Posts Tagged ‘Vermont’


We’re halfway through June, somehow – and what a ride it has been. Here’s what I have been reading:

The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers, Emily Levesque
Most people imagine astronomers gazing into a backyard telescope, discovering new stars or trying to make contact with aliens. The reality is a little different, and Levesque’s memoir tells that story with humor and heart. She traces her own journey from backyard stargazer to Ph.D.-holding astronomer, and gives readers a tour of some of the world’s most powerful telescopes. Plenty of fun anecdotes about her colleagues and the field, too. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 4).

Song of the Trees, Mildred D. Taylor
I love Taylor’s series about the Logan family. This novella, narrated by Cassie, tells the story of a white landowner threatening to cut down some of the trees on her family’s land. Short and powerful.

Black History in Its Own Words, Ronald Wimberly
My guy gave me this book a while back – a collection of powerful quotes and portraits of black leaders, past and present. Some were familiar to me (bell hooks, Nina Simone, Muhammad Ali), others less so (Kimberly Bryant, Emory Douglas). Made me want to learn more about all of them.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, Louise Miller
I needed a cozy, familiar story, so I picked up my friend Louise’s lovely debut novel. Boston baker Olivia Rawlings escapes to Vermont after setting her workplace (literally) on fire. Once there, she finds herself with a baking job, some new friends and a possible love interest. I love Livvy’s story and its warm, good-hearted cast of characters.

The Nesting Dolls, Alina Adams
Spanning eight decades, from Siberian work camps to 1970s Odessa to present-day Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Adam’s saga follows three protagonists in the same Soviet family: Daria, her granddaughter Natasha, and Natasha’s granddaughter Zoe. It’s a compelling look at how the Soviet state’s ideas affected every aspect of its citizens’ lives, but it’s also a really good family saga – so good I flew through it, even on the Kindle. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 14).

I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations, Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
We are living in polarized times – and it can feel difficult and daunting to have conversations with people who think/vote/believe differently than we do. Sarah and Beth, hosts of the Pantsuit Politics podcast, share what they’ve learned through several years of digging into the issues together, and trying to do it with humility, curiosity and grace. So thoughtful and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.

The Scent of Murder, Kylie Logan
School admin assistant Jazz Ramsey spends her spare time training cadaver dogs. But she’s not prepared to find a body one Saturday night – much less one that belongs to a former student Jazz knew. Troubled by Florie Allen’s death, Jazz searches for answers while dealing (or choosing not to deal) with her personal life, including her detective ex-boyfriend. A solid entry in a new mystery series.

Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones
Jones’ breakout novel tells the story of two girls who share a father, but only one of them knows it. In 1980s Atlanta, Dana and Chaurisse navigate both their teenage years and the complications of their family’s story. I loved (and was stunned by) Jones’ An American Marriage, and am glad I finally read this one.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen, Grace Ellis
Jaclyn sent me the first two volumes of this highly entertaining comic, which follows five friends at an unconventional summer camp. I loved their exclamations (“Holy Mae Jemison!”) and the ways they band together. Lots of setup in this volume for whatever is coming next. So much fun.

The Late Bloomers’ Club, Louise Miller
Nora Huckleberry is mostly content running the town diner in Guthrie, Vermont. But when she and her free-spirited sister inherit some land from an acquaintance, Nora’s life suddenly gets complicated. Miller’s second novel features some familiar faces and lots of new ones, and a protagonist wrestling with big life questions. Full of charm and heart.

Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life, Twyla Tharp
Anne recommended this follow-up to Tharp’s The Creative Habit, which I loved. Tharp, a world-renowned dancer and choreographer, gives practical advice for building stamina and maintaining creativity and vitality as you age. She’s no-nonsense and wise, and this was a worthwhile read.

Spiderweb for Two, Elizabeth Enright
Randy and Oliver, the two youngest Melendys, are lonely without their older siblings. But a mysterious scavenger hunt fills their winter with adventures. I like the Melendys best when they are all together, but this final book in the quartet is charming and fun.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstores, Brookline Booksmith and Trident. I’ve also linked to Frugal Bookstore, a black-owned bookstore here in Boston. Y’all know I love independent bookstores, and I am also trying to support black-owned businesses more often as part of my commitment to anti-racist work.

What are you reading?

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Although I came late to loving White Christmas, I wait eagerly each December to pull out the DVD, make some cocoa, and hum along as the soldiers sing, “We’ll follow the Old Man wherever he wants to go.” (Then I cry, and laugh, and cry again at the end when they all come to honor him. Every single time.)

I didn’t watch White Christmas this weekend, but J and I did drive up to Vermont. And I thought of (and quoted) Danny Kaye all weekend. “Vermont should be beautiful this time of the year – all that snow!”

vermont mountains

There wasn’t much snow (see above), but to quote Danny Kaye again, it was just what we needed.

We got a Groupon to the charming Stowehof Inn, tucked among a grove of evergreens:

stowehof inn vermont

It boasts this lovely common area (also reminiscent of White Christmas), where we drank tea and played Scrabble:

We read for hours in front of the fire (I spent my weekend with Jane Eyre):

stowehof inn fireplace

I could have stayed in front of the fire all weekend, but there were other sights to see. Such as the Trapp Family Lodge, where the hills were alive:

(I’ve been on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg – it’s one of my favorite movies ever – so I loved seeing the inn the Trapp family founded and ran after immigrating to the States. Note the Austrian flag on the far right.)

trapp family lodge

We also took an informative, delicious tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury. No photos in the production room, but J tried to drive the Cowmobile:

ben & jerrys cowmobile

We both sampled some fantastic new Greek frozen yogurt (mine is Raspberry Fudge Chunk):

ben & jerry's greek frozen yogurt

We visited the Flavor Graveyard, where dearly departed past flavors are laid to rest:

We browsed Stowe’s main shopping area, and J found a vintage ski gondola to hang out in:

We drank chai at a cool little cafe, ate several delicious meals, and visited a cider mill, where they make scrumptious apple cider donuts:

apple cider donuts

cold hollow cider mill sign

(Yes, we got apple cider to go with our apple cider donuts. Yum.)

We stopped in Montpelier on the way home – to eat tasty crepes and browse three bookshops, including this one (I love the name):

rivendell books

I fell in love with the children’s upstairs area at Bear Pond Books:

(Not pictured: the Book Garden, where I found an adorable 1962 edition of And Both Were Young.)

It was a perfect weekend away. No schedules, no Internet, no chores, no commitments except to relax and spend time together. We love exploring new places, and this area was utterly charming.

I’ll be back, Vermont. I’m sure you’ll be beautiful any time of the year.

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