Root and Press Newsletter Worcester's Independent Blog, Cafe and Bookstore
In This Newsletter:
  News and Notes From R&P
  Book News
  New Releases (8/25)
  Kids Corner
Around the Store

• We will be expanding our hours to better serve you as we move from the summer to the fall. We are planning on adding some menu options and remaining open for dinner options during the week. Milkshakes will stay, and we are attempting to reconfigure the kitchen to make them available anytime. Let us know if you have any suggestions (we have a facebook feed going too.)

• Our book clubs are continuing to march on remotely. Our non-fiction groups is meeting this Tuesday at 6:30 and discussing We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. We will vote for the September book following that meeting (we like to chat a bit at the end of the meeting about what we would like to read.) You can sign up for that club here. The fiction book club just had a meeting Wednesday - their next book is 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak. (It was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize.) You can join that group by clicking here. If anyone wants to discuss forming a group, please reach out at

• We ran back the same specials as last week - people seemed to really like the lobster and chowder. I am not sure how long we are going to keep these items on the special sheet so if you haven't come down to try them - please don't wait long!

• Our bestselling books this week included:

Isabel Wilkerson's Caste, a social history that examines a variety of factors that determine a hierarchical system in America, including race, ethnicity, and wealth.

Stephanie Meyer's Midnight Sun, a tale of the romance between Bella and Edward from the latter's perspective. 

I Promise  (LeBron James) and Antiracist Baby (Ibram Kendi, Board Book and Picture Book) paced our kids selections. 

Book Blurbs

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes about the fragility of the mind after sustaining a concussion at her home. 

• Here is a pretty comprehensive Autumn preview of what is to come in the second half of 2020. Reminder: We can order and pre-order virtually any title - these orders greatly help our little store!

• If you have a second, please check out some black-owned bookstores right here in the Bay State. I know of two - Frugal Bookstore in Boston and Olive Tree Books in Springfield. Please share if you know of more. If you can, consider placing an order with these outlets, although please be conscious they are experiencing extremely high sales volumes right now.

• Circle those calendars - Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday, August 29th! We would love to see friendly faces at the store or shopping online - do what you can to keep your neighborhood shops in the city!

• Nicole and I spent the last few days sampling some local bookstores in other communities - I love seeing what others have! I bought In Praise of Walking and The Finance Curse from The Silver Unicorn in Acton. We also ventured further west, visiting Wicked Good Books in Salem (Purchases: King Philip's War and The Glorious Art of Peaceand Pyramid Books. (Purchase: Bliss More.) Nothing like some time off in bookstores - even though we could get these books ourselves, there is still an inherent joy in shopping in other stores that we never want to lose.

• We have three book reviews coming up this week: A look at Native American societies after Columbus in 1493 by Charles Mann, a review of the aforementioned Midnight Sun, and a review of Begin Again, a look at the Civil Rights movement through the work (or more precisely, the psyche) of James Baldwin.



Best of New Releases (8/25/20)
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The Habsburgs by Martyn Rady

In The Habsburgs, historian Martyn Rady tells the epic story of the Habsburg dynasty and the world it built -- and then lost -- over nearly a millennium, placing it in its European and global contexts. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the Habsburgs expanded from Swabia across southern Germany to Austria through forgery and good fortune. By the time a Habsburg duke was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in 1452, he and his clan already held fast to the imperial vision distilled in its AEIOU motto: Austriae est imperare orbi universe, "Austria is destined to rule the world." Maintaining their grip on the imperial succession of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries, the Habsburgs extended their power into Italy, Spain, the New World, and the Pacific, a dominion that Charles V called "the empire on which the sun never sets." They then weathered centuries of religious warfare, revolution, and transformation, including the loss of their Spanish empire in 1700 and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. In 1867, the Habsburgs fatefully consolidated their remaining lands the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, setting in motion a chain of events that would end with the 1914 assassination of the Habsburg heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, World War I, and the end of the Habsburg era.

Their demise was ignominious, and historians often depict the Habsburgs as leaders of a ramshackle, collapsing empire at Europe's margins. But in The Habsburgs, Rady reveals how they saw themselves -- as destined to rule the world, not through mere territorial conquest, but as defenders of Christian civilization and the Roman Catholic Church, guarantors of peace and harmony, and patrons of science and learning.

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.


Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk's poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds' nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.

The Butterfly Effect by Edward D. Melillo

Insects might make us shudder in disgust, but they are also responsible for many of the things we take for granted in our daily lives. When we bite into a shiny apple, listen to the resonant notes of a violin, get dressed, receive a dental implant, or get a manicure, we are the beneficiaries of a vast army of insects. Try as we might to replicate their raw material (silk, shellac, and cochineal, for instance), our artificial substitutes have proven subpar at best, and at worst toxic, ensuring our interdependence with the insect world for the foreseeable future.

