The Bennington Bookshop   December 2015

 Vermont's oldest independent bookstore

How the time has flewn!

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?

- Dr. Seuss

I have been sitting at the kitchen table for the last couple of hours working on the newsletter. It's just after 3:30, but the night is drawing in. How did it get so late so soon? Or is it just that time flies when you're having fun? We've certainly been having fun at The Bookshop, and there's more fun ahead. The Great Bennington Bake Off is almost here - definitely time to dust off those favorite family cookie recipes, bake up some samples and get them into our cookie competition in celebration of Ellen Stimson's new book. We have news of John's recently published book, I Do Terrible Things, and will be hosting a party for him at The Bookshop on December 9th. Kim Wassick will be signing her Basil and Prune books in The Bookshop on December 12th. November was a busy month - we report on Howard Frank Mosher's event, Children's Story Hour, Small Business Saturday and Cider Monday. John shared a great article about Iceland, where they do things a little differently. Congratulations to Jamie Boyle for the review of The Legend Trilogy. And, as always, thank you so much for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop.
The Great Bennington Bake Off with Ellen Stimson
It's nearly here: The Great Bennington Bake Off with Ellen Stimson, best-selling author of Mud Season. Ellen will begin the evening by introducing her latest book,
An Old Fashioned Christmas: Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home, which includes 98 homey recipes, from warm drinks for the first snowfall to treats for furry friends, from indulgent snacks for carolers to a traditional menu for Christmas day. The evening then moves into the Cookie Competition phase. We ask people attending the event to bring along samples of their best home-baked cookies made from their favorite family recipes. Ellen, along with Matthew Littrell, local chef and baker at Crazy Russian Girls, will judge the entries, with the winner being awarded a signed copy of Ellen's new book. Of course, everyone is welcome to join this free event, with or without cookies.
Note: The event will be held at the Bennington Free Library, from 7.00pm on December 14th.
November Report
November 2nd

We had a great turn out for our Howard Mosher event, with more than 30 people attending. Howard began the evening by reading selected sections of his latest book, God's Kingdom. He then spoke about where fiction comes from, wryly stating that he has no idea! He guesses it's a combination of a writer's experiences filtered through the writer's imagination.

The next day, Howard made some very gracious comments about  Bennington and The Bookshop:

"An excellent turnout last night in Bennington. Congratulations to Linda Foulsham and Phil Lewis for buying the renowned Bennington Bookshop, the oldest book store in Vermont, and keeping it alive and well. Also to Karson Kiesinger, at the Bennington Free Library, for bringing authors to the community. As for me, I couldn't stop thinking, as I read from God's Kingdom, of the stirring literary history of this lovely town in the Green Mountains. At various times, Bennington was home to Bernard Malamud, author of my all-time favorite short-story collection, The Magic Barrel; Donna Tartt, whose acclaimed first novel, The Secret History, is set near Bennington; and Edward Hoagland, often referred to as "the Thoreau of our times." At a recent event, a wise, older woman said to me, "Keep young people in your life." Indeed. To which I would add, "Keep books in your life." Thanks to all bookstores and libraries, in Vermont and beyond, for helping us to do that. We are the reading species. Subtract books and stories from our culture, and we'd be left something less than fully human."

November 21st - Children's Story Hour with Chris Gingo
The theme of this month's event was Thanksgiving. Chris was kept busy for a full hour with eager listeners, one of whom had been to Story Hour before and was very keen for Chris to read the Mortimer book she remembered from way back in May. Chris is fast becoming a celebrity around town: Walking through the park the other day, a young girl came running over yelling, "Mummy! Mummy! It's the Story Lady!"

The Story Lady will be back for another Children's Story Hour on December 19th, from 10am in The Bennington Bookshop.

November 28th - Small Business Saturday
Despite the weather, we had a very busy day on the 28th, Small Business Saturday. Thanks to everyone who came in and participated. Thanks, too, to the carolers who stopped by to share a few carols. Everyone who made a purchase in The Bookshop that day was given a raffle ticket to enter the draw for one of four great prizes. The winners were:
  • Meg Outwater - Spot's Christmas
  • Jill Jaran - The Polar Express
  • Jackie Prue - Vermont: An Outsider's Inside View
  • Karenn McAllister - Library of Souls
November 30th - Cider Monday
Cider Monday was our take on Cyber Monday. The original idea for the day - offering customers a cup of hot cider - came from Toadstool Books in New Hampshire, and the celebration has been catching on with other independent bookshops in the region. Again, thanks to everyone who wrenched themselves out of cyberspace for a moment and came in to share a glass!
Congratulations John!
I Do Terrible Things
John Goodrich

Bennington resident and Bookshop employee John Goodrich recently had his second novel, I Do Terrible Things, published and we will be celebrating the occasion with a party at The Bookshop on Wednesday, December 9th at 7pm. If you know John, you will know he is deeply into the horror genre. Here's the blurb from his book:

Donna doesn’t know the old man with the sad face and yet there she is, beating him to death with a shovel. Is suppressed rage making her murder people in horrifying ways, or is she some sort of latent psychopath? The more people she kills, the more desperate she becomes to stop herself. Can she find the key before she commits yet another gruesome murder?

