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Spring Book Picks 2015

Two local independent booksellers give us their picks for new reads of 2015. Scroll down for a complete list of books mentioned during today's show.


Top Picks:


“Eighty-three-year-old Etta Kinnick, a former schoolteacher, leaves her Saskatchewan farmhouse early one morning, intent on walking to the Atlantic Ocean, some 2,000 miles away. Her memory may be failing, but she knows she has always wanted to see “the water.” When he wakes, her husband, Otto, finds a goodbye note and a stack of cards with useful recipes. “I will try to remember to come back,” she has written. On her way, Etta passes her neighbor Russell’s house. Though Otto can endure Etta’s pilgrimage, taking up hobbies, writing letters he knows she may never receive and calming himself with her injunction not to worry, her old beau Russell cannot. An experienced tracker, he sets off in search of her.” – NYTimes

THE RUNAWAY'S GOLD By Emilie Christie Burack

“The year is 1842, and thirteen-year-old Christopher Robertson and his family are struggling to survive in Shetland, a cluster of islands off the northern coast of Scotland.  Poverty, hunger, and being in debt are all they've known, until an unexpected twist of fate changes Christopher's life forever.”

JUST MERCY By Bryan Stevenson

“A searing, moving and infuriating memoir . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela. For decades he has fought judges, prosecutors and police on behalf of those who are impoverished, black or both. . . . Injustice is easy not to notice when it affects people different from ourselves; that helps explain the obliviousness of our own generation to inequity today. We need to wake up. And that is why we need a Mandela in this country.” The New York Times


“Winner of the 2014 Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature. In this series of poems responding to Johann Sebastian Bach's spectacular "Goldberg Variations," New Hampshire State Poet Laureate Alice B. Fogel has paid homage to a 274-year-old masterpiece and, with the theme of spirit and embodiment that music-and life itself-evoke, has rendered from it a luminous new interpretation.” – Schaffner Press

WORLD GONE BY By Dennis Lehane

“Dennis Lehane, the New York Times bestselling author of The Given Day and Live by Night, returns with a psychologically and morally complex novel of blood, crime, passion, and vengeance, set in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida, during World War II, in which Joe Coughlin must confront the cost of his criminal past and present.” - HarperCollins

Books Mentioned During The Show:

  • Anne Tyler, Spool of Blue Thread: later in the arc of her career, still successful with a new bestseller
    • Anita Diamant – another longtime author with a new book
  • Mary Doria Russell, Epitaph: career started with The Sparrow, about a missionary to outer space. She’s also written about the Jewish community in Northern Italy during WWII and coming of age novel in Egypt. Now, two books about Doc Holliday
  • Dennis Lehane, World Gone By: last book in trilogy, follows a character from Boston to Tampa; we’ve seen this author go from pulp detective novelist to the modern masterpiece Mystic River.

Local authors:

NH poets:

  • Alice Fogel, Interval: NH’s Poet Laureate, new book of poems is about the experience of listening to Bach’s Goldberg Variations
  • Charles Simic, The Lunatic (April 7th): new book of poems
    • Life of Images (April 7th): greatest hits of essays, with 5 new essays


  • Robert Middlekauff, Washington's Revolution: The Making of America's First Leader: about Washington’s early career, trying to tame his tempestuous nature to become a leader
  • David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Washington's Circle: The Creation of the President: about Washington’s circle of rivals at the beginning of the nation
  • Erik Larson, Dead Wake: about the sinking of Lusitania 100 years ago this year; Larson tells not just the facts, but stories about the people involved
  • Mark Harris, Five Came Back: for fans of ‘Unbroken’, a story of Hollywood producers during WWII who joined the war effort, produced propaganda films,  filmed liberation of Dachau
  • Mara Rockliff, Gingerbread for Liberty: for younger readers; about how a German baker helped win the American revolution


  • Candidate manifestos: Clinton, Rubio, Walker
  • Martin Frost and Tom Davis, The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis: coming to Gibson's later this year
  • Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis: based on research about changes since the 50's in community support for kids, and how that contributes to an ‘opportunity gap’
  • Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: ‘America’s Nelson Mandela’ – writes about inequities in US justice system, spoke in Exeter
  • Barney Frank, Frank: disheveled, combative politician, now retired; interesting story of his rise to prominence
  • David Axelrod, Believer: Chicago politics, origins of Obama campaign

Listener recommendations:

New fiction:

  • David Vann, Aquarium: great writer most Americans haven’t heard of yet, more well-known abroad; Aquarium is a hard-driving, intense family drama about 12 year of girl in family in crisis.
  • Jane Smiley, Some Luck from late last year; Early Warning is coming on April 28: both are in a series following one Iowa farm family across a century
  • Emma Hooper, Etta And Otto And Russell And James: old-fashioned love story, friendship between people and animals, unusual and lovely, Canadian sensibility
  • Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen , The Rabbit Back Literature Society: atmospheric mystery, translated from Finnish
  • Helen McDonald, H is for Hawk: memoir of a poet & naturalist grieving for her father who decides to adopt a hawk and train it



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