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Page Turners

Every other week, we invite local booksellers to submit suggestions for the best books on shelves now—it’s all part of our mission to keep our readers informed, up-to-date, and entertained.

  • Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

    Artist, musician, and writer David Byrne likes to travel with a folding bike that affords a slowed perspective of the world. Whether about Berlin or Buffalo, New York, the essays are an entertaining mix of travelogue, social commentary, and personal musings—American industries, indigenous art, or comparing how jeans are worn in Argentina (tight) as well as L.A. Byrne is a curious intellectual and cultural observer sharing wit and wisdom from a bicycle seat.
    —Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
    1 of 10

  • The Blue Wake by Jerry Ackerman

    With all respect to a local Connecticut author, this is guilty pleasure reading. Set in the 1970s, a Vietnam vet seeks downtime on a sloop named Wren and finds a busy summer—Essex, Connecticut, to Block Island, Rhode Island. You’ll recognize the streets, yachts, marinas, and music. With a mix of sci-fi, scary business, and lots of sex, it may not be literature, but an original capital-"T" thriller.
    —Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
    2 of 10

  • The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

    To put it right out there, this book is dark, despairing, and there is some very tough content! Still interested? Great, because the writing is brilliant and feels very real. Go inside a prison—then go deep into the characters’ backgrounds. Enough said!
    —Lori of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
    3 of 10

  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

    Game of Thrones returned to HBO for its fourth season on April 6. If you’re already a devotee of the show, reading A Game of Thrones, the first of Martin’s five-volume fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, will enhance your enjoyment of the show and reveal how perfectly cast the actors are. Maps of the North and the South of fictional Westeros inside the covers help you follow the multiple plots as this saga of power struggles between kings and queens unfolds. If you haven’t seen the show, the book includes more than enough sword fights, bloody battles, plots, murders, and magic—as well as sumptuous food, gorgeous clothing, and secret trysts—to keep you turning the pages. You’ll hunger for volume two!
    —Nancy of Breakwater Books, Guilford
    4 of 10

  • House of Outrageous Fortune by Michael Gross

    If you are a voyeur of a certain ilk—obsessed with the lifestyles of the rich and famous—then this is the book for you. Granted there’s some New York real estate history to get through, but even that has a certain fascination. Once the author gets to the heart of the matter–the super wealthy who come to occupy 15 Central Park West—you won’t be able to think straight. The excess and the extravagance will make your head spin. Gross’s books are synonymous with high-falutin’ gossip, and this one is no exception.
    —Peggy of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
    5 of 10

  • Missing You by Harlan Coben

    Warning! Beware of men from your past popping up, and if you’re thinking about giving Internet dating a try, you never will again after reading this twisted thriller. Detective Kat Donovan sees a photo of her ex-fiancée on a dating site while at the same time a teenage boy seeks her out to help him find his missing mother. What she discovers in her investigation is shocking and sinister. A page-turner to the end.
    —Julie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
    6 of 10

  • The New England Diner Cookbook by Mike Urban

    Time to get out of the house and the winter kitchen to try some diner food, the best of which comes from New England! Local author Mike Urban spent two years traveling New England to meet diner owners, sample their foods, and record their favorite recipes. The author has also included the names and locations of many New England diners, each one having a distinction of its own. A treat for cooks and diners—hit the road and see for yourself!
    —Ree of Harbor Books, Old Saybrook
    7 of 10

  • Oak by Stephen Taylor

    The artist chose to study one tree and paint it in all weathers, at all times of day and night, as he came to terms with loss, life cycles, and his perception of the world as a realist painter. A meditative pursuit and creative triumph, the color plates and text are a gorgeous documentation of enduring nature. This tree is, coincidentally, located in the sister county of Essex, England.
    —Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
    8 of 10

  • Peggy by Anna Walker

    I love this book, not just because my name is also Peggy, but because it speaks to my life. I, too, left a small town and got swept away to a large city and was very homesick. It all worked out for me, just like it does for Peggy, the brave chicken.
    —Peggy of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
    9 of 10

