January Book of the Month:
Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk’s Vision of the Lakota World,
by Janet Catherine Berlo
I spotted this book in our Travel and Cultures section and thought it so very cool that I wanted to share it with you all. It might seem like a bit of a cheat, but I felt the book’s dust flap summary to be so comprehensive and compelling, that I chose to simply transcribe it for you here 🙂
“One of the finest examples of Native American pictorial art, Black Hawk’s drawing book is published here and in full color for the first time. Having recently emerged from obscurity (the book appeared for auction in 1994 after being abandoned for decades in a file cabinet), these seventy-six vivid drawings now stand as the most complete visual record pf Lakota art of the early Reservation period (1875-95).
A Lakota artist and medicine man living on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, Black Hawk completed these pencil and ink drawingsduring the winter of 1880-81. The drawings were commissioned by William Edward Caton, the trader at the Cheyenne River Agency, who paid Black Hawk fifty cents for each drawing and later gathered them together in a handsome leather-bound volume. The drawings depict a wide-range of subjects ranging from ceremonial activities, personal visions, warfare, and historic events, to scenes of daily life, nature studies, and hunting. Some of Black Hawk’s illustrations are the only known drawings of ceremonies described in ethnographic works such as Black Elk Speaks, the famous account of visions experienced by Lakota man Black Elk.
Drawing on ethnographic accounts and her discussions with Lakota interviewees and scholars, Janet Berlo’s comprehensive and insightful text presents a fully rounded picture of the cultural background from which Black Hawk’s drawings emerged. her analysis of Black Hawk’s extradordinary images examines their potent iconograohy and stylistic elements, and places them within the Lakota tradition. A brief history of the Lakota is also provided, describing what is known of their early origins, of Black Hawk’s time, and of their trajectory into the twentieth century.
An invaluable contribution to our knowledge of Native American history and art, Black Hawk’s drawing book is a window on a fascinating and eloquent world.”
October Book of the Month:
An Age of Barns, by Eric Sloane
The Barn: A Vanishing Landmark in North America,
Eric Arthur and Dudley Witney
One of the things I love about the Book of the Month posts is the opportunity to highlight some of our more interesting, yet unassuming books that might get lost in the sheer number of titles we have to offer.
This month, I was thinking of all the things I love about fall, but wanted to choose a subject that might not often get a lot of attention. Certainly we haven’t had many recent features from the Art & Architecture genre, and as I scanned through the section, the two featured titles struck my interest. For what is more humble than a barn? And yet, at different times and places it can possess artistic, functional, historical, and even nostalgic, value. And what is one likely to see many of whilst meandering around the countryside, leaf-peeping and buying cider? The barn, whether working or caving in, still makes a regular appearance here in the rural areas of New England.
Eric Sloane’s An Age of Barns features numerous sketches and paintings of Early American barns, and details not only their architectural features, but also their significance in early Americana. From New England to Pennsylvania, on to Appalachia and out to the West, he educates us on the vast styles and functions of a humble, yet surprisingly diverse, structure.
“We have finally come to realize the beauty and excellence of homes built by the early Americans , but too often their barns are regarded as mere curiosities. They are, rather, the shrines of a good life that ought to be remembered.”
Arthur and Witney also recognize the barn’s importance and rapidly disappearing presence. The Barn: A Vanishing Landmark in North America is more photo-journalistic in its approach, comprised of 134 color and 278 black and white photographs (plus notes) that record examples of this historically significant structure for future generations.
“North American barns of the last two hundred years are landmarks of beauty and culture- the simple and practical expression of a people, a way of life, and the land from which they sprang.”
With help from this month’s feature, as we are out enjoying the crisp autumn air and colorful landscapes, perhaps we can better appreciate these rustic structures that dot the landscape for more than their bucolic value. Indeed, it is eye opening to understand the barn as an “expression” rather than just a functional structure. Simple in form, but multifaceted in value, they reflect the qualities of those who built them and unconsciously left behind a story for future generations.
Many of us know someone who professes not to like reading, when they are in fact, limiting the concept to interpreting written text. Perhaps those people would prefer the type of story-telling offered in this month’s selections, where words take second stage to the explorations offered in rich imagery.
PS- If you do happen to be wandering in the Pioneer Valley, I hear there are some pretty good bookstores ’round these parts 😉 Indeed, Southampton boasts a few barns, and a particular working one down the road from us offers pumpkins and hayrides, so stop by and visit!
