Need a little something for your summer reading list? Evanston’s Bookends and Beginnings (1712 Sherman Ave., Alley #1) has you covered:
“Mrs.” reads as if Edith Wharton herself had swooped down on a hideously exclusive Upper East Side New York preschool, performed a perfect clinical analysis of the intersection of money, class, and sex for each one of the families, and then served it up to you as the most elegant, delicately spiced hors d’oeuvres you’ve ever tasted. You relish every sentence. You can’t wait till the next time you’ll get invited to one of Caitlin Macy’s dazzling literary parties.
This book makes you want to pull the plug on whatever else you were supposed to do today, start cooking some Cornmeal Porridge with Chicken and Watercress, let your home fill with the aromas of the home Rick Bragg grew up in, and curl up on the couch savoring every cracklin’ good story he tells about his people. It’s a bighearted and delicious homage to one of America’s great indigenous cuisines, and to the colorful generations of one American family who lived and died by it.
A glow of wisdom and empathy illuminates every sentence in this novel, set in India, about a former servant forging her own future by setting up a stall in the local produce market — and forming a business partnership with an almost unbearably bitter old woman she meets there. The ways that the characters manage to reach out and touch one another — despite having been found “untouchable” in various ways by others in their lives — is startling and hugely heartening.
In “The Odyssey,” the enchantress Circe is a minor character, but if Homer had been a woman, we would have known all along why Circe turned sailors who visited her island into pigs, why she spared Odysseus and chose to bewitch him instead, and what happened after he went back to Ithaca. But now we have Madeline Miller to give voice to all of that. Brilliantly imagined and artfully told, this novel is a “women’s odyssey” — a story full of adventures encountered on the way to search for a self.
Need to make room for these new books? Donate your old ones to one of the numerous local nonprofits that give new life to your old books for a great cause. Here, a comprehensive guide to where to donate books (and just about everything else!).
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