  • Poem In Your Pocket, Selected by Elaine Bleakney

    April is National Poetry Month. Thanks to these reader-friendly 200 tear-a-way pages, I can take inspiration with me! The Academy of American Poets, founders of Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 18), offers an assortment of poems from Walt Whitman to Kay Ryan with a tête-à-tête quality, which is partly what makes poetry one of the most beloved art forms. We have the kid’s edition, too.
    —Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
    10 of 10

Past Page Turners

Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow

 March 12, 2014

There’s an old saying that goes: "the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master." In E.L. Doctorow’s latest novel, we are given a look into one such terrible master: Andrew’s brain. The story, told in stream-of-conscioussness narration, plays like a puzzle. As more parts come together, the stranger the mind of Andrew’s becomes.
—Jesse of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
1 of 8

Bark by Lorrie Moore

 March 12, 2014

I might be biased writing this because I devour anything Lorrie Moore has ever written (then again, who doesn’t), but Lorrie Moore’s long-awaited collection of short stories doesn’t disappoint…at all. Her ability to tell a story and develop dialogue and characters is so masterful and so effortless that you almost can’t believe these people aren’t real. Describing a neighbor’s purple flowers like "grape candies scattered in the grass" is one of the most beautiful sentences I’ve heard in quite a while—there’s a litany of these in Bark for you to uncover.
—Courtney of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
2 of 8

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

 March 12, 2014

Victorian London murder! Steampunk, time travel, Egyptology, and disappearing debutantes! Enter investigators Evaline Stoker (Bram’s sister) and Mina Holmes (Sherlock’s niece.) It’s escapist fun. A dark novel with a light touch introduces this new series. The double heroines are uneasy allies in a complex setting aimed at Y.A. readers. I am clearly getting younger and now headed for some original Bram Stoker Dracula.
—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
3 of 8

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

 March 12, 2014

This is a compelling novel about a segment of history that has long been neglected—the transporting of more than 200,000 orphans from the East Coast to the Midwest for adoption. This parallel story takes place between 1929 and 2011 in Maine, Minnesota, and Ireland. Molly is a foster teen obliged to do community-service for Vivian, an elderly widow. The story evolves as Molly and Vivian clear out Vivian’s cluttered attic and discover that they have much in common. This is a work of fiction that has been well researched.
—Sue of Breakwater Books, Guilford
4 of 8

School of Charm by Lisa Ann Scott

 March 12, 2014

When Chip’s father dies, the family moves in and Chip, the tomboy, is surrounded by beauty queens. Discover how Chip finds her way to new friends and her place in the family when she discovers Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. You will never look at a charm bracelet the same way again. School of Charm is a warm story of trust, self-assurance, and family.
—Andie of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
5 of 8

Shoestrology by Tali & Ophira Edut

 March 12, 2014

I wouldn’t typically consider myself a Marc Jacobs wedge—I’m more of a ballet flat kind of girl. Then again, shoes can bring out the fabulous in all of us! This astrological reader identifies your birthday shoe, with ways you kick it up (good) and step it down (not so good). A funny, feminine, flip-through-with-friends book and a clever survey of shoe-design history.
—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
6 of 8

Strange Maps by Frank Jacobs

 March 12, 2014

The caveat "not for navigation" fits, because you can easily get lost in this book, made up of 100-plus antique, literary, fantastic, misconceived, or data-based maps from the 17th to the 21st century. They’re gathered here in a blend of art, history, pop culture, and politics. Jacobs’s accompanying text brings humor, gravitas, and social commentary to an eclectic collection. The Island of California, or the World in a Cloverleaf…I can’t pick a favorite, yet.
—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
7 of 8