John was recently featured on Nicholas Kaufmann's blog The Scariest Part. Here's a link to the article: I Do Terrible Things

They do things a bit differently in Iceland!

In Iceland, the Christmas season starts with the publication of a catalogue, the bókatíðindi, a catalogue that lists all of the books available for purchase in Iceland during the Christmas season. As it is customary for every Icelandic person to receive at least one book for Christmas, approximately 80-90% of the books published each year in Iceland come out during the Christmas season since this is the time of year with the greatest book sales. So many books are sold during this time of year that this period is referred to as the jólabókaflóð, or “Christmas book flood.” In each family’s home, the bókatíðindi becomes dog-eared and worn by the time Christmas comes around. Hildur will examine the catalogue for new fiction publications, Bjarni will analyze it for the biographies, and Friða and little Lilja will look at the children’s books. Icelanders carefully consider their gift choices and the catalogue is the primary source for studying the options. Oh, and also the commercials. The TV commercials at this time of year are full of advertisements for books – not TVs, laptops, or diamond stud earrings.

It is common to discuss potential book purchases with friends, family, and work colleagues. While soaking in the hot pots, the common conversational topic at this time of year is a discussion about the books that one plans to purchase. Do you think the new book by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir will be good? What about the biography of Gunnar Gunnarsson? While having a coffee with colleagues at work, the new releases are discussed. There are discussions about the design of the book covers and the recent interviews on TV with the big authors of the season. Christmas is very much about books in Iceland.

My heart melted when I heard my Icelandic teacher discuss the tradition of giving books as gifts and then reading them on Christmas eve. As I sat with my Icelandic classmates eating Sarah Bernardt cookies and drinking Jólabland, we heard about the traditions of Christmas in Iceland. All Icelanders sit down to a formal meal on Christmas eve and listen to the mass on the radio at 6 pm, even if their families aren’t religious. That’s just what you do to start the holiday celebrations. Once the meal is over and cleaned up, the gift distribution (or book distribution) begins. When everyone has received their book, it is common to climb into the freshly cleaned sheets of your bed, in your new pajamas, and read late into the night. Isn’t that the coziest thing you have ever heard of?

When talking to an Icelandic woman in the children’s area of the library in Reykjavik, she told me an Icelandic saying that epitomizes the Icelandic passion for publishing and reading books, “ad ganga med bok I maganum,” or, every Icelander has a book in their stomach. This refers to the fact that there is the belief that all Icelanders have a story to tell, or a book to publish. Currently, 1 in ten Icelanders publish a book and there are 3.5 books published for every 1000 people in the country. Alda Kravec reported on a study conducted by Bifrost University in the Reykjavik Grapevine that found over 50 % of Icelanders read more than eight books in a year. Between 1978 and 2014 in the US, only 15-17 % of Americans  read between 6-10 books in a year (Pew Research Internet Project).  That’s quite a difference.

So, why are books so important to Icelanders? Some of the theories that have been thrown around are the fact that there is a long tradition of storytelling in Iceland. When people lived in small, isolated villages, they entertained themselves by telling stories to one another. Some attribute the Icelandic passion for literature to the sagas and the poetic eddas. Others believe that reading is an obvious pastime for getting through the long and dark winters. When I asked Poul, the gentleman with whom I stayed in Iceland, he thought that it had to do with the fact that everyone grows up surrounded by readers. When you see your grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles reading, it normalizes the behavior and it is just what you do. You go to the library, you go to the bookstores, you read books.

You can find the full article here: India Ardus

Soup for Syria
Here's a seasonal suggestion: Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity. This beautiful book contains delicious soup recipes from celebrity chefs the world over. The publisher - Interlink Publishing - will donate profits from the sale of the book to the
UN Refugee Agency UNHCR to provide urgently needed food relief for Syrian refugees. We have copies in The Bookshop and, for our distant friends, they can be ordered using the Look for Books feature on our website.

