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About Paul

Unique selections of books from our book buyer Paul Ingram. He compiles great lists of books on varying topics.

If you have any requests for recommendations, send Paul an email at

  • The Ballad of Chocolate Mabbie by Gwendolyn Brooks

    The Ballad of Chocolate Mabbie
    by Gwendolyn Brooks

    It was Mabbie without the grammar school gates. 
    And Mabbie was all of seven.
    And Mabbie was cut from a chocolate bar.
    And Mabbie thought life was heaven.

    The grammar school gates were the pearly gates, 
    For Willie Boone went to school
    When she sat by him in history class
    Was only her eyes were cool.

    It was Mabbie without the grammar school gates
    Waiting for Willie Boone.
    Half hour after the closing bell!
    He would surely be coming soon.

    Oh, warm is the waiting for joys, my dears! 
    And it cannot be too long.
    Oh, pity the little poor chocolate lips
    That carry the bubble of song!

    Out came the saucily bold Willie Boone. 
    It was woe for our Mabbie now.
    He wore like a jewel a lemon-hued lynx 
    With sand-waves loving her brow.

    It was Mabbie alone by the grammar school gates. 
    Yet chocolate companions had she:
    Mabbie on Mabbie with hush in the heart.
    Mabbie on Mabbie to be. 

  • Paul's Corner: Remembering Peter Matthiessen, Ivan Doig, and Kent Haruf

    American fiction lost three of its finest practitioners in 2015 and the end of 2014;  Peter Matthiessen, Ivan Doig and Kent Haruf all passed away within that time. Each published an exquisite novel upon leaving our planet, as a gift to readers.  Mattheissen finished In Paradise, his only book to confront the Holocaust, which came out on the day he died. The great Ivan Doig wrote what I believe to be his finest novel, The Last Bus to Wisdom, a lovely tale of a kid, an old man, and a journey that might remind you of Huckleberry Finn or simply of Ivan Doig at his very best. Pulitzer Prize Winner, Kent Haruf, concluded his series of novels set in Eastern Colorado with Our Souls at Night, a beautiful, poignant tale of an older widowed pair who take up with each other at the end of their lives.

    On Last Bus to Wisdom:

    “The chimerical tale is moving, vivid and funny… Doig's adolescent narrator recalls his literary cousins, Scout Finch, Augie March, Huck Finn, Claudia MacTeer, as his open-hearted curiosity provides readers a sense of unmediated engagement with an expanding world…Last Bus to Wisdom takes us back 65 years to an era when the West was a little more rugged and the ethos of wide, open spaces allowed for mythical endings.” -Chicago Tribune

    On In Paradise:

    “Matthiessen can write with ecstatic beauty… In his new novel, In Paradise, he takes what may be his deepest look yet into the abyss…Profound and fiercely fresh.” --Tampa Bay Times

    On Our Souls at Night:

    “Blunt, textured, and dryly humorous. . . this quietly elegiac novel caps a fine, late-blooming and tenacious writing career. . . . Haruf’s gift is to make hay of the unexpected, and it feels like a mercy. . . . This is a novel for just after sunset on a summer’s eve, when the sky is still light and there is much to see, if you are looking.” —Wingate Packard, The Seattle Times

  • Paul's Nifty Fifty (Fifty Books I'd always rather be reading)

    These are some of my favorite books.  I’ve read them all, at least twice, many in connection with my amazing book group who put up with my choices from my list of favorites once a month over the last few years. These are books, few of which are mentioned in most GREAT BOOKS lists, that have sustained me over decades of glorious reading. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I read when I was 14. Observatory Mansions by Ed Carey I read in my 50s.  Almost all of these books remain in print today and have lost little of their sustaining power.  I consider most of these books to be better in quality than most of the novels New York publishers are putting on the market these days. Prairie Lights usually has most of them or can get them within a week.

    Bless you all, and may literature sustain us all.

    • Paul’s Nifty Fifty
      (fifty books I’d always rather be reading)

      Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum 
      Robertson Davies, The Deptford Trilogy 
      Russell Hoban,  Riddley Walker 
      G. B.  Edwards, Book of Ebeneezer LePage 
      William Maxwell, Time Will Darken it 
      William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow 
      Willa Cather, My Antonia 
      Julie Hecht, Do the Windows Open
      Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra 
      Rilla Askew, The Mercy Seat 
      Sebastian Barry,  Long Long Way 
      William Trevor, The Story of Lucy Gault 
      Charles Portis, Masters of Atlantis 
      Charles Portis, True Grit 
      Eudora Welty, Collected Stories 
      Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 
      Walker Percy, The Moviegoer 
      Vilhelm Moberg, The Emigrants 
      Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 
      Jim Crace, A Gift of Stones 
      Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping 
      Marilynne Robinson, Home 
      Joseph Skibell, Blessing on the Moon 
      Ed Carey,  Observatory Mansions 
      Jane Hamilton,  When Madeline Was Young 
      Herman Melville, Moby Dick 
      Charles Dickens,  Pickwick Papers 
      James Agee, A Death in the Family 
      George V. Higgins, The Friends of Eddie Coyle 
      Kent Haruf, The Tie That Binds 
      William Faulkner, The Unvanquished 
      William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom 
      Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale 
      Annie Dillard, The Living 
      Barbara Gowdy, White Bone 
      Wayne Johnston, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams 
      Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm 
      George Orwell, 1984 
      Redmond O'Hanlon, Into the Heart of Borneo 
      Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist 
      Rose Tremain, Music and Silence 
      Michelle de Kretser, The Hamilton Case 
      John Steffler, The Afterlife of George Cartwright 
      Anne Michaels,  Fugitive Pieces 
      Jane Gardam, Old Filth Richard 
      B. Wright,  Clara Callan  
      Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary 
      Aryeh Lev Stollman, The Far Euphrates 
      Colm Toibin, The Blackwater Lightship 
      W. Somerset Maugham,  Of Human Bondage