The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin; HarperCollins, 2012. 426 pages; $15.99 (paperback); reading level: adult. Pairs of relationships drive the plot of this beautifully-written, tightly structured novel (Coplin’s first). In 1865, when William Talmadge is an orphaned 17-year-old living in what will later be the state of Washington, his younger sister goes into the forest to… [Read More]

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Art of Hearing Hearbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker; translated from the German by Kevin Wiliarty; Other Books/Random House, 2006. 325 pages; $15.95 (paperback); reading level: adult. Responding to a just-discovered letter, Julia Win, a hard-nosed young New York City attorney, travels to Kalaw, Burma, her missing father’s birth place, to track him down.  The story… [Read More]

Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George; Picador/Henry Holt & Company, 2013.  287 pages; $16.00 (paperback); reading level: adult. The title of Rose’s book clues us in to her first main point:  ninety percent of the food we eat and the things that fill our homes, cupboards, offices, and yards comes to us by sea…. [Read More]

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín; Scribner, 2014.  373 pages; $27.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This is the quietest of books. So quiet that, after you take your place behind Nora Webster eyes and realize she’s just lost her husband, you might wonder if anything is going to happen…or if this will be a psychological study… [Read More]

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; Scribner, 2014.  530 pages; $27.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. The story begins not with part one but with part “Zero” on the French Island of Saint-Malo, August 7, 1944. Through the course of the novel, we travel in a negative direction in time and space –… [Read More]

Check Out the Books On My Reading List Through 2017 and See Why I Choose Them. My Reviews Will Follow!

Because I write nonfiction, I have to read a lot of books as part of my research. That means I have to be terribly picky about the books I read for pleasure. I’m not completely through my 2015-2016 stack (three more to go!) but I’ve already selected the nine titles that will be stacked on… [Read More]

Being Mortal; Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Being Mortal; Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2014. 282 pages; $26.00 (hardback). Reading level: adult. Being Mortal is based on some unwelcome truths: That we are mortal, that many of us will transition from independence to dependence as we age, and that we will all eventually die…. [Read More]

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson. Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 116 pages; $13.00 (paperback). Reading level: adult. In a scant 116 pages, Johnson chronicles the life and death of both Robert Grainier and the American northwest from the 1880s through the 1960s. Grainier builds bridges, fells trees, transports goods, loses his wife of four years to a fire, and by… [Read More]

Lila by Marilynne Robinson Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Lila by Marilynne Robinson; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014. 261 pages; $26.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult. This third installment in a series of “companion” novels covering the same events from different viewpoints (see Gilead, 2004 and Home, 2009) fills us in on the mysterious Lila. Rescued as a small, motherless child by Doll, Lila was… [Read More]

Check Out the Books On My Reading List Through 2016 and See Why I Choose Them. My Reviews Will Follow!

Each year I have the agony and the ecstasy of choosing nine books to read with my Indianapolis book discussion group. I don’t read the books before I select them. I choose them on the basis of reviews (New York Review of Books, the magazine Bookmarks, NPR) and recommendations from friends, librarians, writers, and bookstore staff…. [Read More]