Nancy C.'s Recommendations



The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316066471
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Published: Back Bay Books - March 11th, 2009

This beautiful and playful collection of short essays describes the author's encounters with 34 different species, ranging from praying mantis to mountain lion, peregrine falcon to red-spotted toad. Clearly the product of patient and precise observation, each narrative is written with deep respect and sensitivity, humor and wonder.

Caleb's Crossing Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780670021048
Published: Viking Books - May 3rd, 2011

This author has such a gift for enlivening a slice of history through compassionately rendered characters and careful attention to period detail. Martha's Vineyard and Cambridge c. 1640: two kindred spirits from vastly different cultures and belief systems, whose lives become unexpectedly bound together; the inner and outer conflicts that develop from bucking the rigid norm; ignorance, fear and racism, but also beauty of place, of strength and determination and abiding love: these form the tapestry of this stirring story.

People of the Book: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143115007
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Published: Penguin Books - December 30th, 2008

This historical novel is built upon the meager collection of fact and probability surrounding an ancient Hebrew illuminated manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah. Rare book conservator Hannah Heath finds several artifacts while rebinding this newly rediscovered codex; analysis of each artifact becomes the focal point for a series of vignettes, windows into the Haggadah's past that are rich in historical detail and emotional intensity, tracing its journey backwards in time to its creation in the mid-1400s. With a relatively few deft strokes, the author has fleshed out the skeleton of known fact and brought into clear focus the imaginary 'people of the book'--those who created it, used it, and protected it over the centuries. This is a gripping, often eye-opening book, with a very vivid cast of characters.

Cutting for Stone: A novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780375414497
Published: Knopf - February 3rd, 2009

What an absorbing, well-paced historical novel and family saga this is! Set primarily at a small mission hospital in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, in 1954--a time of increasing political turmoil-- its characters and the weave of their lives together have a depth and fullness that keep the reader's interest and empathy engaged from beginning to end. The title, a phrase from the Hippocratic Oath, has rich multiple meanings in the context of this story, as does the healing that threads its way throughout.

Ordinary Wolves Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781571310477
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Milkweed Editions - August 1st, 2005

Set in northern Alaska, this is the thoughtfully-told story of a young boy, Cutuk, as he slowly matures into adulthood.  On the outside fringes of both Inupiaq and white societies, yet being of each, Cutuk grapples with his emerging system
of beliefs--what is important and right, what is not.  This struggle is
shaped by his inherited love of the land and his deep empathy for the
animals who inhabit it, in the face of the far-reaching and often
ruinous effects (on land, animals and native people) of contemporary
white culture and values. This is a beautiful book, written with an
often haunting vividness that leaves a deep mark on heart and memory.