July Book of the Month:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7), by J.K Rowling
Happy Summer, dearest readers! We’ve been such busy little bees here that we seem to have fallen behind on our featured book postings. After some thinking, we decided it would be fun to return to a fiction selection- particularly a recommendation that would flow with the carefree spirit of summer.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the Children’s genre for just that purpose. It offers many options that are as well written and complex as other genres, but also boast colorful descriptions, faster-paced plot turns, and a more streamlined cadence to keep readers of all ages coming back for more. And one of my favorite all-time examples is the Harry Potter series.
J.K. Rowling’s first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (released as “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” outside the U.S.) offers a look at the title character’s introduction to the fantastic world of wizardry, and with it, a start down the path of his own learning and personal development. Readers young and old will delight in following Harry as he discovers all manner of new and magical things, makes friends, and overcomes obstacles. The lightest and most fanciful read of all the books, it reflects the perspective of young eyes- Harry is just eleven when the series begins. As the series goes on, Harry’s obstacles and trials become more severe, the plots get deeper, and sometimes darker, and Rowling weaves a masterful and magical web of complexity over a span of seven books. As Harry matures, so do his readers, and therefore so does the reading content. And best of all, each installment in the series- though flowing cohesively into the next- contains its own solid and complete plot, while subplots shimmer with mystery and promises that tempt readers to the next book, and the next. Our other feature is the final installment in the series. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, our protagonist, now 18, straddles the gap between adolescence and adulthood. He faces the final confrontation with his greatest adversary- the dark wizard that has both created and sought to eliminate him. Harry must look deep within to find the answers needed defy his death, and the destruction it would bring to all he knows and loves. Rowling deftly picks up and weaves in loose ends for many gratifying “A-ha!’ moments in this magnificent and rousing conclusion. Cleverly spun, the series both entertains and challenges readers, making it an enjoyable pick for all ages.
Tell us, are you a Potter fan? Perhaps interested in finally seeing what the hype is about? We can offer the single copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to get you started, or if you’re looking for a nice hardbound copy of the spellbinding conclusion, we have several in stock. You can always shop online, but remember we’re here 11-3, Saturdays and Sundays. Stop in and see us, and perhaps you can make time to peruse some of our other summer-worthy reads.
Happy Summer, and happy reading! Thanks for checking out this month’s Special Feature!
April Book of the Month: Spring Moon: A Novel of China, by Bette Bao Lord
and when Spring comes it renews its full life;
Only grief, so long as roots remain,
Even without Spring, is of itself reborn.”
-Ch’en Shan-Min, Sung Dynasty
Spring has finally come to New England. Now is the time to ready gardens for planting and to revel in the return of favorite warblers, wrens and finches. But, set aside a few minutes for reading; in particular, Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord. A truly captivating book that returns you to a world that no longer exists in the 21st century: traditional China. The book spans the years between 1892 to the early 1970s and the upheaval that occurred.
Spring Moon, one of the central characters, is the catalyst through which the reader experiences the beauty and tradition of Chinese culture. She is a lovely daughter born into a Mandarin Chinese family. She is hobbled not only by bound feet, but also by rigid cultural standards. Spring Moon’s intellectual curiosity and passion is appreciated as it reflects the respect for scholarship and order. However, with the coming of WWII and the chaos that ensues, Spring Moon’s world of order and harmony appears so be lost. Spring Moon’s legacy through her daughter, Lustrous Jade, remains one of beauty, family, and remembered traditions.
Lord’s book is one that will sweep you back in time and away to a place of poetry and serenity…at least for a time. So, put that gardening spade down, put your feet up, and enjoy a mini-vacation that only a good book can bring.
March Book of the Month: Ghosts in Irish Houses
Few countries are familiar with spirits, poltergeists, and harpies as the Irish. Noted for their tales of “things that go bump in the night,” the Irish have woven many a long-winded story into an epic of chaos and adventure. While some think of Ireland as being the land of leprechauns, fairies, and shamrocks, James Reynolds gives us a poetic rendering of the darker, more occult side of Ireland in Ghosts in Irish Houses.
