|Keeping the financial books for an active independent bookstore is a pretty daunting task to which Margot has applied her considerable skill and attention to detail. As a voracious reader with a lively and curious mind she is also helping to further broaden the collective reading experience of City Lights' booksellers.|
How great – a new book this summer from one of my favorite writers – Tracy Kidder! Kidder writes with such clarity, such detail, and such intimacy that I feel as if his protagonists are well-known friends by the time I finish one of his books. His subjects are often not easy ones to face – AIDS, third world poverty, old age, and now in this latest book, Strength in What Remains, genocidal war in Africa. Deogratias, the main character, managed to survive to tell his story – and a very moving and haunting story it is, one told in Kidder’s usual insightful and thoughtful manner. Not an easy story to read, but I am grateful to have read it. -- Margot
I just finished reading Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (to be published January 2010). I really think this is her best book yet. Maybe the subject matter just appealed more strongly to me, but for whatever reason, it's a book I highly recommend. It is a novel but is based largely on the lives of two women who were fossil hunters in Lyme Regis, England, in the early 19th century. Tho' I think the title is meant to refer to the fossils they found, these two women were remarkable creatures themselves. The younger woman, Mary Anning, was 'of the lower classes' & basically was uneducated (tho' very bright & ultimately very knowledgeable about fossils). Originally, she just hunted fossils to sell to tourists to supplement her family's income. For the older woman, Elizabeth Philpot, who was gentry, fossil hunting was a hobby that grew into an avocation. Their lives coincided with the early days of modern geologic studies, and their work greatly contributed to its foundations. However, because they were living in the era before women were accorded any status, they had to struggle for recognition of their accomplishments. Joyce, Jessica and I have all been hooked by this book -- read the first paragraph or two and see if you can put it down! Margot Wilcox, City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, NC
Just as Ruth Ann (Moon) Payne has finally got her life all neat and tidy, she is confronted with family needs she cannot deny. Her teenage daughter, Ashley, who had run away from home, returns pregnant and needs a place to live. Her aging mother, Marvelle Moon, is increasingly forgetful and can no longer live alone. Although Ruth Ann takes them in, it's an uneasy situation. This delightful story of how they settle in is a really wonderful read, full of humor and sadness, memories and dreams!
Taking place in western North Carolina, Moon Women has strong regional appeal, but Duncan's portraits of these three strong women ring true wherever you're from. Although time, place and circumstances were very different, I lived several of my teenage years in a three-generation, all-female household. As I read, the dynamics of these relationships seemed real.
A delightful book I read a few years ago is If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name. The author, Heather Lende, moved to Alaska with her husband right after they graduated from college; some 25 years later, they're still there. Those of us who appreciate the intimacy of living in a small town and accept its inconveniences will relate to Lende's stories about life in Haines, Alaska, where she writes a social column and obituaries for the weekly paper. The book is a celebration of life; Lende's vivid descriptions of the beautiful natural setting of her town and of the colorful people who live there make it wonderful reading!
- Margot Wilcox
Whose heart doesn't glow at the mere thought of a lovely bouquet of flowers? Certainly, mine isn't immune! So I really enjoyed reading Flower Confidential, a fascinating book about the commercial flower industry, from plant breeding to raising flowers to marketing them worldwide. Stewart takes her reader with her as she visits the fields where lilies are bred, to greenhouses of tulips, roses and gerbera daisies, and on to the world-famous Dutch flower auction where the seemingly delicate crop of cut flowers is brought from all over the world to be sold to wholesalers. She discusses the growing trend of producing organic flowers and shows us the headaches and heartaches of retail florists. A really good read!
-- Margot Wilcox
Susan Wittig Albert, author of the popular China Bayles series, is off on a delightful new tack. Her book, The Tale of Hill Top Farm, is a gentle mystery featuring Miss Beatrix Potter, best known perhaps as the author-illustrator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The story is just good fun! And if you value a well-told story with a strong sense of place, this book is a must-read. Having recently returned from a trip to the English Lake Country that included a visit to Hill Top Farm, I reveled in Ms. Albert's depiction of the farm, the village and the surrounding countryside, as well as the details of Miss Potter's amazing life.
-- Margot Wilcox
Wildlife biologist Deanna is caught off guard by an intrusive young hunter, while bookish city wife Lusa finds herself facing a difficult identity choice, and elderly neighbors find attraction at the height of a long-standing feud.
Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains is a compelling read. Through Kidder we meet and get to know Dr. Paul Farmer, a most engaging person, caring physician, a husband and father, medical anthropologist, infectious disease specialist, and tireless warrior for the poor. His life is formed by his belief that 'the only real nation is humanity.' The hospital he has built in Haiti would be an amazing lifetime accomplishment for anyone, but Farmer's boundless energy and passion for serving the underserved have lead him also to Peru, Cuba, and Russia, where he has worked to improve the treatment of drug-resistant TB and AIDS in slums and prisons.
Michael and Pauline met and fell in love during the hectic days following Pearl Harbor. But when he reflects on their marriage some thirty years later, Michael thinks that all of the young marrieds of their day "started off in equal ignorance marching down the street of life, but during the years the others peeled off, having matured and become comfortable in their roles, until now only he and Pauline are left, the last of the amateurs in the marriage parade." The book is full of her richly drawn characters and won't disappoint you if you're a longtime Tyler fan. -- Margot Wilcox
Love in the Driest Season is reporter Neely Tucker's memoir of the years in which he was a foreign correspondent posted to the "Dark Continent". He and his wife began volunteering in a Zimbabwean orphanage that was desperately under-funded and short staffed. The needs of each child were overwhelming, but one day their hearts were lost to a tiny baby girl who had been left in a field to die. They nursed the baby through life-threatening ailments and soon decided that she was meant to be their daughter. The problem: it is unspoken social norm that foreigners are not permitted to adopt Zimbabwean children. Interwoven with this moving story of their determination to adopt Chipo (her name means 'Gift') is an overview of both the political and social history of Africa in the last few years of the 20th century, told through the eyes of the reporter who covered the events. -- Margot Wilcox
A lucid rendering of the social and political world of Jesus explores the pervasive Greek cultural influences and the oppressive Roman presence that shaped first-century Palestine