By Claire Benedict, owner of Bear Pond Books
There’s an abundance of great books out this winter that we’re reading and loving at Bear Pond Books. One that Claire and Cora both recommend is Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. In the exceptionally well-written memoir, Shapiro finds out through genetic testing that her deceased father is not actually her biological father. The implications for Shapiro, who identifies very strongly with her deep Jewish roots, and the process she goes through to find out who her biological father is, are thoughtfully and honestly portrayed. Cora calls the story “incredibly moving. Her discovery and all its resulting impacts on her sense of who she is, her struggle to reconcile her memories of her parents with what she now knows, and her approaching of her biological father and his family with apprehension and tenacity—I found myself with a lump in my throat many times.”
George is raving about All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson by Mark Griffin, which he calls the first sympathetic biography of the legendary actor. “It’s a complete portrait one of the nicest people in the world. Plus there’s a lot of gossip.”
Claire enjoyed the new novel The Perfect Liar by Tom Greene, president of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. It’s the story of a newly married couple who move to Burlington from New York City to be welcomed by mysterious notes left on their front door. It’s a wonderfully twisty thriller that will keep you turning pages. Winter of the Witch is also by a Vermonter, Katherine Arden, and it completes the popular Winternight trilogy.
We predict the long-awaited Bowlaway by beloved author Elizabeth McCracken will be a popular book this winter, too. Rob is looking forward to The Border by Don Winslow, the final book in his Power of the Dog trilogy about the criminal underworld behind the war on drugs. Rob says of the trilogy: “They’re exciting and timely and good for people who enjoy action, adventure, and intrigue.”
Jane’s picks from the Children’s Room include Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. It’s the story of King Arthur reborn as a teenage girl, who will do anything to find her parents, even start a revolution. It’s a wild intergalactic ride that is also LGBTQIA-friendly.
Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers returns to the world of medieval France in this alt-historical fantasy in which French court intrigue is complexly woven into the lives of two sisters—young assassins trained undercover in St. Mortain’s convent. Intelligent feminist characters smartly balance the royal drama and romance.
In Pay Attention, Carter Jones, author Gary Schmidt delivers yet another heartfelt and funny middle-grade novel in which Carter, beleaguered by the death of his little brother, the father who doesn’t seem to miss him, and good old middle school, gets jolted to life by the appearance on their doorstep of a proper British butler, sent to help out his family.
A number of staff favorites are also coming out in paperback soon, which means widening the audience even further. Some that we’re particularly excited about getting in the hands of readers are An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, and How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky.
A mini-trend we’ll be seeing this year is books by presidential hopefuls. If a politician has a new book out, you can bet they are planning to run for president. Kamala Harris’s book The Truths We Hold: An American Journey comes out this month, joining Kirsten Gillibrand’s children’s picture book Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right To Vote. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Joe Biden all have books on the shelves, as well.
In other news about political books, this month the government’s big report on climate change, “The Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” that was released in November, is being published, and a new Trump White House tell-all called Team of Vipers, by Cliff Sims will be making big headlines.