Former librarian gets advice from other readers

Clare Bass is retired from Wake County Public Libraries. She is an avid reader, a gardener, and a community volunteer.

Recommended read:The Summer Before the War” by Helen Simonson. Set in the Sussex coastal village of Rye, England, in 1914, this delightful novel provides a provocative, yet entertaining, look at how The Great War dramatically changed British society.

Currently reading:Her Fearful Symmetry” by Audrey Niffenegger. When Elspath Noblin dies, she leaves her London apartment, and the bulk of her estate to the twin daughters of her estranged twin sister. To receive the inheritance, they must live in the apartment for a year, and their parents are not to be allowed to visit it. The story has a number of odd, seemingly unconnected, characters, including historic Highgate Cemetery, in north London,

What book did you keep from your childhood? “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a 1929 edition with beautiful color illustrations, which was given to my mother when she was a child.

What is your favorite book that nobody’s heard of?Red Plenty: Inside the Fifties’ Soviet Dream” by Francis Spufford. Spufford does an excellent job of blending facts with fiction to illustrate how Nikita Khrushchev’s “planned economy” was a fairy tale that promised the Soviet citizens a better world, until it all crashed around them.

Where do you go for book recommendations? I go to other readers. I belong to three books clubs, and I talk about books with the staff on every trip to the library.

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The Summer Before the War

Helen Simonson

Random House, 496 pages