James Reynolds, an Irish man, chose twenty-two tales to illustrate. With bold colors and broad strokes, he captures the haunting stories from a vast collection of Irish Narratives. Each of the twenty-two pieces is illustrated in color or in black and white sketch. His writing and visual interpretation convey the artistic quality of a poet and an artist combined.
James Reynolds was infatuated by the spirits of his native Ireland, and by his love of castles. The aura created by these massive structures is evident in this book.
A true Irish treasure, James Reynolds’ Ghosts in Irish Houses is a must have for any collector of the supernatural and the occult.
January Book of the Month:
Works of Love are Works of Peace: Mother Theresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity, A Photographic Record by Michael Collopy
During the holiday season it’s customary to send and receive wishes for “Peace, Love, and Joy.” What better time of year, with resolutions abound, to remember the actions of those who’ve dedicated themselves to bringing such things to those in need?
Few are as iconic in this capacity as Mother Theresa of Calcutta. This month’s beautiful Featured Book displays the photo-journalism of Michael Collopy, and was four years in the making. With the aid of Mother Theresa herself, the result offers over 180 tri-tone photographs displayed in a large format volume. “Destined to serve as a historical record, this illustrated prayer book vividly portrays the peace and joy that can come when ‘small things’ are done with great love.”
What an inspiring way to begin the New Year 🙂
December Books of the Month:Gifts From the Kitchen, Homemade Cookies, and
The Complete Book of Baking
There’s a slight nip in the air and a few snowflakes drifting in the wind. ‘Tis the season for celebrating with friends and family, with warmth and good will prevailing. What better time than to dust off your culinary skills and start baking some winter, holiday goodies. With a little bit of effort and even less money, you can present the people on your holiday wish list with an oven treasure.
Norma Meyers & Joan Scobey bring us a whiff of nostalgia with Gifts From the Kitchen. This book not only shows the reader how to make the treat, but how to wrap it and gift it. The Food Editors of Farm Journal assembled a book of recipes for Homemade Cookies. This collection will surprise even the most veteran of cookie bakers. Those wonderful cookie exchange parties will explode with these marvelous confections.
For those of you with a more cosmopolitan flair for the holidays there is Crescent Books,
The Complete Book of Baking. This book is filled with little masterpieces that will thrill you and your very lucky guests. From rolls to teacakes, this compilation will guarantee a house filled with happy and satisfied friends.
The rich odors of sweet surprises from the oven and the cheerful voices of contented loved ones will provide enough warmth and peace to make your holiday experience one that is filled with peace, joy and good food!
October 2012- Portaits of the Salem Witch Trials
October is upon us here at the book store, and indeed it seems I can barely keep up with the spiders and their cobwebs as they settle cozily into our beautiful old building. Such things remind us of Halloween, a busy time of year for the modern city of Salem. And while it’s true the witch trials took place over the course of an entire year (February 1692- May 1693), the supernatural tone that led to very real and very chilling events is most befitting this time of year- a time the ancient Celts felt the physical and supernatural worlds were closest.
Of course, modern-day Salem, unable to escape the intertwining of its history and the concept of witchcraft, has capitalized on the history of the trials and the manifestation of the witch in particular. Ironically, with its clashing kitschy attractions and legitimate Wiccan community, those curious about witchcraft can visit to witness the odd juxtaposition of an actual “witch” culture living alongside an invented stereo-type image.
But what about 15th century Salem? The trials actually took place in several towns across the province, though most occurred in Salem Village, now modern day Danvers, Massachusetts. Most of us know what happened there, even in a general sense. But the (forgive me) spellbinding nature of the events is undeniable. The happenings there came to inspire centuries of curiosity and fantasy, and of course, literature.
Our Books of the Month offer two depictions of the trials: The first book is Dulcibel, a work of historical fiction by Henry Peterson. His heroine of title name becomes one of the accused, and must rely on her young lover to escape persecution.
The second title is Witchcraft at Salem, by Chadwick Hansen. Hansen’s work of non-fiction takes the interesting approach of suggesting that certain practices that would have been considered “witchcraft” by the colonists, might indeed have been taking place in 15th century Salem.
Hope you are all enjoying this time of year- a time of harvest and preparation. Please visit us to procure some good books, and prepare to settle in!
