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(More) Uncommon Titles From Books on the Common

Summer reading recommendations

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The following comprise the second set of (late) summer reads recommended by Books on the Common in Ridgefield, in the words of shopowners Ellen Burns and Darwin Ellis. I pulled the last recommendation from their website and gave my own review/reco—because Barrett Bookstore, and everyone I know, actually, is putting forth All the Light We Cannot See and American Romantic as the summer reads you have to get, and so did Burns and Ellis. Again, these read like blurbs from the New York Review of Books. Beautiful…

Take This Man: A Memoir

Raw and painful, the talented Brando Skyhorse has shared with us his bizarre childhood in Take This Man. Raised by an unstable (read: crazy) mother and a tough, unemotional grandmother, he survives his childhood through a series of “fathers,” none of whom his mother actually married. His mother, Maria, shed her Mexican origins and re-imagines herself as a Native American, bestowing this false identity (along with his name) on her only son. His tumultuous life with these two women, and the fathers who never stayed, left its mark on him. Yet the memoir is ultimately very uplifting.


A postapocalyptic debut novel—gripping, frightening and brilliantly written. Cal and Frida have left the destroyed and now-dangerous city of Los Angeles to try to build a life in the wilderness. They soon encounter another family living nearby, and this meeting, and a shocking tragedy, leads them to a “settlement”—heavily guarded and full of fear, suspicion and paranoia. California depicts a bleak near-future, and the choices the survivors must make to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their future.

This Dark Road to Mercy

A suspenseful, moving story of two young sisters and their ne’er-do-well father who returns to claim them after their mother dies. Classic Southern fiction: believable and sympathetic characters, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

A Memoir 
Our neighbor and favorite New Yorker cartoonist has produced an intensely personal, graphic memoir dealing with the last years for her parents. With her mixture of wit, sorrow, and sketches, Roz documents her personal travails in coping with her parents’ decline and demise—a phase of life that we either know or are about to know. For those with viable parents, this book could be used as a preparation; for those whose parents have passed, it’s a gentle and reassuring (and sometimes maddening) reminder of those difficulties and emotions already experienced. Roz’s parents are our parents—you will recognize much, you will want to comfort and be comforted, and you will learn. A wonderful, personal recounting of a difficult phase of life—for children and parents alike.

Wish You Were Here

OK—the FC Bookworm recommends this Graham Swift novel, listed as one of Darwin Ellis’s picks on the shop’s website, even though it is two years old, and Swift is seldom read outside of his native England. It’s a fine example of exquisite control of tone in the relation of emotional upheaval, loss and turmoil (as displayed in previous works, such as Waterland and Light of Day). This is topical, a work related to loss in the everyday, and yes, it may be called a novel about Iraq, though it reaches far beyond that, and, as Swift’s style itself does, seems to secrete meaning like smoke from under the language’s surface, like steam through cracked glass, because we’re dealing here with lives that are, themselves, fractured by loss and letting pain escape into the atmosphere.

Books on the Common

404 Main St, Ridgefield; (203) 431-9100


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