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Five books to read this December

Bryan Uecker from The Book Nook and java shop in Montague share his top December picks.

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — If you're not already off work and school, holiday break will be starting very soon and there's no better time to curl up with a good book.

Bryan Uecker, co-owner of the Book Nook and Java Shop in Montague shares his top 5 picks for readers of all ages.

Adult Fiction –The Best American Short Stories 2019 by Anthony Doerr

#1 New York Times best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr brings his“stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) to selecting The Best American Short Stories 2019.

“As soon as you complete a description of what a good story must be, a new example flutters through an open window, lands on your sleeve, and proves your description wrong,” writes Anthony Doerr about the task of selecting The Best American Short Stories 2019. The year’s best stories are a diverse, addictive group exploring everything from America’s rich rural culture to its online teen culture to the fragile nature of the therapist-client relationship. This astonishing collection brings together the realistic and dystopic, humor and terror. For Doerr, “with every new artist, we simultaneously refine and expand our understanding of what the form can be.”

 The Best American Short Stories 2019 includes Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Jamel Brinkley, Jeffrey Eugenides, Ursula K. Le Guin, Manuel Muñoz, Sigrid Nunez, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Jim Shepherd, Weike Wang, and others

Adult Non-Fiction - BOOK CLUB BOOK: The Personality Brokers  by Merve Emre

An unprecedented history of the personality test conceived a century ago by a mother and her daughter—fiction writers with no formal training in psychology—and how it insinuated itself into our boardrooms, classrooms, and beyond

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular personality test in the world. It is used regularly by Fortune 500 companies, universities, hospitals, churches, and the military. Its language of personality types—extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuiting, thinking and feeling, judging and perceiving—has inspired television shows, online dating platforms, and Buzzfeed quizzes. Yet despite the test's widespread adoption, experts in the field of psychometric testing, a $2 billion industry, have struggled to validate its results—no less account for its success. How did Myers-Briggs, a homegrown multiple-choice questionnaire, infiltrate our workplaces, our relationships, our Internet, our lives?

First conceived in the 1920s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, a pair of devoted homemakers, novelists, and amateur psychoanalysts, Myers-Briggs was designed to bring the gospel of Carl Jung to the masses. But it would take on a life entirely its own, reaching from the smoke-filled boardrooms of mid-century New York to Berkeley, California, where it was administered to some of the twentieth century's greatest creative minds. It would travel across the world to London, Zurich, Cape Town, Melbourne, and Tokyo, until it could be found just as easily in elementary schools, nunneries, and wellness retreats as in shadowy political consultancies and on social networks.

Drawing from original reporting and never-before-published documents, The Personality Brokers takes a critical look at the personality indicator that became a cultural icon. Along the way it examines nothing less than the definition of the self—our attempts to grasp, categorize, and quantify our personalities. Surprising and absorbing, the book, like the test at its heart, considers the timeless question: What makes you, you?.

Local:  Saint Peter and the Goldfinch poems by Jack Ridl

Jack Ridl returns with a collection of poems that mix deft artistic skill with intimate meditations on everyday life, whether that be curiosity, loss, discovery, joy, or the passing of the seasons. An early reader of Saint Peter and the Goldfinch said it best: "Ridl’s books are all treasures, as is he, and his poetry has always been trout-quick, alternately funny and wondrous, instantly intimate, and free of pretense. All these characteristics can be found in this book, and there is something else, something extraordinary: at an age where most poets are content to roll out an imagined posterity, he’s decided to push and refine the art, to see out the day and live it fully, because art and life settle for no less."

The first section of Saint Peter and the Goldfinch reflects on the author’s personal history, with poems like "Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning" and "Some of What Was Left After Therapy." The second section continues with meditations on varied events and persons and includes poems such as "The Last Days of Sam Snead" and "Coffee Talks with Con Hilberry." The third attends primarily to the mystery of love and what one loves and contains the poems "The Inevitable Sorrow of Potatoes" and "Suite for the Long Married." The fourth and final section meditates primarily on the imagined in poems like "Over in That Corner, the Puppets" and "Meditation on a Photograph of a Man Jumping a Puddle in the Rain."

Saint Peter and the Goldfinch is the work of a talented and seasoned poet, one whose work comes out of the "plainspoken" tradition—the kind of poetry that, as Thomas Lynch puts it, "has to deliver the goods, has to say something about life, something clear and discernible, or it has little to offer." Readers of poetry who enjoy wrestling with life’s big questions will appreciate the space that Ridl allows for these ruminations.

Young Adult: The Light in the Lake by Sarah R. Baughman

Twelve-year-old Addie should stay away from Maple Lake. After all, her twin brother, Amos, drowned there only a few months ago. But its crisp, clear water runs in Addie's veins, and the notebook Amos left behind — filled with clues about a mysterious creature that lives in the lake's inky-blue depths — keeps calling her back.

So despite her parents' fears, Addie accepts a Young Scientist position studying the lake for the summer, promising she'll stick to her job of measuring water pollution levels under adult supervision. Still, Addie can't resist the secrets of Maple Lake. She enlists the lead researcher's son, Tai, to help her investigate Amos's clues. As they collect evidence, they also learn that Maple Lake is in trouble — and the source of the pollution might be close to home. Addie finds herself caught between the science she has always prized and the magic that brings her closer to her brother, and the choice she makes will change everything.

Children (Local): The Hen in the Pen by Paige Cornetet


Learn why it is better to work hard than to touch you principle. You will meet new characters, and discover the difference between the chicken and the egg which both can provide for your lifestyle. 

Information courtesy of Bryan Uecker. Find these titles and more at the Book Nook & Java Shop, located at 8744 Ferry St. in Montague or online at www.thebooknookjavashop.com.


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