Renee's Picks

Renee Reiner, a veteran bookseller since she and Mike bought The Book Rack and Children's Pages in 1995, took the lead in opening our second location in downtown Burlington. "Having successfully created a vibrant community bookstore," she says, "I will look back many years from now and say I've lived a good life."

Born on Third Base, by Chuck Collins

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Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good By Chuck Collins, Morris Pearl (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Chuck Collins, Morris Pearl (Foreword by)
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ISBN: 9781603586832
Published: Chelsea Green Publishing Company - September 23rd, 2016

Chuck Collins was an heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune and chose to give away his trust fund in his mid-20's.  He's been working on wealth inequality ever since.  He was also one of my teachers in the early 90's when I received a master's degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University.

This book is important to me because philanthropy is one of my core principles. Chuck has found an authentic way of talking about wealth in a context that I think can help bring us together as a community, at least this is my hope.

Waking Up White, by Debby Irving

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Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race By Debby Irving Cover Image
ISBN: 9780991331307
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Published: Elephant Room Press - January 9th, 2014

Waking Up White is the most important book I’ve read in years (possibly ever).  Debby Irving was raised in a middle/upper middle class white enclave of suburban Boston.  As a young adult, she felt she ‘got it’ when it came to race – a liberal do-good type. 

Through graduate studies, she began to learn about white privilege – how our culture ensures that we benefit in every way because of the color of our skin. 

People of color are fully aware of this injustice, that the deck is entirely stacked no matter how they behave, how much money they earn, no matter what.  Whiteness forms the fabric of our society. 

Irving was profoundly disturbed by learning about this reality.  I especially appreciate that the tone of her memoir is not defensive or attacking or apologetic.  Rather, because she is willing to expose her naiveté and ignorance with graciousness, I, as a liberal, white person very sensitive to race, was able to look at my own world and my place in it in a more open way.  I am grateful to Irving because she has given us a significant gift.

I encourage book groups to choose Waking Up White.  I believe that this book will generate heartfelt exploration and foster invaluable conversations.

Syria: Remember Me, by Deborah Felmeth

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"Syria: Remember Me is the most important book of the season.  It may be one of the most important books of our time.  Through photographs, author Deborah Felmeth reminds us in a critical way what it means to be human.  Critical because she shows us Syrians whose goodness is easily forgotten.  She reminds us that there are places in this world that are being destroyed and therefore people whose lives are being shredded.
"Our media would have us believe that human beings, Syrians in this example, are to be feared.  I do not believe that this is true.  I believe that it is vitally important to know about and speak of a story that is being ignored."


Syria: Remember Me (Hardcover)
by Deborah Felmeth
ISBN: 9781935922926
Published: Wind Ridge Books of Vermont

Syria: Remember Me bears witness in both words and images to the strong, dignified, beautiful, and complex lives of the Syrian people—from the fertile Euphrates River Valley to the wide-open expanse of the great Syrian Desert, and from the maze of overflowing markets to the spacious interiors of gold-domed mosques.

The photographs in this collection were taken over two decades, between 1991 and 2011, and precede the devastating war that now sweeps the beleaguered land. Today, the daily images of Syria that the media thrusts before us reveal only devastation, grief, rage, and the victimhood of war. The author hopes to hearten that view and encourage readers toward a more humanizing encounter. Turn the pages and gaze into the eyes of Syrians young and old, humble and proud, engaged in the simple miracle of living an everyday life at peace.

101 Changemakers : Rebels and Radicals Who Changed U.S. History by Michelle Bollinger & Dao X. Tran

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101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History By Michele Bollinger (Editor), Dao X. Tran (Editor) Cover Image
By Michele Bollinger (Editor), Dao X. Tran (Editor)
ISBN: 9781608461561
Availability: Backordered. On Order at the Warehouse.
Published: Haymarket Books - November 6th, 2012

I love this book because it teaches us about important people who have made a significant difference and improved lives.  It bypasses founding fathers and industry moguls in favor of regular folks who stood up for a cause.  It is a readable 'people's history, geared to middle school students, although my Dad picked it up and is reading it cover to cover.

Quiet by Susan Cain

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking By Susan Cain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307352156
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Published: Crown - January 29th, 2013

Cain explains introverts for those who believe the myth that being extroverted is important. I was struck on many levels: what was I like at 5 or 10; how teachers navigate a classroom with a variety of personalities; how extroverted parents may struggle with introverted kids (and vice versa). Very well done and pretty much a must read!

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures (FSG Classics) By Anne Fadiman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374533403
Availability: Click Title to See Location Inventory
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 24th, 2012

Every medical professional should read this book! It explores the clash between culture and the American medical establishment. This book is both disturbing and important.