A Beautiful Time by Willie Nelson, recommended by Vicki

Willie Nelson’s logged more than a few miles and memories since his outlaw days, reflected in his 72nd solo studio album and winner of this year’s GRAMMY for Best Country Album “A Beautiful Time.”

Penned by esteemed songwriters including Chris Stapleton, Rodney Crowell, Nelson and longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon, the album’s lyrics shift between pensive, melancholy, celebratory and, since it is Nelson, irreverent—all delivered in that classic Willie Nelson style.

Timeless, Nelson turned 89 this year. One of the more powerful selections is his wistful cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song,” and his rendition of “Dusty Bottles,” written by Jim Brown, Scotty Emerick and Don Sampson, encapsulates a life well-spent.

“There’s something to be said for gettin’ older
Dusty bottles pour a finer glass of wine
An old beat-up guitar just sounds better
And wisdom only comes with time

I can spot mistakes before they happen
Separate the BS from the truth
I’m learnin’ when I need to keep my mouth shut
Like I couldn’t in my wild and wasted youth” 

Happy birthday, Willie.

All Creatures Great and Small by PBS Masterpiece, recommended by Tracie

All Creatures Great and Small is a delightful TV series based on the book series written by James Herriot (Alf Wight) a veterinary surgeon, of his first posting in Yorkshire at Skeldale House. The series is memorable for the filming of the picturesque Yorkshire Dales and veterinary practices and the glamorous 1930s automobiles, fashions and lifestyle.

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan, recommended by Megan C.

Mad Honey is a variety of honey that tastes sweet but is toxic, due to poisonous pollination from the rhododendron plant. This tension of damaging desire runs through the text of Picoult and Boylan’s new novel. Olivia is a single mom looking for a fresh start, but as her family’s beekeeping business begins to blossom, her son Asher withers. Seventeen-year-old Lily is also looking for a new beginning, but when she is found dead in Asher’s arms, her murder trial uncovers short tempers and shocking secrets. With themes of bullying, domestic violence, and the riskiness of authenticity, Mad Honey is a complex thriller that elicits conversation.

The Banshees of Inisherin by Searchlight Pictures, recommended by Debbie

If you are looking for something a wee bit different, watch The Banshees of Inisherin. Set in a small Irish village, it tackles lifelong friendship and the loss thereof. The brogue may be a tad hard to understand but using subtitles will do the trick. But be warned. At times, your brain might need to take a minute to grasp what your eyes just witnessed. I don’t want to say too much because you will lose the impact of the movie, but the scenery is beautiful, the animals are cute and the acting is on point. Give it a try! 

Spare by Prince Harry, recommended by Dennis

Spare is a review of the life forming events experienced by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. The primary villain in his life story is the British press. As I read the memoir, I was astonished at how the reviewers sensationalized several small events and ignored other major ones. Providing insight in the political apparatus of the British royal family, the book is a real eye opener.  

Your thoughts: A patron recommends Spare and said, “Very well written – couldn’t put it down!”

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy, recommended by Trish

Bobby has bounced between jobs since leaving home, and currently works as an underwater welder.  When assigned to a dive investigating an underwater plane crash, Bobby discovers nine bodies and, more interestingly, a missing passenger and black box. With its endless twists and turns, this novel explores grief, loss and survival peppered with espionage in true McCarthy style.

The Passenger is a thrilling companion novel of McCarthy’s other recent work Stella Maris

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover, recommended by Amy G.

Grab a box of tissues for this one! After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. The only person willing to give her a chance is Ledger, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. It is a heartfelt, emotional and romantic story that will stay on your mind for a long time after you finish it, and one of my favorite books from 2022. 

Norman Rockwell: Drawings, 1911-1976 by Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, recommended by Megan S.

Norman Rockwell’s drawings, paintings and illustrations are familiar to many Americans, whether they grew up seeing them in magazines or recognize them from frames and calendars in relatives’ homes. His work is such a constant that it’s easy to forget the time and dedication that each project required. This book brings insight and clarity into how Rockwell worked, where he found inspiration, and how his work evolved over the decades. It’s fascinating to see Rockwell’s work side-by-side with the masters who influenced him, as well as to learn quite a bit about Rockwell’s life.

Violeta by Isabel Allende, recommended by Meg

Violeta takes place between 1920 and 2020. Born during the Spanish Flu, Violetta recalls a century filled with war, politics, global tragedy, and more. In 2020 during the Corona Virus outbreak, Violeta takes the time to look back at her life, her journey with family and friends, and the beauty of connection and compassion.