Terri busies herself with the more mundane aspects of life at Village Books- those involving accounting. So her reading tastes take her pretty far from reality, mostly science fiction and fantasy with the occasional mystery thrown in. When a nonfiction book finds itself on her shelf, it is probably history, science or Judaica.
I thought I knew about America in the 19th century: the westward expansion, our ugly and unique hereditary slavery, the repeated economic bubbles and crashes… But Dr. Baptist, a Cornell University professor, connected the dots between economics, history, and personal stories in way which changed my focus. The book is packed with “ah ha!” moments I shared with anyone willing to listen- how banks from all over the world financed and profited from slavery, how cotton picked by enslaved people stoked the machinery of the industrial revolution, just how much of our nation’s development and wealth was derived from torture and forced labor. And what is the relationship between the revolution in Haiti and the Louisiana Purchase? There is too much enlightenment in this book to pack into a paragraph- it just has to be read.
Historical fiction in NYC taking place in 1911 bracketed by two fires- Triangle Shirtwaist and one which burned most of Coney Island.
This is either Arab spring political intrigue, or an Arabian Nights fantasy or cyber-techno SF or maybe all of these in a "can't put down long enough to come up for breath" page-turner. And written with an insider's view of Islam and Middle-eastern culture. I just love this book. --Terri
This is the newest in Dr Quartey’s series of Inspector Dawson mysteries set in Ghana. Fantastic!
Morley describes the turbulent times before the Civil War in the contentious border area which was our nation's capital. He focuses on the lives of several individuals- a free black restaurant owner, a young slave and the family in which he lived, the lawyer to President Jackson, Francis Scott Key, and the circles around these folks. It's lively, if depressing, and well documented, but manages to read like a good novel. --Terri
Ms. Chang’s amazing debut is an historical novel set in China before WWII. The narrator, Leiyin, awakens after her death, expecting to be on her way to an afterlife, but stuck on earth to atone for sins she can not remember. Under the guidance of her three souls, she reviews her short life, and the reader sees China during its civil war: the communists and the nationalists, a war with Japan, poverty and wealth, and the fate of seemingly powerless women as they prepare for a changing world. I tore thru the story and adored Leiyin, who the author says is based on her own grandmother. This is a beautiful, poetic telling of a complicated time
This is an autobiography of Dave Van Ronk and an endearing history of the 60s folk music scene in NYC.
In my house you can tell how much the reader is enjoying a book by the percentage of the volume which is read aloud at the dinner table. My long-suffering husband must have heard half of this and then read it anyway. The episodes recounted have stayed with me for years.
“Crivins!” Tiffany Aching is back, this time as the witch of the Chalk, in the latest young adult book by Terry Pratchett. And of course, if Tiffany is around, so are the wonderfully funny Nac Mac Feegele, as well as some of my favorite Discworld characters. Tiffany is a teenager now, and the story allows her to handle some more grown-up situations than we saw in Wee Free Men or Hat full of Sky. She is the witch, and people count on her to do all the difficult unglamorous things they don't care to do themselves, equal parts nurse, teacher, and social worker. Even so, someone out there is stirring up evil against these industrious service workers. Lots of people are there to help (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Rob Anybody) but some things a witch has to do for herself. Tiffany is an intelligent, determined, philosophical character. She is also very human and still a teen. This is a perfect book for a fantasy-loving middle or high school girl...just as soon as the adults will part with it long enough for her to read it.
Most of us who know about the Cairo Genizah, a repository for no longer usable sacred documents, learned of it in connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among the manuscripts found there in the 19th century were copies of some of the stranger scrolls also found at Qumran––the Damascus Document. But when Rabbi Solomon Schechtor came from Cambridge in 1896 to gather and study thousands of manuscripts and scraps, the Dead Sea Scrolls were half a century away, and the science of archeology was new. Rabbi Glickman, of the Seattle area, has told an exciting adventure tale of discovery and cut-throat academic competition. This fun and quick-moving book also sheds great light on the Genizah documents and shares some of the millennium- old stories contained in them. --Terri
Israeli journalist Ari Shavit offers an a vivid, detailed and remarkably intimate portrait of his country, beginning with his great-grandfather’s Zionist pilgrimage in 1897, through the waves of immigration, wars, political movements and pivotal moments which have given Israel its complicated and unique character. So many interviews and so much insight.
Such a sweet look back at a post WWII life. Esther could have been a member of my family, for sure.