A Bell for Adano

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I have this friend who occasionally recommends books to me. The only problem is that she’s much smarter than I am, so I tend to smile sweetly and completely ignore her suggestions, assuming that her recommendations will be completely over my head. This is the second time that I have found that reaction to be at my own peril. For months now, I have been avoiding A Bell for Adano by John Hersey, but since it was at the top of my list and I was sick of feeling guilty seeing it there, I broke down and read it, preparing to suffer through.

Of course, it was one of the funniest books I ever read. Hersey writes the story of Major Joppolo, an American soldier in charge of the Italian village of Adano after taking it back from the Germans during World War 2. Joppolo is a good man who just wants life to be better for the people of Adano, but he faces one obstacle after another. The many characters of this small village and the American military provide Hersey with plenty of comic material, as well as a story of human kindness.

Kissing Games of the World

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In Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Kahn Shelton, Harris Goddard’s death complicates things for more than just his grandson, Christopher, whom he has raised since the boy’s mother died four days after he was born. Harris’s death is extremely inconvenient for Nate, Christopher’s father, who can’t imagine fitting a 5 year-old into his workaholic lifestyle. Jamie, Harris’s housemate, is broken-hearted by the loss of her dear friend, as well as the knowledge that she and her son, Arley, will lose Christopher and will no longer be able to live in the house she’s grown to love. She’s also embarrassed by the fact that when the paramedics came, they found her in somewhat questionable circumstances.

So when Nate and Jamie meet, she thinks he’s a horrible father who is separating her from a child she loves. Nate thinks Jamie has set up a questionable living arrangement, hoping to get her hands on Harris’s money. They tolerate each other in order to survive the situation and learn some lessons along the way.

Holiday Treats

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There’s nothing better for getting in the spirit of the season than to curl up in a comfy chair with a cup of spiced cider and a holiday book. We still have a cart full of festive treasures set up next to the information desk on the first floor. Here’s a sampling of what’s waiting for you:

A Family Christmas – introduced and selected by Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy has established a reputation as an excellent anthologist. In the past she has created collections of poems and patriotic works that are respected and well loved. Here Caroline focuses her own family traditions, presenting a charming collection of favorite Christmas tales to those who love to celebrate the spirit of the holidays.

Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt with illustrations by Loren Long
The author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Angela’s Ashes writes a story about Angela as a child, who feels sorry for the baby Jesus in the manger at her church and decides she must rescue him.

The Christmas Pig: A Fable by Kinky Friedman
Friedman tells the story of a king who decides his subjects need some cheering up and a nativity painting is just the thing to do it. Ten-year-old Benjamin, a mute boy with artistic genius is summoned for the job. Benjamin sets to work on the painting in the barn where he meets Valerie, the talking pig. Be prepared for tears in this sweet Christmas tale.

‘Tis the Season

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It is the season for holiday fiction, and The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Milne is a heartwarming short novel about two brothers –Aaron and Molar– who are occupied with adding toys to their Christmas wish lists when they are recruited to volunteer at a hospital in the weeks before the holiday. Though they are initially not happy with volunteering, their experiences visiting sick children are amusing and touching and the boys eventually learn the true meaning of both friendship and of Christmas. This is a sweet story that I thoroughly enjoyed.