We Go To The 'Source' For Summer Reading Recommendations Janet Webster Jones, owner of Detroit's Source Booksellers, recommends three books — one real-life romance, and two memoirs about starting over.

We Go To The 'Source' For Summer Reading Recommendations

We Go To The 'Source' For Summer Reading Recommendations

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This summer, All Things Considered is on the hunt for great reading recommendations. In our second installment — you can find the first here — Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers in Detroit, shares her selections with NPR's Audie Cornish. Click the audio link above to hear Jones describe these great summer reads:

Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance by Alexis Clark

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter

The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy


You don't need fiction to escape into a good summer read. Janet Webster Jones knows this. She's the owner of Source Booksellers in Detroit, a store that specializes in nonfiction. It's actually not her first job.

JANET WEBSTER JONES: I was a teacher in Detroit Public Schools for 41 1/2 years. And I started the bookstore almost 30 years ago now.

CORNISH: Jones enjoys books about people's experiences, so we asked her for some recommendations. She started with "Old In Art School" by historian Nell Painter.

JONES: Oh, yes, this is my new hero, or I should say shero (ph). She's a retired professor from Princeton. It's a beautifully written book about her stepping into art school at the age of 64, I think it was. And the kind of questions she got - somebody asked her, how old are you? And at that moment, she felt the sting of ageism. She talks about what counts as art and who makes this decision. It helps us to know that at all ages we can reset our perception to learn to know things in new and different ways.

CORNISH: I know there is one choice you have that I'm really intrigued by 'cause it's a love story, which is...


CORNISH: A nonfiction love story makes me curious.

JONES: (Laughter) This is Alexis Clark. What she writes about is military history. And she found out about the black nurses that were assigned to Camp Florence in Arizona where German POWs were being held. Eleanor, who is a black nurse, and Frederick seem to have come together in unusual ways. It talks about her taking a day off from work, going to the nearby town a long ride from the camp, having in her mind getting a cool drink. And when she got there, they denied her. She did all she could, as she was dressed in her Army nurse's uniform, to not show her frustration, her anger, her fear and her hurt.

And when she got back, to her surprise, when she sat down with her other nurse colleagues, she felt someone behind her. And it was Frederick, who put a plate in front of her to say, I'm sure you're hungry. And he walked back to the kitchen. The book is just sweet. It's maddening. It causes you to think about humanity and the kinds of things that we do to people. And it's one that I just highly recommend.

CORNISH: Now, this brings me to another one of your choices. It's a book about work. It's called "The Long Haul." Tell us more about it.

JONES: Oh, I love this book. This man is just wonderful. He's Finn Murphy. And he has a history of having lived a rather privileged life in the New England area. And he says himself that he kind of messed up. And so the only thing he had left after he messed up was his card to drive trucks. So he started a new life in Colorado.

In the book, he really talks about class because people think of truck drivers in a lot of different ways, and usually it's not considered rather a high-class occupation. His prose is very engaging and lighthearted, but yet he's sharing some very deep understandings of life on the road. So I love this book. I think it's a fine book talking about the transitions that men encounter in their life and have to find new ways of living and thinking.

CORNISH: Now, I don't think we should end without noting that you turned 81 this summer.

JONES: I did indeed.

CORNISH: And despite all this talk of transitions (laughter) that we've talked about...

JONES: Yes (laughter).

CORNISH: ...In this conversation, it sounds like you are just fine. It sounds like you are - found your home bookselling.

JONES: Yes, I've found my place. And I keep searching for other possibilities for myself. We don't know what is in store for us in life. And I think I've found my spot, but I don't think I ever lost it either.

CORNISH: Janet Webster Jones - she's the owner of Source Booksellers in Detroit. Thank you for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

JONES: Well, thank you for having me. I truly appreciate it.


CORNISH: The books she recommended are "Old In Art School," "The Long Haul" and "Enemies In Love: A German POW, A Black Nurse, And An Unlikely Romance."


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