Sunday Morning Bibliophiles (Coffee Hour Edition)

“The Poor Poet” by Carl Spietzwig

There is absolutely no doubt about it. Emmanuel is neither high church nor low church. More broad church, we are a”bibliophile” parish. Our book piles stacked high with just about every kind of literature you can imagine.

Last Sunday, the day we sprung forward and lost an hour, attendance was a bit down at “zoom coffee hour.” Though low in numbers, those gathered were pretty high! Sharing current reads.📘📕📙📗📚

Via the miracle of cyber-space, Dr. Joanie Rodano hosted from Las Vegas. Yes, from another time zone, the Sunday we moved forward our clocks! Everyone was asked to bring a book in progress. But none of us could stop with just one!

So, in no particular order, here is a little library of twenty-one selected titles. Check them out by clicking on the blue links. “Descriptions” are lifted straight from GoodReads.com. Borrow one or two from your local library or consider keeping your local book shop in business!

Recommended by Nan DeRenzi:

Daughters of Yalta, Catherine Grace Katz: “The story of the fascinating and fateful “daughter diplomacy” of Anna Roosevelt, Sarah Churchill, and Kathleen Harriman, three glamorous young women who accompanied their famous fathers to the Yalta Conference with Stalin in the waning days of World War II.”

The Cat Who Came for Christmas, Cleveland Amory: “‘Tis the night before Christmas when a self-described curmudgeon rescues a bedraggled feline from a snowy New York City alley. Thus begins this tale of a man and his cat or, rather, of a cat and his man. A touching, timeless, and inspiring story about the animal/human bond and the spirit of the holiday season.”

Recommended by Nancy Dupree:

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett: “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past.” 

In Praise of Paths, Torbjørn Ekelund: “The author started to walk – everywhere – after an epilepsy diagnosis affected his ability to drive. The more he ventured out, the more he came to love the act of walking, and an interest in paths emerged. In this poignant, meandering book, Ekelund interweaves the literature and history of paths with his own stories from the trail. As he walks with shoes on and barefoot, through forest creeks and across urban streets, he contemplates the early tracks made by ancient snails and traces the wanderings of Romantic poets.”

Recommended by Joanie Rodano:

The Indigo Girl, Natasha Boyd: “Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it’s the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it’s impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return — against the laws of the day — she will teach the slaves to read.”

Recommended by Bonnie Fairbank:

A Williamsburg Christmas, Libby Hodges Oliver, “A nostalgic celebration of the colonial Christmas shows the many faces of the season in Williamsburg over the last three hundred years, focusing on the wreaths, swags, and other adornments used to decorate doors, windows, staircases, and more.”

Recommended by Paul Donato:

Walking: One Step at a Time, Erling Kaage, “For the author, walking is the gateway to the questions that fascinate him–Why do we walk? Where do we walk from? What is our destination?–and in this book he invites us to investigate them along with him. Language reflects the idea that life is one single walk; the word “journey” comes from the distance we travel in the course of a day. Walking for Kagge is a natural accompaniment to science: the occasion for the unspoken dialogue of thinking.” 

How to Survive a Pandemic, Michael Greger: “From tuberculosis to bird flu and HIV to coronavirus, these infectious diseases share a common origin story: human interaction with animals. Otherwise known as zoonotic diseases for their passage from animals to humans, these pathogens—both pre-existing ones and those newly identified—emerge and re-emerge throughout history, sparking epidemics and pandemics that have resulted in millions of deaths around the world.”

Recommended by Patty Vance:

The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert: “Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who — born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution — bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas.” 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky, Mark T. Sullivan: “Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.”

Recommended by Mary Kasik:

Dear Life, Alice Monro: “Suffused with Munro’s clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these tales about departures and beginnings, accidents and dangers, and outgoings and homecomings both imagined and real, paint a radiant, indelible portrait of how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.”

Bag Man, Rachel Maddow: “The untold story of the other scandal that rocked Nixon’s White House: the wild crimes, audacious cover-up, and spectacular downfall of Vice President Spiro Agnew – with new reporting that expands on Rachel Maddow’s Peabody Award-nominated podcast.”

Recommended by Beth Boland:

His Truth is Marching On, Jon Meacham: “An intimate and inspiring portrait of civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman John Lewis, linking his life to the quest for justice in America from the 1950s to the present–from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of America.” 

The Hope of Glory, Jon Meacham: “For the author, as for believers worldwide, the events of Good Friday and Easter reveal essential truths about Christianity. A former vestryman of Trinity Church Wall Street and St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, Meacham delves into that intersection of faith and history in this meditation on the seven phrases Jesus spoke from the cross.”

The Jekyll Island Club, Brent Monahan: “When one of the club’s members is shot to death on the island, his fellow captains of industry anxiously conclude it was as a hunting accident. Is the impending visit to the Jekyl Island Club by President McKinley the only reason? Could J. P. Morgan himself have been the one who pulled the trigger? Whose side is member and millionaire newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer on?”

How Long Until Black Future Month?, N.K. Jemisin: “In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.”

Recommended by Joani Peacock:

Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope: “Trollope’s comic masterpiece of plotting and backstabbing opens as the Bishop of Barchester lies on his deathbed. Soon a pitched battle breaks out over who will take power, involving, among others, the zealous reformer Dr Proudie, his fiendish wife and the unctuous schemer Obadiah Slope.” 

Night of the Lightbringer, Peter Tremayne: “…in their search for the killer, Sister Fidelma and Eadulf will soon discover a darker shadow looming over the fortress. For their investigation is linked to a book stolen from the Papal Secret Archives which could destroy the New Faith in the Five Kingdoms…and Fidelma herself will come up against mortal danger before the case is unravelled.” 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson: “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cap mushroom.”

Shirley Jackson, A Rather Haunted Life, Ruth Franklin: “Shirley Jackson reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the literary genius behind such classics as The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House. In this “remarkable act of reclamation” (Neil Gaiman), Ruth Franklin envisions Jackson as “belonging to the great tradition of Hawthorne, Poe and James” (New York Times Book Review) and demonstrates how her unique contribution to the canon “so uncannily channeled women’s nightmares and contradictions that it is ‘nothing less than the secret history of American women of her era’ ” (Washington Post).”

Whew! That’s a lot of books! Get busy! Get reading! Enjoy!

Pax vobiscum, Joani

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The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog

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