PPR reading choices 0301

STAFF PHOTO/KELLI CATANA Paul Johnston (left) is reading "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds" by Jim Sterba, and his wife, Anna Battigelli, is reading "The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human " by Jonathan Gottschall. Johnston also recommends "The Sunlight Dialogues" by John Gardner; Battigelli suggests Jane Austen's "Persuasion."

PLATTSBURGH —  “I find television very educating,” Groucho Marx once said. “Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Some North Country residents have the same idea and were quick to respond when the Press-Republican asked, “What book are you reading now?”

Anna Battigelli, professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh, is reading “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gottschall. The book has a connection to Plattsburgh State, in fact: the author’s mother is Marcia Gottschall, one of Battigelli’s colleagues.

Jonathon’s book argues that storytelling is a distinctly human trait — something that makes us human.

“It’s just such a fascinating topic,” Battigelli said.

Her husband, Paul Johnston, associate professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh, is reading “Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comeback Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds,” by Jim Sterba.

It describes the increase in animal activity in the suburbs, as creatures like deer, wild turkeys and even bears try to adapt to an environment that seems dominated by humans.

“More people are now in contact with wildlife than ever before in American history,” Johnston said.

He appreciates the message of the book: “It points to the need for a change in attitude, where we accept as human beings the need to be stewards of nature rather than just being either hands-off or destructive.”


For Peru Town Supervisor Peter Glushko, the current book of choice is “Lone Survivor,” by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson. The book describes a 2005 Navy SEAL mission in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“It’s about a SEAL team in a firefight up in the mountains, and one basically sacrifices his life to save the others.”

Glushko added that the book “has kind of a dual purpose,” since it describes SEAL training, as well as the mission itself.


For Scott Murray, owner and executive chef at Anthony’s Restaurant and Bistro in Plattsburgh, reading goes right along with his work. He uses his time away from the kitchen to keep up to date with his profession and to continue to expand his knowledge of it.

Right now, he is reading a wine encyclopedia.

“Most of what I read in my spare time would be food and wine magazines. I read a lot of Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Wine Spectator.”

However, he said, “every year, I get a new wine encyclopedia, and I look up information in that.”

The books include vintages, tasting notes and background information for wines around the world.

Murray has three wine encyclopedias.

“My wife gave me one, my mother-in-law gave me one, and the restaurant got together and gave me another.

“That’s basically my literary thing,” he chuckled.


Plattsburgh City Mayor Donald Kasprzak likes popular novels and political nonfiction and reads more than one book at a time.

“I have always had an interest in reading political thrillers and espionage-themed books,” he said. “I am presently reading ‘The Panther’ by Nelson DeMille and ‘Private Berlin’ by James Patterson. Most Patterson books are very quick reads and entertaining.

“I am still reading and have not yet finished books on Presidents Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, Reagan and Bush.

“I make it a point to always read something at bedtime every evening.”


Press-Republican Facebook readers had a number of suggestions for good books. Here’s a sampling:

Cindy Drollette: “‘Awkward Bitch’ — about a lady with MS.”

Mia Young: “The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is amazing if you’re looking for a little fictional history, a lot of romance and a really good story.”

Katherine Wernier: “‘Cutting for Stone’ focuses on a pair of twin boys who are born and raised in an African missionary hospital. Everything about it flies in the face of what I normally read ... from the title to the locale to the basic medical storyline ... but somehow magic happened and I loved it.”

Emmett J. Hoops: “‘Rising Tide,’ by John M. Barry. It’s about the 1927 flood of the Mississippi — which doesn’t sound terribly interesting today, I’ll admit. However, the political decisions taken in its aftermath profoundly changed America. This is an edge-of-your-seat nonfiction masterpiece.”

Jeanette Dennison Kononan: “I am in the middle of ‘The Dirty Life - A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love’ by Kristin Kimball. I am finding it to be very inspiring and well written.”

Jan Washburn: “‘Wish You Well’ by David Baldacci — a coming of age story set in Virginia coal mine country in the ‘40s.... Being made into a movie. Wonderful story.”

Fred V. Provoncha “‘Dirt in the Skirt,’ the real story of ‘A League of Their Own’ and a walk back in time to the early 20th century.”



  • If you like to read and are looking for recommendations, our Facebook readers had lots of suggestions.
  • Read them all and add your ideas at www.facebook.com/pressrepublican.


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