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In the forward to Twin Lights Tonic, by Paul St. Germain and Devlin Sherlock, Philip Elliot Hopkins, Co-executor of t…

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While the official start of summer may be June 20, for me Memorial Day weekend has always signaled the start of the season.  With the upcoming long weekend in mind, here are a few books I’ve already read but am excited for you all to get to read on the beach, by the pool, and late into the longer, warmer nights.

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In the forward to Twin Lights Tonic, by Paul St. Germain and Devlin Sherlock, Philip Elliot Hopkins, Co-executor of the Twin Lights Trust, recalls a childhood trip to the Little Art Cinema in Rockport.  He was there watching a special screening of Cinema Paradiso, eating popcorn and sipping birch beer made locally by Twin Lights Tonic; It was a perfect moment.

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Most of the time I have a reading project.  Like when I read the Top Hundred 20th Century children's chapter books (according to Scholastic).  (What a great experience!)  Or, I'm reading within my ongoing unending project to read all the literary classics (a richly rewarding never ending saga).  Or, I'll go through a phase like when I read a whole bunch of books written by chefs and food workers (my favorite was called Waitress, written by a woman who had been a waitress for over 50 years -- what a book!). 

Manchester native Sarah Beckmann’s Naiad Blood is a first collection of poems, published this month by Fishing Line Press.  It’s described as a “vibrant formal intelligence at once various in its embodiments and dexterous at every turn. With near mythic urgency, these poems evoke the pulse and discipline—the adrenaline-fueled duende—of the rower’s life on water.”

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On Sunday, April 25, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion with an exceptional group of writers who also own bookstores: Ann Patchett, author most recently of The Dutch House and owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN; Kelly Link, author of short story collections like Get In Trouble and owner of Book Moon in Easthampton, MA; and Alex George, whose The Paris Hours is out in paperback on May 4 and who also owns Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, MO.

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People in my shop often ask, How do you get your books?  And I say, “There's this little old lady who lives deep in the woods and I go to her house at midnight on the full moon and she gives me piles of books.  The only catch is that she claims I will owe her something after I'm dead.  But I'll be dead so who cares!  Look at all the free books I'm getting!”

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How did Newburyport put together such a prestigious festival each year?  After a friend connected me to one of the directors and I found myself joining monthly meetings to help plan the following year’s festival, the answer soon became clear: a small group of passionate and dedicated volunteers, who love both literature and the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Long time writer and author Anna Kasabian recently completed the Trustees of Reservations book Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.  The book captures the essence of Chicago industrialist Richard Teller Crane Jr.’s summer home’s history and serves as well as a visitor's guide.

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Whenever a book of poems comes into the shop, I read a poem from it before I put it on the shelves. So, I've read hundreds of poems from hundreds of books over the last 22 years.  And yet, I invariably will read the shortest poem in the book!

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I love books that break my heart. I can’t help it. I love a good cry in the safe space of a fictional character’s life. I also love fiction that helps me understand real-life situations better than real life can, or than my real life has the opportunity to. And if it’s beautifully written to boot? Swoon. Infinite Country, a new novel by Patricia Engel, joins a rarified list that accomplishes all of the above. 

In celebration of Women’s History Month, local author Pauline Renehan Weger and co-author Alicia Williamson, are releasing their new book Bravely.  Pauline, who came to Manchester in the fourth grade and lived in town for 15 years, has teamed up with Hannah Harlow at The Bookshop of Beverly Farms, to celebrate both the book launch and women in history.

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This winter hasn’t felt as hard as I thought it would. Here it is mid-February and I’m longing for more snow, for more chances at winter sports and quiet evenings under a warm blanket with a good book. Perhaps because we’ve been forced into a kind of hibernation for the past year, we’re already used to hiding away indoors when the weather turns bitterly cold. Is a snow day really that different than any other day right now? 

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When you are walking down to the beach on a sun-dappled gently breezy summer afternoon, you don't want Dostoevsky leaping onto your brain from behind a tree, dragging your soul out of your ear and into the bushes to give it a good kicking. Save that joy for the winter. During the cold bleak dark months the Russians novelists are the perfect guerillas I want creeping into my orbit to shove me into pondering the great Russian profundities and essences. 

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With the New Year comes resolutions, and with resolutions come a host of new books that pledge to help you with those resolutions.  I’m here to tell you to skip the dieting books.  Instead, do yourself a favor and read Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life, by Christie Tate.  

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As we prepare for our own blanket of snow to descend upon our landscape, I greatly enjoyed reading Snow by John Banville, a new mystery by a Booker Prize-winner author set in 1950s Ireland during a blizzard at Christmastime.  It’s set up as a classic country manor house mystery, opening with the murder of a Catholic priest in the library.  Detective Inspector St. John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate. 

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What is the Christmas Spirit?  The feeling of love and goodwill toward your fellow man - kindness, decency, mercy, forgiveness.  All those things and more.  Ideas and emotions that we don't dwell on too much during the year, but something about Christmastime brings these sentiments to the fore. How do you catch the Christmas Spirit?

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Arches to Zigzags:  An Architectural ABC has been published by Oro Editions. The book is the work of Manchester’s award-winning photographer Steve Rosenthal and his wife Kit along with Michael J. Crosbie. Paul Goldberger, the New York Times Book reviewer says in part, “The world does not nee…

The latest book by 92-year-old author and Manchester resident Katharine Stanley-Brown Abbott—her third—is A Zoo Full of Rhymes.  The small and tidy book is packed with 38 light and lyrical rhymes with animals, birds, sea creatures and insects ranging from a bluefish and bongo to auk and platypus.