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Virginia Kress - Proprieter

VIRGINIA KRESS

virginiakress@readersloft.com

Proprietor

There are few in this world, it seems, that are fortunate enough to ever find their true passions in life. I feel especially blessed to have found mine at a very young age. I have loved books for as long as I can remember and was so lucky to be able to turn this avocation into my vocation.

My educational background includes a BBA in Finance from UW-Madison and many years of experience in corporate finance, including work in the non-profit sector. Oddly this experience has lent itself well to my running a small business as a bookseller, which has now been stumbling along for fifteen years.

On a personal note, my family and I are happily living out a simplified, country life on 100 acres in Kewaunee County. We have renovated a 130 year old brick Belgian farmhouse and are thoroughly enjoying a life of books and music. Of course, by family, I am including our seven cats and two setters. My son Lucas, now 20 years old, is a student at DePaul University in Chicago. I am glad to report he is busy and happy and working hard. He too has recently adopted a Maine Coon kitten from a shelter in his area. Charlie, now 13 is enrolled in Kewaunee Middle School and is enjoying his chess club and advanced math. I must say this is the child in our family who caught the reading bug early in life.

My Favorites:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This pre-WWI coming of age story is set in Brooklyn, NY. A story about hope and the trials and tribulations of growing up in uncertain times.

Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary
A story about the importance of sharing. A valuable lesson for one little, motorcycle riding mouse.

Harold and The Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
A curious four year old boy has the power to create his very own world by simply drawing it.

Come by Chance by Madeline Winch
Sweet, old Bertha turns a tumble down shack into a cozy but lonesome home. Happily and purely by chance, animals in need of respite from the cold winter months join her giving her life joy and purpose.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Explores themes of friendship, coming of age, and social status in Tulsa Oklahoma. Rival gangs feature characters often orphaned and impoverished pitted against the more privileged socialites. It was highly challenged in the 1990's for its portrayal of violence, broken homes and drug and alcohol abuse.

Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Considered a modern classic. A dystopian novel exploring themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency against a backdrop of pseudo-Christian theocracy handing down sumptuary laws which play a key role in imposing clontrol.

Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
A harsh fairy tale about a solitary librarian who makes an idle wish. Be careful what you wish for; wishes can burn your tongue. Connecting with a series of lightning strike victims that suffer from an interesting array of neurological damages, our narrator finds her life subtly shifting. Quite a life affirming fable.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A post apocalyptic tale about a father son journey across a desolate landscape years after some unnamed catastrophe has essentially wiped out most species. Ash now covers the earth and obscures the sun, the plants and animals are all dead. Humanity consists only of cannibals and their captives. It would be a story of pure misery if not for the savage beauty.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
This book examines how siblings can share the same events in their lives yet experience them completely differently. The message at work here is that despite your family's level of disfunction, family is still everything yet always miles from perfect. Finalist for the Pulitzer and Pen/Faulkner awards.

Pesthouse by Jim Crace
The soil is poisoned, the population decimated and the factories and highways lie in ruins. Barbarians roam the hills raping and killing. Though America is riddled with petulance and disease, a spirit of optimism and adventure triumphs. Dust off the ashes from The Road and prepare for this grim and vivid fantasia.

Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson
This novel addresses the subject of housekeeping not only in the domestic sense of cleaning but also in the larger sense of keeping a spiritual home for one's self and family in the face of loss. In this case the girls face a series of abandonments as they come of age. Set somewhere in the Midwest at an unspecific time during the latter half of the 20th century.

Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol
A superbly controlled and creepy little allegorical novel, set on a strangely verdant outcropping somewhere on the edge of the Antarctic. A particularly well written gothic fantasy, i.e. weird tale.

Shutter Island by Denis Lehane
Set in the mid 50's at a hospital for the criminally insane, the reader is captivated and submerged in a constant and eerie surrealism. A mystery founded on confusion and vague facts that build towards something explosive and deadly.

Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
"All places where the French settled early have corruption at their heart, a kind of soft, rotten glow like the phosphorescence of decaying wood, that is oddly attractive. Seductive even." So begins Pilcher's Colony.

The Houseguest by Thomas Berger
With flair and wit, Berger tells a story that questions the rules of the middle class, breaks the rules and rearranges them in a new ship-shape order. Funny but incredibly disconcerting, Houseguest challenges all values but offers no alternatives.

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