My October Reads
Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell
From behind the counter, Shaun Bythell catalogs the customers who roam his shop in Wigtown, Scotland. There's the Expert (divided into subspecies from the Bore to the Helpful Person), the Young Family (ranging from the Exhausted to the Aspirational), Occultists (from Conspiracy Theorist to Craft Woman).
Then there's the Loiterer (including the Erotica Browser and the Self-Published Author), the Bearded Pensioner (including the Lyrca Clad), and the The Not-So-Silent Traveller (the Whistler, Sniffer, Hummer, Farter, and Tutter). Two bonus sections include Staff and, finally, Perfect Customer--all add up to one of the funniest book about books you'll ever find.
My rating: It was ok. I listened to the audio version.
Vamderbilt by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe
New York Times bestselling author and journalist Anderson Cooper teams with New York Times bestselling historian and novelist Katherine Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty—his mother’s family, the Vanderbilts.
When eleven-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt began to work on his father’s small boat ferrying supplies in New York Harbor at the beginning of the nineteenth century, no one could have imagined that one day he would, through ruthlessness, cunning, and a pathological desire for money, build two empires—one in shipping and another in railroads—that would make him the richest man in America. His staggering fortune was fought over by his heirs after his death in 1877, sowing familial discord that would never fully heal. Though his son Billy doubled the money left by “the Commodore,” subsequent generations competed to find new and ever more extraordinary ways of spending it. By 2018, when the last Vanderbilt was forced out of The Breakers—the seventy-room summer estate in Newport, Rhode Island, that Cornelius’s grandson and namesake had built—the family would have been unrecognizable to the tycoon who started it all.
Now, the Commodore’s great-great-great-grandson Anderson Cooper, joins with historian Katherine Howe to explore the story of his legendary family and their outsized influence. Cooper and Howe breathe life into the ancestors who built the family’s empire, basked in the Commodore’s wealth, hosted lavish galas, and became synonymous with unfettered American capitalism and high society. Moving from the hardscrabble wharves of old Manhattan to the lavish drawing rooms of Gilded Age Fifth Avenue, from the ornate summer palaces of Newport to the courts of Europe, and all the way to modern-day New York, Cooper and Howe wryly recount the triumphs and tragedies of an American dynasty unlike any other.
Written with a unique insider’s viewpoint, this is a rollicking, quintessentially American history as remarkable as the family it so vividly captures.
My rating: I really enjoyed listening to this book.
The Vineyard by Barbara Delinsky
In The Vineyard, New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky (Lake News, Coast Road, Three Wishes) has written her most complex and emotionally rewarding novel: a story of two women, a generation apart, each of whose dream becomes bound with the other's.
To her family, Natalie Seebring is a woman who prizes appearances. She is exquisitely mannered, socially adept, a supportive wife, and head of a successful wine-producing enterprise. So when she announces plans to marry a vineyard employee mere months after the death of her husband of fifty-eight years, her son and daughter are stunned. Faced with their disapproval, Natalie decides to write a memoir. There is much that her children don't know about her life -- about her love of the vineyard, her role in fighting to build it up, and the sacrifices she made for her family.
Olivia Jones is a dreamer, living vicariously through the old photographs she restores. She and her daughter, Tess, have no one but themselves, so they cling to the fantasy that a big, happy family is out there somewhere, just waiting to welcome them home. When Olivia is hired by Natalie to help with her memoir, a summer at Natalie's beautiful vineyard by the sea seems the perfect opportunity to live out that fantasy -- an elegant home by the shore, a salary that allows her to hire a tutor for her dyslexic daughter, a job that is creative, hours spent with a woman who has led a charmed life.
But all is not as it seems, Olivia and Tess discover when they arrive at Asquonset, the vineyard in Rhode Island. While welcoming, Natalie is not quite the mothering type, as is quickly evident in the hostility her daughter and son have toward her -- it's a hostility that Olivia must buffer. Another dose of stark reality comes in the form of Simon Burke, who runs the vineyard's day-to-day operation and sees in Olivia and Tess an unwelcome reminder of the wife and daughter he tragically lost. And then there is the cruel reality of Olivia's own life -- the mother who never wanted her, and a career that has floundered.
Natalie's story, intended for her own children, enlightens Olivia as well. The lives of these two women of different generations, parallel in so many ways, become, in The Vineyard, a powerful and moving story as the fantasy of an idealized life, complete with perfect romance, crashes headlong into reality.
My rating: This was my favorite read this month. I read the paperback book that is a re-release.