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In Russian Turkestan, by Annette Meakim

As a woman traveling in Central Asia in the late 19th century, Meakim was able to access the world of women, which was largely inaccessible to the predominantly male travelers of the time.

Of course, the biases of her times are evident, i.e. in her extended discussion and generalizations regarding the beauty or lack thereof possessed by Central Asian women. Meakim’s book is not, nor is it intended to be, an authoritative or comprehensive description of Central Asia, but it does represent sights and ideas that a European traveler would have encountered in the region and thus serves a purpose for those interested in the area. Continue reading

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Wild Within, by Melissa Hart

I opened Wild Within intending to read just a few pages in preparation for the upcoming author lunch at The Book Nest. I couldn’t put it aside until I had read the last line of the epilogue.

When Melissa met Jonathan, her future husband, he was already an owl enthusiast. Gradually Melissa, too, was drawn into the orbit of The Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon, and went from procuring mice for food to training a baby barred owl. Melissa chronicles the process by which she and Jonathan decided to marry and adopt, as well as the surprising strength of her maternal instincts, once awakened. Continue reading

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Bukhara and Khiva, Caught in Time: Great Photographic Archives, Part II

Part I of this review deals primarily with Bukhara, the counterpart to this 1993 volume  by Garnet Publishing (UK).Vitaly Naumkin is identified as the series editor and Andrei G. Nedvetsky as co-compiler and archive researcher.1

Khiva

I found the volume on Khiva slightly less interesting than that on Bukhara, partly because it is farther removed geographically from my personal area of interest, and partly because there are fewer photos overall (105, as compared to 163) and less commentary.

However, the circumstances under which the photographs in the first part of the Khiva album were taken provoke speculation. Russian Colonel N. Ignatieff was sent on a diplomatic mission in 1958 to sign commercial treaties with the governors of Khiva and Bukhara. A.S. Murenko was assigned to the party as photographer; he was later awarded a silver medal by the Russian geographical society for his photographs. Continue reading

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A Place of Her Own, by Janet Fisher

Martha Poindexter Maupin came across the Oregon Trail in 1850. Two years after the death of her husband in 1866, she bought  land near the present-day town of Kellogg, about an hour southwest of Eugene, Oregon. Today her great-great-granddaughter Janet Fisher lives on the farm. A Place of Her Own is not only Martha’s story but the story of Janet’s journey of discovery as she unearths the history of her family’s land.

It is not always a heart-warming story. Martha married against her parents’ wishes. Her husband, Garrett, drank too much and abused his family. He dissuaded Martha when she filed for divorce, but he never really reformed. Fisher sensitively explores the mix of emotions that must have washed over Martha following Garrett’s accidental death, while touching briefly on struggles from her own personal life that inevitably surfaced in the course of such an undertaking. Continue reading

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Tea and Trouble Brewing, by Dorcas Smucker

Product DetailsI wish Dorcas Smucker lived next door. I would drop by regularly to steep myself in the vibrant activity of her household, the warmth and wisdom of her conversation, and the rhythms of rural life, while sharing sharing a pot of tea with Dorcas, of course.

In the absence of this opportunity, reading Tea and Trouble Brewing is not a bad substitute. I even had company at times, as Dorcas’s wit was too good not to share. Like this, from the opening essay, “The Perfect Cup of Tea”: Continue reading

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Thirty Local Authors Signing Books at Gateway Mall

The Book Nest is pleased to announce that over the holidays we are partnering with local poet and publisher C. Steven Blue (a.k.a. Arrowcloud Press) to host book signings by thirty local authors in the EuGenius Market at Gateway Mall in Springfield. The Book Nest and Arrowcloud Press have teamed up to form The Holiday Bookstore, open for business on Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., until Dec. 23. In addition, the bookstore will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. Continue reading

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Conservative Bookseller

Fantasy/sci-fi author Ursula LeGuin (The Telling, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Dispossessed) spoke on censorship at the Eugene (Oregon) library in March of this year. She made the comment that “Any belief, any unbelief, is dangerous if it is adopted, enforced, accepted as the only acceptable ideology” (Register Guard, March 25, 2012, p. B4). I appreciate her acknowledgement (as a sometimes object of conservative censorship) that “theism and atheism can be equally dangerous.” But I have a slightly different perspective on the reason that censorship is a risky undertaking. Continue reading

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Rebel Bookseller and The King’s English

Betsy Burton, author of The King’s English, has been a co-owner of The King’s English (TKE) in Salt Lake City since the 1970s. The author of Rebel Bookseller, Andrew Laties, has been at the helm of  The Children’s Bookstore and The Children’s Museum Store, both in Chicago, and, lastly, a bookstore attached to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, in Amherst, Massachusetts. In these two quasi-memoirs, both authors closely interweave their professional experiences with insights and advice for novice and prospective booksellers, while promoting independent bookstores as guardians of free speech, free enterprise, and local community. Continue reading

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Infant Sleep, Part IV: The No-Cry Sleep Solution

I wish I could say that The No-Cry Sleep Solution solved all our sleep problems and we now sleep a peaceful and uninterrupted eight hours every night, while our daughter–now 18 months–sleeps for ten. Unfortunately, that is not the case. But we’ve made some progress from the days when I used to spend about half our nights sleeping on the guest bed with the baby because she woke every time I put her in her crib. Among other signs of improvement, she now takes a consistent daily nap–two to three hours–and I don’t have to rock her for an hour to get her to fall asleep.

I also can’t say how much of this progress is due to Elizabeth Pantley’s advice. But her book is worth perusing by any parent who wants to get more sleep. Above all, I appreciate Pantley because she acknowledges that every child is different and doesn’t expect parents to follow a one-size-fits-all plan. Continue reading

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Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Greg Mortenson didn’t set out to be a hero. Shortly before he stumbled into a mountain village in northern Pakistan, he was wandering around on K2 trying to save his own life. Out of gratitude to the villagers who took him in following his climbing expedition gone awry, he promised to come back and build them a much-needed school.

And he did–return, that is–but his first heroic mission almost ended in disaster. I won’t supply the details, because it’s a bit of a cliff hanger as Mortenson relates the story in the book. But since Mortenson has gone on to build hundreds more schools (that’s the reason Three Cups of Tea was written), it’s safe to tell you that the school did get built, eventually, and that’s how it all got started. Continue reading

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