Jefferson’s education, books, reading and gifts

For five years, just after we were married, my wife and I were house parents for a sorority at the…
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One long, three short: reviews and reflections

We are, at our core, remembering and story-making creatures, and stories are one of the chief ways we find meaning…
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Two for the price of one

When I find an author I like, I usually get on a roll reading several of their books. Such was…
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Why we need honest journalists right now

The ancient philosopher Diogenes used to stroll about Athens holding a lantern to the faces of those he met and…
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A story about second chances

A friend in a book club to which I once belonged disliked Anne Tyler’s novel, Saint Maybe. “I’ve read other…
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A feast for readers: A Poor Man’s Supper

The years following the Civil War brought great changes to Western North Carolina. The railroads penetrated these coves and mountains,…
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In her own words

If you’re like me and are interested in or curious about the day-to-day life and especially the early life of…
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Advice for those ‘Walking Through Hell’

Many among us have committed crimes or wronged other people, dark deeds which we regret and which may well have…
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Redemption and Occasional Magic: two books of inspiration
 

Redemption and Occasional Magic: two books of inspiration

Many readers are familiar with his story.  Johnny Cash, also known in later life as “The Man in Black,” grew…
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Writer argues that common sense is not so common

“At the heart of this wonderful book by Robert Curry is the simple belief that you as a human being…
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Story delves into illicit affair and its fallout

About halfway through Kate Russell’s My Dark Vanessa (William Morrow, 2020, 372 pages), I nearly put the novel aside. Like…
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An old book for today’s mayhem: The True Believer

Let’s take a look at fanatics, particularly political fanatics. Heaven knows there are enough of them around these days, most…
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Trailblazers & Traditionalists pulses with life

Years ago, in the parking lot of the Haywood County Public Library, I met a man in his late 20s…
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A meeting of two great minds

Looking for a reading challenge and something with a little depth to it? If so, then I’ve got the book…
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Soldiers who shaped our nation

May the memory of these men sustain us all and remind us of their sacrifice to secure our freedom. May…
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Churchill’s spirit comes through in new biography

Sometimes in a crisis it helps to take a look in the rearview mirror. In The Splendid And The Vile:…
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Back to the future

If it’s true that timing is everything, then Ben Okri’s new novel The Freedom Artist is right on time.  As…
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This pandemic may bring us closer

Weird, weird, weird. Every morning until about two months ago, the online sites I visit daily offered accounts of someone…
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Poetry and pandemic: Let’s celebrate National Poetry Month?

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,” The Canterbury Tales begins, “the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote….”
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Four essential reads for the Anthropocene

By Boyd Holliday • Guest Writer | Concerned about the reports of global climate change? Depressed? Confused by the competing…
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Fire, fire burning bright … the notebooks of Leonard Cohen

In some literary and music circles the debate continues as to whom is the best songwriter of the 20th and…
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The Coronavirus and The Smoky Mountain News

No book review today.  But please read this column.
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Confession is good for the soul

Some bare their souls to priests and ministers. Some seek out therapists and counselors. Some look for help from friends…
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Early spring cleaning turns up some gems

Time to do some early spring cleaning and rid my desk of some books for review. Caitlin Doughty, mortician and…
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A legend re-told: the story of Crazy Horse

On Feb. 8, William B. Matson and members of the Clown/Crazy Horse family were scheduled to give a talk at…
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Rest in peace, Mary Higgins Clark

She died at the age of 92 in January 2020 in Naples, Florida. Renowned for her beauty when young, she…
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A sea journey well-told

I’m on page 289 of a 308-page book by Brian Doyle called The Plover and am having fun. The book…
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Heads up gents: last-minute tips for Valentine’s

No book review this week. Just some last minute advice for men about the Feast of Love. It’s V-Day, guys;…
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Exuberant English and forgotten riches

What kind of a nut writes a play about antiquity using blank verse, sentences as convoluted as any in Shakespeare,…
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The great and fallen artists

A New York Times Op-Ed recently asked, “Is It Time Gauguin Got Canceled?” It raised this question of banishing Gauguin…
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Keep calm, stay quiet and carry on

Stillness. Silence. For many people, stillness and silence are as unfamiliar — and terrifying — as zombies or Martians.  When…
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Rich rewards: a review of The Enchanted Hour

Though I read aloud with my children and do so now with my grandchildren, I have rarely done so with…
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Beating back the January Blues

Ugh. The skies are gray, the wind’s a knife, the dank cold crawls into your very bones, and spring seems…
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Memoir of illness full of gallantry and wit

“It was crazy. The surgeon told me the tumor was the size of a pear, which is scary but also…
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The story of a Beat original

Once upon a time there was a poet named Bob Kaufman. He hadn’t spoken in anything resembling normal language in…
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Last-minute holiday ideas for the literary

You’re down to the wire. It’s only a few days until Christmas, and you have yet to get that book…
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Walking ancient pathways with a gifted writer

Growing up, one of my favorite books was H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. In Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways, instead…
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Children’s books and thoughts for the holidays

Time to head off to Santa’s workshop and see what Christmas books he and the elves have in mind for…
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Passionate about print: a review of A Literate South

For many years, most of us who read histories and biographies about America between 1800 and 1865 assumed the seat…
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Learning to listen: A review of Chris Arnade’s Dignity

Back in the mid-1970s, I was working as a receiving clerk at the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston. I was…
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Rethinking school: book offers sage suggestions

If you have school-age children, by now they are two months or more into their routine of classes, books, extracurricular…
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A look at The Best Loved Poems of the American People

Two years ago in December, I vowed to read the 11-volume set of Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of…
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A saint among us: a new Thomas Berry biography

I was one of the lucky ones. I met and befriended Thomas Berry on Earth Day in the late 1980s…
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Another casualty: A review of A Boy Who Mattered

In January 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse issued an updated report on the use of opioids in the…
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‘Lost Words and Obstacles:’ a review

“When the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary — widely used in schools around the world — was…
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Learning American history through songs

In February 2019, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation released the results of a nationwide poll of 41,000 Americans testing…
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That Month In Tuscany serves up romance and adventure

At the public library that is my third home — my first home is a basement apartment, and my second…
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Ways of escape: Backlash and Game of Snipers

A recent review was of Abbi Waxman’s The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, a romantic comedy with sweet and wry…
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Humor, mystery and a wonderful menagerie of characters

Although migrations have become a significant and controversial aspect of our current history, there is another annual migration that has…
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A complicated story that’s worth reading

Ever have those days when you’re running against the wind, sprinting through the minutes and hours, arms and legs pumping…
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