The Bennington Bookshop   January 2016

 Vermont's oldest independent bookstore
Happy New Year!
Over the years, Linda and Phil have celebrated the holiday season by gifting books to each other. This year -surprise, surprise! - not one of the packages they opened on the morning of the 25th contained a book. Welcome to the January edition of The Bennington Bookshop Newsletter. This edition features a brief recap of Bookshop happenings from last year. We also publish a list of our Top 10 best sellers for 2015. We have a report on our December events, and a couple of  book reviews. Congratulations to Charlotte Sachs for her review of Fly By Night. And, as always, thank you so much for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop. Happy New Year!
2015: The Year in Review
2015 was a big year for us: We bought a bookshop and moved to Bennington! It's been a very steep learning curve, extremely busy, but fun, too, and we've met lots of wonderful people. Here are some of the year's highlights:

The Weather of February - Hollis Summers
Linda moves to Bennington. Phil drives up with her and, after two days of safe driving, lands the car in a snow bank just 10 yards from our final destination. Welcome to Vermont!

March - Geraldine Brooks
We buy Vermont's oldest independent bookstore from long-time owners Rick and Ellen Havlak. Rick and Ellen promptly throw a party to welcome us to Vermont and to celebrate retirement. At the party, we meet Jay and Joan Zwynenburg. That's three generations of owners spanning nearly 50 years of bookshop history in the store at the same time.

The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim
We launch our website:

May - Kathryn Lasky
Fun and excitement with Independent Bookstore Day. Thanks to all the presenters and local authors: Chris Gingo, John Goodrich, Steve Haggerty, Joe Hill and Shawn MacKenzie. Thanks, too, to the Bennington community for all the support.

Three Junes - Julia Glass
We host an event with Peggy Kern, author of Little Peach.

July, July - Tim O'Brien 
Jenna Woginrich comes to town to talk about life on a one-woman farm. Our 2015 bestselling-author Kim Wassick holds a reading at The Bookshop. And Fidel Moreno leads 
a Big Drum Mindfulness Meditation and shares Native American children's stories at The Bookshop. Plus, of course, Midnight Madness, which is truly mad and our third busiest day of the year.

August is a Wicked Month - Edna O'Brien

Fine art photographer Ed Rubin renews his love affair with Vermont and shares his beautiful book - Vermont: An outsider's inside view. Phil spends two days in a truck with Blue and Ruby - it's a long drive from North Carolina!

The Septembers of Shiraz - Dalia Sofer
Andrea Chessman cooks up some splendid sauerkraut, with help from local teacher John Ulrich. Phil drives another truck from North Carolina, this time accompanied by Casey, who sleeps most of the way.

The Hunt for Red October - Tom Clancy
What a busy month! We have author events with Stephen Kiernan, Archer Mayor and Marie White Small. Megan Mayhew Bergman conducts a writing workshop at the library. Willy Jones interviews Phil for CAT-TV. And Chris Gingo, the Story Lady, returns for a regular monthly Children's Story Hour.

The November Man - Bill Granger
We host an event for Howard Frank Mosher to celebrate the release of his new book, God's Kingdom. Bennington comes out in force to support local businesses - Small Business Saturday is our second busiest day of the year. We end the month with our inaugural Cider Monday.

A Wedding in December - Anita Shreve
Wrap, wrap, wrap right until the very end - we are still wrapping 30 minutes after closing! Despite the shortened hours, December 24th is our busiest day of the year!

All the best for 2016!
2015 Best Sellers at The Bennington Bookshop
We thought it would be fun to look at which books were the best sellers for The Bennington Bookshop in 2015. There is a display of the Top 15 in The Bookshop. We were pleased to see the level of support for our local authors. Here's the list:

1. Basil and Prune - Kim Wassick
The first book in the delightful Basil and Prune series of children's books by Bennington artist and author Kim Wassick (pictured). Prune the pug has to come to terms with the latest addition to the family, baby Basil. Phil has been telling Kim for months that she is our best seller - she thought he was pulling her leg. Congratulations, Kim!
2. Mindfulness Coloring Book Volume 1 - Emma Farrarons
This is the coloring book that ignited the craze for adult coloring books as a way of relaxing and de-stressing. The success of the book resulted in the publication of a huge range of coloring books - we have two shelves devoted to them at The Bookshop.
3. Almost Famous Women - Megan Mayhew Bergman
Bennington author Megan Mayhew Bergman's book was also a national best seller and continues to be very popular. Several of our local book clubs have read and enjoyed the book.
4. Basil and Prune at the Farmers' Market - Kim Wassick
Book 2 in the Basil and Prune series.

5. Basil and Prune Love Yoga - Kim Wassick
Book 3 in the Basil and Prune  series.
6. The Company She Kept - Archer Mayor
Archer Mayor thrilled the audience back in October when he came to the Bennington Free Library to promote the release of his latest book, the 26th in the Joe Gunther series. He has already completed his next book, due for release later this year.
7. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2016
An old, old favorite.
= 8. Stony Kill - Marie White Small
This was local author Marie White Small's debut novel. She held a reading at The Bookshop back in October, and her book was selected by at least one local book club.
= 8. The Naked Roommate - Harlan Cohen
This fun read treats the trials and tribulations of living with a random roommate on a college campus with humor, and offers practical advice on how best to overcome the stresses that might arise from living with a total stranger in such close quarters.
10. I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
Malala is a Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigns for the education of females. She is the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This is her story.
December Report
December 1st - One Prospect Reading Series

The Bookshop attended the One Prospect Reading Series event at Pangaea Restaurant in North Bennington. (Pangaea's address is 1 Prospect Street, hence the name of the series.) December's event featured readings by poets Rodrigo Toscano and Andre Goring, and a talk by local author Megan Mayhew Bergman about her recent trip to Africa. After the event, Megan was gracious enough to sign copies of her books. Thanks to Tony Eprile for the photograph.

