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february & march reads — posted 2/2024

I'm happy to share with you a few February literary fiction book releases I highly recommend, as well as a few upcoming March releases for you to watch for. I've also included three beautiful new guidebooks I discovered in the Garden section while at work at Literati Bookstore: how to attract birds to your garden, a new herb encyclopedia, and a gorgeous history of flowers. These are very dear to my gardening and birding heart. Spring brings many new releases I'm looking forward to sharing with you, but I'll have to keep you on the edge of your reading chair until those books hit the shelves!


The Women - Kristin Hannah

Finally there is a novel about the Vietnam War not only from a veterans perspective, but that of a female vet and her horrific and life-changing perspective while on the front-line as a U.S. Army field hospital nurse. In the 60s, women were not drafted. If they were there, they chose to be there, to help the "boys" fighting and suffering in the War. When those Army nurses returned home to the States, they were not acknowledged as Vietnam Vets and were turned away at the VA when they sought help for the PTSD they came home with. Kristin Hannah does an outstanding job of portraying the experience, the hardships — the hell — in which those nurses lived, saving lives and limbs along with holding the hands of dying American vets and innocent Vietnamese people. "Women can be heroes, too" is the message, loud and clear, yet in those pre-Roe v. Wade and women's rights times, women were kept on the back-burner and not recognized for the sacrifices they made to their country.


A Short History of Flowers -   Advolly Richmond

A handbook for plant and garden lovers that is as beautifully illustrated and presented as it is a fascinating insight into 60 flowers that bloom in gardens worldwide. Garden and social historian Advolly Richmond gives a unique look at each plant that not only explains the derivation of their names and existence, but dives deep into the discovery, cultivation, and background stories that are as intriguing as the plants themselves. A perfect gift for yourself if you love to live in and take care of your garden — and for the gardeners in your life.


Looking for Jane - Heather Marshall

With the 2022 end of Roe v. Wade, this book is a powerfully important reality check of what the world looks like for women who are unable to get safe, legal abortions. 'Looking for Jane' was the codeword women used to gain access to doctor-provided illegal abortions before abortion legalization. Marshall has painted a very clear picture of that world in this story about three women whose lives intersect due to unwanted pregnancies. We can only hope that women won't be forced to look for Jane as politicians and religious leaders yet again attempt to take away women's right to choose.


The Complete Language of Herbs - S. Theresa Dietz

This exquisite book about culinary herbs is a detailed reference guide for cooking with and for understanding the benefits of over 500 herbs and spices. It's laid out with two indexes: one that searches by common herb and spice names; the other by their meaning. Each listing includes the botanical and common name, the symbolic meaning of the plant, the possible powers the herb can provide, and detailed folklore and facts that provide background into the mythology and medieval legends of the herbs and spices included. I love the look, the feel, and the function of the book and refer to it as a useful encyclopedia in the kitchen and home.


Becoming Madam Secretary - Stephanie Dray

Frances Perkins was the longest serving US Secretary of Labor under President FDRs four terms of office. She was the driving force behind the New Deal and throughout the 20th century her work impacted all Americans in a way that no one has since accomplished. The author's keen storytelling and deep research makes for an eye-opening look into American politics and the wise faith FDR put into the first woman ever chosen to be a member of the White House staff. An important historical read for U.S. histories studies as well as gender studiesl, gendor not being the term of the day, but as importan then as it is today.


Planting For Garden Birds - Jane Moore

Wondering how to attract birds to your backyard and garden? This four-season guide will open your eyes to the plants that birds find enticing, while also teaching you what each plant is good for and it's merit in your garden. Also included are tips on nesting spots, boxes and birdhouses, so you can keep those birds close to home as they create a home . . . and hopefully a family . . . in your garden. This is a great addition to your collection of bird books, adding a great deal of information on the birds you see year-round and why they choose to make your garden their home. Think like a bird and you will be rewarded with their company!


Fire In the Garden - Daniel Gumbiner

A painfully true, fictionalized story about the effects of climate change on a rural Northern California grape farming community, following one family and their friends and neighbors whose vineyards and homes become victim to devastating fire and drought. Gumbiner's writing style is reminiscent to that of Kent Haruf and William Kent Krueger, creating a quiet sense of place and character in his somber storytelling. Though not a "happy" story, the book speaks to the power of family, resilience, hope, and hard work, as the reader learns nearly everything there is to know about the California small family grape industry and the sobering new climate normal.


Radiant - Brad Gooch

'"My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. 'I will draw as   much as I can for as many people as I can for as long as I can."  —   Keith Haring

And draw is what he did — beautifully, brilliantly, prolifically, politically and with a childlike's sense of humor and vision — with utter love in his heart. From his small-town Pennsylvania childhood to his studios and homes in NYC and nearly every corner wall, street, and subway of the world, Keith Haring woke the world up to an emblematic contemporary artform, first with his NY subway bombings of his iconic drawings and then with his highly-sought after paintings and sculptures that brought world politics and the AIDS crisis front and center. Gooch's biography is a nearly day-by-day account of Haring's life from his very beginning to his very end, recounted through interviews, found quotes, Haring's journal entries and media sources, taking the reader into Haring's mind as well as into the 1980s NY art and music scene. "Radiant" is an accurate title for this impeccably written account of a truly radiant human being whose art touched all ages, from rich to poor, all around the world as he used his art as a wake-up call to raise awareness and demand political and social change at the beginning of the AIDs crisis. Brad Gooch did a fine job taking us into the magical world of artist Keith Haring.

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