10 great Berkshire County books of 2018

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There's still plenty of time to grab a copy of one of these local books — either by a Berkshire County resident, part-time resident or about someone with close ties to the area — that hit bookshelves in 2018.

"The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World"


By Simon Winchester
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
355 Pages

"The Perfectionists ..." by Sandisfield author, Simon Winchester, (also author of 29 other titles including "Pacific," "Atlantic," "The Professor and the Madman," "The Map That Changed the World," "Krakatoa," to name just a few), has both velocity and precision in its pivotal and illuminating history of almost everything we have come to expect from the mechanized world.

"Chateau Higginson: Social Life in Boston's Back Bay, 1870-1920"


By Margo Miller
Publisher: America Through Time
262 Pages

"Chateau Higginson ..." by Pittsfield native, Margo Miller (who worked summers at Tanglewood), discusses Boston's Back Bay from its creation and development to how this transformation of the city was in response to and also shaped social life for a growing and diverse population. It is the story of Henry Lee Higginson (1834-1919), best known for founding the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and his creation of the Hotel Agassiz.

"Billy Budd in the Breadbox: The Story of Herman Melville and Eleanor"


By Jana Laiz
Illustrations by Declan Kerr
Publisher: Crow Flies Press, South Egremont
136 Pages

One of our greatest Berkshire treasures is Herman Melville, who wrote what is perhaps the greatest American novel, "Moby-Dick," right at Arrowhead on Holmes Road in Pittsfield. But we may never have appreciated the genius of this famous work of literature if it hadn't been for Melville's granddaughter, Eleanor, who discovered his last work, "Billy Budd, Foretopman" many years after his death.

"Exile, Writer, Soldier, Spy: Jorge Semprun"


By Soledad Fox Maura
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
270 Pages

"In Exile, Writer, Soldier, Spy," a biography of the storied life of Jorge Semprun, by Soledad Fox Maura, professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Williams College, we have a complete and celebratory tribute to one of Spain's most important intellectuals and patriots. It is Semprun's extraordinary life in war, literature, political intrigue and film and it is a gripping true-life tale of survival, espionage, glamor and fame.

"Slipper"

By Hester Velmans
Publisher: Van Horton Books
355 Pages

Sheffield resident Hester Velmans' latest work, "Slipper" is the story of Lucinda, a poor English orphan, who receives cruel treatment while working for her wealthy relatives during the 17th century. After inheriting glass-beaded slippers, she flees to France, chasing love. She overcomes various obstacles on her way to Paris, where she meets Charles Perrault, the author credited with the version of Cinderella's tale that inspired Disney's famous movie. In the novel, Lucinda recounts her life story to him.

"George Bisacca: His Life, His Way"



By Steve Crowe
Publisher: The Troy Book Makers
136 Pages

"George Bisacca: His Life, His Way" by Steve Crowe, is the authorized memoir of George J. Bisacca (1902-1983), the dynamic Berkshire personality who created the celebrated Eastover Resort in Lenox and who was a generous supporter of community interests. It is a wonderful tribute to the extraordinary life of George Bisacca, his family and the Berkshires.

"Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees"


By Hannah Fries
Foreword by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Publisher: Storey Publishing
185 Pages

Through inspirational quotes, timeless poetry and spell-binding photography, "Forest Bathing Retreat" inspires outdoor meditations in park, field or forest, to "Soak up the healing power of nature." This "guided journey" of "prompts and meditations" drawing on the wisdom of poets, writers and naturalists, is a wonderful book for anyone seeking solace and peace in woodlands that not only lift the spirits but offer healing grace.

"I Think, Therefore I Draw: Understanding Philosophy Through Cartoons"


By Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
Publisher: Penguin Books (2018)
251 Pages

"I Think, Therefore I Draw ..." is the latest title by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein of Great Barrington and is an enlightening look at philosophy through the laughs we get from zinger cartoons. This ingeniously conceived book takes the reader through 15 poignant little chapters on many of the great philosophical questions that have inspired some of the funniest cartoonists.

"The World is a Narrow Bridge"



By Aaron Thier
Publisher: Bloomsbury
258 Pages

"The World is a Narrow Bridge" by Aaron Thier of Great Barrington, author of "Mr. Eternity" (2016), is an innovative tragicomic novel of a young couple, Eva and Murphy, who at 30 are struggling with the idea of having a baby in a challenging world. Murphy and Eva are suddenly confronted with even greater challenges in their tale when Eva has a startling visitation from none other than the ancient God of the Old Testament, Yahweh, Himself.

"The Life and Work of John ffrench Irish Ceramic Artist (1928-2010)"


Publisher: Gandon Editions Kinsale (2018)
By Peter Lamb of Dublin, Ireland
315 Pages

The gorgeous new volume celebrating the life and artistic work of John ffrench, who lived with his family in Stockbridge (1969-2010) and founded the iconic Dolphin Studio. A magnificent volume, very beautiful, absorbing in its discussion of ffrench's ceramics, mobiles, silkscreen printing, Batik fabric dyeing and complete and thorough in its history of ffrench's work as a leading artist of Ireland, the Berkshires, and around the world. John ffrench's art in all its forms is fully represented here in very high-quality plates.


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