The Bennington Bookshop   January 2017

Vermont's oldest independent bookstore
January Sunlight
and the afternoon sunlight
lasted that little bit longer
like an unexpected, perfect Christmas present
that got delayed in the mail
and I'm filled with a sheer gratitude
that somehow passed me by 
in long, hot, lazy, selfish, glorious summer. 

                                                    - Michael Shepherd

Welcome to the January edition of The Bennington Bookshop Newsletter! In this edition, we feature some of The Bookshop highlights from 2016. We also publish a list of our top ten bestselling books for last year - Congratulations to Kim Wassick who topped the list for the second year running! We have a couple of book reviews, one from Linda and one from Phil. We also have news of Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge, and NPR's Book Concierge - don't forget that New Year's resolution to read more books this year! As always, thank you all for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop - your local independent bookstore.
2016: The Year in Review
2016 was our first full year at The Bookshop. I sat down to write a review of the year and couldn't remember much at all. Browsing previous newsletters, it all came back: What a busy year we had! Here are some of the highlights:

Phil participates for the first time in Joe Donahue's Book Picks segment on WAMC radio in Albany, NY. Listening to the show afterwards, Phil realizes he has an accent!

We sponsor an event with Ali Benjamin, author of The Thing About Jellyfish, at the Bennington Free Library. We go back and forth about how many books to order for the event and settle on 20. Three days before the event, I receive a phone call: "Do you have The Thing About Jellyfish in stock?" Yes, I reply. "I'd like 20 copies please!" It's  a mad scramble to get more copies for the event. And what a fun event it is!

We join a fundraising event with Oldcastle Theatre featuring Chris Kimball, former host of America's Test Kitchen. We celebrate the release of local author Anne Hunter's book, Cricket Song, with an event at the Bennington Free Library. Local artist Kim Wassick paints a fabulous mural in The Bookshop (pictured).

We join with independent bookstores across the country to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day and, in collaboration with 400 bookstores, recreate Alice in Wonderland through a series of photographs of temporary tattoos. Local author Bob Sugarman releases his new book, Antibes 1950.

Local illustrator Robin Brickman demonstrates her unique 3-D painting technique in an event at the Bennington Free Library.


Vermont author Adam Krakowski entertains the audience with excerpts from his latest book, Vermont Prohibition, in an event hosted by Harvest Brewing and The Bennington Bookshop. There is a moment of panic when we realize that Adam is not there and we do not have his phone number! He's taken a wrong turn on the drive from Burlington. Lots of fun stories about breaching prohibition that night.

Juliet Wright and Stan Searle entertain us with an evening of song and poetry at The Bennington Bookshop. And Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is released.

We celebrate the release of local author Judy Schwartz's new book, Water in Plain Sight, in an event held at Pangaea.

Ruth Franklin's Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life is released; as is the latest Joe Gunther mystery from Archer Mayor, Presumption of Guilt.

We host events with Ruth Franklin and Archer Mayor to celebrate the release of their books. Archer tells us how he got into crime writing:
"I have four older sisters," he chuckles. "Thinking of murder was easy!" We hold Ruth's event in the Carriage Barn at Park McCullough House in North Bennington. Twenty minutes before the event is to start, it's just Linda and me, Sean from Harvest Brewing, and Sam and Freddi, the musicians. Our nerves are jingling: Will anybody come? By 6.30pm, we have a full house with more than 130 people. Our biggest event ever!

We celebrate the release of Harry Haskill's book, Maiden Flight, with an event at The Bookshop. We hold book fairs at the Second Congregational Church. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are extremely busy. And the wrapathon begins!

Wrap, wrap, wrap right until the very end. We trfeature a new paper this year - chickadees with glittery berries. The glitter gets everywhere. Two days after closing for the holiday, we celebrate the season at Man of Kent. A splash of sunlight on Linda's nose: I spot two specks of glitter!

