The Bennington Bookshop   February 2017

Vermont's oldest independent bookstore

February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.
- Shirley Jackson, Raising Demons

Welcome to the February edition of The Bennington Bookshop Newsletter! We were saddened to hear of Howard Frank Mosher's passing, and include a letter from Howard in this edition as a reminder of his generosity and thoughtfulness. According to Chaucer, this is the time of year when every bride chooses a mate... Hmm. To clarify matters, we provide some background on Saint Valentine's Day. We feature an excerpt from Tears We Cannot Stop, a book highly recommended by Linda. We also have a couple of book reviews from Phil, and a student review from Savannah Robson. Congratulations, Savannah. In addition, we have news of a couple of events: Fizz, Boom, Read and An Evening with Carleton Carpenter. As always, thank you for your continued support of The Bennington Bookshop - your local independent bookstore.
Howard Frank Mosher
Howard Frank Mosher was a gifted writer and a generous man. In 2015, he came to Bennington for an event jointly sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop. The next day, this letter appeared in the Bennington Banner.

"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."

Thanks for the words, Howard. All of them.
All you need is love...
For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bride cometh there to choose his mate.          - Chaucer

Just what are the origins of Saint Valentine's Day, and how have we come to celebrate it as we do? If we reach back into the mists of history, the 14th of February is associated with two Valentines: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. Neither of these historical figures have any particular connection with the celebration of love, however.

Valentine's Day first became associated with love and romance in the 14th century through the work of Chaucer and others who linked this time of year with the Spring endeavours of birds to find a mate. 

The day really took off in Britain in the late 1700s with the publication of The Young Man's Valentine Writer which contained verses for young lovers to use. Valentine cards caught on slowly in the early 19th century because the cost of postage was prohibitive. However, the invention of the postage stamp in 1840 led to a six-fold increase in the numbers of Valentine cards mailed in Britain.

In the U.S., the Greeting Card Association estimates that about 190 million Valentine cards are sent each year. If you're looking for a card, why not stop by The Bookshop!
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
This is an important, much-needed sermon for our time. Please read this book and pass it along. Here's an excerpt that stayed with me long after I finished the book. Linda

Nationalism is the uncritical celebration of one's nation regardless of its moral or political virtue. It is summarized in the saying, "My country right or wrong." Lump it or leave it. Nationalism is a harmful belief that can lead a country down a dangerous spiral of arrogance, or off the precipice of political narcissism. Nationalism is the belief that no matter what one's country does - whether racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic or the like - it must be supported and accepted entirely. 

Patriotism is a bigger, more uplifting virtue. Patriotism is the belief in the best values of one's country, and the pursuit of the best means to realize those values. If the nation strays, then it must be corrected.  The patriot is the person who, spotting the need for change, says so clearly and loudly, without hate or rancour. The nationalist is the person who spurns such correction and would rather take refuge in bigotry than fight it. . . .


The Devils of Cardona
Matthew Carr
Reviewed by Phil

Set in Spain in the late 1500s, this historical thriller is a mixture of politics, religion and murder mystery.

A priest is murdered in a small Spanish town near the French border. The town's inhabitants are mostly Moriscos, Muslims who have converted to Catholicism. Worried about the possibility of revolt in this distant province, the king sends a trusted investigator, Bernardo de Mendozo, to get to the bottom of the murder. Mendozo's investigations uncovers  a world of greed and cruelty, with the religious tensions of the region deliberately inflamed to further private gain.

The Devils of Cardona is a gripping read, with startling parallels to the present day. Carr knows his stuff, and brings this historical period to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

A Divided Spy
Charles Cumming
Released in February

Thomas Kell has devoted his life to MI6, the British spy agency, but the loss of a lover during a botched mission has left him embittered and hoping for vengeance. A chance encounter at an Egyptian hotel provides Kell with an opportunity for revenge. He sets out to recruit a top Russian spy, Alexander Minasian. As the plot thickens, Kell finds it more and more difficult to know whether Minasian is being genuine, or is himself playing Kell. Then Minasian offers Kell information about a planned terrorist attack in Britain…

Cumming has a reputation as a modern day John le Carre. His slow, but meticulous, plot development certainly reminds me of some of le Carre’s books. But, once the initial pieces have all been laid out, the pace increases and you’re hooked. If you like books of this genre, then this is a great read.

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 Savannah Robson. Congratulations, Savannah!

The Inheritance Cycle
Christopher Paolini
Reviewed by Savannah Robson, Grade 10

Over many years of reading marvelous novels, there is one book series that I can not help but admire: The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I started this series in the third grade; this is not a simple book for a 10 year old. With its intriguing tale about dragon riders and magic I was enchanted. The tales almost felt real, like they actually happened and could be re-enacted. At that age, I didn't realize just how creative and inspiring the writing and story were. I have read this entire series three times over and I have never been let down. Paolini’s words create a written movie that can easily be projected in your mind. This novel is a fantasy and gives the reader the experience as if they were there. I would recommend this amazing book series to everyone. Savannah Robson
Coming up...

Fizz, Boom, Read with John Ulrich, the Science Guy
March 1st, 4pm
Bennington Free Library

Come along for a fun afternoon at the Bennington Free Library! We'll start the afternoon with a reading of Ada Twist, Scientist, then join a rotation of Fizz, Boom experiments with local school teacher John Ulrich, the science guy. 

This event is co-sponsored by Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop. Attendees will receive a 20% discount coupon to The Bennington Bookshop.

An Evening with Carleton Carpenter
March 4th, 7pm
Oldcastle Theatre

Originally from Bennington, renowned TV and film actor Carleton Carpenter returns to Vermont for an evening of film clips and a reading from his book, The Absolute Joy of Work. Carleton will be available for book signing, and The Bennington Bookshop will be there from 6pm with copies of his book for sale. 

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  • 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
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Sunday: Noon~4.00pm
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