store. Kids are encouraged to find Waldo at each location throughout the month, with prizes and raffles awarded at the closing party on July 31st at the library at 2 pm. Waldo may even show up to some of our favorite downtown festivities as well--look for him around downtown throughout the month! For more information, stop by Bear Pond or the Kellogg-Hubbard library. You can also find us on Facebook at "Where's Waldo in Montpelier?"

The children's room is hosting two wonderful summer events this month.

Mid-summer bounty brings Jennifer Gennari, author of My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer to Bear Pond on Thursday, July 12th at 4 pm.

Twelve-year-old June Farrell is sure of one thing-she's great at making pies-and she plans to prove it by winning a blue ribbon in the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition. But a backlash against Vermont's civil union law threatens her family's security and their business. Even when faced with bullying, June won't give up on winning the blue ribbon; more importantly, she won't give up on her family. A truly contemporary Vermont story.

Jennifer graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts and now makes her home in California, but she returns to Lake Champlain with her family every summer.

Need suggestions for your parent/kid book group? Thinking of starting one? Or just looking for some great novels to take on vacation? Come find out what's new and HOT for summer reading and meet authors Jo Knowles, Kate Messner and Linda Urban. On Thursday, July 19th at 4 pm. They will read from their new books, share their favorites and share the experience they have in using books to talk with kids. This event is free and open to children, their parents and anyone interested in sharing children's literature.

Jo Knowles' new book for middle graders is See You at Harry's published by Candlewick Press. Her previous books include Jumping Off Swings and Pearl. Jo lives in Woodstock, Vermont.

Kate Messner is an author living on the other side of Lake Champlain. Her most recent books are Over and Under the Snow, Eye of the Storm and Marty McGuire Digs Worms. Capture the Flag will be published July 1st by Scholastic Press. She was invited to be a TED Talks speaker earlier this year.

Linda Urban is our very own East Montpelier author, and her new book Hound Dog True was published by Houghton Mifflin. Her first book Crooked Kind of Perfect was a DCF nominee in 2010 and is still a perennial favorite at Bear Pond.

Here's to a lovely, lazy summer filled with exceptional reading. Enjoy!


The Children's Room on our website
The Not Just Fiction Book Club's next meeting is on Wednesday, July 11at 7PM at the store.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

George's Mystery Club will be meeting on Monday, July 30 at 6:30 .

July's books are now available at the store. They would be Craig Johnson's The Cold Dish and Borden Chantry by Louis L'Amour. [Louis L'Amour/John Banville - pretty much the same writer, right? Discuss.] We're exploring different detecting methods - and eras - of Western sheriffs.

Nancy has kindly offered the use of her house once again for our July meeting. We can discuss food [bring your own] and meeting time [6:00ish?] later. Maybe this year it won't rain... Any questions, contact me:


Information on our book clubs from our website






Bear Pond Books

phone: 802-229-0774





Relevant Address(es):
77 Main Street, Montpelier, VT 05602 (Set as Local)

Add your
Add more information or share what you think about this article.

Have the website send an email notification whenever anybody else comments on this story.

Visit Bob's Painting & Roofing today!

Want to see your ad here?

© 2020

Page generated in: 0.096 seconds
Query Count: 42 Query Time: 0.047