August 2012 – Savoring Summer
With hot temps and soaring humidity lately, it’s hard to believe summer will soon tumble headlong into fall. Still, something in us must sense the change- the days are shorter, the mornings cooler. Suddenly it seems everyone is talking about one last trip or cookout. I feel it pressing on me too- the impulse to log in some final hours at the shore, in the hammock, or at the farmer’s market.
Food! If you’ve been following past blogs, you might have picked up on the fact that I enjoy food. I also enjoy travel. What better time of year for either indulgence, than summer? And in my opinion, the two things need not be mutually exclusive. What better way to explore a culture, community, or locale than through food? Whether at a hidden local gem, or a host’s table, I can think of little I enjoy more than simple, freshly prepared food and good company.
Mind you, I love books too. So when we had to come up with a new concept for our monthly book feature, it was so easy and fun to wander over to our cooking section and grab a few delicious morsels…er, titles, to share.
With such a wealth of regional cookbooks I couldn’t fairly represent them all. I decided to narrow down the theme to Southern cooking. We lived in the South for a couple years, and I can personally attest that the hospitality is indeed as long as the summers. It’s not limited to the Junior League-set, either…the hot and languid weather dictates a slower pace that suits good food and easy conversation everywhere.
The Memphis Cookbook is indeed, a Junior League offering from Memphis, Tennessee. It’s a classic example of the spiral-bound recipe compilations that get offered up as fundraiser material. I suggest the banana pudding recipe- a Southern classic.
The Wide, Wide, World of Texas Cooking, by Morton G. Clark pretty much explains itself, but it may not be all what you’d assume. Most people envision chili and barbecue, and lots of it. But Texas takes culinary cues from a variety of cultures- Spanish and Mexican, of course, but also English, Polish, and Creole, for an a wide variety of innovative and surprising offerings.
The Deep South Natural Foods Cookbook, by Mary Lou McCracken dispels the myth that “Deep South” cooking has to be synonymous with “Deep Fried”. Recipes described as “basic and nutritious” are anything but boring. The collection spans every possible course- including beverages, and stars many Southern classics. I suggest the cornbread stuffing- it’ll be listed under “D” for “dressing.”
Not currently on display, but available in our Rare and Scarce section, is a copy of Lousiana Real and Rustic, by Emeril Lagasse and Marcelle Bienvenu. It’s signed by the celebrity chef himself, and is replete with the types of authentic, but user-friendly recipes that made him famous.
I’d best wrap up here and get some lunch! You can check out our short-display in the store for more regional and cultural cookbooks. I wanted to title it “No Reservations”, but realized Anthony Bourdain’s people might come and get me. (Oh, and we have Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour too- it’s in our Travel section.)
Anyway, to see what I called it instead, and to peruse more recipes from around the globe, you’ll have to come in and visit. Think of it as one more thing to tick off your summer to-do list 🙂
June 2012- Living Seaside: Exploring New England Coastal Communities and Cultures.
With lovely weather having finally arrived and vacation season commencing, the topic of the shore was an easy segue from our last featured collection of New England Travel. Keeping local once again, our theme explores further into the past and present experience of New England living, with a heavier focus on the ocean’s influence on local lifestyles
Ever popular, “The Cape” as it’s known to New Englanders, makes its reappearance in “Blue Water Men, and Other Cape Codders” by Katharine Crosby, 1946. Part guide, part local history, this gem features black and white photos with earlier depictions of Cape towns that have long built up and over the quaint retreats of days gone by.
“Nantucket in Color” features a collection of color photographs by Peter H. Dreyer dating to 1973. (Our version is a 1986 reprint.) Not quite as historically detailed as our Cape Cod feature, but a nostalgic return to simpler times, nonetheless.
“Alongshore” by John R. Stilgoe, 1994, is the most recently published, and focuses more expansively on New England’s relationship with its extensive shoreline. It is also replete with plenty of black and white photos and illustrations.
With so many things to see and do, we hope this month’s feature inspires you to get out this summer and experience some rich coastal history, whether it be of the local or family variety. We have a long family tradition at Groton Long Point, CT, and plan to spend some time visiting the Mystic Seaquarium and Seaport, as well as keeping with tradition in the sand and waves in the coming months. Be sure to stop by and select some books for beach reading!