Thanks to all for supporting us in 2016! Best wishes for 2017!
2016 Best Sellers at The Bennington Bookshop
Once again, we thought it would be fun to look at which books were the best sellers for The Bennington Bookshop in the last year. We will have a display of the Top 10 in The Bookshop. We were pleased to see the level of support for our local authors. Here's the list:

1. Basil and Prune series - Kim Wassick
Bennington author and artist Kim Wassick's delightful Basil and Prune series of children's books tops the list for the second year running. Kim brought out a new book this year, Basil and Prune the Pug: Giving Back at Christmas Time. Congratulations, Kim!
2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling
This is an unusual book in that it is the script for a play. But the fans still turned out in droves, many banding together to do read throughs - a great group activity.
3. Presumption of Guilt - Archer Mayor
Another solid police procedural from Vermont author Archer Mayor. He will be back in Bennington in October for the release of his next book. Don't miss out!
4. The Thing About Jellyfish - Ali Benjamin
This is a wonderful book, and just keeps selling. Our local youth book club selected it for their January meeting.

5. A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
This is a story of love, and loss; of overcoming grief, and learning to live once again. It's a rich and rewarding novel, at times desperately sad and at others outrageously funny. One of my favorites.
6. Robert Frost in Bennington County - Phil Holland
Local author Phil Holland has created a great little guide to Robert Frost's time in Bennington, with notes on Frost's gravestone at the Old First Church, and a guide to Frost's poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Phil also released a book on the Battle of Bennington last year.
7. Possum's Harvest Moon - Anne Hunter
Local author Anne Hunter's beautiful book was selected for the Museum's trail walk this year. We have had people from all over the country coming in to pick up a copy. Congratulations, Anne!
8. Our Revolution - Bernie Sanders
Bernie's book is still a big seller.
9. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life - Ruth Franklin
Ruth's biography of Shirley Jackson has been well-received by family, critics and readers.
10. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
What a thrilling read this was! The movie wasn't bad either! The Whodunnit? book club went on a field trip to see it.


Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen
Reviewed by Linda

I have been a Bruce Springsteen fan since the age of 14 and have followed his career with interest. His concerts are amazing -- full of great music and soulful energy. I was eager to read his new autobiography, Born to Run

The book did not disappoint. Springsteen shares not only his musical journey, but reveals intimate details of his childhood, difficult relationships, marriage and fatherhood, his creative process and his struggle with depression. Written over a 7-year period, the book is engaging and brings depth and insight into an artist who has entertained and inspired many over the past five decades.

Buy Born to Run

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Elisabeth Bailey
Reviewed by Phil

I bumped into this book while roaming the aisles of the bookshop, opened it at random and found this quote from the poet Billy Collins: 
       I said the word gastropod out loud,
       And having no idea what it meant
      Went upstairs and looked it up
      Then hid in the woods from my wife and our dog

Well, of course, that made me want to read more. The author was suffering from an incapacitating illness, living life vicariously through the life of a snail a visitor had brought in with a bunch of violets. Unable to move, Bailey takes joy in observing the activities of the snail, and on reading up on the biology of snails. The book is filled with extraordinary snippets: One species of snail has up to 3000 fine teeth; about 30% of snail species fire love darts at potential partners which hormonally enhance their passion for one another. (Surely, the origin of the story Cupid and his arrow!) And snails can hibernate through adverse conditions for up to four years!

Each chapter begins with a small quote, many of them haiku by Issa, one of the great four haiku masters of Japan. Issa himself seemed fascinated by snails, writing some 54 haiku about them.

I enjoyed this book not just for the unusual facts it presented, but also for its joyous meditation on life and how much we can learn from simple observation of nature. Here’s one: Bailey says the relationship between time and the snail confused her. She says “The snail would make its way through the terrarium while the hands of the clock hardly moved – so I often thought the snail travelled faster than time. Then, absorbed in snail-watching, I’d find that time had flown by, unnoticed.”

And one more, as Bailey is recovering, and the snail has been released into the wild: “The snail had been the best of companions… it had entertained me and taught me… leading me through a dark time into a world beyond my species.”

An absorbing read.

