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Kelly’s Reviews

Gap of Time

This is a solid retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The characters are modern but every bit as much is at stake. It's a cautionary tale about the danger of jealousy that never loses its relevance. Recommended by Kelly

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The Gap of Time (Hogarth Shakespeare) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804141376
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Published: Hogarth Press - June 21st, 2016

The Winter's Tale is one of Shakespeare's "late plays." It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature

In a series of linked essays about his childhood in rural Edgefield, South Carolina, Lanham reclaims an environmental love and ethos for people of color. He is a self-described "eco-addict," who loves nature because "I've yet to have a wild creature question my identity.

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ISBN: 9781571313157
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Published: Milkweed Editions - October 11th, 2016

"In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored." From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham.

Tru and Nelle

Tru and Nelle by Neri G. is a terrific young adult book about the friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. Based on real events in the lives of these two literary figures, the book in many ways mirrors To Kill a Mockingbird, hinting at the real characters and events in Monroeville, Alabama that gave birth to their parallels in the novel. It's beautifully written and has both the adventure and moral peril present in To Kill a Mockingbird. Highly recommended by Kelly.

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ISBN: 9780544699601
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - March 1st, 2016

Long before they became famous writers, Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) were childhood friends in Monroeville, Alabama. This fictionalized account of their time together opens at the beginning of the Great Depression, when Tru is seven and Nelle is six.

Eleanor and Hick

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn. Though it's no secret that Eleanor Roosevelt had a long-term affair with journalist Lorena Hickok, Quinn's careful examination of their decades-long correspondence reveals the depth of both their love and fear during a time when such relationships were strictly verboten. The narrative views the tumultuous days of Depression, world war, and social change through the window of cultural trespass, which offers interesting insights into both a much-studied era and political icon.

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ISBN: 9781594205408
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Published: Penguin Press - September 27th, 2016

A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok--a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women's lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history

The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is a ghost story for everyone. By everyone, I mean those who love ghost stories and also those who resist them. The writing is so spot-on and the hauntings so psychologically resonant, that they give even the skeptical reader pause. The Ayres' family estate is crumbling. Its remaining residents, Emily, her shell-shocked son Roderick, and sturdy, unmarried daughter Caroline, make an ill-fated decision to host a party to re-establish themselves in the social scene of Warwickshire, England.

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ISBN: 9781594484469
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Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2010

"The #1 book of 2009...Several sleepless nights are guaranteed."--Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal. The short answer is--we're getting there. The gist of this fascinating book is that we've long been using the wrong measures for things like "consciousness," "self-awareness," and "intention," all once considered qualities possessed only by humans. But as the many experiments that primatologist de Waal recounts show, if you use the proper controls and keep an open mind, you'll find animals are far more "like" us than we give them credit--which changes everything. Recommended by Kelly

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Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393246186
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 25th, 2016

What separates your mind from an animal's? Maybe you think it's your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future--all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet's preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition.

The Bridge Ladies

Embedded in the title of Betsy Lerner's The Bridge Ladies is the book's extended metaphor: by taking bridge lessons so she can participate in her mother's long-running bridge club, Lerner is able to renew what has always been a fraught relationship with her mother. At turns poignant and hilarious, this memoir potrays an all-too-common drama between mothers and daughters, crossing a chasm of misunderstanding to reach a patch of common ground of insecurities and affection they didn't know they shared. Recommended by Kelly

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ISBN: 9780062354464
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Published: Harper Wave - May 3rd, 2016

A fifty-year-old Bridge game provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between a daughter and her mother. Betsy Lerner takes us on a powerfully personal literary journey, where we learn a little about Bridge and a lot about life.

Religion for Atheists

Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists makes the argument that those who do not claim a faith of their own shouldn't "throw out the baby with the bathwater." Without religion, we would be bereft of some of the greatest music, books, architecture, and art. Also, he maintains that the church has had some pretty excellent ideas about organizing our lives and communities that we would do well to follow. Recommended by Kelly

Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307476821
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Published: Vintage - January 8th, 2013

What if religions are neither all true nor all nonsense? Alain de Botton's bold and provocative book argues that we can benefit from the wisdom and power of religion--without having to believe in any of it.

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks

Lovers of Terry Tempest Williams' writing (and those who never read her before--these are usually the only two categories) rejoice. In time for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, her new book The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks chronicles one of America's best-known and beloved nature writer's visits to twelve national parks and monuments.

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ISBN: 9780374280093
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Published: Sarah Crichton Books - May 31st, 2016

America's national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why more than 300 million people visit the parks each year.

Girl in a Band

STAFF REVIEW: Disclaimer: I don’t listen to much Sonic Youth, but I loved Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band. If you’re looking for tabloid fodder about Gordon’s breakup with Thurston Moore, you won’t be disappointed, but the real draw here is Gordon’s clear, frank portrayal of her long career in art and music. Like any good artist memoir, it’s full of celebrity cameos and funny anecdotes.

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ISBN: 9780062295903
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Published: Dey Street Books - December 1st, 2015


Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, fashion icon, and role model for a generation of women, now tells her story--a memoir of life as an artist, of music, marriage, motherhood, independence, and as one of the first women of rock and roll, written with the lyricism and haunting beauty of Patti Smith's Just Kids.


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