Staff Selections


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Elizabeth Tova Bailey

When Elisabeth Tova Bailey was stricken ill with a mysterious disease that left her confined to bed, barely able to move or speak, a friend brought her a terrarium which contained, among other things, a tiny wild snail on which she focused her attention all her helpless days.  Her powers of observation were not impaired by her disease, and as time passed, her slow days began to merge with those of her slow moving companion.  As she recovered she wrote this short, beautiful, meditative book that will remind her readers of the best work of Annie Dillard.  How are we like them?  How are they like us?  A perfect little book. 


Vanished Kingdoms
Norman Davies


A survey of various European polities from the Visigothic Kingdom to the U.S.S.R. that failed to make the cut historically and why. Davies is best know as a historian of Poland, so it’s no surprise that the chapters dealing with East European states are the strongest. One of the stand outs though is the chapter on the various incarnations of Burgundy.


The Good Thief
Hannah Tinti

A rollicking adventure that reminds me of the novels of Robert Louis Stevenson, The Good Thief is the story of Ren, a twelve-year-old orphan.  All he's known of life has been the Catholic monastery and orphanage -- he doesn't remember his parents, or how he lost his left hand.  Things are fairly miserable until a man arrives at the orphanage claiming to be Ren's brother.   Off they go into a world Ren has never experienced, and we follow along their escapades as they travel through mid-19th century New England.  Ren is just about the most charming kid you'll ever meet in a novel, and Ms. Tinti's story has wonderfully Gothic elements.  Funny, suspenseful and mysterious, this book is a guaranteed great read.