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Summer Road Trips

Whether it's inspiration you need, a good companion for a trip, or just a little vicarious living, we've got all the best road trip themed books you need, for every age, and every mood. And don't forget about audiobooks! They're perfect entertainment for adults and kids alike during long (or short!) car rides.

Children's

Young Adult

Novels

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Nonfiction & Resources

Forty One Years Later...

   Once upon a time, in a land called the Berkshires, there lived a young man by the name of Eric Wilska. One day, Eric set out to make his fortune. He didn't have to look long however before he found his true calling. So he busily set about the business of opening up his first bookstore. Soon enough, the day of the grand opening had arrived. People came from far and wide to see the new bookstore, including his mother and grandmother. Everyone lauded his entrepreneurial spirit and said he would certainly go far. His grandmother was even the first person to purchase a book that earned him his first dollar!

 

   But despite his family's love and support, Eric still had obstacles to overcome along his journey. Bravely, he slayed the Making Change in Your Head Beast, defeated the New Technology Villain (who is now more of an exasperating friend), and helped save the noble land of the Berkshires, one glorious book at a time.

   Of course, none of these valiant endeavors would have been possible without his family and the enthusiasm of book lovers throughout the land. It has been 41 years since that exalted opening day, and, obstacles or no, Eric's bookstore is still spreading stories, and the love of them, far and wide. ...Here's to 41 more!

Gardening with Kids

Lately, we've had a lot of requests for books about gardening with and for kids. And why not? It's finally spring (though with this weather it seems more like summer already!) and what better fun and messy, yet educational and productive activity is there than gardening? Get inspiration and some help with these great titles:

 

Don't have space for gardening at home? Take the young ones to explore the nature that can be found all around them already!

 

Thanks for Reading to Us, Mom!

The Reading MotherOur favorite mommy & me reads!
by Strickland Gillilan

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,

Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.

 

Llama or no, mamas are some of the best beings out there! This May 10th, celebrate Mother's Day by reading with your baby (click here for our favorite Mommy & Me storytime books!)... and for those babies who somehow always grow up, celebrate by giving your mama a much-deserved solo read (our recommendations for those are found below... or come in and ask!). There's a wonderful book for every wonderful mom out there!

    

 

Thank You, Sir Terry Pratchett

The recent sad news of the death of reknowned author Sir Terry Pratchett has created a far-reaching ripple of mournful and respectful salutes to his beloved work. As a bestselling author of adult satirical fantasy and children's books, his writing has reached around the globe for years, selling over 85 million books and being translated into more than 37 languages. He was even knighted in 2009 for his services to literature.

But enough about numbers and accolades; it's truly his fans' responses to his passing that say the most about how cherished he became. For example, this petition, now with over 7,000 signatures, requests that Death "reinstate Terry Pratchett". Death is a particularly excellent character from his Discworld novels, who he portrayed as a sweet, witty, unpopularly employed fellow, rather than the stereotypical frightening, evil, creepy sort. And that's typical Pratchett—making social commentary something both smart and funny; witty and thought-provoking yet still lighthearted and fun.

Or, in fellow fantasy author Brandon Sanderson's words: "Unlike most comedians—who use their humor like a weapon, always out for blood—Terry didn’t cut or bludgeon. He was far too clever for that. Instead, he’d slide down onto the bar stool beside us, drape his arm around us, and say something ridiculous, brilliant, and hilarious. Suddenly, the world would be a brighter place.

"It wasn’t that he held back, or wasn’t—at times—biting. It’s just that he seemed to elevate every topic he touched, even when attacking it. He’d knock the pride and selfishness right out from underneath us, then—remarkably—we’d find ourselves able to stand without such things."

And it's never too late to join the millions-strong fanbase and discover for yourself why we all loved Terry Pratchett so much—and will always love his work, as it well outlives the man who thankfully kept putting fingers to keyboard for so long.

Feeling inspired, but not sure where to start? Check out just a few recommendations below.