December 9th - Book release party for John Goodrich
John's second novel, I Do Terrible Things, was released in December and we celebrated with a party. John read excerpts from his book and answered questions from the audience. Then: Refreshments! Congratulations, John! John is currently working on a children's book.

December 14th - The Great Bennington Bake Off with Ellen Stimson

There was a great turn out to the Great Bennington Bake Off, with most people bringing samples of their favorite cookies to share and to enter the competition. We had loads of fun - Ellen is a hoot, and quickly had the audience in stitches.

There was much "oohing" and "aahing" on the part of our judges, Ellen and Crazy Russian Girl's Matt Littrell, as they sampled the entries, but the decision was unanimous: Congratulations to Elsie Donigan for her Rugelach made with a cream cheese and butter-based dough and filled with cinnamon, walnuts, raisins, apricot preserves and apple jelly. "Perfect," Ellen said of Elsie's cookies. "They have a crispy crust, which then flakes perfectly to release the delicious filling." Elsie won the signed copy of Ellen's latest book, An Old-fashioned Christmas. Elsie's daughter Linda is seen here accepting the prize on behalf of her mother. Thanks to our judges and to everyone who joined us for the evening.

Ellen also had a recipe for happiness through the holiday season. She said that for years she had been trying to recreate the family Christmases of her childhood, and that this had created huge stress each year and taken away the enjoyment of the holiday season. She realized she had been stressing out about having her Mum's Christmas, instead of having her own. "It was time to let go , and have our own Christmas," Ellen said. Since then, Christmas has been much more fun for her and her family. To bring home the point, Ellen read a story from her latest book, telling us about an over-sized Christmas present that had to be repeatedly disassembled and reassembled to get it through doorways. Oh what fun...

December 19th - Children's Story Hour with Chris Gingo
We had another fun morning of stories, with Chris reading from some of her favorite holiday season books. For weeks, one of the children in the group had been asking her mother each day "Is this the day we go to see the Story Lady?" She was so excited, happy and involved with the stories Chris read. The Story Lady will be back for another Children's Story Hour on January 16th
 from 10am in The Bennington Bookshop.

Shelf Talker

The Hummingbird
Stephen Kiernan
Reviewed by Phil

Last October, in partnership with the Bennington Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice, we hosted an author event for Stephen Kiernan. At the time, I was touched by Stephen's talk, and enjoyed the excerpts he shared from his book. I have only just got around to reading the book in its entirety.

The novel relates the story of Deborah Birch, a seasoned hospice nurse, and her relationship with her husband Michael, who has returned from deployment in Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety and rage. Deborah’s primary patient at the hospice is Barclay, and, as Barclay begrudgingly comes to trust Deborah, the stories he shares from World War II guide her to find a way to help her husband Michael battle his demons. The novel is a story about coming to terms with both life and death, and with feelings of guilt carried from actions in the past. It's a beautifully-rendered book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Stephen's work.
Sneak Preview
The Infidel Strain
M.J. Carter
To be released in March 2016
Reviewed by Phil

Set in London in 1841, this is a fine historical crime debut, much in the vein of a Sherlock Holmes story. Two former soldiers, veterans of various skirmishes in India, reunite to investigate a series of murders of London's sordid back-street printers. The police seem reluctant to investigate: Is the murderer being protected by the establishment? The backdrop is the Chartist movement, with its calls for a living wage for all workers and the right to vote regardless of wealth or social standing. There is political intrigue and a rich cast of characters. Carter's incredible attention to detail, both in terms of history and geography, makes this book a compelling 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 Charlotte Sachs. Congratulations, Charlotte!

Fly By Night
Frances Hardinge
Reviewed by Charlotte Sachs, Grade 12 

Within the bindings of her book, Fly By Night, Frances Hardinge has woven an unbelievably intricate web of a fantasy world. Her writing displays incredible attention to detail and a deep understanding of human nature, politics, religion and what really makes a society (or "Realm") tick. After its monarchy crumbled, the Realm suffered a 10 year war on those deemed heretics by the fanatical Birdcatchers. With the help of a shady wordsmith named Eponymous, the orphan Mosca Mye and her goose, Saracen, navigate a world ravaged by various brutal political powers, each struggling to come out on top. While the monarchy tries to regain its footing, guilds have begun taking power. Individual guilds control everything from the waterways to the now corrupted press. Through Mosca's observant eyes, Hardinge gives readers a valuable and unforgettable look into what it costs the 99% when those in power ruthlessly struggle for complete control. Charlotte Sachs

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
  • 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.
  • Mystery Book Club: The inaugural meeting of the Mystery Book Club will be held at The Bookshop on Wednesday, 13th January, starting at 6.30pm. All welcome. Please be prepared to talk about a mystery/crime writer you like. At the meeting, we will decide on a name for the club and choose out first book. Bring refreshments if you'd like.
  • Shop hours:
    Monday~Saturday: 9.00am~6.00pm
    Sunday: Noon~4.oopm
  • 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...
January 16th, 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!

February 19th, 7.30pm -
Fundraiser for Oldcastle Theatre Company with Christopher Kimball from America's Test Kitchen. The Bookshop will be selling Kimball's books at the event.

February TBA -
Local author Ali Benjamin reads from her book The Thing About Jellyfish - a middle school National Book Award finalist.

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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