Shelf Talkers

Jeff Smith
Reviewed by John

Crammed with memorable characters, from cow-racing Gran'ma Ben to scheming Phoncible Bone to queche-loving rat-creatures, Bone is a charming and engaging introduction to epic fantasy. The series is by turns funny, moving, and deadly serious, but never less than brilliantly written.
Mary Shelley
Reviewed by John

If you are only familiar with the Boris Karloff film, this will be quite a surprise. Mary Shelley's book is amazing and frightening and surprisingly poignant. The creature is intelligent, sensitive, even eloquent, and terrifying in his anger. Nearly two hundred years old, Frankenstein still fascinates and thrills.
Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman
Reviewed by John
Nobody ('Bod' for short) Owens was raised in a graveyard. His friends are ghosts, the first things he reads are gravestones and epitaphs. He has a strange life, with Silas, his taciturn guardian, watching over him. Sometimes, Silas's watchfulness is not enough, and Bod wanders into danger. Another macabre and wonderful book from Neil Gaiman.
Sneak Preview
The Widow
Fiona Barton
To be released in March 2016
Reviewed by Phil

Jean Taylor, recently widowed, was married to a man who controlled every aspect of her life. Glen, her husband, was accused of a terrible crime. How much did Jean know? Did she enable her husband? Or was she completely ignorant? With Glen's death, Jean can finally tell the stories, answer the questions, and address the suspicions that so many have had for so long about her husband. This debut novel from Fiona Barton is a great thriller. I look forward to reading more of her books.

The Considerate Killer
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis
To be released in March 2016
Reviewed by Phil

On her way home from grocery shopping, Nina Borg is attacked in a car park. Half-conscious, she hears her assailant ask for her forgiveness. Only later does she understand that this isn't for what he has just done, but for what he plans to do...

This is the latest in the Nina Borg series, but the first I have read. The book is set partly in the Philippines and partly in Denmark, and involves manipulation, corruption and killers on an international hunt for their victim, someone who might be able to identify them as being responsible for a tragic accident back home. A very enjoyable read.
Student review
Each month, we ask local school students to submit reviews of the books they are reading. We select one of these for publication in the newsletter. The reviewer receives a $10 gift certificate for The Bennington Bookshop. This month's review is from Jamie Boyle. Congratulations, Jamie!

The Legend Trilogy
ie Lu
Reviewed by Jamie Boyle, Grade 10

This is my absolute, all time favorite book series! If you are into dystopian novels, such as Divergent or The Hunger Games, this would be a great book for you! Right from the beginning, you will feel a connection with the two main characters, Day and June. Day is the Republic’s notorious rebel, and at the age of fifteen, is the most wanted criminal. June, on the other hand, is the Republic’s prodigy who is chosen to find and capture Day. Although they come from completely different worlds, they make an unbreakable connection. Aside from Day and June’s growing affection towards one another, there is tons of suspense throughout the trilogy. In their world, the United States has been split into the Republic and the Colonies. Neither one is perfect and both are continually getting angrier with one another. Will Day and June survive long enough to get their happy ending, or will their country’s secrets rip them apart? Jamie Boyle

Submissions: The decision of The Bennington Bookshop in selecting which reviews to publish in the newsletter is final. Other entries may be published on The Bennington Bookshop website. The Bennington Bookshop reserves the right to edit entries as necessary. By submitting a review, reviewers agree to these terms. Please submit reviews to
  • Looking for a gift? Here's a link to the New England Independent Booksellers' Association Holiday Catalog.
  • Gift wrapping: We are pleased to offer free gift wrapping services on all purchases made at The Bennington Bookshop, including online and phone orders. We also stock quality wrapping paper for those who want to wrap their gifts at home.
  • Australian holiday cards: It's the holiday season in Australia too, but the weather is a little different there, as reflected in this card depicting Santa on a surfboard! "Ho! Ho! Ho! It's time to put another shrimp on the barbie..."
  • Television Interview: Way back in September, Phil was interviewed by Willy Jones of CAT TV for Willy's show Your Friends and Neighbors. The show was aired in October. Here's a link, in case you missed it: Interview
  • Rising still: Remember when local author Andrea Chesman gave away samples of a sourdough culture that dated all the way back to the Yukon Gold Rush of 1896? Well, it's still rising. Here's a picture of Linda's latest batch of bread. Thanks again, Andrea!
  • Shop hours:
    Monday~Saturday: 9.00am~6.00pm
    Sunday: Noon~4.oopm
  • Holiday closings: The book shop will be closed December 25th and 26th, and January 1st.
  • 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
Coming up...
December 9th, 7.00pm -
Book release party for John Goodrich
The Bennington Bookshop

December 12th, 10.00am -

Basil and Prune
The Bennington Bookshop
Local artist and author Kim Wassick will be signing copies of her popular Basil and Prune series of children's books.

December 14th, 7.00pm -
An Old Fashioned Christmas - Conversation and holiday cookie contest
The Bennington Free Library
Ellen Stimson, best-selling author of Mud Season, hosts this fun event.
Co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.

December 19th, 10am -
Children's Story Hour with Chris Gingo.
The Bennington Bookshop
Chris reads from a selection of her favorite story books. Come along and join in the fun!

Note: For more information on these authors and events, as well as functions coming up later in the year, check out the Events page on our website.
Store Hours
Monday~Saturday: 9.00am~6.00pm
Sunday: Noon~4.00pm
For all the latest Bookshop news, don't forget to like The Bennington Bookshop page on Facebook!
To order online, check out our website:
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