Northshire staff shares some seasonal book reviews

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'Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead' by Olga Tokarczuk

A woman, living blissfully alone in a mountainous, remote part of Poland, purports that a string of sudden deaths in the area is the deliberate work of animals getting even with mankind for the abuses they have suffered. She bolsters her conclusion by pointing out to anyone who will listen that the planets were aligned to predict the demise of the victims. Local skepticism is palpable. Despite the rather grim title, this novel by a recent recipient of the Nobel Prize, is uplifting and delightful and the lady with the unique perspective on crime is one of the most endearing characters in contemporary literature. I loved every snow-swept moment.

— Alden Graves

'Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking' by Toni Tipton-Martin

This is one of my very favorite cookbooks of the last few years. Literally everything in it looks great. I want to cook something on every page. And I can attest that the cornbread dressing and the pureed parsnips are divine (and all of my relatives on Thanksgiving agree!). More than simply a collection of wonderful recipes, it is a repository of African-American culinary culture. Tipton-Martin, a James Beard Award winner, has spent much of her life tracing the history of talented, professional black cooks obscured by stereotypes. Here, she collects and updates over 100 recipes from her collection of over 400 historical cookbooks. Get it for the recipes, keep it for the salvaged history and memory, and enjoy passages like, "How did macaroni and cheese get so black?" Spoiler: Thomas Jefferson's Paris-trained enslaved chef, James Hemings.

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— Dafydd Wood

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'Christmas in Vermont' by Anita Hughes

Emma doesn't believe in miracles, so when she finds an engraved watch she gifted the love of her life before their unfortunate breakup, it's left to her best friend to set synchronicity in step with her Emma's love again. This friend gifts Emma with a "Vermont Christmas" week, where picturesque snow warms the season's magic merrily between them anew.

— Ray Marsocci

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'Long Live Latin: The Pleasures of a Useless Language' by Nicola Gardini

Gardini's lively celebration of Latin is just the book for any lapsed or aspiring classicist in your life. With chapters devoted to individual Latin writers from Caesar and Catullus to Propertius and Petronius, Gardini rekindled my old love for Latin (though it's hopelessly rusty). Full of informative and delightful digressions on an array of topics, Gardini makes a loving defense for the continued study of the "useless" language, which, he shows quite clearly isn't useless at all.

— Dafydd Wood

The Northshire Bookstore, founded in 1976, is a family-owned independent bookstore with locations at 4869 Main St. (the historic Coburn House) in Manchester Center and 424 Broadway in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. For more, visit


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