Summer is here. It’s the season for swimming and boating and picnicking and eating ice cream and playing baseball and lolling in a lawn chair or on a beach towel reading a good book.
Yeah, about that book part…
Vermont is big on books. The Vermont Book Shop website lists a couple dozen independent bookstores from St. Albans in the north to Bennington down south. The state has a few top-selling authors, too, whose books you can find in those stores, and on this list that follows.
The books detailed here have all been released in the past few months, or are going to be published this summer. They are either written by Vermont authors or have a lot to do with the state. All are likely to help you spend your summer days most wisely.
Chris Bohjalian, “The Lioness” – The Addison County author’s 23rd novel came out last month and did quite well for itself, hitting number six on The New York Times bestseller list in its first week. “The Lioness” tells the story of a 1960s Hollywood star on a posh African safari where, if you’ve ever read any of Bohjalian’s previous thrillers, you can guess that things don’t really go all that well.
Megan Mayhew Bergman, “How Strange a Season” – This literature and environmental-writing instructor at Middlebury College is also is director of the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. Bergman’s novella and short stories in this collection deal with the challenges faced by both women and nature.
Liz Parker, “The Family Compound” – The head of publishing for the Verve Talent & Literary agency splits her time between Vermont and Los Angeles. “The Family Compound,” Parker’s second novel (due to be published Aug. 23), details the tales of five cousins who come together in the mountain town of Stowe to consider their collective futures.
Amy Klinger, “In Light of Recent Events” – Escape from the every-day-ness of your job with this book about … the workplace. The Burlington-area author’s novel is centered on a middle-manager named Audrey whose hush-hush relationship with a married supervisor is thrown a monkey wrench by the arrival of an old friend who’s now a Hollywood star.
Susan Speranza, “Ice Out” – If the summer gets too hot, cool off with this winter-set suspense novel. Speranza, a school librarian in Bellows Falls, tells of a mother and young daughter who are abandoned after a snowmobile mishap at a frozen lake and near some super-mysterious woods.
Catherine Drake, “The Tree House on Dog River Road” – This Vermont resident’s debut novel focuses on a woman laid off from her job in Boston who moves to Vermont to care for her sister’s children. She starts building a treehouse and encounters an intriguing man-next-door.
Laura C. Stevenson, “All Men Glad and Wise” – For her eighth book, the Wilmington author unfolds a historical mystery set on a British estate just after the First World War. “I admit to being influenced by Ishiguro’s ‘The Remains of the Day,’ which portrays the world of service to poignantly,” Stevenson said in a news release issued by Montpelier-based Rootstock Publishing.
Louella Bryant, “Beside the Long River” – This prolific Vermont author goes way back in American history for her latest novel. “Beside the Long River” tells the story of a girl named Sarah who sails from England to New England, where she encounters the Pequot and strives to convince her fellow Puritans not to go to war.
Peter Cobb, “To Alice” – Barre resident J. Peter Cobb has written his debut work of fiction, but it’s based in real life. “The novel is about a home health aide who works for the fictional Visiting Nurse Association of Providence, Vermont,” a town inspired by Barre and Cobb’s hometown of Rutland, the author wrote in an email to the Burlington Free Press. “I wrote the novel to give home care and hospice its due.”
Dan Chodorkoff, “Sugaring Down” – Chodorkoff is co-founder of the Plainfield-based Institute for Social Ecology. Set in the late 1960s, “Sugaring Down” looks at a young anti-war couple from New York who relocate to an abandoned farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to start a commune.
Katharine Stanley-Brown Abbott and Kristin Richland, “Henrietta” – Abbott, a 94-year-old Massachusetts author, teams with Richland, a Vermont artist, for this children’s book about a girl named Lily and the critter that gives the work its title, a hungry woodchuck.
Roisin Sorahan, “Time and the Tree” – An Irish writer living in Vermont, Sorahan’s debut novel takes place over the course of four seasons as a cast of characters strives to find its way “in a world where compassion is interwoven with menace,” according to the novel’s publisher, Adelaide Books.
Willard Sterne Randall, “The Founders’ Fortunes” – The historian and professor emeritus from Champlain College in Burlington has previously penned biographies of the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. This book, subtitled “How Money Shaped the Birth of America,” looks into the financial matters of the nation’s Founding Fathers.
