The Bennington Bookshop   October 2016

Vermont's oldest independent bookstore

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.                                       
L.M. Montgomery 

Welcome to the October edition of The Bennington Bookshop Newsletter! In this edition, we highlight our upcoming event with Ruth Franklin on October 30th. We report on our event with local crime writer, Archer Mayor. We bring you news of our new Book Packages - ideal gifts, if you're looking for something special for someone special, or if you just want to treat yourself! (Go on: You deserve it!) We have a couple of book reviews, as well as a student review from Olivia Johnson. Congratulations, Olivia. And congratulations to Archer Mayor, whose latest book, Presumption of Guilt, has made the bestseller list! As always, thank you all for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop - your local independent bookstore.
A Rather Haunted Night
We're very excited about our October 30 event with author Ruth Franklin, who will be reading from her new biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. We will be selling the new biography as well as Jackson's books, and a new graphic novel of The Lottery illustrated by her grandson, Miles Hyman. This is a true community event, with help from all our Bennington friends. Thanks to Lydia Buckley for designing this amazing poster; to Pangaea Restaurant for lending us their lectern for the night; to Harvest Brewing for the cash bar on the night; and to Sam Clement and friends for providing the music. Thanks, too, to W.W. Norton for providing the funds for us to use the Carriage Barn as a venue. And don't forget to stop by the John G. McCullough Free Library in North Bennington, which will be opening from 4.30pm~6.30pm on the 30th with a special display of Shirley Jackson artifacts: First editions, signed copies, and Shirley Jackson's cat!

Here's the evening's schedule:
6.30pm~7.15pm: Music with Sam Clement and friends. Light refreshments and cash bar.
7.15pm~8.00pm: Ruth Franklin will read from her biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. After the reading, Ruth will answer audience questions.
8.00pm: Book signing. Music and cash bar.

Buy Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Presumption of Guilt
We had a great evening on October 6th, with 70 people turning up for our event with local crime writer, Archer Mayor. Archer began the evening talking about how he got into crime writing in the first place.

"I have four older sisters," he chuckled. "Thinking of murder was easy!"

Archer talked about the process of creating a crime novel. He told us how a casual conversation at the local post office planted the seed of an idea for Presumption of Guilt, where a skeleton is found in a concrete slab that is being broken up as part of the demolition of a decommissioned nuclear power plant.

"I then had to make everything fit," he said. "There's no point burying a body beneath a reactor core - no-one's going to dig that up for centuries." Instead, he decided to "bury" a body under one of the outbuildings. Half-way through writing the novel, he was mortified to find that demolition of just such a site was occurring at the decommissioned Vermont Yankee power plant.

"I just hoped they wouldn't find a body!" Archer said.

Archer's first book came out in the mid 1980s.

"I've been living with these characters since then. They have become my family," he said.

Archer has worked as
a death investigator for Vermont’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a detective for the Windham County Sheriff’s Office, and has 25 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. 

"My work has meant I have spent a lot of time with human debris," Archer said. "Writing my books helps me process the experiences I have at work."

Archer's next book, number 28 in the Joe Gunther series, will be published in 2017. Archer told us that the book has a slightly different format from his previous books, with a focus on three different cases occurring concurrently.

"Real life policing is nothing like a detective novel," Archer said. "You don't just have one case to focus on. Instead, the department is following leads on several different cases at the same time. I am trying to depict that sense of multiple cases with this new novel."

I can't wait to read it. Meanwhile, if you are looking for an earlier Archer Mayor book, we carry the whole series in The Bookshop.

Buy Presumption of Guilt
Book Packages

We are pleased to offer a range of book packages featuring current bestsellers. These make great gifts - either for yourself or some other special person! Check them out: Book Packages. 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. 

If you would like to purchase a package as a gift, we would be happy to gift wrap each book and enclose a peronalized note at no extra charge. At checkout, please indicate in the "order comments" section that you would like gift wrapping and the message you would like included with each package. Note: Book packages intended as gifts for the holiday season should be ordered by December 15th to ensure timely delivery.

Book Packages

Book Reviews

The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Reviewed by Phil

This is Nguyen’s debut novel for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. It has recently come out in paperback and is on the bestsellers list.

The narrator, Captain, as we come to know him, is a communist double agent who “fled” to the US as Saigon fell. There, he continues to report back to his superiors on the efforts of the Vietnamese diaspora to build an army to reinvade Vietnam. But the captain is double in more than one sense – he is half-French, born out of a relationship between a young Vietnamese woman and a catholic priest. This background gives him unique perspectives on identity and culture, on love and belonging.

The Sympathizer is a crackling read, with language that is colorful and exciting. Here's a taste. The Captain has just noticed that the clock in the Vietnamese restaurant in LA he is visiting is set to the wrong time:

Refugee, exile immigrant – whatever species of displaced human we are, we did not simply live in two cultures… displaced people also lived in two time zones, the here and the there, the present and the past, being as we were reluctant time travelers. But while science fiction imagined time travelers moving forward or backward in time, this timepiece demonstrated a different chronology. The open secret of the clock, naked for all to see, was that we were only going in circles. p199

In recounting the plight of the boat people fleeing the fall of Vietnam, this book provides a timely reminder of the modern day refugee crisis being played out in Syria and Europe. A powerful read.

Buy The Sympathizer

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Carlo Rovelli
Reviewed by Phil

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics could easily go under the title Seven Brief Love Affairs with Physics. This is a beautifully written book. Science isn’t so much explained as admired. Rovelli touches on relativity, quantum theory, the architecture of the cosmos, particles, probability and time and the heart of black holes. But don’t be daunted! The language is approachable and thoughtful. Here’s a quote from the Third Lesson:

The universe began as a small ball and then exploded to its present cosmic dimensions. This is our current image of the universe, on the grandest scale that we know… Do other similar universes exist? We do not know.

On finishing the book, I was left not with the feeling that I better understood our world, but that our world was truly a place of awe and wonder and that I was privileged to be alive. A remarkable achievement.

Buy Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

You can find more reviews here: Reviews and Recommendations
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 Olivia Johnson. Congratulations, Olivia!

Red Queen
Victoria Aveyard
Reviewed by Olivia Johnson, Grade 7

I  absolutely love this book! The setting, both dystopian and medieval, is intriguing and unique. Minor characters are well-developed with a fair amount of depth and detail. The plot is fresh and absolutely extraordinary. The major plot twist - something I don't usually enjoy -  shocked me and made me nearly cry due to my love of the character Maven. Mare, the protagonist, is sweet, brave, and a bit indecisive. From her half-in, half-out attitude, to her confusion surrounding Cal and Maven, indecision is a common trend. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Cal. The powers of the different characters are all awe-inspiring, but could be a bit more creative: Mind control, elemental powers, and super strength are all a bit elementary. I think the way these powers suit their characters is what makes them so perfect. For example, Evangeline's power is like her: lethal and terrifying. I highly recommend this book, and will be back to buy the next one soon. Olivia Johnson

Buy The Red Queen

You can find all of our student reviews here.

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

Coming up...
October 30th, 6.30pm -
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Carriage Barn, Park-McCullough House, North Bennington

Ruth Franklin reads from her new biography of Shirley Jackson, to be published by W.W. Norton in September. Sam Clement and friends will provide a musical introduction to the evening. There will be light refreshments and a cash bar. The event is free.

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.
  • Book Picks: Phil participated in Joe Donahue's Book Picks program on September 20th. You can listen to the show here: Listen
  • 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: 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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