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Mindful Reader
Deb Baker, columnist

The Mindful Reader: ‘Claremont Boy’ tells his tale with wry sense of humor

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Joseph Steinfield wrote a column for the Monadnack Ledger-Transcript called “Looking Back,” where the short personal essays in his memoir Claremont Boy: My New Hampshire Roots and the Gift of Memory first appeared. Whether he’s writing about his childhood in Claremont, his career as a lawyer, his immigrant family or his interesting friends (including Julia and Paul Childs) and New … 0

The Mindful Reader: ‘Bittersweet Manor’ a family saga with no easy solution

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Part-time New Hampshire resident Tory McCagg’s debut novel Bittersweet Manor tells the stories of three generations through a conversation between two women. Matriarch Gussie Michaels has removed her “beeper bracelet” and left assisted living on a chilly April day. Her granddaughter, Emma, has come to tell her she will sell the family home … 0

The Mindful Reader: Debunking ‘kids today’ theories

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In The Myth of the Spoiled Child, Alfie Kohn uses some of his previous theories on the problem with rewards, homework and competition to debunk the prevailing view that “kids today” are overindulged, overprotected narcissists, and that their helicopter parents made them that way. Given his earlier research, he wondered what evidence supported … 0

The Mindful Reader: Taking stock of our relationships and how they shape us

Sunday, February 9, 2014

University of New Hampshire psychology professor John D. Mayer co-wrote an article in 1990 called “Emotional Intelligence.” Journalist Daniel Goleman wrote a book about Mayer’s ideas that popularized his work. Mayer’s new book, Personal Intelligence: The Power of … 0

The Mindful Reader: A thriller and a tour of the universe’s inside story

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Boston-area author Elisabeth Elo’s North of Boston kept me turning pages between tasks on my holiday to-do lists. I’m not a huge thriller fan, but I enjoyed this one because of Pirio Kasparov, the smart, loyal, strong main … 0

The Mindful Reader: A beautiful, moving view from the lens of an inaugural poet

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Richard Blanco’s quiet life in Bethel, Maine, changed forever when he learned he’d been chosen inaugural poet. For All of Us, One Today: an Inaugural Poet’s Journey is both his personal story – Latino immigrant, gay man, engineer … 0

The Mindful Reader: A wonderful read about Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Massachusetts author Susan Stinson’s Spider in a Tree: a Novel of the First Great Awakening surprised me. I knew the basic history of the period, including a bit about Jonathan Edwards, and frankly, thought it dull. But Stinson … 0

The Mindful Reader: ‘Something basic and pure’ about author Nicholson Baker

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nicholson Baker’s novel Traveling Sprinkler takes up the story of Paul Chowder, poet and former bassoonist, who was struggling to finish the introduction to a rhyming poetry anthology when we met him in The Anthologist. In Traveling Sprinkler … 0

The Mindful Reader: Hancock author Howard Mansfield crafts a shelter for the intellect

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hancock author Howard Mansfield’s Dwelling in Possibility: Searching for the Soul of Shelter is erudite, thoughtful and deeply interesting. Like a novel-in-stories, this is a book of linked meditative essays. Mansfield turns his powers of observation, his keen … 0

The Mindful Reader: Lost in cheese and conversation

Sunday, August 11, 2013

In 1991, Michael Paterniti learned about a famous Spanish cheese, Paramo de Guzman, while proofreading a newsletter for Ann Arbor, Mich.’s Zingerman’s deli. Years later he came across that newsletter as he was planning a reporting trip to … 0

The Mindful Reader: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas turns keen observations on self

Sunday, June 9, 2013

‘While wandering down the road of life, it helps to look for something more meaningful than oneself . . . I find it by keeping my eyes open,” writes Elizabeth Marshall Thomas in A Million Years With You: … 0

The Mindful Reader: Phillips Exeter teacher exposes one woman’s in relief work during the Great Recession

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Phillips Exeter Academy history teacher Michael Golay’s new book, America 1933:The Great Depression, Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of the New Deal, is the story of Lorena Hickok’s exhaustive reporting in 1933-34 for Harry Hopkins at … 0

The Mindful Reader: Step into one man’s battle with depression

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Many Monitor readers were moved by the newspaper’s recent series on mental health, including Annmarie Timmins’s concluding story. She shared her struggles to give a personal, familiar voice to the mostly anonymous 26 percent living with mental illness, … 2

The Mindful Reader: An interesting angle on Margaret Fuller the feminist

Monday, March 18, 2013

Massachusetts author Megan Marshall’s (The Peabody Sisters) new biography, Margaret Fuller: a New American Life, is a thorough and sympathetic treatment of the famed feminist. Even for readers familiar with Fuller, Marshall’s account is engaging. She covers not … 0

The Mindful Reader: ‘Back of the House’ delves into psyches of the kitchen

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Food writer and clinical psychologist Scott Haas’s website is called “Shrink In the Kitchen” which aptly describes Back of the House: the Secret Life of a Kitchen. Haas spent about 18 months visiting Craigie On Main in Cambridge, … 0