Garrett M. Graff, “Watergate: A New History” – One of the most-famous works of American nonfiction, “All the President’s Men,” told the story of the Watergate scandal while the memories were still fresh. The Montpelier native takes advantage of the benefits of time — and newly-released documents — to dig into the scandal that took down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
Various authors, “This Is Life: 10 Writers on Love, Fear, and Hope in the Age of Disasters” – Graff and fellow Vermont authors Bill McKibben and Stuart Stevens contribute to this collection of essays meant to encourage readers who have been struggling through the past couple of tumultuous years of American life.
Vermont Folklife Center, “Turner Family Stories” – The Middlebury-based collector of Vermont stories and history has assembled an illustrated account of the life of Daisy Turner, the daughter of a family that had been enslaved in Virginia before settling after the Civil War in the picture-perfect Vermont community of Grafton.
See alsoHere are four books that tell the history of Black lives in Vermont
Sammy Moniz, “Feeding the Frasers” – Moniz, a Williston resident, writes about her husband and fellow CrossFit athlete, Mat Fraser. “Feeding the Frasers” features family-favorite recipes such as ginger-sweet potato pancakes, Mexican street-corn guacamole and salted brown-butter chocolate-chip cookies consumed by the sport’s five-time champion.
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Jason Barney, “Northern Vermont in the Revolutionary War” – Though the 14th state didn’t officially enter the union on its own until well after the American Revolution, Barney’s book details the role locales in Vermont, perhaps most notably Lake Champlain, played in the course of the war.
Edited by Katie Wood Kirchhoff, “Luigi Lucioni: Modern Light” – This book was published in May to coincide with an exhibit by the same name at the Shelburne Museum. Lucioni is known for his landscape paintings, including some found at the museum, as well as portraits from his “close-knit circle of queer New York artists and cultural figures,” according to a news release about the book.
More:How Shelburne Museum, the work of one rich Vermonter 75 years ago, is telling new stories
Andrew Liptak, “Cosplay: A History” – The Barre writer belongs to the fan-based “Star Wars” organization The 501st Legion, and infuses this book with his inside knowledge about cosplay, or the practice of dressing up in a costume in character. “Cosplay: A History” visits fan conventions in Vermont and features a Vermont reenactor from The Champlain Rifles, a Civil War-themed group.
Stephen Mease, “Champlain Valley Fair” – A former communications director for the annual Essex Junction celebration (and a former Burlington Free Press editor), Mease explores the history of the century-old fair that starts in late August and bills itself as the “Ten Best Days of Summer.”
More:Who’s playing the Champlain Valley Fair this year? Dropkick Murphys, Jeff Dunham and more
Jillian Marshall, “Japanthem” – A Vermont native now living in Brooklyn, Marshall has penned a series of vignettes that look at the ways music ties in with deeper aspects of Japan’s society and culture. She spent the better part of a decade in the island nation while researching her doctoral thesis in ethnomusicology.
Peter Shea, “Vermont’s Trophy Trout Waters” – This is the second edition of a book published in 2016. This version includes the Deerfield River, recently added to the list of the state’s trophy-stocked bodies of water, as well as lakes and ponds that became part of Vermont’s trophy-trout program this spring.
See also:Vermont Fish and Wildlife experimenting with new strain of rainbow trout stock in 2022
Chris Treece, “Crazy Ambulance Tales” – As a student at St. Michael’s College in the 1980s, Treece served four years as an emergency medical technician with St. Michael’s Fire & Rescue. This book celebrating the department’s 50th anniversary highlights what Treece calls “both the white-knuckle and humorous experiences” EMTs and firefighters experience.
Doug Wilhelm, “Catalysts for Change: How Nonprofits and a Foundation Are Helping Shape Vermont’s Future” – Wilhelm, from Weybridge, published his 18th book through Montpelier-based Rootstock Publishing. “Catalysts for Change” looks at Vermont nonprofit organizations that have benefited from support from the Lintilhac Foundation of Shelburne.
Jamie K. McCallum, “Essential: How the Pandemic Transformed the Long Fight for Worker Justice” – McCallum, a professor of sociology at Middlebury College, looks into how the COVID-19 pandemic spurred labor unrest and concerns about poor working conditions.
Sheri Koones, “Bigger Than Tiny, Smaller Than Average” – Koones, a Connecticut author, profiles 26 small houses, including a trio from Vermont. Two of the homes were designed by Vermont architect Elizabeth Herrmann, Koones wrote in an email to the Burlington Free Press, while the third was designed by Birdseye in Richmond.
