Reading Room

Novels, histories, guidebooks, how-tos — here are eight new and noteworthy titles, each with a Valley connection.Focusing on the tristate area, Architecture Walks: The Best Outings Near New York City by Lucy D. Rosenfeld and Marina Harrison (Rutgers University Press, $19.95) points you in the direction of more than 90 historic and contemporary architectural treasures — from college campuses and romantic ruins to a Buddhist monastery — including 30 in the Valley. Familiar locales — Bard College, Mills Mansion, and Bannerman’s Castle — are listed, but so are some lesser-known places (Onteora Park in Jewett, for example). This easy-to-read traveler’s companion contains directions and historical information for each site, as well as a sprinkling of black-and-white photographs.SUNY at Sixty: The Promise of the State University of New York (SUNY Press, $24.95) commemorates the anniversary of the Empire State’s public university system (which, with its 64 campuses, is the largest in the nation). This compilation of essays examines the history, political landscape, national influence, and evolving mission of the SUNY system. The book offers a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at both the problems of and possibilities for publicly funded higher education in the state.Albany author Robert Moss’ three-part historical fiction series, Cycle of the Iroquois, offers an insightful look at the aftermath of the French and Indian War. The first novel in the series, Fire Along the Sky (SUNY Press, $23.95), chronicles the adventures of eloquent protagonist Shane Hardacre, who arrives in North America after losing a wager in London. Originally published in 1992, the well-researched novel has been recently rereleased, giving new life to the rich — and often violent — history of early America.Lee Reich’s new how-to guide, The Pruning Book (Taunton Press, $21.95), takes readers through the tricky process of growing and pruning exotic plants, carving intricate topiaries, and maintaining your houseplants successfully. A respected horticulturist and former HV contributor, Reich’s tome provides color photographs and step-by-step illustrations, ensuring that even the palest green thumb can follow along.In his historical narrative Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York’s Frontier (Black Dome Press, $19.95), Richard Berleth paints an intricate portrait of our area’s history from 1713 to 1794. Regional conflicts — involving the British, French, Iroquois, and American settlers — abound; Berleth describes the Mohawk Valley’s role in these numerous struggles — and the relationships between the various combatants — in a comprehensive but very readable way.A Jew Grows in Brooklyn: The Curious Reflections of a First-Generation American (Health Communications, Inc., $14.95) is an expansion of author Jake Ehrenreich’s hit off-Broadway show of the same name. In a series of essays, Brooklyn-born Ehrenreich (now an Orange County resident) shares hilarious and touching stories about his family: from growing up as a son of Holocaust survivors, to his mother and sisters’ battles with Alzheimer’s disease, and his own struggles overcoming drug addiction (and finding true love).Emmy-winning film editor (and Valley resident) Barbara Pokras, and her sister, writer Fran Pokras Yariv, deliver a pair of touching novellas in Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz and The Caregiver (Syracuse University Press, $19.95). Both stories are obstensively about caring for the elderly, but their similarity ends there. In Pokras’ Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz, we’re introduced to Natalie Holtzman (a 30-something artist) and Golde Moskowitz (an elderly Russian widow). While on her way to work, Natalie hits Golde with her car; she subsequently becomes Golde’s caregiver, a role that doesn’t come easily to her. In Yariv’s The Caregiver, narrator Ofelia Hernandez introduces us to the mundane routines and absurdities of the lives of residents of a fictional assisted-living facility in Hollywood. Humorous and touching by turns, these novellas will strike a chord with readers who are dealing with elderly parents.Born and raised in Albany, author Vincent Zandri has made the Capital Region the setting of his latest thriller, Moonlight Falls (R.J. Buckley Publishing, $19). Richard “Dick” Moonlight, a private detective/massage therapist-in-training, thinks he might have killed his mistress, Scarlet Montana, but can’t remember. (The remnants of a bullet lodged in his brain cause short-term memory loss). To further complicate matters, the chief of police — who also happens to be Montana’s husband — calls Moonlight in to oversee the investigation. Short chapters full of snappy, suspenseful dialog and classic murder mystery plotlines (with a touch of modern forensics) make this an engaging thriller. And Albany residents should recognize some of the landmarks and cultural references Zandri sprinkles throughout the novel.

Architecture Walks: The Best Outings Near New York City
SUNY at Sixty: The Promise of the State University of New York
Fire Along the Sky
The Pruning Book
Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York’s Frontier
A Jew Grows in Brooklyn: The Curious Reflections of a First-Generation American
Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz and The Caregiver
Moonlight Falls

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