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]

A Message for My Books – Inspired By a Passage in Alberto Manguel’s Book Curiosity

There are certain books I gaze at from afar, knowing I would love to read them but knowing, too, that I probably won’t because my list is overly long and I’m becoming more and more aware of how little time there seems to be in a day. One book I know I won’t get to… [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]

Jump Back Paul; The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Jump Back, Paul; The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Sally Derby; illustrated by Sean Qualls; Candlewick Press, 2015.  128 pages;  $16.99 (hardcover); reading level: grades 5-9. From the first sentence of this concise, lyrical biography a grandmotherly narrator takes the reader firmly by the hand:  “You never heard of the poet Paul… [Read More]

Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman; illustrated by the author; Abrams/Appleseed, 2015.  32 pages; $14.94 (hardcover); reading level:  ages 4 and under. What item of clothing is more fascinating to a potty-training-aged fashionista than underwear? And what food is more on the minds of the fashionista’s care-givers than vegetables? Chapman gives a nod to both… [Read More]

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

If You Plant a Seed; words and paintings by Kadir Nelson; Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2015.  32 pages; $18.99 (hardcover); reading level: ages 3-8. Seeds – both real and metaphoric – are the subject of this stunning, oversized picture book.  The biblical adage of reaping what you sow (carrots…selfishness…kindness) is conveyed in a restrained text that… [Read More]

Like a River; A Civil War Novel by Kathy Cannon Wiechman Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Like a River; A Civil War Novel by Kathy Cannon Wiechman; Calkins Creek, 2015.  336 pages; $17.95 (hardcover); reading level: ages 10 and up. The stage is deftly set in the first two pages of this remarkable novel:  we are in Ohio, the Civil War is raging, and fifteen-year-old, Leander Jordan (“Jordan like the river”)… [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]