Fargo Rock City

I want to like this guy. We like the same things. But he desperately needs an editor. So much of this book reads like a high school kid trying to pad his prose to fit a required word count. It’s a mix of heavy metal book report with a dash of memoir, but the memoir stuff is so few and far between that when it does arrive it feels jarring. 3/5 stars. –An anonymous Winter Reading 2023 participant.

Have Dog, Will Travel

This memoir by poet Stephen Kuusisto details his experience of getting a guide dog in his late 30s, after stumbling through life pretty much pretending not to be blind. (Really.) It’s so beautifully written and it offers perspective from a very different way of life from most of us. Kuusisto also enlightens the reader on many details of the history of Guide Dogs and the process of training them and matching them with the right people. It was a delightful, humbling, and inspiring read. 5/5 stars. –Laura Zaino for Winter Reading 2023.

Back to the Prairie: a Home Remade, a Life Rediscovered

Back to the Prairie is Melissa Gilbert’s memoir of her recent years, starting in 2019 with the purchase of a home and property in upstate New York. Living in rural Michigan after marrying actor and director Timothy Busfield, Melissa & Timothy’s work takes them to New York City. Life in the busy and hectic Big Apple leads the couple to purchase a house in the country to relax and get away from all the demands of modern day living. However, the home they purchase has been abandoned for years, and takes the two (along with the help of friends) a great deal of sweat and equity to ready it to be lived in. This is accomplished just before COVID 19 strikes the country, and they settle in as pioneers, living off the land. Ms. Gilbert is a down- to- earth writer, and I enjoyed reading about her life and times.

Skinny House: A Memoir of Family by Julie L. Seely

Despite having limited details and most of the book’s featured people being dead, Julie Seely paints a vivid picture of her family’s experience during the Depression. Now instead of seeing an architectural anomaly, I see a man who tried his hardest to hold his family together. 3/5 stars.

–An anonymous summer reading participant

Tinkerlab Art Starts: 52 Projects for Open-Ended Exploration

This book is a great aid for anyone who is looking for open-ended art projects for children. It covers all kinds of materials: crayons, paint, charcoal, paper scraps, felt, beads and building materials like toothpicks and blocks. My favorite was a painting project that uses cups and paper towel rolls to make circular designs. I enjoyed this quote from an educator: “Children need what we rarely give them in school: time for messing about.” Rachelle Doorley offers simple but satisfying prompts to encourage creativity and imagination.