April 2012 – Inspirations for Local Travel and Exploration
The daffodils and tulips are all in bloom, welcoming the sunshine, warm breezes, and blue skies of Spring. This is the perfect time for travel – day trips or weekend adventures. In A Treasury of Vermont Life, edited by Stephen Greene, et al, one doesn’t even have to leave the living room to enjoy the beautiful, photogenic scenery of Vermont. Stone walls, rolling hills and covered bridges dot this New England state. The four seasons are beautifully captured in black and white as well as full color photos.
Mystic Seaport, published by Mystic Seaport Museum Stores, makes one long for the ocean, tall ships and anything nautical. Steve Dunwell’s photography transports the reader to the cobbled streets and salty air of one of Connecticut’s most beautiful areas.
Romantic Cape Cod by James Westaway McCue published in 1941, conjures visions of steaming clam chowder, rolling mists, and footprint-covered seashores. This book takes one on a tour of the Cape, from Sandwich to Provincetown. History and myth combine to create not only a nationally recognized attraction, but also a hauntingly beautiful text.
So, whether traveling near or far during this budding time of the year, any one of these selections will be a guide and inspritation.
With August drawing to a close, it’s hard not to see the myriad of items for going back to school. In past years, a pencil box, notebook paper, erasers, a ruler and a new lunch box were all that was needed for the youngster to successfully begin the school year. Now… we have a myriad of aps for our pcs and a “notebook “is anything but a three-ring binder. Ball-point pens have been replaced by “smart pens,” which record everything a student writes and “Google” is the reference librarian of today. However, no electronic gadget can replace the teacher-student interaction that is imperative in order for a child to have a meaningful learning experience.
Tracy Kidder’s Among Schoolchildren explores the challenges facing teachers and children in the school setting. He gives us insight into the importance of caring, love, and empathy in a teacher, as well as subject expertise. The endless paperwork, administrative and parental demands, and heart-breaking plights that children face, are only some of the issues Kidder explores in this remarkably honest examination of American education.
Shut Up and Let the Lady Teach by Emily Sachar is a book about the author’s experience as an eighth grade teacher in Brooklyn, New York. Confronted by students, who act out, administrators, who are apathetic and insufficient materials with which to teach, Emily Sachar is both dismayed and energized by her classroom realities. She gives us a year in the life of a New York City teacher facing the overwhelming problems in American education.
A school for children who are “crippled” was the realized dream of Henry Viscardi in The School. While attempting to overcome the variety of challenges in the creation of this school, Viscardi maintains in the forefront the goal of a quality education for all handicapped children. A truly inspiring narrative, Viscardi is a man determined to better the lives of children with infirmities.
All three books are true accounts of what American education was, is and could become. Good teaching is an art, not a business. It is a visceral experience as well as an intellectual endeavor. Kidder, Sachar, and Viscardi open the readers’ eyes to the world of the classroom.
When one thinks of July, one envisions town halls festooned in red, white, and blue bunting, the American flag flying proudly, parades winding up Main Street, neighborhood barbecues, and the bombast of fireworks. However, it is also a time to remember American traditions in a more historic manner. The founding of our country, the inspiring men and women who struggled to form a new society, and the awe-inspiring document, the Constitution, help us to understand the marvel that is the United States of America.
Leo Huberman’s We, the People: The Drama of America provides the reader with a perspective on who and what made America great and why. Illustrated by Thomas Hart Benton, this book expresses the visions of Americans, past and present.
In We the People: The Constitution in American Life by Robert S. Peck, the consistent strength, durability, and relevance of the American Constitution is examined. Illustrations of many of our more valued documents are presented as well as a facsimile/copy of the complete Constitution.
Stephen E. Ambrose explores the ever-positive spirit of the American people as well as its errors of racism, prejudice, and war. In his book, To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian, Ambrose presents elements of history, patriotism, and the art of writing.
So… light a sparkler, munch on a hot dog, and cheer the parade, but don’t forget to read one of these three books to inspire in you what it means to be an American!
In celebration of Women in History month, Heritage Books of Southampton recommends Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Although written in 1937, Hurston’s central character, Janie, is very much the modern woman. Janie demonstrates independence, initiative, and innate intelligence. Janie discovers her sense of self and identity though quite a circuitous journey. Enduring three marriages, social ridicule, and a major flood, Janie emerges as a strong, vital woman. Forged by the fires of physical and mental abuse, social criticism, and devastating loss, a woman or steely substance is created. Zora Neale Hurston’s masterpiece will continue to entertain and provoke decades of readers.