Kristen's Picks

Phoenix Books’ events and marketing manager, Kristen has worked and traveled in Ireland, Italy, Maine, and Philadelphia, and has since returned home to Vermont. Kristen is a fan of nonfiction with an anthropological bent and of fiction authors who walk the line between fantasy and reality (e.g. Alice Hoffman and Neil Gaiman). She will forever be devoted to Terry Pratchett (and Granny Weatherwax). Since she completed an apprenticeship with herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, Kristen has informally adopted Phoenix's selection of books on herbalism.

Reviewed by: 
Kristen
Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear . . . and Why Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781612195636
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Melville House Publishing - September 20th, 2016

Fiercely intelligent and scathingly funny, this book explores the media's treatment of famous women and our treatment of women on social media.  As deeply disturbing as this book is, it is ultimately empowering, and even as Doyle forces you to confront our culture's monsters, she always has your back.


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
Mr. Splitfoot Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780544811812
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - January 24th, 2017

This is one of those novels that makes me want to say, "Just read it," and then not tell you anything about it, and let you discover the whole thing for yourself.  If you love a good roadtrip, if you love a good ghost story, if you love a book that stays with you for a long time after, this one is for you.  It's received so much praise, but the quote that comes the closest to my feelings about the book is this one:

“I'm speechless. Mr. Splitfoot is so inventive, so new; I haven’t read anything like it in years. On the surface it's about false spirituality and the most demented road trip across New York State ever attempted, but it's also about the horrible ties that bind us and the small acts of redemption that make life almost okay. On top of that, it’s a thrilling page-turner. I couldn’t stop reading it.”
– Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure, Super Sad True Love Story, and many others


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250060266
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - September 27th, 2016

The Shepherd's Life is the beautifully written yet unsentimental memoir of a man who raises sheep in England's Lake District, as his family has for generations.  With a vivid sense of place and a compelling narrative, this book is a deeply enjoyable read, but it's much more than that:  The Shepherd's Life bears witness to the importance and relevance of small-scale farming not just as a means of production but as a way of life, as a source of community and cultural identity, as a way of raising a family and of living on the land.


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143109792
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - October 4th, 2016

An intriguing, inspiring book about the importance of face-to-face, human-to-human conversation in a world full of interruptions.  Well-researched and more optimistic than you might think, this book offers pragmatic recommendations for prioritizing real-life connections over digital ones.  Recommended reading for anyone with a smartphone, especially (but not limited to) parents and teachers.


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right-And How We Can, Too Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781612195360
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Melville House Publishing - July 12th, 2016

It's been a brutal year so far as national news, and it can be hard to feel hopeful, but this book provides a hearty dose of hope, along with a lot of supporting evidence and good sense.  Lakey is a smart, amiable and accessible author, and Viking Economics was a pleasure to read (not something you can claim about every economics book!)  His account of how the Scandinavian countries have achieved such an enviable quality of life through practical, effective policies is inspiring.  While I was researching this book, I came across the talking point "The Nordics offer free university education and health care, along with affordable day care for young children.  Full employment is normal, and poverty was virtually abolished, even though poverty was once rampant."  Can you imagine being able to say "poverty has been virtually abolished" about the U.S., or even about Vermont?  It's a worthy goal, and, as Bill McKibben said, this book "shows us there’s no reason we couldn’t be making far more progress across a wide range of problems."  Viking Economics is a great pick for those who #feelthebern and for those who just think that we could be doing a better job of things in this country.


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780670785971
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - June 21st, 2016

There are a lot of important conversations we need to have in the U.S., and the conversation about class is one of them.  The sheer weight of Isenberg's well-researched argument makes it impossible to maintain that the US has achieved, or ever had, a classless society.  As has been said, if you're afraid to have the discussion, you'll never solve the problem, and this book provides a vital piece of context to the discussion of why our country is so deeply divided.

I happened to read this book alongside Carol Anderson's White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide, and found the two books, which follow the same range of history and inform each other, to be a great pairing.


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
DIY Bitters: Reviving the Forgotten Flavor - A Guide to Making Your Own Bitters for Bartenders, Cocktail Enthusiasts, Herbalists, a Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781592337040
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Fair Winds Press (MA) - September 1st, 2016

Trust me, bitters taste great, especially when they're mixed up by by Burlington's own Jovial King and Guido Mase.  This new book by the founders of Urban Moonshine is packed full of delicious, unusual recipes and specific, nuanced information about blending bitters, the health benefits of bitters, and a range of bitter herbs.  A brilliant choice for herbalists, foodies, and anyone interested in this fun, tasty way to support health and increase vitality.  It's also a gorgeous book, so makes a lovely gift!
—Kristen


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
Never Look an American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian Amiercan Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781616957605
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Press - October 11th, 2016

Okey Ndibe, originally from Nigeria, has written a generously good-humored memoir about his move to and adjustment to living in the US.  A wonderful read, this book also offers an eye-opening perspective on many aspects of American culture.


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
Heartless Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250044655
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Feiwel & Friends - November 8th, 2016

Heartless - the origin story of the Queen of Hearts from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - is a brilliant adventure.  Despite the fact that we know the unhappy fate of the Queen of Hearts, readers will be swept away by the vibrancy of the world and its populace, the protagonist's sheer joy in her calling as a baker, the plentiful wordplay, and the mischievous and mysterious court joker, Jest.  While remaining true to her source material, Meyer has created a more cohesive world than Carroll's own, and it's one this reader didn't want to leave:  I tore through this book in less than two days, and then, that same night, started over again, this time only allowing myself the ration of one chapter a night.  It was still over too soon, and this book has left me hungry for tarts and mad tea parties.  I highly recommend it to devotees of wit and whimsy, and of course to those who have enjoyed previous incarnations of Wonderland stories, as well as readers of the author's Lunar Chronicles series.


Reviewed by: 
Kristen
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781455566389
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Twelve - May 24th, 2016

The Guardian has said, "Rather than asking how we can save our returning servicemen and women, Junger challenges us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether we can save ourselves."  While we're often told we live in the greatest country in the world, it is a country that is dangerously polarized, a culture that suffers from a profound sense of alienation, and an economy in which the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow.  What's wrong with our society?  Junger has distilled this complex subject into a compelling, slim yet nuanced volume.  This book asks intriguing questions and starts the journey toward solutions.  Recommended reading for anyone with the nagging suspicion that the "civilized" world doesn't have all the answers after all.


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