2019:Can I afford a mighty, ‘tiny house’ in Vermont?
Glenn Fay Jr., “Hidden History of Burlington, Vermont” – Fay grew up in Burlington and graduated from and has taught at the University of Vermont. The book, he writes in its introduction, “unravels intriguing tales and images of older times with humble beginnings and some not-so-humble outcomes.”
Ellyn Gaydos, “Pig Years” – Gaydos has written a book published by Penguin Random House about her work on farms in Vermont and New York. “Pig Years” details the difficult and tenuous life of work on the farm; of her debut memoir The New York Times says Gaydos “describes in lyrical and unflinching detail the processes behind our food” but does so with a “soft and honest delivery.”
Stefanie Schaffer, “Without Any Warning: Casualties of a Caribbean Vacation” – The young Vermont woman lost both her legs when a boat she was on exploded during a trip to the Bahamas. “The details of a journey toward physical, mental, and emotional recovery are beautifully shared,” according to her website.
Edith Forbes, “Tracking a Shadow: My Lived Experiment with MS” – The Vermont author was diagnosed in 1995 with multiple sclerosis. Her memoir looks at a possible connection between the incurable disease and that most-iconic imagery of Vermont, the dairy industry.
Jean Barella, “60 Feet of Courage” – The Colchester author’s memoir focuses on a cross-country trip she took with a truck and fifth-wheel camper. “The first chapter tells my personal history. Everything that follows is all about the adventure,” Barella writes in the foreword. “This book is about the hard times, the harder times, the decisions against all odds, and the adventure.”
C. Jane Taylor, “Spirit Traffic: A Mother’s Journey of Self-Discovery and Letting Go” – The Vermont author learned to ride a motorcycle at age 50, and recounts the learning curve and set out with her husband and son (three days after his college graduation) on a 10,000-mile adventure across America.
Janet Biehl, “Their Blood Got Mixed: Revolution, Rojava and the War on ISIS” – Biehl, who’s from Vermont, went in 2019 to Rojava, a Kurdish region in northern Syria, to make a film about the residents there striving to create an autonomous community among various religious and ethnic people despite the chaos of war surrounding them. “Their Blood Got Mixed” is a graphic novel that tells that story.
Brooke Marshall, “Lucky: An African Student, An American Dream, and a Long Bike Ride” – Marshall — the sister of “Japanthem” author Jillian Marshall (see above) — served in the Peace Corps in sub-Saharan Africa. In “Lucky,” the Fairfield native describes her more-than 5,000-mile bicycle trip across America to tell university admissions counselors about a special student from her Peace Corps days.
Paul Foxman, “Traumas and Triumphs” – Foxman, a psychologist, is the founder and director of the Vermont Center for Anxiety Café in Burlington and trains and supervises young therapists. In his book, Foxman relays his own history of trauma and offers solutions for trauma and anxiety recovery.
Martha Atwood Pike, “If You Talk of Love to Me” – Pike is a New Hampshire resident who tells a story through letters of a relative of hers — Christine Peters, a young bookkeeper with the Horatio Hitchcock Lumber Co. in Burlington — who corresponded with a distant cousin in California who eventually proposed marriage.
Emily Thayer Guziak, “Just Ask: A Memoir of Forgiveness” – The former freelance writer for the Burlington Free Press has penned a book in which she writes about forgiving her father for the unconditional love she did not experience as a child.
Various authors, “The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy” – This compendium of 100 poems includes works by several Vermont writers, including Julia Alvarez, James Crews, Dan Butler, Mary Elder Jacobson and Julie Cadwallader Staub.
Laura Budofsky Wisniewski, “Sanctuary, Vermont” – The author’s first poetry collection (at age 70) imagines a Vermont town called Sanctuary. “In this book, I wanted to reveal the social and economic fault lines that run deep, not only in a small town like Sanctuary, but throughout the country,” she wrote in an email to the Free Press. “At the same time I wanted to show peoples’ capacity to come together for each other in spite of those deep divisions.”
Nathaniel Hutner, “The Complete Poems of Nathaniel Hutner” – Now a resident of Middlebury, Hutner is a 1972 graduate of Harvard University who worked on Wall Street. The poems in the collection, according to the book jacket, “offer to the reader of the new millennium a fresh way of organizing language and discovering its import.”