Superman's Not Coming by Erin Brockovich

In Erin Brockovich's long-awaited book--her first to reckon with conditions on our planet--she makes clear why we are in the trouble we're in, and how, in large and practical ways, we each can take actions to bring about change.

She shows us what's at stake, and writes of the fraudulent science that disguises these issues, along with cancer clusters not being reported. She writes of the saga of PG&E that continues to this day, and of the communities and people she has worked with who have helped to make an impact. She writes of the water operator in Poughkeepsie, New York, who responded to his customers' concerns and changed his system to create some of the safest water in the country; of the moms in Hannibal, Missouri, who became the first citizens in the nation to file an ordinance prohibiting the use of ammonia in their public drinking water; and about how we can protect our right to clean water by fighting for better enforcement of the laws, new legislation, and better regulations. She cannot fight all battles for all people and gives us the tools to take actions ourselves, have our voices be heard, and know that steps are being taken to make sure our water is safe to drink and use.

Summer by Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the author of many works of fiction, including, most recently, Spring, Winter, Autumn, Public library and other stories, and How to be both, which won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize, and the Costa Novel of the Year Award. 

In the present, Sacha knows the world's in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile, the world's in meltdown---and the real meltdown hasn't even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they're living on borrowed time.

This is a story about people on the brink of change. They're family, but they think they're strangers. So: Where does family begin? And what do people who think they've got nothing in common have in common?


Aria by Nazanine Hozar

It is the 1950s in a restless Iran, a country rich in oil but deeply divided by class and religion. The government is unpopular and corrupt and under foreign sway. One night, an illiterate army driver hears the pitiful cry of a baby abandoned in an alley and menaced by ravenous wild dogs. He snatches up the child and takes her home, naming her Aria--the first step on an unlikely path from deprivation to privilege. Over the next two decades, the orphan girl acquires three mother figures whose secrets she will learn only much later: reckless and self-absorbed Zahra, who abuses her; wealthy and compassionate Fereshteh, who adopts her; and mysterious Mehri, whose connection to Aria is both a blessing and a burden.

A university education opens a new world to Aria, and she is soon caught up in the excitement and danger of the popular uprising against the Shah that sweeps through the streets of Tehran. The novel's heart-pounding, explosive finale sees the Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal regime seize power--even as Aria falls in love and becomes a mother herself.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Seduced by her employer's son, Evangeline, a na ve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to "the land beyond the seas," Van Diemen's Land, a penal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.

Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views the natives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized by white colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen's Land.


In this gorgeous novel, Christina Baker Kline brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna. While life in Australia is punishing and often brutally unfair, it is also, for some, an opportunity: for redemption, for a new way of life, for unimagined freedom. Told in exquisite detail and incisive prose, The Exiles is a story of grace born from hardship, the unbreakable bonds of female friendships, and the unfettering of legacy.

Kid's Corner

The Power of One by Trudy Ludwig and Mike Curato

When one child reaches out in friendship to a classmate who seems lonely, she begins a chain reaction of kindness that ripples throughout her school and her community. One kind act begets another, small good deeds make way for bigger ones, and eventually the whole neighborhood comes together to build something much greater than the sum of its parts.

From acclaimed bullying expert Trudy Ludwig, The Power of One not only conveys a message of kindness, it offers concrete steps that kids can take to make a difference in their own communities.

As Trudy says in the final line of the book: "Acts and words of kindness DO count, and it all starts with ONE."

Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland

This helpful picture book is a great introduction to mindfulness and emotional literacy. A spare text and simple illustrations encourage readers to find happiness even if it feels far away. The book gives it a shape, turning this elusive emotion into something real while acknowledging that you can't be happy all the time. The thoughtful text reassures readers that when happiness is hard to find, they can look for it in many places. Sharing something with a friend or reaching out to someone who needs it can lead to happiness. Recognize and treasure it when you experience it, knowing that happiness begins with you. Perfect for kids and for adult readers tackling these feelings themselves!

Everyone Gets a Say by Jill Twiss

Pudding the snail and his friends can't seem to agree on anything. Whatever Jitterbug the chipmunk wants, Geezer the goose does not. Whatever Toast the butterfly wants, Duffles and Nudge the otters are absolutely against. And if somehow Toast and Duffles and Jitterbug and Nudge all agree on something, then Geezer is not having it. So when Toast suggests they need a leader, the friends try to figure out the best way to pick someone to be in charge. Should that someone be the fastest? The fluffiest? The squishiest? Or can Pudding show his friends that there just might be a way where everyone gets a say?

That's all for this week - thanks for reading!

Root and Press
623 Chandler Street