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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Compassion – Not Just for Christmas

Karen Anderson, called “one of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world,” observed that while all faiths stress compassion, it seems to be sorely lacking in today’s societies. Even religious leaders seem to have other more urgent axes to grind.

Yet it is hard to think of a time when the compassionate voice of religion has been so sorely needed. Our world is dangerously polarized. ... And yet at the same time we are bound together more closely than ever before through the electronic media. 
 -      Karen Anderson, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
What can we do to bring more compassion to our world? 

Anderson decided that not practicing compassion was a habit that could be changed, and she realized that 12-step programs are familiar to Americans wanting to change from bad habits to good. Becoming compassionate, she warns, is not something we can accomplish overnight, but we can work toward compassion, taking one step, making one change, at a time. This book is a gift to give oneself.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
by Karen Armstrong
Paper, 222pp with suggestions for further reading

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Have You Met Roger Duvoisin?

One of the pleasures of having children is that the parents have the best possible excuse to revisit favorite books from their own childhoods. Another is discovering new children’s books. When my son was little, he and I fell in love with Roger Duvoisin’s Petunia books. All the Petunia books are delightful, but in this first one the silly goose’s discovery of a book and her adventures and misadventures with the strange object are guaranteed to warm hearts and bring smiles to booklovers young and old.

Favorite Stories of Roger Duvoisin presents three different stories new to me, while White Snow, Bright Snow is illustrated by DuVoisin but written by Alvin Tresselt. White Snow, Bright Snow was awarded the Caldecott Medal (“most distinguished American picture book for children) in 1948.

If you have children or grandchildren and have not yet been introduced to Roger Duvoisin, this holiday season could be your perfect opportunity.

Petunia, written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
Hardcover with dust jacket
50th anniversary edition

Favorite Stories of Roger Duvoisin
Paper, 122pp

White Snow, Bright Snow
By Alvin Tresselt
Illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
Hardcover with dust jacket

Friday, December 9, 2016

Old Favorites Make a Return

Rumer Godden’s charming book Mouse House, with illustrations by Adrienne Adams, was originally published in 1957, but a good mouse story is never out of date, so it’s delightful to see this lovely tale back in print. The publisher, New York Review of Books, has also re-issued Donkey Donkey, by Roger DuVoisin, one of my all-time favorite children’s author-illustrators. Both of these books, by the way, are excellent choices for reading aloud at bedtime.

Mouse House
by Rumer Godden,
& illustrated by Adrienne Adams
Hardcover, illustrated

Donkey Donkey
By Roger DuVoisin &
illustrated by the author
Hardcover, illustrated

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Modern Guides for the Currently Perplexed

That is to say, books for our time, eh? Here are a few suggestions from your Northport bookseller.

The first is a handy little paperback by Kathryn & Ross Petras, taking its title from the words of Nelson Mandela. If anyone had a right to be discouraged, wouldn’t it have been a man imprisoned for 27 years? This book really is packed with pithy, inspiring, kick-in-the-butt quotations. No wallowing in discouragement or despair! “Screw it, let’s do it!”

“It always to be impossible until it’s done”
by Kathryn & Ross Petras
Paper, 390pp

Next, who loves the lessons of The Little Prince? How many other titles by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry have you read? His books on flying are as full as wisdom as that one little children’s story, as you will discover in this book of inspiring quotations from his collected works.

A Guide for Grown-ups: Essential Wisdom from the Collected Works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Hardcover, 83pp

Is it fair of me to think these times particularly perplexing for girls and women? Whether or not they are, I do have three titles aimed at right at us (or, men, at the girls and women in your lives).

First suggestion is a book of “empowering, inspirational quotes from over 400 fabulous females” from every walk of life and every age, appropriate for any age but put together with girls in mind. What do we tell our daughters and granddaughters? This stuff.

The Girls’ Book of Wisdom,
Edited by Catherine Dee
Paper, 192pp with index

And finally, departing from quotations to visit mini-biographies, we have the last of today’s suggestions for inspirations. Life has always been challenging, but women in all times have risen to the challenges.

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
by Sam Maggs & illustrated by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Hardcover, 238pp with index

Scratch that “finally” above. I thought I was done, but looking at the table again it occurred to me that Shantyboat, one of the all-time favorite books in our household (along with Wind in the Willows) also qualifies as an inspirational book. Come on in, and I’ll explain why.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Gift-Worthy Ideas

Edward Curtis photographs are well known and widely reproduced, but this beautiful new hardcover edition with explanatory and historical text by Don Gubrandsen has the virtue of combining excellent reproductions with an extremely affordable price.

Edward S. Curtis: Visions of the First Americans
by Don Gulbrandsen
Hardcover, 256 pp/illustrated/index

Another beautiful book capturing the life of the planet we love from outer space is Earth: Spirit of Place, featuring photographs from space by astronaut Chris Hadfield. This is earth, our beloved, threatened home planet, as you and I have never seen it. A book for artists and scientists, mom and pop and all the kids.

Earth: Spirit of Place
Softcover, 192pp

There’s a two-year wait, I hear, for tickets to the see the musical version, but you can read the book now, and history buffs on your shopping list will be pleased to find it under the tree.

Alexander Hamilton,
by Ron Chernow
Paper, 817pp

And last but hardly least, you may know Porter Abbott from his talks on narrative or his letters to the editor of the Enterprise, Record-Eagle, and Northern Express, but a new side of the scholarly academic is revealed in his new book of poetry and short fiction.

Falling Slowly Dreaming of Flight:
Poems and Stories
by H. Porter Abbott
Paper, 103pp
(60% of price to be donated to Leelanau Township Library)