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]

The Zhivago Affair by Peter Finn and Petra Couvée Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Zhivago Affair; The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvée; Pantheon Books/Random House, 2014. 352 pages; $26.95 (hardcover); reading level: adult. When the celebrated poet Boris Pasternak began the novel Doctor Zhivago in 1945, he and his fellow Russian writers were living under the terrifying,… [Read More]

How It All Began by Penelope Lively Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

How It All Began by Penelope Lively; Penguin Books, 2012.  229 pages; $16.00 (paperback); reading level:  adult. It all began when 77-year-old Charlotte Rainsford was mugged; which meant she had to move into her daughter Rose’s house, where she tutored Anton, her adult literacy student, while her broken hip mended; which meant Rose noticed Anton’s… [Read More]

Bookends – Some Suggested Christmas Reading

I like “bookend” plots that start in one place and then circle back to the beginning of things.  I like January and December because they bookend the year.  And I like bookends – the real thing – because they’re useful when you have as many books as I do.  Here are some books you might… [Read More]

Monitor by James Tertius deKay Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Monitor; The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History by James Tertius deKay. Ballantine Books, 1997.  247 pages; $11.95 (paperback). Reading level: high school/adult. Building on the premise that it was not the more famous land battles that determined the outcome of the Civil War… [Read More]

Ladies and Not-So Gentle Women by Alfred Allan Lewis Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Ladies and Not-So-Gentle Women;Elisabeth Marbury,Anne Morgan, Elsie de Wolfe, Anne Vanderbilt, and Their Times by Alfred Allan Lewis.  Penguin, 2000.  540 pages; $18.00 (paperback).  Reading level:  adult. Four big-spending Gilded Age women would seem to have nothing to contribute to the rough and tumble politics of women’s rights near the turn of the 20th century. … [Read More]

Canada Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Canada by Richard Ford. Ecco/HarperCollins, 2012. 420 pages; $15.99 (paperback). Reading level: adult. When sixty-six-year-old Dell Parsons looks back on the six weeks that changed his life back when he was fifteen, he begins his story this way: “First I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” It… [Read More]

Connie’s Winter Reading List. What Are You Reading?

Our snowy winter here in Indiana is slowing me down and providing an opportunity to make a dent in the pile of titles stacked on my nightstand.   Canada by Richard Ford.  Besides the author’s credentials (he won a Pulitzer for his novel Independence Day), the first sentence has me hooked:  “First, I’ll tell about the… [Read More]