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

 March 12, 2014

TaraShea Nesbit employs an unusual (but effective) group narrative to convey the complexities, frustrations, and anonymity of being a wife of a physicist in Los Alamos—referring, of course, to the Manhattan Project and the invention of the "gadget" that led to the end of World War II and the beginning of the Atomic Age. So many lives lost but so many saved... Putting myself in their position, I don’t know if I could have maintained pride in my husband’s "accomplishments," or shame in what it wrought.
—Mary T. of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
8 of 8

George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaegar

 February 26, 2014

During George Washington’s birthday month, this is the perfect book to help us appreciate the part the "Secret Six" played in aiding Washington’s success. The authors researched this "Culper Ring," which consisted of six ordinary citizens: a Quaker reporter, a longshoreman, a Long Island bachelor, a coffee shop owner, a print shop owner, and Agent 355, a woman whose identity has yet to be discovered. Although this is non-fiction, the reader will feel a part of every plot they carried out. Great appreciation for our American freedom!
—Ree of Harbor Books, Old Saybrook
1 of 7

The New York Times Story of The Yankees edited by Dave Anderson

 February 26, 2014

Spring training is under way at last. If you have a case of pinstripe fever, these collected New York Times articles are a trip down memory lane from 1903 to 2012. Chronicling the biggest stories and events in Yankee history—championships, rivals, great plays, and controversial owners. This is a book that takes you back to childhood ballpark trips, radio listening, and heroes shared with pals, uncles, and grandparents.
—Jennifer of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
2 of 7

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

 February 26, 2014

Whoa! Where did this one come from? Ever since his work with The Office, I’ve always been a fan of B.J. Novak, but I was genuinely surprised by how much I loved this book. Cute, famous actors don’t tend to write many things of substance, you know? One More Thing is smart, so funny, and darkly playful. It’s like if Shel Silverstein wrote prose for adults.
—Courtney of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
3 of 7

Someday by Eileen Spinelli

 February 26, 2014

This is one little girl with big dreams! Swimming with dolphins, lunch at the White House, riding a camel through Egypt, even competing in the Olympics—the only limit is your imagination! Though you may be stuck being a kid today, keep those dreams alive because anything is possible. I love the whimsical art and I love the message even more!
—Kaley of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
4 of 7

This Land Is Your Land by Robert Santelli

 February 26, 2014

A 250-page tribute to the life, music, and insights of a man who created controversy with a single, simple song. Biography, photos, and old country charm reveal Guthrie’s story. Whether thumbing rides or guitar strings, he was an all-American and a seeker of truth—the lyrics intended for this anthem (see the original version’s last verse) are very different from the ones we all know by heart!
—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities
5 of 7

Wake by Anna Hope

 February 26, 2014

Three women haunted by loved ones lost in battle during World War I have interwoven stories leading up to the second anniversary of Armistice Day. Each moving account will strike a chord as the body of the Unknown Soldier is ceremoniously transported through London. Very powerful and elegant storytelling. Wake will resonate with every generation of reader because, as one character puts it, "England didn’t win and Germany wouldn’t have won it, either. War wins and keeps winning over and over again."
—Mary T. of R.J. Julia Bookellers, Madison
6 of 7

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

 February 26, 2014

Based on the true-life, never-solved mystery of the disappearance of Justice Joseph Crater, this entertaining novel will keep you hooked until the very last page! As told through the voices of three women (Joseph’s wife, Stella; his showgirl/mistress, Ritzi; and Maria, the maid), Ariel Lawhon vividly describes the smoky, crime-ridden Prohibition-era of NYC. This one’s a real page-turner.
—Barb of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
7 of 7

Aimless Love: Poems by Billy Collins

 January 29, 2014

He’s been writing some of our best American poems for years. Each collection is like meeting him over coffee for the first time. Humorous, touching, accessible—this is a compilation of new work and old favorites from the poet laureate.
"the trouble with poetry is/that it encourages the writing of more poetry/more guppies crowding the fish tank…"
As if Billy could ever disappoint us.
—Ellen of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
1 of 6

