Reading Room Recommends

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done…

Ellen Goodman

January Reads

The Lydia Steptoe Stories by Djuna Barnes

Though these stories were first published nearly 100 years ago, they remain an eye-opening read. Barnes was among the literary glitterati of her day, influencing many writers’ whose names are more familiar than her own. Yet her stories may have kept more relevance than any of them. Treating the subjects of gender identity and conflicted sexuality, Barnes is more topical than ever.

A Rather Haunted Life: A biography of Shirley Jackson by Ruth Franklin

Researched in Shirley Jackson’s private archives, A Rather Haunted Life tells the story of her life with the help of her notebooks, diaries, and letters. Franklin teases out the earliest signs of the writer in Shirley through the journals and love letters she wrote from the age of twelve. Ending in tragedy with Jackson’s premature death, this biography traces the path which led her to write her best and most lasting novels.

The Campout: Recipes to Enjoy by the Fire by Marnie Hanel

My favorite campsite is under six feet of snow but I’m dreaming of summer. Whether you go to the woods with a rucksack and a mountain bike or prefer to pack an outdoor kitchen in your SUV, the recipes and camping lore in this book will inspire your ingenuity. Ever tried to “air boil” an egg on a stick over an open flame? What about baking cinnamon rolls in a Dutch oven while you boil coffee on the campfire? The Campout covers it all.

I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson

For baseball fans, Spring Training is just around the corner (global pandemic permitting). Jackie Robinson’s autobiography, I Never Had it Made, gives more than just the sensations of great baseball moments. It also tracks his personal journey, fraught with withering criticism, pushback from proponents of the status quo, and the ugliest forms of pre-Civil Rights racism. Now, when issues of race equality are under long overdue scrutiny and Robinson has been rightly elevated to hero status, we must re-read his book to remember the human behind the myth.

Children’s Shelf

Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow by Robert D. San Souci

The original hero archer, Robin Hood inhabits Sherwood with his wayward companions, foiling the smug Sherriff of Nottingham once again. Taken from the older ballads of Robin Hood (the bowman is neither the lord of Locksley nor the lover of Maid Marian), San Souci’s Robin triumphs by his quick wits, unparalleled skills, and a satisfactory dose of swashbuckling. Exceptional illustrations by Earl B. Lewis make the story complete.

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