For quintessential Pratchett, start with one of his Discworld novels. They can be read in any order, so we recommned just picking up one that sounds appealing to you (For example: interested in journalism and the media? Try The Truth). Different characters recur throughout the books, so you can choose to follow your favorite characters in their chronological order once you get into them.

Got kids? Terry's sweet and smart humor is also found in his children's books:

If you're already a Pratchett fan, it's definitely worth checking out his nonfiction, as well as books he's coauthored with some of our other favorite authors, like Neil Gaiman and Stephen Baxter:


And keep an eye out for more publications coming out this year; we thankfully have a couple more to go before we have to say goodbye to new Pratchett books!

Herberg Middle School's Book Club Reviews

    Not too long ago, we were awarded a grant by James Patterson's Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives program. We've been putting it to good use by starting up programs to promote literacy and a love of reading among kids (read more about them here!).
    But this post isn't about us—it's about the awesome bunch of 8th graders over at Herberg Middle School who devoured the books we presented them with back in November and are now working their way through the latest batch we dropped off in April when we visited their classroom again to talk about books and reading. Want to find out what they thought of them? Read a selection of their great reviews below... and stop in to check out these great books for yourself if you find them convincing!

Heir Apparent by Vivian Van Velde
Reviewed by Abbie Catalano

I really liked how in the book they make the video game seem real but also subtly remind you that it's a game. I like that they give the characters personalities and give you enough information about them that you get attached to them. I kept forgetting while I was reading that the game wasn't real. I also liked when they give the updates on the game damage and the solutions. I was also trying to think of things that she could do instead but sometimes the opposite of what I thought would happen. I would definitely recommend the book to my friends.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Review by Abbie Catalano


If you like magic/fantasy books, you would love this book. Rithmatists are people who can draw with chalk and it “comes to life”. Joel always wanted to be a Rithmatist but he was not chosen. The school he goes to is one of the best schools in the Isles. All the United States had to be flooded to keep the chalkings away. After a new professor comes to the campus kids start to disappear. Joel tries to find out who is responsible. This is a great book, I recommend this book to anyone that likes this type of book. It is one of my favorites.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Review by Mary Howe


I loved this book! Its kind of set up like the game CLUE, full of mystery, suspense, laughter, and skeptism. Its about these 16 people who come together to solve one big mystery: who killed Samual Westing?! And if you enjoy unpredictable books, then this is the book for you because it keeps you guessing until the end.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Review by Matthew North


I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this novel. The concept of the character Christopher was amazing. Also the uniqueness of it all was really cool. For example, how the chapters were numbered by every prime number. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books that make you think!

The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Review by Trista Dearstyne


            From the first sentence to the last you won’t stop wanting more. In less than two weeks, my friends and I were ready to read the sequel. With every chapter the main character, Tally, faces a new conflict, decision, or meets a new character. The book is on self-image in a destopian futuristic setting that makes you question, “What makes someone pretty?” Once you start it… you won’t stop.

 

The Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Review by Grace Cohan


            I read this book with my friends and we all finished it in about 2 weeks. This book takes place in the future and once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. The society consists of two main groups – the uglies and the pretties and the main character is Tally. She is considering following her new friend Shay to a place beyond the city. Will she go or will she stay to become pretty? It is a great balance between a friendship between two girls with lots of ups and downs including opinions, relationships, and life changing choices and a future world that might not be exactly what you think it would be.

The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Review by Elise Wellman

            Uglies by Scott Westerfield is an amazing book. Tally Youngblood, the main character, goes through drastic changes about her self esteem. This captivating book makes you want to read on. I finished it in only two weeks; an amazing book start to finish. Not only does this make you feel all different types of emotions it makes you question your perspective. In Tally’s society there are two, very different social groups. Today our definition of pretty isn't nearly the same as theirs.