Buy The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

You can find more reviews here: Reviews and Recommendations
Read Harder Challenge
The folks from Book Riot are sponsoring another Read Harder Challenge this year. The aim of the challenge is to push yourself to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. Here's the list. (We have printed copies at The Bookshop.) There are just 24 challenges - two books a month! You may count one book for multiple tasks, or read one book per task. The Bennington Bookshop is happy to help you find a book you need that meets the challenge and to order any books you need to at no extra cost.
  1. Read a book about sports.
  2. Read a debut novel.
  3. Read a book about books.
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before.
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
  12. Read a fantasy novel.
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey (From Daniel José Older, author of Salsa Nocturna, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, and YA novel Shadowshaper)
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean, author of ten bestselling historical romance novels)
  21. Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Ayiti, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Marvel’s World of Wakanda, and the forthcoming Hunger and Difficult Women)
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng, author Everything I Never Told You and the forthcoming Little Fires Everywhere)
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series, including The Unquiet Dead, The Language of Secrets, and the forthcoming Among the Ruins)
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of sci-fi novel Ascension)
Bookshop Blues
Ringing up the past

Ringing up the sales at The Bookshop is like travelling back through history - all those momentous dates pop up: 1066, the Battle of Hastings, when William fought Harold; 1642, the English Civil War. Obscure dates for our American friends, perhaps. How about 1492? 1776? All these appear on occasion when I scan books for a sale. One that pops up more than most is 1589 - a $14.99 book plus tax. When I first saw it, the number rang a bell. There was something very familiar about it, somehow. I asked the customer I was serving, explaining my dilemma. He was intrigued, and googled the date: Henry III, King of Poland was assassinated? Nope. William Bradford, governor of Plymouth colony, was born? Nope. Another customer joined the search: French King Henry IV beats the Catholic league? Nope. After half an hour of internet browsing, we gave up. (Linda was viewing all of this activity with some concern, I have to say.) I packed up the books, and the customers left. A couple of days later, there it was again: 1589. This time I remembered: It was our address in Australia! 1589 Upper Widgee Road. And there it is in the photo, our house in the hills.
NPR's Book Concierge
We'd like to bring to everyone's attention the National Public Radio (NPR) app, Book Concierge. The app lists more than 300 titles loved by NPR staff in 2016. It's a great way to search for your next read, and The Bookshop is happy to order any of your selections at no extra cost. We were also pleased to see that Lee Clay Johnson's Nitro Mountain is on the front page of the app. Lee stopped by to sign copies of his book last year. Rumor has it that much of the book was written in the lounge at Pangaea in North Bennington. Congratulations, Lee!

Here's a link to the app: Book Concierge
Coming up...

We are in the process of finalizing some events for Spring. We will publish details as soon as we can. Friend us on Facebook to get all the latest news from your local independent bookstore!

  • WAMC Book Picks: Phil presented on Joe Donahue's Book Picks program on January 3rd. Here's a link, if you'd like to listen: Book Picks
  • Book Packages: We are pleased to offer a range of book packages featuring current bestsellers. Options include fiction or nonfiction, hardcover or paperback, twelve or six month subscriptions. We also offer young adult book packages, as well as packages for children's fiction and children's picture books. Prices include shipping and handling. Book Packages
  • New releases: Every Tuesday, we get shipments of new releases to put on the shelves. Come on down and check them out!
  • Orders: We usually submit orders to our wholesaler on Monday and Thursday mornings. If you place an order before 11am on these days, we can have the book in The Bookshop by the next afternoon in most cases, or in three days if it is held at our Tennessee warehouse.
  • Book Clubs: We offer a 20% discount to book clubs and are happy to ship for a small cost. Check out what the other clubs in the area are reading here.
  • Dorothy's List: Vermont Public Radio compiles a list of books and reviews suitable for children. You can find the list here. We are happy to order books from the list for you if we don't have them in stock. There is no extra charge for special orders.
  • Best Sellers: We update the bestseller list each week. You can find the latest list here: Best Sellers
  • Looking for a book to read? Check out the Reviews and Recommendations page on our website.
  • Ordering online: To order books online, simply visit our website (, enter the name of the book you wish to order in the "Look for Books" window (in the right-hand column on each page), then enter your address details and credit card information as prompted. There is a small charge for postage or, if you're a local, you can opt to pick up the book in the store. Please note: Books appearing in the on-line search are not necessarily in stock at The Bookshop. We may have to order them in, but can ship most books in 1~5 days. Please call us if you want to confirm immediate availability: 802 442 5059
Store Hours
Monday~Saturday: 10.00am~6.00pm
Sunday: Noon~4.00pm
For all the latest Bookshop news, don't forget to like The Bennington Bookshop page on Facebook!
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