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

 January 29, 2014

What’s a gardener to do all winter? Try this enchanting biography of the woman who brought us Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and other characters. This is an original account of her love for plants and gardens, how they translated into her work, and inspired her writing. This book is filled with botanical sketches, journals entries, photos, and illustrations—and a guide to visiting London and the Lake District, where Potter’s gardens still grow.
—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
2 of 6

Icons of Vintage Fashion by Penelope Blanckeart and Angele Hernu

 January 29, 2014

The perfect gift for all the fabulous fashionistas out there, Icons of Vintage Fashion defines the thrill of the hunt with pages and pages of delicious designs from every decade—beautifully made, eternally elegant…even environmentally sustainable! Fashion so fantastic that it never goes out of style!
—Mary T. of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
3 of 6

The Receptionist by Janet Groth

 January 29, 2014

If you’re a fan of The New Yorker and mid-20th-century literary New York, you’ll enjoy this charmingly offhanded, slightly gossipy glimpse into the workings of an iconic magazine and its famous contributors. It is also the memoir of a young Midwesterner and her career as both receptionist and would-be writer in very different time for women and the big city.
—Jennifer of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
4 of 6

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

 January 29, 2014

This ghost story has the perfect combination of eeriness and suspense! Lucy Lockwood and George are the only agents in Lockwood & Co. Their purpose is to sense ghosts and hunt them down. One assignment, however, leads them to a burned down house and an investigation that puts their lives at risk. Will they make it out alive? For readers aged eight and older.
—Emma of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
5 of 6

Ten Thousand Stories by Matthew Swanson

 January 29, 2014

Ten Thousand Stories is the most original book I’ve come across in a long time. Sort of like a grown-up version of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, you can flip through all of the panels to create a different story each and every time. The perfect way to spend a snowy day, this book is hilarious and so much fun!
—Riley of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
6 of 6

All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

 January 15, 2014

As if I needed another reason to bake, now I've found All Cakes Considered. NPR's unofficial cake connoisseur provides the reader with stories and kitchen wisdom alongside each recipe. Flip through this colorful cookbook, discover mouth-watering photos of must-have treats (taste-tested weekly by the NPR staff), and pop another cake in the oven!
—Hannah of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
1 of 10

The Best American Infographics 2013

 January 15, 2014

As the newest addition to the Best American series, this unique book gives you a visual representation of facts ranging from whom ESPN likes to talk about most (Tim Tebow) to a flow chart on whether or not you should check your email. This book has to be seen to be believed. And, with an introduction by Talking Heads front man David Byrne, you know it has to be cool.
—Andrew of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
2 of 10

Confessions of a Tarot Reader by Jane Stern

 January 15, 2014

Yes it’s that Jane Stern, the well-known culture and food writer from Connecticut, also a Yale Ph.D. and fourth-generation tarot reader. This book fascinates me. It’s a memoir with anecdotes of readings and advice to clients and friends that also describes the history, beauty, and meaning of the 22 Major Arcana. The Fool, Lovers, or Temperance—each card is tool and analogy for modern-life choices.
—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
3 of 10

Inside the Dream Palace by Sherrill Tippins

 January 15, 2014

Art in New York City—every page of this delightful history is a snapshot of the time from late-19th century to now. Crazy, insightful, sublime, drug-riddled—I couldn’t put this down. A terrific, fun, and slightly creepy look at the hotel of our dreams.
—Andrew of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison
4 of 10

I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn

 January 15, 2014

The Earhart’s summer house is a fanciful tin-cut trimmed Victorian near Abbott’s Lobster in Niantic. At each passing, I wonder what really happened. In somber, poetic, diary-style entries, Amelia’s voice takes you on the fateful flight and beyond her disappearance. With her drunken co-pilot Noonan, on an island named Heaven, this blur of fact and fiction is a lovely, surreal adventure novella.
—Linda of The Griswold Inn Store ~ Goods & Curiosities, Essex
5 of 10

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