Escape from Memory By Margaret Peterson Haddix
Reviewed by Olivia Murphy
 
"The main character was hypnotized and remembers a different past than she thought she had. Her mother doesn't act like other mothers. She never talks to her, never drives her anywhere, just sits in the background and watches, and is always nervous. A woman takes Kira to where Kira thinks she belongs but there are so many lies, so many secrets that Kira doesn't know who is her real family, where home is, or how to save everyone she loves. This is a great book. It is written really well and will keep you captivated the whole time. There are so many plot twists that it is so hard to explain. I could not put the book down; I read for seven hours straight and was so happy that I decided to read this book."

 

Dining at Downton Abbey

Recently, one of our number attended a talk given by Francine Segan, a well-known food historian and author. Not only was the talk filled with fascinating research, but Ms. Segan herself was also an animated and engaging speaker. She took the audience on a tour of English culinary history and culture from 1912 to the 1920s—a time recently popularized by the PBS Masterpiece Classics show, Downton Abbey. From champagne de-bubblers, absinthe spoons, and pies with live birds to a brief history of the development of tea time, salads, and canned foods and descriptions of elaborate picnic and breakfast-in-bed practices, it was a very informative and enjoyable evening!

Feeling inspired yourself? Check out FrancineSegan.com to learn when her next speaking engagements are, and browse her wonderful books:

Or check out some more excellent books that are Donwton Abbey themed:

Our Recent Community Outreach

The Bookloft is one of the lucky Independent Bookstores who have received a grant through James Patterson’s “Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives” grant program.  This no-strings attached grant to encourage young people to read has given us the opportunity to imagine new pathways to our front door, where we read, critique and promote the best books for young people.

Our first project to leap off the starting blocks was a monthly story hour at Sunshine Preschool at Berkshire South, just up the street from us.  Each visit, Lauren brings a new book and songs and poems to share with the dozen or so 3-5 year olds and we have a grand good time: hauling up the huge carrot we plant when we read about seeds, feeling around in the bag (eyes closed now!) while we imagine being blind like the mice who find the elephants at their waterhole, and dancing like snowflakes as we await winter – it’s coming, it’s coming!

For the second project we enlisted the help of the Fairview Hospital Maternity Unit.  Every baby born at the hospital will receive a board book in either English or Spanish, to take home with them as they start their reading life.  The titles range from classics such as A You’re Adorable to Mem Fox’s Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes.  Each book sports a sticker: For a Lifetime of Reading!  The program is off and running with two new babies born the very first day.

Our third program involved a group of eighth graders at Herberg Middle School.  Zazu and Lauren visited their after-school program with a set of ten titles ranging from Shusterman’s Full Tilt to Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to present and then give to the students to keep and read.  We tossed the discussion back and forth, so that by the end of the hour when we invited the students to select a book, every set of hands had grabbed a book in under thirty seconds!  We left samples of our own “Staff Pick” reviews, encouraged them to let us know what they personally felt about the books, and promised to post their own reviews on our website (so stay tuned for those!!).

Now, this is not the end of the story. We're still working on dreaming up new ways to interact with the young people of the Berkshires to help promote a love of reading forever! If you work for a school, library, or any kind of organization that could benefit from our services, please get in touch with your idea! We've had a great time so far, and are excited to keep putting James Patterson's grant to good use in our community.

Introducing Wish Lists!

This holiday season, take the frustrating guesswork out of gift shopping! Have your friends and family (and you too!) come in and fill out a Wish List at The Bookloft! We’ll keep track of your wished-for books and products, so anyone can ask for your Wish List and know exactly what to get you. We’ll also make sure to cross off items as they are purchased, so you don’t end up with doubles.

 

 

It’s handy for the holiday season, but don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays and events, too! Keep adding to your Wish List and checking on your friends’ year-round. Have an anxious child in tow? Let them keep track of books they want on their Wish List for their next birthday or holiday.

Have out-of state family members who can’t come into the store? Have them call or email to find out what you want; or shop online with us! Here on our website, you can choose to add books to an online wishlist (or straight into your shopping cart!) and email that list of books to anyone. And, don't forget, there's always free shipping on orders over $25.

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